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Disneyland Trip Planning Guide
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Brian Bennett

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Forward
Forward  |  Why Travel to Disneyland?  |  My Favorite Things at Disneyland

Resources

Disneyland Trip Planning Phone List  |  Critique of Published Disneyland Trip Guide Books  |  Other Disneyland Resources on the Web

Planning Ahead

Planning Your Trip  |  What Time of Year You Should go to Disneyland  |  How Many Days Do You Need to "See It All?"  |  Other Attractions in Southern California  |  Estimating What Your Trip Will Cost  |  Rental Car Considerations  |  What You Should Pack to Take on Your Trip

Accommodations

Should You Stay On or Off Site?  |  Off Site Accommodations  |  Disneyland Area Campgrounds  |  Disneyland's "Good Neighbor Hotels"  |  On Site Hotels  |  Grand Californian  Hotel  |  Disneyland Hotel  |  Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel

Disneyland Resort Primer
A Disneyland / WDW Comparison  |  The Ins and Outs of Disneyland Reservations  |  How to Use Disneyland's Transportation System  |  Developing a Daily "Game Plan"  |  The Daily Afternoon Break Touring the Parks With Kids  |  Touring the Parks With an Infant  |  Touring the Parks with Disabled Guests

The Parks
General Issues
  |  All About Admission Media (i.e. Tickets)  |  General Park Operating Hours  |  "Magic Mornings", the Disneyland Resort's Version of Early Entry  |  Fastpass -- Disney's New "Virtual Queue"  |  Disneyland  |  Details-at-a-Glance  |  Touring the Park  |  Attractions  |  Shopping  |  Disneyland Shows and Entertainment  |  Parade of Stars  |  Believe: There's Magic in the Sky  |  Fantasmic!  |  Disney's California Adventure  |  Details-at-a-Glance  |  Touring the Park  |  Attractions  | Shopping  |  Eureka! The California Adventure Parade

Everything Else
Downtown Disney  |  Guided Tours of Disneyland

Disneyland Restaurant Resource

First, if you couldn't find it here, I would appreciate it if you would click on this link and send me a message to tell me what's missing.  I'll do my best to "fill in the blanks" as soon as possible.

 

Disneyland Attractions

Main Street

Main Street Cinema

The cinema runs several different Mickey Mouse shorts simultaneously. There is no seats, and the entire interior is very small, so clearly this is not a place to linger for more than a few minutes. If you're a fan of the Mouse, you'll want to stop in for sure. Otherwise, do it if you have time to stop in.

Disneyland Railroad

The railroad is really a must-see attraction for any railroad buff or Disney history aficionado. Walt himself was a very big fan of model railroading. His home in the LA area had a huge layout in the backyard. Kids love this ride mostly because of the thrill of riding on a real train (the engines are indeed steam powered). Another tidbit is that, with some careful thought, the railroad can be used strategically to move around parades and other shows. Also, you can get some glimpses of the backstage areas as you ride around the berm that surrounds the guest areas of the park. The Grand Canyon and Primeval World diorama's are located between Tomorrowland and Main Street, if you want to see the remnants of Ford Motor Company's 1964 World's Fair attraction.

Main Street Vehicles

If you're on a time budget, skip the trolley, the horseless carriages, and the fire truck. You'll certainly get to the other end of Main Street much more quickly on foot. On the other hand, these can be fun to ride...and your kids might really enjoy doing so.

The Walt Disney Story and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

This attraction is exceptional. It combines two of my own personal favorites...a film documentary on Walt Disney's amazing life, and a presentation of "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln", which was developed by WED Enterprises (now Imagineering) for the State of Illinois's 1964 New York World's Fair pavilion. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln has been significantly updated since 1964 with a state-of-the-art audio-animatronic president and music pilfered from "The American Adventure" in Epcot.

Adventureland

Enchanted Tiki Room

The Enchanted Tiki Room is an audio-animatronic show in which birds, flowers, trees, and Tiki totem poles all join in song to entertain. 

Jungle Cruise

The jungle cruise is a waterborne adventure over many of the rivers of the world. You'll see animals from all of the major jungle areas of the world including Africa, India, and South America. Actually, the ride was based in part on the Real Life Adventure documentary "The African Lion". In my opinion, WDW's version has better audio-animatronics than the Disneyland version, and includes a ride through a far-Eastern temple. On the other hand, Disneyland's queue area is far and away the better of the two. This is also one of my son Allan's favorite rides.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 46 inches tall.

