A day at Disneyland is like a trip to another planet. Imagine yourself thrown back in time to when you were an 8-year old, fascinated by the colors and sounds of a cartoon wonderland and soaked up by its enchanting atmosphere. That’s pretty much how we felt after visiting Disneyland Los Angeles. Parades, nightly fireworks, live shows, strolling musicians and tons of attractions added up to us having an amazing day here. We commenced on a journey to another world, also known as “The Happiest Place on Earth”, to find out what really makes this place so special. We spent an entire day at Disneyland Park & Disney’s California Adventure and here are our insights, tips and reviews.
Before you go
We thought about getting to the park from Los Angeles by public transportation but decided in favor of renting a car instead. This is also our recommended option as it leaves you with less of a hassle and provides you with the best comfort. Disneyland lies in the city of Anaheim, roughly 30 kilometers away from downtown Los Angeles. You can reach it by taking the Interstate 5 and taking the exit on Harbor Boulevard.
- Leave early! The earlier you arrive, the better, as the lines get longer throughout the day. We also recommend to visit the park during weekdays, preferably mid-week (Tuesday – Thursday).
- Dress comfortably! You will be touring the (large) grounds for an entire day, so make sure to wear some comfortable shoes and clothes.
- Bring some snacks! Although there are loads of snack choices in the park you can also bring your own.
- Avoid large bags! Just bring the most necessary items as large bags are not permitted and will also be bothering you. In case, there are locker rentals to store your belongings.
Arriving at Disneyland Resort
Taking the car we decided to park at the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure which is located a bit out of the park itself but provides you with loads of parking space. From here there are several shuttles that bring you to the main entrance to both parks. A parking tickets cost USD 18 per day for cars and motorcycles.
The Disneyland Resort consists of the two parks – Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park along with multiple hotel, shopping and restaurant areas. Arriving at the main entrances you will then get your Disneyland tickets in one of the booths (check prices here) and choose which park to visit first. You can either get a ticket for admission to one park or go for the park-hopper ticket which allows you to visit both parks at any time (recommended!). Disneyland Park is opened from 8:00 AM – 12:00 AM, and the California Adventure Park from 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM, so you have lots of time to discover everything! We decided to visit the Adventure Park first and move our way over to Disneyland Park after.
TIP! In order to avoid long waiting times we recommend getting so-called Fast-Pass tickets. These are offered at the most visited attractions in both parks. These tickets state a time in which you can return to the attraction and enter without waiting in line or at least waiting much less than if you would go directly. Check out the places you want to really visit, get your fast passes and plan your tour according to these times – it’s well worth it!
Disneyland California Adventure Park
MUST-SEE TOP ATTRACTIONS: California Screamin’, Soarin’ Over California & Radiator Springs Racers
If you are looking for an adventure, then this is the place for you! Revamped and re-opened back in 2012, California Adventure Park is now considered to be one of the crown jewels of Disney theme parks in the United States and a worthy peer to its neighboring Disneyland Park. The park is a true adventure for young and old and is packed with loads of attractions and things to discover.
The park is divided into 8 areas that all offer different attractions. Entering the park you will find yourself on Buena Vista Street, offering you various shops, cafés and restaurants. Right next to it is Condor Flats, offering the great attraction of Soarin’ Over California. Essentially, this is an IMAX movie where you are sitting in seats, feet dangling around, that lift you up and allows you to fly over parts of California and the world in front of a huge screen. They even pipe in different smells and air to simulate the places to fly over – a great experience and powerful simulation.
From here we decided to go to Grizzly Peak with an adventurous attraction named the Grizzly River Run. This is a wild water ride adventure – be prepared to get wet so go here early as you still have enough time to dry up!
Moving upwards we found ourselves at Paradise Pier – a large water basin surrounded by various restaurants and attractions – one of them being California Screamin’, probably the biggest attraction here. The roller coaster has a propulsive start and a loop and truly deserves its name. Rocio was brave enough to join me on this ride but did not feel too good after – check the video on that 😉
Leaving the Paradise Pier behind, you will pass by the Pacific Wharf which offers a lot of Disney dining experiences and a great place to get a snack or two. This will eventually lead you to Cars Land – an entire part of the park designed based on the Pixar film Cars. The entire area truly is a visual gem with its main attraction being the Radiator Springs Racers – one of the newest and exciting rides in the park in which you are seated in a car that races you across the hills.
