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.

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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 email of theme park news and 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. Haunted Mansion
    Dark ride located in New Orleans Square
  6. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
    Outdoor family roller coaster located in Frontierland. Height requirement: 40 inches
  7. Space Mountain
    Indoor family roller coaster located in Tomorrowland. Height requirement: 40 inches
  8. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
    "Star Wars"-themed motion-base show located in Tomorrowland. Height requirement: 40 inches
  9. Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters
    "Toy Story"-themed interactive dark ride located in Tomorrowland
  10. Splash Mountain
    "Song of the South"-themed log flume ride in Critter Country. Height requirement: 40 inches
    Read about changes coming to Splash Mountain.

Also recommended:

  • Jungle Cruise
    Narrated, outdoor boat ride located in Adventureland
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
    Roller coaster located in Fantasyland. Height requirement: 42 inches
  • It’s A Small World
    Indoor boat ride located in Fantasyland
  • Rafts to Pirates' Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
    Boat ride to a playground located in Frontierland
  • 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 Snow White's Enchanted Wish, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and Peter Pan's Flight 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.

Coming next is Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway in Toontown in 2023.

Shows

Top recommendations

  1. Fantasmic!
    The nighttime spectacular on the Rivers of America in Frontierland returns this year.
  2. Main Street Electrical Parade
    The popular nighttime parade also will be returning to the park this year.
  3. The Enchanted Tiki Room
    Walt Disney's original Audio Animatronic show, located in Adventureland
  4. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
    Movie and Audio Animatronic show on Main Street USA

Dining

Top recommendations

  1. Plaza Inn ★ ★
    Cafeteria serving fried chicken and pot roast on Main Street USA
  2. Blue Bayou Restaurant ★ ★
    Table service inside Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square
  3. Oga's Cantina
    Themed bar in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. [Advance reservations strongly encouraged]
  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

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

You must make advance reservations to visit Disneyland, via Disney's website. This is true for "Magic Key" annual passholders as well as daily ticket holders. Unlike at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland hotel guests get no special preferences for admission.

If you want to go to the Blue Bayou or Oga's Cantina, make reservations up to 60 days in advance on the Disneyland website or the official app.

Disneyland now offers a new tool called Disney Genie on its official app to create a custom itinerary for each day of your visit. In addition, Disney offers two ways for its theme park guests to pay to access shorter wait times for many popular attractions. You can learn more about these options in our posts:

The good, old-fashioned free strategy is to get to the park at least half an hour before opening (accounting for time to park), then head to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain first, followed by Star Tours, then head across the park for Indiana Jones, then Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder, and Pirates. If you have young kids, do Fantasyland first, starting with Peter Pan, then Dumbo, then working your way around the dark rides.

Most visitors will rush to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance first thing in the morning, but unless you are among the very few people who can get all the way to the back of the park before the bulk of the crowd, you're going to end up with a long wait for a long ride that costs you any chance at shorter queues during the park's first hour. Rise of the Resistance typically closes early - often by 8pm - but wait until later in the afternoon to ride this award-winning attraction to maximize the number of other Disneyland attractions you can experience during your visit.

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