This is the opportunity you've been waiting for...to actually visit one of those Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-like archeological digs that Indiana Jones is so famous for. During your visit you'll see the most detailed queue area ever devised by Imagineering. It's simply fantastic...you really feel like you're walking in an archeological dig. The details are incredible. After walking through the incredible detail of the queue (which, by the way, also sets up the story behind the legend of Mara, the goddess to which the temple is dedicated) you load up into "troop transports" which really look like the venerable jeep on steroids. The ride itself is chock full of detail. You can't possible see everything that's going on in one pass. End result? This might just be Disney's best effort in North America.

Tarzan's Treehouse

You'll do a lot of climbing in the treehouse, but if anyone in your party is a Tarzan fan, you just have to check this out. There's much more of a line now than when the Swiss Family Robinson lived in this same tree.  Also, I'd recommend that you rent and watch the film before leaving on your trip. That will make this attraction much more enjoyable. Also, I'd suggest that you visit the treehouse when you're fresh and rested.

New Orleans Square

Pirates of the Caribbean

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

This is one of my favorite attractions in the park. The whole idea of a treasure hunt on the Spanish Main is a little boy's fantasy...and I've never really graduated from little boy. The ride begins with a quiet float past the Blue Bayou restaurant. The clinking of utensils and glassware echoes across the still water as you glide by the diners. The fireflies and banjo music just add to the Southern Bayou flavor of the moment. Next, you plummet down a terrific waterfall and into a series of ghostly caverns. You'll see the pirates treasure, too, which sets up the rest of the attraction. Since you know where the treasure is, the pirates just can't let you go. You have to be stopped because "dead men tell no tales" about where the treasure is located. During the balance of the ride, you witness the pirate ship attack on a shore fortress and the ransacking of the town the fort is supposed to protect. Since this this is a much longer, and more detailed ride in Disneyland, don't you dare miss it. Even if you've ridden countless times in Florida.

The Haunted Mansion

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

Ok, so it used to really be a D-Ticket, but it should have been an E in my opinion.  The Haunted Mansion is another wonderful Disney special. It's filled with special effects and scenery that is top shelf. I especially like the ghostly ball and the graveyard scene. It's in the graveyard that the music is first heard. When you hear it, you are instantly cursed with the "It's a Small World" curse....you keep humming it over and over...until you ride "It's a Small World" again and get hooked on that Sherman Brother's tune instead. Now that's horrifying!!!

Frontierland

Tom Sawyer Island

Make sure you read the classic "Tom Sawyer" or at least see Disney's "Tom and Huck" before you head to the island. Besides the raft trip over, there are a lot of fun things to see and do on the island. Kids left to romp will have a blast, but make sure you keep an eye on them or you might lose them in Injun Joe's Cave.  Tom's Treehouse is a tight squeeze for the stout (I speak from experience here).

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 3 years old and 40 inches tall.

The spirit of Big Thunder doesn't approve of the deep-shaft mining that has been removing the riches of the mother lode from the mountain's innards. Not unexpectedly, bad things happen as a result. As you wait in the queue area, notice the various buildings of the boom town. Sometimes you can hear some of the town folks inside the buildings. At the Magic Kingdom, you ride through the town, instead of walking through it as you do in California. Also in Florida, the town is shown in the midst of several natural disasters. Big Thunder is one of my favorite rides. It's a fun coaster-like ride, but not excessively obnoxious. The worst thing about it is trying to catch the detail of the area during the quick trip through the mountain.

Mark Twain Riverboat

This paddle wheeler takes visitors on a ten minute ride around the "Rivers of America". It's a nice, quiet ride and gives you a nice view of the scenery around the river. Like most of the other transportation attractions, this is worth the time if you don't have any higher priorities to take care of first.

Columbia

This replica of the famous sailing vessel also takes visitors on a ride around the "Rivers of America". Columbia runs only during the busiest times of the year, so I've only had the privilege once. When it's not in operation, Columbia is docked at "Fowler's Harbor" adding some additional atmosphere to New Orleans Square's waterfront.

Critter Country

Davy Crocket Explorer Canoes

The canoes provide a people-powered method of circumnavigating Tom Sawyer's Island. The canoes, like Columbia, typically run only when the park is busy.

Country Bear Playhouse

This is another audio-animatronic show. This time, a group of bears and other forest animals entertain with a show of country music, hand-clappin', and foot-stompin'. Pay careful attention to the lyrics. The music is ok, but the words are a hoot!

Splash Mountain

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 3 years old and 40 inches tall.

