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The Definitive Disneyland Guide for First Time Visitors

Built in 1955, Disneyland Theme Park is the original Walt Disney theme park. These streets were walked by Disney himself, and now you too can walk in his footsteps and be a part of the happiest place on Earth. The original vision of the park is still present, while the addition of Disney California Adventure expands upon the amusement and attractions families love. There’s a lot more to learn about Disneyland. Use this Disneyland Guide to discover all this Los Angeles theme park has to offer.

Disneyland Guide: About the Parks

Disneyland

Disneyland theme park is a land of enchantment, where dreams really do come true. From young children to the young at heart, hearts are captured and minds transported to faraway lands of make-believe. A day at Disneyland combines beloved Disney characters with classic rides and modern attractions. It’s divided into eight lands, arranged around the central hub of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

The lands include:

  • Adventureland
  • Critter Country
  • Fantasyland
  • Frontierland
  • Main Street USA
  • Mickey’s Toontown
  • New Orleans Square
  • Tomorrowland

Throughout the park yesterday, today and tomorrow are celebrated, while a charmingly friendly atmosphere is ideal for a day of vacation. Disneyland is constantly changing, as Walt’s wish, but it also stays true to its beginnings with rides like It’s a Small World, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and the Haunted Mansion. Other Disney standouts are Star Tours—The Adventure, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain.

This is Disney so, of course, princesses play a big part too. The picturesque village, Fantasy Faire, is a welcoming location for a memorable meet and greets. Enter a picturesque storybook village square where you may meet Disney friends from such timeless tales as The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Tangled, and Beauty, and the Beast.

Disneyland Guide

California Adventure

At the relatively new Disney California Adventure (the park opened in 2001), Buena Vista Street welcomes guests into a world of nostalgia. It celebrates the 1920s and 30s Los Angeles that greeted Walt Disney, while also showcasing beloved Disney and Pixar characters.

In total, there are eight distinct areas to explore:

  • “A bug’s land”
  • Cars Land
  • Condor Flats
  • Grizzly Peak
  • Hollywood Land
  • Pacific Wharf
  • Paradise Pier

Originally, California Adventure was designed to highlight the different aspects of California. This idea has shifted over time, though. However, it remains a tribute to the land of dreams. Nowhere is that idea presented better than the all-encompassing Cars Land, a 12-acre area inspired by the hit Disney-Pixar Film “Cars.” Journey to Radiator Springs to drive high-octave racers, where the open road and mesa-dotted landscapes bring the cartoon vision into actualization.



Throughout the rest of California Adventure, some of your favorite characters take center stage. Attraction highlights include Toy Story Mania, The Little Mermaid—Aerial’s Undersea Adventure, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, California Screamin’ and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.

Although smaller than Disneyland, this park packs bigger thrills. As such, it tends to be more popular with teens. Disneyland California Adventure also has a very cool after dark vibe ideal for adults. In fact, alcoholic beverages are even served! That’s not to say, though, there isn’t plenty of fun to be had for the younger set. In addition to the aforementioned attractions like Cars Land and Toy Story Maina, California Adventure offers several interactive shows, dance parties and much more! This is also the place for kids to meet their favorite characters from Disney Channel and Disney Jr.

Disneyland Guide

Disneyland Guide: Your Questions Answered

How Time Do I Need to Visit?

To answer this question, you must ask yourself how much you plan to do during your trip to Disneyland. In order to see and do it all, we recommend planning four or five days at Disneyland. This will ensure you can spend plenty of time at both theme parks as well as Downtown Disney. You’ll also need to take into consideration the time of your visit. If it’s peak season, lines and crowds will play a part in your time spent at the parks.

If you only want to see the best of the parks or are on a tighter budget, plan on two days at Disneyland. This way, you can spend one full day at each park. You won’t be able to see it all but you’ll be able to see the highlights.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

Any time is a good time to visit Disneyland, right? Although the answer is yes, there are times to visit that are better than others. If at all possible, try to avoid peak seasons when visiting. You’ll have fewer crowds to deal with, fewer lines to stand in, and you can take advantage of value ticket pricing.

Times to Avoid: Christmas, July, Spring Break (Mid-March to Mid-April)

That said, the best times to visit include September through Mid-October, January, February, and the first two weeks of May and December.

If you do need to visit during the summer season, try to go in early June or late August. Crowd sizes are lower at this time. Likewise, if you want to visit during Christmas (it really is enchanting!) try to go during the week.

Disneyland Guide

Where Should I Stay?

It’s best to book a hotel close to the parks. After all, you don’t want to waste any of your precious vacation time driving back and forth from your lodgings. With that in mind, it’s ideal to stay at one of the three hotels adjacent to California Adventure. They include:

  • Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
  • Disneyland Hotel
  • Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

These hotels do reach max occupancy quickly, so if you’d like to stay at one, make your reservations well in advance. They can also be rather pricey. As a result, many visitors opt to stay at a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel. These Disney-approved hotels are convenient to the parks and offer shuttles to and from the park. A few options to consider:

  • Anaheim Portofino Inn & Suites
  • Holiday Inn & Suites Anaheim
  • Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground

When Should I Buy Tickets?

It’s always best to buy your tickets in advance. With Reserve Direct, you can purchase your Disneyland tickets online and at a discount. Plus, these tickets are gate ready so all you have to do is print and go! Do keep in mind if you want to purchase a single day ticket to one-park only, you have to do purchase those directly from Disneyland.com.

The type of ticket you buy will depend on how busy you want to be. You’ll also want to keep the age of your group in mind. If your family consists of older kids, park hopping is a great idea. However, if your kids are younger, one park per day tickets might suit your pace better.

Disneyland Guide

Disneyland Guide: Tips & Tricks

Now that you have your Disneyland questions answered, it’s time we share some insightful tips and tricks. Put these to use to make the most of your time at the parks.

Use FastPass

Any Disneyland guide would be remiss to mention the use of FastPass. These can be a lifesaver, especially when the park is busy. Here’s how it works:

  • Choose a FastPass attraction
  • Insert your Disney park ticket into the kiosk
  • Receive FastPass with a return time
  • Return at that specified time to bypass the line.

It’s that easy! The trick, however, is that you can only have one FastPass at a time. So, as soon as you use one, be sure to grab another!

Rent a Stroller

Your child may think he’s too big for a stroller. However, that won’t be the case once you walked five miles and they’re super tired. (You’d be amazed at how many steps you get in at the park!) As such, it’s best to rent a stroller. Not only are they handy for letting your kid rest, but they can also be handy storage.

Pack Snacks and Water

A little-known fact worth including in any Disney Guide is the park lets you bring in your own snacks and water. You can even bring a small cooler if needed. With this in mind, it’s ideal to pack in a refillable water bottle as well as on-the-go snacks like nuts, crackers, granola bars, and gummy snacks. Veggies and fruit are also great to have on-hand. These snacks will save you time waiting in line for food service, not to mention money.

Shop Once the Parks Close

Did you know the shops at Disneyland parks stay open a full hour after the park actually closes? As such, save your shopping for the end of your day in an effort to maximize your time at the park.

Download the Disney Mobile App

Even if you’re not much of an app person, this is one you’ll want to download. The Disneyland app makes it easy for you to check ride wait times, access a map, and to help you decide which rides to use a FastPass. In addition, you can make dining reservations and discover the location of Disney characters. It’s an invaluable tool to have during any Disneyland vacation.

Enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth!

Now, you’re ready to make the most of your time at the happiest place on Earth! Be sure to purchase your discount Disneyland tickets today to discover the magic of this Southern California theme park.

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