The original Disneyland, designed and built by Walt Disney himself and home to classic attractions such as Matternhorn Bobsleds, Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain.
|Opened||17 July 1955|
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company|
Disney California Adventure (adjacent)
Knott's Berry Farm (7 miles)
Universal Studios Hollywood (35 miles)
Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier (40 miles)
Six Flags Magic Mountain (62 miles)
Walt Disney, the visionary behind the park that bears his name, described Disneyland as "the happiest place on Earth." He wanted to create a place different in tone from the amusement parks found across America in the thirties and forties, with their cheap attractions and badly behaved patrons. Instead, he wanted Disneyland to be a park for families to have fun together – entertaining for children and adults in equal measure.
"To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past... and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."
- Walt Disney, Disneyland Dedication, Opening Day July 17th 1955.
Today's Disneyland holds true to that vision. Scattered across eight – soon to be nine – themed lands are a huge variety of rides and attractions featuring a plethora of Disney's best loved stories and characters. Many of these attractions are famous the world over, and indeed versions feature at Disney parks around the world. But Disneyland is the original, where it all began and where much of what today we regard as essential theme park elements were invented and perfected.
After passing through Disneyland's ticket plaza and security checks (yes, some of the less pleasant necessities of modern society even feature at the happiest place on Earth), guests walk underneath the tracks of the Disneyland Railroad and emerge onto Main Street, USA. This is an imagined version of small-town America of the past, complete with a town square, a fire station, arcades of shops and vintage vehicles travelling up towards the park’s centrepiece, Sleeping Beauty Castle, at the far end.
Beyond the castle lies Fantasyland, which plays home to several dark rides that retell some of Disney's most classic fairytales including Snow White, Pinocchio and Peter Pan. Fantasyland is also home to It's a Small World, which depending on your viewpoint is either a charming boat ride through wonderful scenes of the world's children singing together in harmony, or a tortuous fifteen minute tour around strongly stereotyped yet freakishly similar looking dolls while your ears are bombarded with an irritating theme song that you won't get out of your head for days.
Matterhorn Mountain towers above Fantasyland, with the Matterhorn Bobsleds housed inside. This was the world's first ever tubular steel rollercoaster. It provides an exciting ride, but luckily tubular steel technology has moved on to provide much smoother ride experiences since it was built!
At the back of the park beyond Fantasyland lies Mickey's Toontown, currently the newest land at Disneyland. Primarily aimed at young visitors, this is where children can visit Mickey Mouse and Minnie in their respective houses for a photo and autograph signing opportunity.
Critter Country on Disneyland's south-westerly boundary hosts another mountain – the Song of the South inspired Splash Mountain log flume, as well as the ingenious Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh dark ride.
The famous Jungle Cruise which opened with the park in 1955, the Enchanted Tiki Room which was the first attraction to employ Disney's audio-animatronics, and the technologically advanced Indiana Jones Adventure can all be found in Adventureland.
Walking from Adventureland, visitors will encounter the small New Orleans Square which is home to both the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion headliners. On from there, beside the Rivers of America, is Frontierland. Multiple nautical attractions centred on the river include the Mark Twain paddle steamer and the Sailing Ship Columbia, but towering above them all is Big Thunder Mountain (yup, Disneyland loves mountains) with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad snaking around and through it.
To the other side of Sleeping Beauty Castle is Tomorrowland, a retro-vision of a Jules Verne-esque future. Modernistic attractions include Autopia, Submarine Voyage, Space Mountain (ah ha, another mountain) and the Star Wars: The Adventures Continue simulator ride.
In 2019, the Star Wars presence at Disneyland will be considerably expanded with the opening of Star Wars land, currently under construction and officially named Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. It's not much of a leap to suppose that this is Disney's response to the enormously successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter land at nearby Universal Studios.
Aside from characters, themed lands and attractions, Disneyland is also famous for entertainment. As well as the various shows around the park, the nightly fireworks displays and parades down Main Street have been joined in recent years by Fantasmic!, an astounding show set on the Rivers of America and filled with dancing fountains, projections, huge props, lights and live action performers. Disney does shows incredibly well, but Fantasmic! is right at the top of the list.
Walt Disney’s dream was that Disneyland would never be completed. It would constantly be changing, evolving and improving to thrill guests. In 2001, Walt’s original park was joined by Disney California Adventure, a second gate right next door. Although that park had a rough start, it has grown into something that turns the Disneyland Resort into a compelling multi-day experience. With Star Wars coming in 2019, it will be difficult to see all that Disneyland has to offer in under three or more days.
Although now one of the best and most famous theme parks in the world, Walt would have us remember: "it was all started by a mouse."
Driven by Jeep, Indy takes guests deep inside a lost temple
Take a trip with R2-D2 and C-3P0 onboard this 3D simulator ride
Marvel at a room full of singing audio-animatronic birds
Join your guide for a boat ride deep into the jungle and discover a multitude of animal inhabitants
Hitch a ride with Mr Toad on the wildest of Disneyland's dark rides
Winnie the Pooh and friends star in this modern dark ride
Join Pinocchio in this dark ride based on the animated movie
Classic dark ride telling the story of Snow White
Interactive laser gun ride where guests do battle alongside Buzz Lightyear
Journey under the ocean in a submarine in an adventure starring Nemo and friends
Gentle boat ride around miniature houses depicting various fairytale scenes
Patriotic tribute to the former President, depicted as a lifelike audio-animatronic
A dark ride where riders can control their own spinning cars
Spinning tea cup ride
The centrepiece of the park, a full size fairytale castle
Grand train ride that circles the outskirts of Disneyland
Traditional carousel with galloping horses
Cruise the Rivers of America aboard this full-size paddle steamer
Vibrant daily parade down Main Street featuring a cast of well loved Disney characters
Various attraction related videos can also be found on individual attraction pages.