Disneyland Guide for Disney World Travelers


Night view of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland

This park is most easily compared to the Magic Kingdom, but there is a lot different in this park than any other in the world.

General Information:
  • Disneyland is a locals park. This is hard to describe but obvious if you've been there. Whereas Disney World features people traveling from all around the world to be there, a majority of guests at Disneyland are from Southern California. You can easily come across reminders of this throughout your trip, such as:
    • Large public areas unofficially were taken over temporarily by pin trading groups
    • Disneyland Gangs (Harmless (for the most part) but wear motorcycle gang type clothing)
    • Crowds for any performance big or small
    • More well-behaved guests- People treat the park with respect as they visit on a regular basis
    • Guests with strong opinions about past changes to the parks. I have found these to be the major touchy subjects
      • Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout-Tower of Terror
      • Market House becoming Starbucks
      • Disneyland Band's Modernization
      • 2017 Fantasmic Changes
  • There is very little shade or inside spaces due to the lack of rain
  • Small shows are big there
    • The Disneyland Band is the main event in front of the castle, often with characters
    • Regular small shows scattered everywhere in busy season
  • Some things are much better there, including
    • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Rivers of America
    • Small World
    • Toontown
  • Finally and this is big, there is a great respect for the history of the park
    • Easter eggs are everywhere
    • There are entire shows dedicated to the history of Disneyland
Overall these are just minor things that add up to make Disneyland a completely different experience than Disney World. It is an escape, not a vacation.


Lit up Main Street USA at night at Disneyland

This is similar in many ways to the Magic Kingdom equivalent of past years. They have all of the normal stores like the Emporium, but still, have things that have left the Magic Kingdom version like the Main Street Cinema.

Main Differences
  • There is no Trolley Show, but there is a lot of main street vehicles. They are everywhere.
  • The theater Town Square actually has a show! It holds Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. If you care about Disney history this is for you.
    • Imagine this as Hall of Presidents, but with only Lincoln
  • Carnation Cafe
    • This table service is far better than its Magic Kingdom equivalent Casey's
      • In food and decor
  • Windows
    • All dedicated to famous Disney Employees of years past
Rides

Disneyland Railroad


I can't stress this enough. This is a MUST DO attraction. This is not the Magic Kingdom where it merely transports you around the park. This is an attraction with significant waits. Some highlights of the trip include:
  • Mardi Gras display in New Orleans Square
  • Rivers of America section past killer beaver (more on that later)
  • THE DIORAMAS
    • These are full scenes as a part of the Tomorrowland-Main Street section and are unmissable! If you do no other section of the railroad, ride between Tomorrowland and Main Street USA
    • There are two dioramas, Grand Canyon and Primeval World
      • Grand Canyon is a western trip through the desert past Mountain Lions and through a thunderstorm
      • Primeval World is a trip back to the time of the dinosaurs. If you have ridden Universe of Energy you may recognize some scenes that were based on this diorama.
Restaurants

As I have already mentioned Carnation Cafe is a great restaurant, but there is one so far above it I just have to mention it exclusively.

Plaza Inn

This restaurant is by far the best on Main Street for both meals it offers, but we will review them separately.

Breakfast

If you are looking for a character meal at Disneyland, go here. It has more characters than I have ever seen in any character meal, 8 at one time! For food, it has your standard buffet, but with some more adventurous options than at most Disney buffets. But never fear, they have Mickey Waffles. I have eaten here twice, and the characters I have seen are...
  • Minnie (Guaranteed) 
  • Rafiki
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Piglet
  • Eyore
  • Tigger
  • Rabbit (Rare)
  • Captain Hook
  • Fairy Godmother
  • Max Goof
  • Suzy (Rare)
  • Perla (Rare)
Lunch/ Dinner

This meal is amazing. It's not even like it's one item that's great like at so many Disney restaurants. Everything is great, and you'll want to eat here multiple times as there are so many great options. Sharing to try multiple things is greatly encouraged. Reservations are rarely needed but can be made.

