Disneyland

Disneyland

Disneyland opened July 17, 1955 and in 2019 welcomed nearly 19 million visitors, making it the second-most-visited theme park in the world, followings its younger sibling, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Walt's original park is considered by many the "original" theme park, inspiring countless imitators around the world. Visitors to Walt Disney World may find Disneyland tiny in comparison, but this park is jam-packed with attractions, including the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land as well as the original Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and the world's first tubular steel roller coaster, Matterhorn Bobsleds. And if you manage to do everything here, the Disneyland Resort's second gate — the Disney California Adventure theme park — lies just steps away from the park entrance.

Note that Disneyland remains closed until further notice, due to California's Covid-19 restrictions.

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Our recommendations below come from our annual survey of Theme Park Insider newsletter subscribers. Locations with star ratings ranked especially highly among our readers. Click here to subscribe to our free, twice-weekly email of theme park news and to participate in the next ranking survey.

Rides

Top 10

  1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ★ ★ ★ ★
    Trackless dark ride located in Star Wars: Galaxy Edge. Height requirement: 40 inches
    Read Robert Niles' review of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
  2. Indiana Jones Adventure ★ ★ ★
    Motion-base dark ride located in Adventureland. Height requirement: 46 inches
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean ★ ★
    Indoor boat ride located in New Orleans Square
  4. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run
    Motion-base ride located in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Height requirement: 38 inches
    Read Robert Niles' review of Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run.
  5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
    Outdoor family roller coaster located in Frontierland. Height requirement: 40 inches
  6. Space Mountain
    Indoor family roller coaster located in Tomorrowland. Height requirement: 40 inches
  7. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
    "Star Wars"-themed motion-base show located in Tomorrowland. Height requirement: 40 inches
  8. Jungle Cruise
    Narrated, outdoor boat ride located in Adventureland
    Read about changes coming to Jungle Cruise.
  9. Haunted Mansion
    Dark ride located in New Orleans Square
  10. Matterhorn Bobsleds
    Roller coaster located in Fantasyland. Height requirement: 42 inches

Also recommended:

  • It’s A Small World
    Indoor boat ride located in Fantasyland
  • Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters
    "Toy Story"-themed interactive dark ride located in Tomorrowland
  • Peter Pan's Flight
    Dark ride located in Tomorrowland. [Includes potentially offensive imagery.]
  • Rafts to Pirates' Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
    Boat ride to a playground located in Frontierland
  • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
    "The Wind in the Willows"-themed Dark ride located in Tomorrowland
  • Mark Twain/Sailing Ship Columbia
    Boat rides around the Rivers of America in Frontierland

Other notable attractions include the Disneyland Railroad, which stops on Main Street USA and in New Orleans Square, Toontown, and Tomorrowland; the Tarzan Treehouse walkthrough in Adventureland; the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and Winnie the Pooh dark ride in Critter Country; the Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride dark rides, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Mad Tea Party spinners, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Storybook Land Canal Boats, and King Arthur Carrousel in Fantasyland; Gadget's Go Coaster and the Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin dark ride in Toontown; and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Disneyland Monorail, Autopia mini-cars, and Astro Orbitor spinner in Tomorrowland.

Upcoming rides include the revamped Snow White's Enchanted Wish in Fantasyland in 2021, and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway in Toontown in 2023.

Shows

Top recommendations

  1. Fantasmic! ★ ★ ★ ★
    Nighttime spectacular on the Rivers of America in Frontierland
  2. Mickey and the Magical Map
    Live musical in Fantasyland
  3. The Enchanted Tiki Room
    Walt Disney's original Audio Animatronic show, located in Adventureland
  4. The Dapper Dans
    Barbershop quartet appearing on Main Street USA
  5. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
    Movie and Audio Animatronic show on Main Street USA
  6. Disneyland Band
    Marching band appearing on Main Street USA

Disneyland's daily parade is Magic Happens, which ran only for two weeks before the park closed due to the pandemic.

Other notable shows include the Fantasy Faire Royal Theatre next to Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse meet and greets in their houses in Toontown.

Dining

Top recommendations

  1. Blue Bayou Restaurant ★ ★
    Table service inside Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square
  2. Plaza Inn
    Cafeteria serving fried chicken and pot roast on Main Street USA
  3. Cafe Orleans
    Table service in New Orleans Square
  4. Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo
    Counter service located in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
  5. Ronto's Roasters
    Counter service sausage wraps in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
  6. Rancho del Zocalo
    Counter service southwestern fare located in Frontierland
  7. Carnation Cafe
    Table service located on Main Street USA
  8. Oga's Cantina
    Themed bar in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. [Advance reservations strongly encouraged]

If you want one of Disneyland's famed Dole Whips, try The Tropical Hideaway in Adventureland.

Map

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California - about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and 30 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Strategy

We will be back with our visiting strategy when the park reopens — whenever that might be. Get vaccinated, everyone!

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