Following Cars Land you will pass through “a bug’s land”. Based on Pixar’s movie A Bug’s Life, this area makes you “shrink” to the size of a bug so that you can see things from their point of view. You will find yourself moving through this area faster as you will now head to Hollywood Land. Here is where the Golden Age of Hollywood is celebrated with many attraction, various entertainments and shows. You will find yourself walking down Hollywood Boulevard with loads of dining and shopping experiences along with the main attraction: Tower of Terror. It’s a free fall ride and definitely not suitable for everyone. We personally really do not like free fall rides but have heard of this one being an honest description of what you will encounter!
Expect to spend nearly half of your day here, discovering all the attractions and dining experiences before moving on to the neighboring Disneyland Park!
MUST-SEE TOP ATTRACTIONS: Indiana Jones Adventure, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean & Fireworks
Disneyland Park is the heart of the Disneyland Resort complex and the place “where imagination is the destination”. This is where you will find the true magic of Disney, an enchanting world where all the Disney stories come alive and immerse you into their world! This park is made up of 7 different areas with various attractions with the famous Sleeping Beauty Castle located in its center.
Entering the park you will find yourself on Main Street, U.S.A. This is the entrance to Disneyland Park showcasing a stroll down street with classic, American architecture which will lead you to a large circle from which you can choose the area you want to visit first. We opted to proceed to Tomorrow land. Tomorrow land offers some great attractions including the new, 3-D Star Tours from Star Wars as well as Space Mountain – a thrill ride rocketing you through a Star Wars galaxy. The best place to stay if you are into Star Wars and all its characters!
Fantasy land lies at the heart of the park and you will find yourself passing through it at some point. It’s located beyond the castle and its here where you will encounter all those characters from stories such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. The fastest attraction here is the Matterhorn Bobsled – another thrill ride chasing you through the icy atmosphere of a Swiss mountain.
All the way up and not to forget is the must-visit area of Mickey’s Toontown. Probably every child’s dream, this town is an interactive metropolis of all classic Disney characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and more. You can visit their houses and discover the place that they call home. If you are lucky they might even be at home!
Walking past Frontierland where you will find another thrill-ride called the Bug Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Golden Horseshoe Stage (great shows!) you will reach a great river. Along the riverside you will find the New Orleans Square. Here you can wander around the charming streets of a 19th century New Orleans, celebrating Mardi Gras with many live shows, jazz bands and old french architecture bringing you back to the elegance of the Old South. Main attractions here are the Haunted House and The Pirates of the Caribbean – a great ‘mild but wild ride’ transporting you back to days of pirates and privateers, including Captain Jack Sparrow!
Don’t forget to pass by Critter County, a bit further up from New Orleans Square, to experience the great Splash Mountain with its daring, 5-story plunge which will leave you wet for sure! A must-visit attraction in the Disneyland Park which you should plan on visiting during daytime to make you get dry faster afterward.
Finish your park tour at Adventureland and embark on an expedition into the wild. Enter lost temples and dark jungles with its main attractions of the Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones Adventure – one of our highlights here. Here you enter a fast-paced thrill ride aboard a troop transport jeep and discover the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Really a great ride with all the excitements of a true Indiana Jones story.
Conclude your day by waiting for the amazing fireworks which start every day at 9.30 PM. The best place to see them is in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle so make sure to get there a bit ahead of time. Truly spectacular, these fireworks illuminate the skies across the entire park and are the perfect conclusion for a truly Disney day!
Disneyland Park and the Disneyland California Adventure Park are definitely places you have to visit during your stay in Los Angeles. It somehow feels like an integral component when visiting the city and greatly adds on to the ‘show and shine’ of California. Spending an entire day here can be tough and tiring at times and you will surely have a good nights sleep after your visit. Yet, it really is worth it as you will be struck by the amazing entertainment offered to you here. Make sure to plan your day a bit and time your visits to the main attractions with the help of fast-passes. Also, try to join one of the many shows that are offered throughout the day in both parks. You can receive all the necessary information at the entrance areas of the parks. If you are lucky you can even spot the main Disney characters somewhere in the park and take a picture with them – we caught Mickey and Minnie on camera!
We had a fantastic day here and hope that you could get some great insights on what you will encounter when visiting the Disneyland Los Angeles.
Check out our Disneyland video here:
Location Map of Disneyland Los Angeles