Update August 2023: Please check out my newest Disneyland post here. For Disneyland with Toddlers, visit this post on my lifestyle blog.
Let me just start by saying, I am a huge fan of all things Disney. The last time I visited a Walt Disney park, it was for my 4th birthday. When planning our trip to Los Angeles, Patricia and I decided that it was in our best interest to visit Disneyland… neither of us had been.
I was extremely disappointed to find out that “Its a small world” was closed due to construction of the new Star Wars land, but I was so excited to finally see Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
We dedicated a full day to Disneyland, arriving before open and staying until after they close. I want to share my tips to ensuring you make the most out of your day at Disneyland and provide you with a breakdown of rides/attractions.
- Enchanted Tiki Room- this was closed when I went, but I have read that it is an attraction at Disneyland featuring exotic birds.
- Indiana Jones Adventure- ride through a lost temple on a jeep and experience the thrills that Indiana Jones faces including snakes, rats, and skeletons. This was the only ride I used a FastPass for, there is a long walk to the front of the line, but it is worth it! This one is definitely more appealing for the 5+ crowd.
- Jungle Cruise- also was closed at the time of my trip. This boat ride features corny jokes. Great for younger kids.
- Pirates of the Caribbean- This ride is what inspired the hit movie franchise. Ride through the story on a little boat, with very small drops, this ride is great for children of all ages.
- Dave Crockett’s Explorer Canoes- I can’t remember if this ride was closed at the time of my visit, or if we just chose not to do it… However, after reading the description on a fellow travel blog, I wished I had gotten to canoe my way through the rivers of America…
- Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh- YES! I did ride this ride. Each pair of participants rides through the story of Winnie the Pooh in a honey pot! (BONUS TIP: when you come out, you can get right in line to meet Eeyor, Tigger, and Winnie!)
- Splash Mountain- one of the more “older” rides. I’d say this one is great for children 5+, as long as they meet the minimum height requirement. This one features 3 drops, one of which is 50’… I actually had no clue that this one was based on something from a Disney movie until I started reading the decorations on the walls.
- Alice in Wonderland- This ride in Disneyland is great for the little ones who want to ride a caterpillar through Wonderland, but are not afraid of the dark. Alice and the Mad Hatter are waiting outside for pictures.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant- So… backstory here is that this was my favorite ride as a child. Well, I actually cannot confirm this, but it was one of the ones I was most excited about when planning the trip to Disney. It is super gentle and great even for the little guys who are a year old!
- Fantasy Faire at Disneyland is home to a theatre (they had the story of Tangled being performed while I was there) and you could meet some princesses (Merida, Rapunzel, and everyone’s favorite Frozen girls, Elsa & Anna). And inside? The classic princess’s: Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella.
- “its a small world”- This ride was closed (and I will be going back to Disneyland just to ride it)… But this ride was actually created by Walt Disney for the 1964 World’s Fair which took place in New York City and is great for children both young and old.
- Mad Hatter’s Tea Party- This is a great ride during which you are in control! Spin and spin as fast as you want in your tea cup.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds- I was actually so in love with this ride. It is a roller coaster ride in a “bobsled” with lots of turns and abominable snowmen.
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride- I do not think this one was open when I was there, but this gentle ride through Mr. Toad’s adventures does take place in the dark.
Fantasyland Attractions for Younger Crowds:
- Sleeping Beaty’s Castle- I wish I had the chance to take a tour through the story of Sleeping Beauty in her castle. (TIP: Make sure to grab a seat or hang out near the castle after dark! See the bottom of this post for details.)
- Peter Pan’s Flight- This ride is also great for little ones. It allows them to fly over Neverland is a flying pirate ship!
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique- It is a major blessing that I did not get to go in here. I am obsessed with Cinderella and had I known that I could get a princess makeover in this salon… I probably would have done it.
- Snow White’s Scary Adventure- This one is sure to be a thrill for the youngsters as they ride through the story of the Evil Queen trying to catch Snow White.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- This railroad themed roller coaster has a few bumps and turns and mini drops, making it perfect for a younger crowd.
- Mark Twain’s Riverboat- Set sail on this riverboat and ride around on the Rivers of America for 12 minutes. The original riverboat, which was built by Walt Disney in 1955, was the first functional one to be built in the USA in 50 years.
Main Street USA
- As you walk down main street toward Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, look around at the shops and restaurants. Walt Disney was inspired by his hometown in Missouri when designing it. Keep an eye out in this town square; you may be able to spot some of your favorite characters that are there to take a picture with you!
- You can also hop on the Disneyland Railroad and ride around Main Street, New Orleans Square, and Toontown.
New Orleans Square
- The Haunted Mansion- Another ride that inspired a movie. Ride through the haunted story of the ghosts that live in this classic house.
- Astro Orbitor- This ride is the Tomorrowland equivalent of Dumbo the Flying Elephant. I recommend riding this one near sundown to get a great view of the sunset spread throughout the park.
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters- This ride really brought out my competitive side. You and your riding partner play a game to see who can blast the most targets with the astro blasters! Great for players of all ages.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage- Go underwater in a submarine and travel through Nemo’s story, watching his father find him!
- Innoventions- This exhibit was not open when I was there. My understanding is this is an interactive technology exhibit that features meet-and-greets with Marvel characters!
- Jedi Training Academy- Take some time out of the day and let your kids take on the class that trains them to be a jedi!
- Space Mountain- This dark rollercoaster through space had technical difficulties while we were in line for it, so we unfortunately didn’t get an opportunity to go on.
- Star Tours- The line for this ride gets long fast! If you want to experience this motion simulation of the Star Wars films, I recommend doing it early in the day and being on one of the very first Star Tours.
- Tomorrowland Autopia- This ride was also closed while we were in town… (I’m starting to feel as if I missed out on a lot!) This ride gives kids the opportunity to drive a car!
- Chip n’ Dales’ Tree House, Donald’s Boat, and Goofy’s Playhouse- These three are all play areas for children to explore!
- Gadget’s Go Coaster- A miniature, child-friendly roller coaster.
- Mickey’s House- After walking through Mickey’s house (which is pretty big!) you walk into his sound stage in the back of his house and take pictures with him while he is “on a break” from filming!
- Minnie’s House- Minnie invites you walk through her house and into her backyard to join her at a tea party!
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin- I didn’t see this ride (most likely because I was busy being afraid of Goofy) but this ride lets you tour ToonTown and spin yourself out of control (similar to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party).
If possible, visit on a weekday that is not during a major school break or long-weekend. Lines will be incredibly shorter. We did this and didn’t have to wait longer than 20 minutes for a ride… after 3pm there is a large influx of people due to local kids getting out of school.
Bring snacks and food!
Food is allowed! If you can bring your own snacks and pack sandwiches for lunch, you can avoid having to spend time finding somewhere to eat. Why not eat while waiting in line?
We waiting until after the parks closed to have dinner at Downtown Disney, a collection of shops and restaurants outside the parks that stay open until 2 am.
It’s easy to get dehydrated.
Try and go in a circle!
Pick a side to start on and work your way around. (We started in Tomorrowland and worked around to Critter Country). If a ride has a fast pass option and a long wait, heres my suggestion: pick up a fast pass, visit a ride or two, and then come back. You are given an hour and half time frame during which your fast pass works!
When you finish going around in a circle, go back to the rides you missed out on (for us this was Matterhorn bobsleds, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Astro Orbitors).
Make sure to stay for the Light the Night Parade and Fireworks show.
These two spectacles really prove that Disneyland is the most magical place on earth.