Disneyland opened its doors to the public on July 18, 1955. Since then over 500 million people visited the park from all over the world. It is considered the most visited park in the world, second only to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. If you really want to know the history, go to Wikipedia.
I live practically around the corner from the Disney Resort and spend a lot of time at the parks. I would like to share my experiences with you. Hopefully, this will make your visit more enjoyable.
The park is usually open from 8 AM to Midnight, but times may vary. Go here for the latest schedule. Disney hotel guests can enjoy an extra hour of fun before the usual opening time.
The park is very large. It sits on 85 acres of land with 60 attractions in 7 themed lands. So it is very easy to get overwhelmed by all choices. To make your experience more enjoyable and stress-free, plan your visit by going to Disney’s website. The site allows visitors to filter for attractions by “Thrill Type”, “Interests” or “Age”. For example, you can choose “Big Drops”, “Slow Rides”, “Teens”, etc.
You can also download the new Disneyland mobile app which is very useful for locating rides and checking wait times. The app now includes Genie and Genie+ which allows you to plan your day and book rides.
Tip: Avoid going on the weekends and major holidays. Disneyland is a very crowded place during those times.
So, what is the best way to enjoy Disneyland? It really depends on what you like and the ages of your kids – if any. Yes. you don’t have to have kids to enjoy Disneyland.
See important updates about the park at the end of this page.
Here is one way to enjoy the park. It is most suited for a family with older kids (teens and pre-teens).
The main gate opens 15-30 minutes before the official opening time. Don’t forget to pick up your park map and entertainment schedule.
Tip: If you are staying at one of the Disney hotels, then your opening time is 1 hour earlier. Take advantage of this perk
Once the main gate opens rush through Main Street. Do not stop at any of the shops. There is plenty of time for shopping later. Go all the way to the ribbon and wait until the actual opening time.
As soon as they drop the final obstacle between you and fun, rush to your first ride.
Tip: Some rides offer Lightning Lane. It is a way to avoid long lines at some rides.
The Seven lands of Disneyland
Disneyland attractions are spread out among seven distinctive lands - each with a different theme, shops, and dining places.
Star Wars - Galaxy's Edge
I loved walking around in this otherworldly town on the planet Batuu and soaking in the atmosphere of being inside the Star Wars movie.
Galaxy's Edge has two excellent rides, several restaurants, and snack bars.
Tomorrow Land has been my favorite theme for ages. Star Wars could replace it soon when the new attractions are open, but until then I will keep visiting this futuristic area full of thrills and discovery.
While here you must experience Space Mountain, Star Tours, Star Wars Launchpad, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Other attractions are Autopia and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Find all the attractions here.
New Orleans Square is a themed land based on 19th-century New Orleans. Along with nice riverfront restaurants, it offers two of the most popular rides: Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.
The Disneyland Fireworks shows (like Fantasmic or Mickey's Mix Magic) are displayed across from the square on the Rivers of America. See the full details here.
Adventureland is designed to take the visitor to a tropical jungle full of surprises and adventure.
Go on a wild ride on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, climb a tree to Taraz's treehouse, or go on a Jungle Cruise. Read more here.
Frontierland recreates the era of trailblazers and pioneers in the wild west. Running through this land is “The Rivers of America” where steamboats, sail ships, rafts, and canoes float by. Frontierland is also home to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and The Golden Horseshoe. Read more here.
Critter Country is a small area meant to resemble the woods, with a river, ducks, and little critters running around. It is also home to the popular ride Splash Mountain and the rustic restaurant the Hungry Bear.
Fantasyland is home to Disney's fairy tales with Sleeping Beaty's castle, Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and many more family-friendly rides and shows. It is also home to one of the most popular rides at Disneyland, It’s a small world. Read more here.
Mickey's Toontown is inspired by 1930s cartoons. The buildings, roads, and rides all look cartoonish. It is targeted toward younger kids. If you have very young ones, they will enjoy Gadget's Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. They can also visit Mickey Mouse house and Minnie Mouse house. Read more here.
Disneyland dresses up for the holidays with a huge Christmas tree, decorations, and colorful lights. As you enter the main plaza and look towards Main Street, you will be dazzled by the displays.
Sleeping beauty's castle gets special treatment too. Icicle-like lights cascade from castle walls and spires, while next door a grand dance party is going on.
A special holiday parade starts from the main entrance plaza, through Main Street, passes by the castle, and ends up at the "It's a Small World" ride. During our visit, a dance company also showed off their moves before the parade started.
It's a Small World transformed into a holiday world with bright colorful lights outside and reimagined program inside. All the peoples of the world come together to celebrate this special time of the year.
As you enter Disneyland, you will notice a train station platform. The train is a mode of transportation between lands but is also an adventure.
After stopping at several locations along the way, and going through several rides, the last leg of the ride goes through a Grand Canyon simulation and then jumps back millions of years to the time of the dinosaurs.
Set some time aside to take this low-key but fun adventure.
Disneyland Lightning Lane and other services
Lightning Lane is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. For example, if you check wait times for space mountain in the app and find out that the wait is too long, book a Lightning Lane. It will specify an appointment time for you to come back. When you come back you go through a different line which is usually very short.
At Disneyland, you can find a meal for any taste and budget. You can get a snack or treat on the go or enjoy a sit-down meal at a restaurant.
Disneyland parks underwent a lot of changes during and after the Covid pandemic - and not all of it is bad.
In my opinion, the park emerged as a better experience due to those changes.
- Most importantly, you can't enter the park on a whim. You have to buy the tickets and make reservations before you enter. While purchasing your passes on online, you will get a chance to make reservations.
- Download the app and use it to plan your day. You can check ride wait times, reserve dining, and book Lightning Lane (LL) rides
- Purchase the Genie+ add-on for even more flexibility in booking LL rides.
- Pay the additional $20 LL for Rise of the Resistance ride. You will be glad you did.