"The Song of the South" and Br'er Rabbit's adventures with Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox is the basis for this ride. The audio-animatronics are wonderful and the soundtrack, as is typical with Disney, is marvelous. Only after watching Br'er Rabbit get into a heap of trouble with the other main characters do you realize that you're about to follow in his footsteps and escape the villains by jumping (six stories) into the briar patch. Don't miss this one...unless you have a clinical fear of six story drops into briar patches.

Mickey's Toontown

On a time budget? spend some time here anyway...especially if you've seen Toontown Fair in Florida. This place will let you see what WDW should have done to Mickey's Birthdayland / Starland / Toontown Fair. No kids? check it out anyway...even if just for a few minutes. Besides the "attractions", the entire area is worth seeing. The atmosphere is great, and there are a bunch of hands-on sound effects and such that are fun to play with.

Gadget's Go-Coaster

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 3 years old.

This is a relatively tame roller coaster for the younger set. The speed of the ride is sufficiently slow so all but the most worrisome of mothers won't mind their kids taking a spin. Even so, the ride is a real, live roller coaster, so the kids will love it!

Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin

This is the first new "dark ride" in Disneyland in many, many years. The atmosphere of the queue and the spinable vehicles enhance this ride over it's older Fantasyland peers, though. The whole attraction is based on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", the movie in which toons, Toontown, and inquisition via dip were introduced to the public (even though the toons had always been living in Toontown, of course).

Fantasyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle is smaller and less obtrusive than Cinderella's chateau in Florida. However, the Disneyland citadel has something that the Magic Kingdom's does not -- a walk-though diorama telling the story of the heroine's experience with the spinning wheel. It's a lovely walk, made all the more wonderful due to the fact that adding the walk-though was Walt Disney's own idea.

Peter Pan's Flight

Peter Pan is one of the classic Disney films. The music, animation, and characters all work their magic as the story unfolds. The fantasy of pirates, flying, and mermaids all play to the minds of children. In this attraction, many of those magical moments are recreated as you fly in a galleon through the Darling's nursery, over London's Big Ben and the Tower Bridge, and off to Neverland. Of course, Peter, Wendy, and the boys defeat Hook in the end (along with the crocodile).  A word of warning, very young children should be told about the sudden appearance of Monstro.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Although in Florida this is the poorest of the Fantasyland "dark rides", the Disneyland version is far superior because of the greatly increased attention to detail in the queue. Based on The Wind in the Willows, Mr. Toad, has several adventures in this ride. If you're not already familiar with it, you'll find it very difficult to pick out any story line here. Also, the adventures of Mr. Toad tend to be intense for little ones.

Alice in Wonderland

This is one of the better dark rides in Fantasyland. It tells the story of Alice in Wonderland in fair detail. The visual effects and painted characters in the attraction are quite well done. Plus, there's the surprise of a temporary exit from the ride (your vehicle takes you out-of-doors briefly during the journey). The Mad Tea Party is located adjacent to this ride, so the whole area is appropriately themed.

Mad Tea Party

Don't ride the Tea Party after a meal, or else... Young stomachs can get pretty queasy, especially if the riders insist on spinning the cup.

Matterhorn Bobsleds

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 3 years old.

The Matterhorn is a classic. It's a real live roller coaster flume ride, in fact, it's Disney's first such attraction. One of the joys of the Matterhorn was zipping around the holes cut in the mountain for the skyway cable cars. Now that the skyway is now longer with us, the holes have been enclosed and the Matterhorn ride is much darker than before. Not necessarily better, but darker.

It's A Small World

It's a Small World was originally developed by the Disney Company as a pavilion attraction for Unicef at the New York world's fair of 1964. It was one of four such projects that Walt accepted. The Small World at Disneyland is actually the original one that was brought back to California after the New York fair closed. The building facade of this attraction is a crowd-stopper. The Disneyland Railroad tracks right through it. Of course, the music and the dolls are still the same...

Storybookland Canal Boats

Storybookland was another Walt Disney idea. The plan was to have a miniature village for people to enjoy. In typical Disney fashion, the idea was expanded to include buildings from many of the most loved Disney animated features. The canal boats are a nice way of seeing the miniatures up close.

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Another typical Walt Disney idea is to offer multiple ways of seeing an attraction (notice the many ways that guests can float on the Rivers of America). Casey Jr. ("I think I can, I think I can") is a small train that runs through Storybookland.

Dumbo

Dumbo is another midway-type of ride in which the guests take Dumbo himself out for a spin. You can control the height at which you spin around Timothy Mouse, but that's the extent of your power on this ride. Because Dumbo has very little loading capacity, lines form early and only get worse as the day wears on. If you or your child want to ride, get here pronto in the morning...or be prepared to wait.

