“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as imagination is left in the world.” – Walt Disney
There’s truly no place in the world quite like the original Disneyland theme park. After all, it’s the only one of the Disney theme parks that Walt Disney actually lived in – An apartment was built for him on the second floor of the Fire Station on Main Street so he could oversee the constant work that brought Disneyland through its infancy.
When the original “happiest place on Earth” opened on July 17, 1955, it quickly became the go-to name in destination entertainment theme parks.
Over sixty years from its opening day, Disneyland has stayed faithful to that vision while growing to meet the modern entertainment climate. Quite a few of the original park rides and attractions are still operating today, including the King Arthur Carousel, the Disneyland Railroad, the Mad Tea Party, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Autopia… and that’s just naming a few.
Walking into Disneyland through Main Street is walking into the fantasy that Disney wanted to create… a callback to a gentler time, in a place where adults and children could enjoy time together in imaginative surroundings.
Disneyland is different from its younger sister park, California Adventure, in a couple of different ways. Disneyland character encounters are organic as the characters wander throughout their land. You never know when Pluto is going to show up in ToonTown or when Donald is going to stroll down Main Street… making it very likely for guests to get a neat surprise as they walk through the park.
Disneyland also has a slight edge on family-friendly rides when compared to other theme parks, making enjoying the park with young children easier… just as Walt Disney wanted.
Young, old, or in-between, Disneyland has plenty to delight everyone. From immersive lands to imaginative rides and fun attractions, there really isn’t any place quite like the Happiest Place on Earth.
Keep reading to find an overview of Disneyland, some trivia, and a few cool Disneyland hacks so you can enjoy the park like a pro.
Main Street USA
- The Theme: A nostalgic slice of Americana. Main Street USA is the first land you enter when you walk into Disneyland, and its cheery streets, shops and costumed cast members all embody the kind of life you’d expect in turn of the century America.
- Fun Fact: Main Street USA has eight food venues, fifteen merchandise shops, and seven attractions. You can use the mobile ordering food and beverage service on the Disneyland app to order from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Refreshment Corner, and Jolly Holiday Bakery Café.
- The Theme: The adventure-filled jungles of Africa and India, as well as the beautiful islands of Polynesia and the Caribbean.
- Fun Fact: Adventureland is one of Disneyland’s original lands, and contains the popular Magic Tiki Room, the first attraction to use audio-animatronics. Dole was one of the original sponsors of the Tiki Room attraction, which is why Adventureland is the official original home of the tasty Dole Whip snack.
- The Theme: Tomorrowland is one of the five original lands, and it’s dedicated to a 1955 portrayal of what the future might look like in 1986. It’s a fanciful look at science, adventure, and outer space.
- Fun Fact: Tomorrowland is home to Push, the Talking Trash Can, a radio-controlled robot who wanders the land and interacts with guests.
- The Theme: Fantasyland is just that, an Old-World fairy-tale fantasy realm that’s home to some of the most classic childhood stories ever animated. Fantasyland’s landscape is dominated by the beautiful Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
- Fun Fact: There are a lot of hidden Mickeys throughout the Disneyland parks, but the best one is located in Fantasyland. This very special Hidden Mickey can only be seen at noon on November 18th… A rock formation in the line for the Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid is designed to cast a shadow in the shape of Mickey’s head on the floor of the queue at exactly 12PM. Why November 18th? That’s Mickey Mouse’s birthday!
- The Theme: Mickey’s animated world comes to life in this vibrant land, where everything is modeled after 1930’s cartoons. Toontown has a downtown with Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin attraction and Mickey and Minnie’s houses in the residential section. Toontown is colorful fun for all ages. Mickey’s Toontown opens one hour after the park opens, and closes one hour before the park does.
- Fun Fact: There’s a real recipe on the refrigerator in Minnie Mouse’s house. Minnie’s Famous Chewy Cheesy Chip Cookies can really be made… but we suggest replacing the cheese chips with chocolate ones unless you’re particularly brave.
- The Theme: America’s pioneer spirit – and history – is celebrated here, from the riverboats of Mark Twain’s Mississippi to the 1880s deserts of the Southwestern US. Frontierland represents the westward expansion of America, from the Louisiana Purchase to the Gold Rush era.
