The original Disneyland is immense and almost always crowded but still an iconic must visit site! Many of the attractions are instantly recognizable even if you have never been there before like Cindrella's castle, space mountain and it's a small world.
Disneyland needs no further introduction and it certainly doesn't need my review to persuade you to go. Everything about this place is magical. So instead, I'll merely just share my experiences with you.
This was my first picture of my 3-4 day trip here. We arrived pretty late at night after a taping at The Voice. The hotel was everything we imagined but we wanted to see the night shows so we put our luggage away and literally ran to the park. It was definitely worth it. There's something very special when you finally get in the park and see this statue. It's like a welcome hug and deserves a sign that says "You've made it here! Relax, I'm going to make you back into your 5 year old self again."
So, my advice to you is, stop at the statue. Take your iconic picture and maybe even a family or group shot here. It's worth the memory!
Disneyland is known as the happiest place on earth but not really in real life. The hotel is very expensive, room service food is terrible. Long waiting lines in every single ride we stayed there for 5 days and we only rode 3 rides and one of the three we rode over and over. The lines are long but the ride is just 1 minute. Don't go there in the summer. Some of the restaurants are filthy, and the area where disneyland is located has no McDonalds or any good restaurant. I couldn't wait to go back to my home Houston, Texas the only good meal that I ate was when I came back to Houston. The gift shops are so expensive for nothing. To buy a balloon is $5. I recommend that you go to Disneyworld at Orlando, Florida.
Having been a season pass holder for the past 5 or so years, I have probably been there around 200 times. From so many visits I've figured out what can make a Disneyland trip either an amazing experience or a horrible nightmare. Here are some tips to better your experience.
First and most importantly, you're going to want to try and avoid when its overly crowded. This is usually around Spring Break/Easter, Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, President's Day, MLK Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving week/weekend, the weekend before Christmas through the 31st, and Grad Nights (Mid-May through Mid-june.. unless you enjoy sharing the park with thousands unchaperoned teenagers. You should also avoid going during summer break if you can.
If it is apparent, you should basically avoid any day where school and most work places are off for holiday.
The best times to avoid crowds are September-December (excluding the holidays listed above) and the 2nd weeks of January-March (also exclude holiday weekends). The best days to go would be weekdays (as a lot of pass holders show up on the weekends especially Sundays since most of the passes are blocked most Saturdays). As with most theme parks, if it is raining you can expect to have the time of your life as most of the park guests will go home.
Get to the park as early as possible. If you are staying at any of the 3 Disney run hotels you can enter the parks an hour early. You should take advantage of this.
I'm not a fan of waiting in line, so I have strategies that allow me to enjoy much of the experience of the park without waiting in them. To do this you'll need to take advantage of fast passes. These are available for about 4 of the major thrill rides and one kids ride (Rodger Rabbit). You can have one pass per ticket at a time. The fast pass give you an hour window (printed on the pass) to skip the regular lines on these rides.
What I do is look at the stand-by time for a ride, and if it is more than 15-20 minutes I'll take a fast pass. While I wait for my window to ride the ride or get a new fast pass I'll either ride rides with shorter lines, watch some of the shows or parades, get something to eat, or (my favorite) head to California Adventure or one of the bars in the hotels and have some drinks ;-).
Now allow me to give a little advice on which seats you should pick on certain rides.
On space mountain you never want to sit in the middle of train. When you get up to the cast members who seat you, specifically ask for either the very front seats or the back of the train. In the front seats you will not be able to see anything in front of except the artificial starlight. It's pretty fun not knowing which what you will turn or dip next. The back of the train will feel much faster and you will get whipped around in a much enjoyable way.
Big Thunder Railroad: Sit only in the last car, and only ride after dark. This ride is horribly slow in any other seat but the back, and riding in the dark also helps increase the feeling of speed. This formula has made this one of my favorite rides in the park.
Matterhorn: Ride at night.
Splash Mountain: If you want to get wet, ride in the front 2 seats. If you don't want to get as wet, ride in the last 2 seats. The very last seat tends to get your legs and feet wet.
A final piece of advice:
Disneyland will allow you to bring food into the park as long as it isn't in glass containers. I've read that they don't allow outside restaurant food in, but I have made it in with bags of McDonald's before. They also apparently won't allow individual ingredients for sandwiches, but they will allow sandwiches that have already been made? Weird rules. Anways, a lot of the food in Disneyland is pretty terrible and over priced. Bringing in your own lunch and snacks is a good option. You could also walk out of the park (make sure you get a hand stamp) and go to Denny's.
Please please please, I beg you, do not go to the Kabob stand across from Indiana Jones. It's nearly ten dollars for two pieces of what I can only describe as dog meat.
Disneyland, ah the princesses and Mickey Mouse, never gets old, if only they would stop raising their prices, it is now at $96 a person, it's just a lot for a family of 4. This said we had a wonderful time talking to Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella and Snow White, they were my daughter's favorite, Luca my son preferred the small world ride he kept pointing at everything.
And of course there is princess Elsa, the parade was wonderful since we didn't get to meet her in person, she is so popular that you now need reservation to meet her and they pass those out first thing in the morning and it's gone in 45 minutes...oh well next time
No trip to Anaheim is really complete without a trip to Disneyland at least once. Or for the diehard kids like my wife and daughter, a tip almost every year (well for at least the first 20 of my daughter's years).