Little Red Wagon

This is a small cart just to the side of Plaza Inn and serves Corn Dogs exclusively. These are quite possibly the BEST Corn Dogs anywhere, and I would recommend this above almost all other snacks offered at Disneyland.

Adventureland

Moving clockwise we go to Adventureland. This land is currently missing a major restaurant (not for long) but has 3 great attractions and Tarzan's Treehouse.

Rides

Enchanted Tiki Room


This classic attraction is identical to it's Magic Kingdom version except for two things. The preshow is different at this version. Finally, You can bring dole whips inside as you watch the show.

Jungle Cruise

This is the original of the Adventureland classic attraction. It also takes place in an actual rainforest. This features all the classic scenes from the Magic Kingdom version along with a piranha attack scene.

Indiana Jones Adventure

I do not know how this ride has not made it's way to Disney World. Oh wait... it has... it's just pretending to be a dinosaur ride.

All jokes aside there is no comparing this to Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, even though they share an identical track layout.

Indiana Jones Adventure may be one of the best rides built anywhere in the world. It is beyond words to describe how well themed and exciting this ride is, from the queue to the high-speed temple escape, this is by far a MUST DO attraction, even if you are not an Indiana Jones fan.
Get a Fastpass for this, you'll need it.

Tarzan's Treehouse

This is Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse with Tarzan figures and music. There is nothing else to say about this one.

New Orleans Square

This is, in my opinion, the best land in the park. It only features two rides, but they are two of the best in the park and the land is so incredibly detailed all throughout it just stands above all other lands in the park.

Rides

Pirates of the Caribbean

If there was ever a ride so drastically better in Disneyland it ruins the Magic Kingdom version, it is this ride. Over double the length and including two drops, several additional scenes, going up the waterfall and passing by an actual restaurant this is so much better than the Magic Kingdom version it may ruin it for you. If there is one ride in both parks that you choose to do at Disneyland, make it THIS ONE.

Haunted Mansion

This is similar to the same ride as in Disney World. There are a few main differences though. First, on the outside, it looks completely different as it is in New Orleans, not the colonial Liberty Square. Second, the stretching room is an actual elevator. Third, there is an additional character in the attic scene, the mysterious Hatbox Ghost. Finally, the ride is a little shorter, but this is mainly because one of the scenes is actually a part of the line in this version (Portrait Hall) and one of them is a part of the exit (Ghostess/ Little Leota). I would recommend doing this as it is significantly different from the Magic Kingdom version.

Restaurants

There is a variety of quality restaurants in this land, but there is one must do restaurant in this land.

Blue Bayou

Make sure to ask for a waterside table. You'll sit right next to a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean as the boats pass by. The food here is some of the best in any restaurant resort wide on top of the location and theme. If you want to better prioritize your time I would recommend the Fantasmic! dining package through either this or River Belle Terrace which allows you to sit for this show. (More on Fantasmic! later)

Rivers of America

This is not technically a land but it includes so much we will treat it as such for the sake of this guide.

Disneyland's Rivers of America is electric with activity at all times of the day. It has many different rides and shows throughout the day which are worth seeing.

Rides

Mark Twain Riverboat

This is the same as the Disney World version, but with very different views along the river. It is definitely worth your time to take one of the three boats around the river to see everything. Also, this boat is used in the finale of Fantasmic! each night.

Sailing Ship Columbia

Ever rode the riverboat and thought "Gee I wish this was a pirate ship"? Well, this rides for you!

Joking aside this is a fun and different trip around the Rivers of America and you can go below deck and check out period accurate displays of what it would be like to be on that type of ship when it was built. This is also used each night in Fantasmic! for the Pirates of the Caribbean scene.

Davy Crocket Explorer Canoes

These are canoes that you can paddle around Rivers of America allowing for completely unobstructed views. But be warned! This is not on a track, and you actually need to peddle to move on this ride. If you don't you WILL be yelled at by the two cast members on the canoe.

Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

This would be the same as Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom if not for Pirates of the Caribbean. An overlay for the movie proved so popular it has been kept ever since, adding additional activities themed to Tom and Huck playing pirate throughout the Island.