- Fun Fact: Frontierland was a concept designed by Mr. Disney himself. While the Frontierland in the Anaheim park is the original one, there are sister Frontierlands located in the Florida, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong parks, too. The Shanghai park does not have a Frontierland.
New Orleans Square
- The Theme: Walk into the jazz-infused land of New Orleans Square and you walk into the charm and elegance of a bygone age. New Orleans Square has winding streets, street artists, and plenty of shopping to keep you occupied… it’s also home to two of the most popular Disneyland attractions, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Fun Fact: The pipe organ in The Haunted Mansion originally came from the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It was cosmetically redesigned to fit its new home, but most of it remains recognizable from the 1954 Disney movie.
- The Theme: This wonderfully shady forest area is populated by a variety of famous forest dwellers. You can find Brer Bear and Brer Fox… but if you’re not up on your folklore, that’s all right. Critter Country is also home to the Hundred Acre Wood and that bear of very little brain, Winnie the Pooh. Splash Mountain is one of the biggest attractions in this land.
- Fun Fact: When you go on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, you can still see the original bears who hosted the Country Bear Jamboree. You need to sit in the first two rows of the beehive, but if you do, look up and behind you as you leave the Heffalump and Woozle area. Max, Buff and Melvin will be looking back at you.
Disneyland Tips and Tricks
Disneyland is for families, but that doesn’t mean that travelling with small children is easy. Fortunately, Disneyland is pretty good at making parents’ lives as simple as possible.
If you’re a nursing mom, Disneyland has a fantastic Baby Care Center stocked with everything you need. Located next to the First Aid center at the end of Main Street, USA, the Baby Care Center is open during regular park hours, is free for guests, and includes:
- Nursing room with comfy chairs
- Changing room with tables
- Toddler-size toilets that don’t auto-flush and scare potty-training kids
- A kitchen with a sink, bottle warmers and a microwave (select use only)
- A vending machine that sells formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, and pacifiers. It even dispenses over-the-counter medicine for those sudden sniffles
- See our guide for what to bring to Disneyland
In addition to the excellent Baby Care Center, most guest bathrooms are equipped with changing tables for guest convenience.
Find answers to many Disneyland Frequently Asked Questions.
If you’re looking for a few professional-level hacks to make visiting Disneyland easier, check out our handy list below:
- Check the crowd level. We know it’s going to be crowded, but this handy website will give you a decent look at exactly how crowded the park is likely to be. Check the Disneyland Crowd Tracker at IsItPacked.com for the latest information on the day of your visit.
- Use preferred parking. It’s an additional $15, but it does make sure your car is a lot closer when you’re staggering out of the park after a full day of fun.
- You can walk into the park from the parking lot if you like. While that adds more walking to your day, it also bypasses the heavy crowds for the trams and lets you see Downtown Disney as well.
- Speaking of walking… dress comfortably! If you’re not wearing shoes you can stand for hours in, your feet will not be happy by the end of the day… and neither will you.
- Disneyland has its own app. Get it. Not only does it give you the ability to buy your tickets or check maps, it also allows you to purchase food at select park locations. Don’t want to stand in line for your Dole Whip? Order through the app and then go pick it up.
- FAST Passes do sell out. Grab yours early for any ride you really want.
The Disneyland app also lets you track character appearances or play unique games, making your time spent in line a lot more fun. But that much phone usage is going to burn through your battery, which brings us to our next tip…
- Bring an external power source for your phone.
- There are a few great, lesser known locations for watching fireworks and parades where the crowds are lighter and the view is better. Stick by It’s A Small World… parades originate from there, and you’ll see everything as it starts out.
- If you can, get reservations for dinner at the River Belle Terrace. You can enjoy great food while you watch Fantasmic in comfort.
Disneyland Park Hours
Disneyland is open 365 days a year, from 8AM to 11PM. Extended or special hours may apply, so always check here for times.
There are more changes to come as Disneyland continues to grow. But one thing Disneyland will never change is its commitment to imagination and dedication to the guests that continue to visit year after year.
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Kelly Smith is a freelance writer living in Southern California with one dog, two cats, two guinea pigs… and the rest of her family. She writes about Orange County, faith, family, special needs and tea, and world-builds science fiction universes on the side. Find her at www.bluerosecopywriting.com.