The seasonal parades are ever changing and always entertaining for kids and those young at heart. For some it gets old after a while, but for those of us who never grow up, its still fun at 65.
Many of the rides have changed over time. Some for the better and some for the worse. I like how they changed Pirates but skip the Haunted House. They changed it to be Nightmare Before Christmas. I hope they did this just for the season, because the change is a complete fail! There is nothing scary, it is morose.
Take the time to notice when there are special events going on in the park, it can affect how you get somewhere or what you want to see. A parade can stop your forward process to getting to an area you want to be in if you cannot cross the street.
One of the greatest parts of avoiding the lines at both parks is the fast pass. Most of the rides have a fast pass option. By scanning your entrance pass in the fast pass machine you can get a time to come back and go to the front of the line. We went at the busiest time of the year, between Christmas and New Years, and most of the lines were at least an hour long. Many of them went as long as 3 hours to get on a ride. So the fast passes were the way to go.
If you have someone with special needs in your group, please go get a general fast pass. This allows them (and your group) to not have to endure the lines. My nephew is special needs and cannot do the lines like that. So his family was able to skip lines when he went on a ride.
I was seven years old when Walt Disney opened the gates of Disneyland for the first time. It was some years later before my parents took me there for the first time. As a child, I was enchanted by every aspect of this theme park and it wasn't until I took my own children to Disneyland for the first time that I could see the place with adult eyes. Imagine the shock of seeing that the "deep sea." underwater submarine ride didn't go any deeper than a foot below the water! Not deep enough to even cover the top of the submarine, just far enough to cover the observation windows! Still, my sons believed that they had gone to extreme depths. So, watching my son's reaction to everything was worth the price of entrance. Each year a new "Land" or "Ride" would be added and we went back several more times.
Disney Hotel was built for those families who came from far off places and that too began to grow each year. About 1998 Disneyland became "Disneyland Park" and Disneyland Hotel was known as "Disneyland Resort." About twice a year I escorted groups of foreign exchange students to Disneyland which gave me the oppotunity of exploring the whole Resort complex. One of my Danish students remarked after his Disney visit. "I don't know what all the excitement is about Disneyland, it's just like Tivoli Gardens." Of course he'd think so. Walt Disney explored Tivoli Gardens in Denmark and Efteling in The Netherlands for ideas, before he built Disneyland.
I've intentionally not mention the specific rides or things to do and see in the Park because they change or morph frequently. Disneyland is called, "The Magical Kingdom" or "The Happiest Place on Earth" for a reason. It may not be so enchanting to everyone. It is expensive and as an adult you might see most of the visual tricks. The magic and happiness comes from the fact that Walt Disney wanted to create a place for parents to share with our children. Though we may be wide-eyed, our kids aren't and this allows us to be as enchanted as if we were children again.
Such Fun!! The whole family had a great time here. We visited the parks on a weekend and the crowds were surprisingly light. We came back on the Monday to do a couple of last things and the crowds were massive!
This is a must do item for anyone of my generation (40 something lol) who were brought up watching the Disney Show (in black & white.....) and then getting to do a walk around! Brings back many memories of wishing upon a star & all that.
The parks - Disneyland and California's Disney - are quite large so pace yourself! We had a 3 day park hopper ($280) and must have walked for at least 14 hours over the days - maybe think good shoes too! They are open from 9am to 10 most days with an 8am start in the weekend. When you buy on of the passes you can also get a magic hour pass which lets you into Disney an hour before everyone else - really worth it!
Travelling with children was great - they dragged me onto rides that I might not havce done! In the attached photo I'm with my, much braver, nieces and nephew on splash mountain - such fun!!
Here is a great tip! You want to enjoy something very relaxing at Disneyland, then get onboard the Mark Twain. Find yourself a nice seat and sit back and enjoy. It is a great way to relax some, while the little ones explore the boat and see all kind of neat things as you cruise the river. My parents use to take us on this so they could rest...lol!
Mark Twain is a 4-level, 105-foot-long vessel 400-passenger 5/8th-scale ship. Several chairs are available in the box of the first deck.
The 28-foot-tall Mark Twain has 4 levels (from bottom to top):
Pilothouse to explore.
Star Tours is a intergalactic adventure in digital 3D. George Lucas' Star Wars universe. You board George Lucas' Star Wars Starspeeder 1000 and travel to intergalactic destinations, see popular characters and experience exciting adventures. A word of caution, if you are sensitive to motion sickness, then you might not like it. A very fun ride for the whole family.
Disneyland—Walt Disney's $17 million metropolis theme park celebrating nostalgia, futurism, and fantasy—opened on 160 acres of former orange grove in Anaheim, CA, on 17 July 1955. The park has had more than 600 million guests since it opened its doors. If you have been to Disney World and think that they are pretty much the same, think again. Not only is Disney World MANNNNY times larger, the atmosphere is also drastically different. I prefer Disney World, probably because of the company that I have had during my visits to Disney World and because I was at Disney World on Mickey's 50th birthday, but Disneyland is also definitely worth a visit.
My favorite attraction is Space Mountain.
It is a small world after all but you must visit Disneyland to really appreciate it.