Shows

There is one show on Rivers of America. Do not think about the Disney World version. There is almost nothing similar between these two versions.


Forget everything you know about the show at Hollywood Studios. This is a completely different show and is better in almost every way. Some basic things to know:
  • There is no theater
    • You will be watching this show from normal walkways surrounding the New Orleans Square section of Rivers of America
    • Unless you pay for a dining package you will be standing through the show
  • Dining packages
    • You will be able to sit front and center
    • This is the only way to SIT or be in the center
    • You will be sitting on the ground
      • People often bring flat pillows/ towels to sit on
  • The scenes are almost all different
    • This is not a bad thing as many are better
  • You can get a Fastpass
    • These are guaranteed side views and are given out next to the Riverboat station
    • Getting a Fantasmic! Fastpass does not impact your ability to get other Fastpasses throughout the day

The scenes are very different in this version. Some major differences are:

  • Updated musical score (2017)
  • Jungle scene is a mix of Jungle Book and Lion King
  • Aladdin scene is added featuring the Genie
  • Princess scene has 4 princesses instead of 3, they are
    • Aladdin and Jasmine (On a Magic Carpet)
    • Ariel and Prince Eric
    • Belle and the Beast
    • Rapunzel and Flynn Rider
  • Pocahontas scene is replaced by Pirates of the Caribbean
    • There is a pirate ship that goes around the river with Captain Jack Sparrow fighting with skeletons
  • The DRAGON
    • There is a full size gigantic animatronic DRAGON! It is shockingly realistic and makes the final battle much more exciting
Overall be sure to see this show. Also stick around after if you see the first show, as the projections shown on the castle during the fireworks will be projected on the mist screens used for Fantasmic. This allows you to avoid the Main Street crowds while still seeing the Fireworks.

Critter Country

This is a small land in the far corner of the park. There is only one reason anyone comes to this land.

Rides

Splash Mountain

A log falls down Disneyland Splash Mountain

This is the same ride found in the Magic Kingdom, except the logs do not have side by side seating.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride Disneyland

This ride is always a walk on. This may sound unheard of if you come from the Magic Kingdom. But...

THIS IS NOT THE MAGIC KINGDOMS WINNIE THE POOH

This is a shortened, cheaper version. Think of it as a best of video, where it takes some popular scenes, puts them out of order and nothing makes sense. There is a reason this doesn't ever have a wait. This is not to say don't go on it. It's still a fun ride, just don't wait for it. I promise you, at some point during the day it will be a walk-on. Then go on it.

Frontierland

This land includes one ride and a lunch/dinner show.

Rides

Big Thunder Mountain

Final splashdown of Disneyland Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

This is largely the same ride as in the Magic Kingdom, however, there is one major difference which makes this a must-see attraction at Disneyland is the finale. The final lift hill, formerly a cave in, as it still is in the Magic Kingdom, now uses projection mapping combined with other effects to create an explosive ending to the ride.

Shows

There are a few small shows in this land.

The Disneyland Band puts on a daily show throughout the land with western-themed music.

The Golden Horseshoe puts on varying show of varying quality to watch as you eat at this counter service restaurant. If you choose to eat here, check out the second floor, it is rarely used and offers in some cases better views of the shows.

Restaurants

Stage Door Cafe

Facade of the Stage Door Cafe at Disneyland

This is a counter service restaurant next door to the Golden Horseshoe and offers some of the same food. There is only outside seating. The crown jewel of this restaurant is they offer the famous Disneyland Corn Dogs!! With no lines!!

Rancho Del Zocalo

This is a restaurant serving Mexican and Southern Californian food. The theming is amazing, especially as it goes right up against Big Thunder.

Suggested Article: Frontierland: Disneyland Vs. Disney World

Fantasyland

This is the classic Disneyland land, featuring all your favorite classic Disney characters.

Rides

Peter Pan's Flight

This ride takes you on a journey to Neverland with Peter Pan, Tinkerbelle, and the Darling family. This is the most popular of the Fantasyland dark rides and almost always has an hour+ wait. This has no Fastpass and is a good thing to run to at park open. It is smaller in scale than in the Magic Kingdom.