King Arthur's Carousel

Each and every hand-carved horse on this beautifully restored carousel is white so every rider is a prince or princess. The carousel's calliope plays music from many of the Disney classic films.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey

Another dark ride, this time based on Pinocchio's penchant for lying and disobedience...and the negative results of that behavior. I particularly enjoy Lampwick's fate. It's something I can relate to.

Snow White's Adventures

Snow White's Adventures is a retelling of the story of Disney's first full-length animated feature film. As you ride through the scenes of the story, you'll see the wicked witch. Beware, as some youngsters are frightened by the haggard appearance and sudden arrival of the witch. You'll also pass through the forest in which Snow White ran through after abortive attempt by the woodsman to murder her. Although no mention of the woodsman is made on the ride, the trees do appear as if they are about to grab you...just as they did to Snow White as she ran in panic from the woodsman. This is a very intense attraction for younger children, so beware.

Tommorrowland

Space Mountain

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 3 years old and 40 inches tall.

Space Mountain is a Disney classic. It's not as high as some coasters, or as fast as some coasters, or as steep as some coasters, and other coasters run in the dark, but the combination of sufficient speed and air-time along with the Disney atmosphere make this ride fun. If you're a coaster fan, try it. It's not anywhere near as intense as the Beast or the Magnum, but it's a passable coaster. If you're not a coaster fan, try Big Thunder Mountain first. If you enjoy Big Thunder, graduate to Space Mountain. Unlike Space Mountain in Florida, this version has a sound track of "surfer music ala electric guitar" that blares in your ears during the ride. The music is synchronized with the motion of the vehicle, so the effects of drops and spins are heightened. Frankly, Space Mountain in Florida is tame, now, compared to this...but it's all an illusion. As an aside, buried in the "surfer music" are several melodies from well-known classical works. Debussy's "Prelude to a Faun", which is also heard in Epcot's "Impressions Du France", is one that I've recognized.

Autopia

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 3 years old and 52 inches tall to drive, and at least 1 year old to be a passenger.

Younger kids will really enjoy the opportunity to drive on a rather interesting road just like Mom and Dad do. Teens will be bored with the fact that the center rail and the engine's governor keep them from driving like the natives do on I-5. This really is a very visually appealing attraction, so you'll probably be roped into riding if you have a child in Elementary school.  Autopia is being rehabbed, due to open in the summer of 2000, with new cars and a larger track (the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland Autopias are being merged.

Star Tours

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 3 years old and 40 inches tall.

When I was a kid, and saw Star Wars in the theatre, I dreamed about what it would be like to attack the trench on the Death Star. It would be so spectacular to writhe across the surface of the station in an X-wing, rogue squadron in support. Tie fighters and the station's own defenses would be at full alert while the entire rebel fleet worked our attack plan. If you, too, have ever wondered what it would be like, wonder no more. Captain Rex, a droid pilot, will take you on just such an attack run...along with several other misadventures along the way. I personally think that this is still, Disney's best ride ever. The stirring Star Wars music along with stunning visuals and fight simulator technology are top notch. May the force be with you.

Monorail

The monorail provides you with a nice view of the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland areas. Beware, though, because this is also a main transportation link to the Disneyland Hotel. If you exit the monorail at the hotel, you'll need to keep your ticket stub and get your hand stamped for readmission

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience

E-Ticket, not to be missed!

This attraction begins as the formal presentation of the Scientist of the Year award to the guy that "shrunk the kids" and "blew up the kid". After demonstrating some of this other work, his shrinking machine gets turned on the audience. The effects are excellent. Be aware that there are some frightening snake and lion 3-D effects that you might want to warn your children about in advance. Also, since this is a full-sensory attraction, you'll experience more than just 3-D visuals.

Astro Orbiter

This is similar to Dumbo, but faster...and the vehicle tilts much more when you raise or lower it. There's not much to the orbiter. It's very appealing visually, but the ride is a very simply spin with minimal height control at the driver's discretion. I think it's a fun ride, but not worth a wait of more than just a couple of minutes.

Innoventions

This is a takeoff of the Innoventions areas at Epcot. Basically, this is a bunch of displays of newer technology. Some of it is interactive, some static. Be prepared to spend some time, though. You won't benefit much by a brief walk through.

Rocket Rods

Requirement:  Riders must be at least 46 inches tall.

The old people mover was replaced with this high-speed attraction.  The acceleration and speed (which isn't as tremendously exciting as it sounds as you hear the Rods zip around Tomorrowland) doesn't make up for the lack of a story or good effects.  All in all, this is a disappointing attraction.

 

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