Mr. Toads Wild Ride

This is a ride that literally takes you to hell and back. Get motor mania with Mr. Toad on his trip through the countryside. This is a short fun ride that rarely has a long wait. A much bigger version used to exist in the Magic Kingdom, but it was replaced by Winnie the Pooh.

Snow White's Scary Adventure

This ride was so scary its name had to be changed due to complaining parents. If you remember the removed ride from Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, this is the similar original version of the ride of the same name.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey

This is a ride similar to the other Fantasyland dark rides that never made it's way to the Magic Kingdom. It is just as fun as the others and features some interesting special effects showcasing the magic in the story. I would definitely recommend doing this as it is unlike anything you can experience at Disney World.

King Arthur's Carousel


This is basically the same carousel ride from all other Fantasylands around the world. The one difference here is that on a somewhat regular basis, characters will ride the carousel with guests. I have also seen some of the Disneyland Bands ride this carousel while playing music, adding some kinetic energy to the land.

Alice in Wonderland

This is another Fantasyland dark ride that only exists at Disneyland. It is unique in that it includes both inside and outside segments. Recently this ride was even upgraded with modern technology making it even better than it already was. I definitely recommend doing this ride as it is unlike any ride in Disney World.

Mad Tea Party

Disneyland Mad Tea Party ride at night empty

This is the same ride as at Disney World has at the Magic Kingdom. The only difference is this ride is fully outside.

It's a Small World

This is a classic Disney ride, and this version specifically holds a lot of Disney history. This is the original 1964 World's Fair version of the ride, giving it the added historical element. This version also has Disney characters spread throughout the ride in the style of the dolls. Mulan is in China. Lilo and Stitch are in the Polynesian section. This is a must do.


There is also a mini show every 15 minutes of Small World dolls in a clock built into the ride's facade called the Small World Clock Parade.

Dumbo

This is the same ride from the Magic Kingdom, except this version is still in the center of the land, providing great views of Fantasyland. It does not have two of the ride like in the Magic Kingdom so lines can be longer.

Storybookland

This is a collection of two rides that interlock with each other. The Storybook Canal Boats and Casey Jr take you on a tour of miniature Disney locations. You visit everything from Toad Hall to Arendelle to the princess castles. This is completely unlike anything Disney World has and you should definitely take one of the tours of this land.

Shows

Mickey and the Magical Map

This show is completely unique to Disneyland and features many of your favorite Disney characters brought together by Mickey Mouse being transported by a magic map. Movies included are Mulan, Pocahontas, Tangled, The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book, Lilo and Stitch, and Princess and the Frog. This is a fun show that you should try to see if it is running while you are there.

Restaurants

For the most part food in Fantasyland is limited to food carts scattered throughout the land. There is only one actual restaurant in the land.

Red Rose Tavern

This was supposed to be a temporary overlay, but was so popular it became permanent. Red Rose Tavern is a Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant half themed to the live action movie and half themed to the animated classic film. This is essentially an on the cheap version of Be Our Guest. Luckily it features quality food, low waits compared to Be Our Guest and they have the GREY STUFF.

Suggested Article: Fantasyland: Disneyland Vs. Disney World

Toontown

Mickey Mouse's house in Toontown at Disneyland

Ok, forget everything you know about the Disney World version of this land. This is not the temporary land the Magic Kingdom got. This was a permanent expansion of the park based on the Mickey and Friends characters and the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

Main Differences
  • There are rides!
    • Instead of the Barnstormer, there is Gadget's Go Coaster which is based on the Rescue Rangers TV series
    • Roger Rabbit has a Fantasyland-style dark ride that has one of the best queues in any Disney park. Do not Fastpass this! You might be able to get a Fastpass almost immediately but doing that would ruin a major part of the ride.
  • There are more character houses
    • Beyond Mickey, Donald, and Minnie's houses, there are houses for Chip and Dale and Goofy as well as a Roger Rabbit themed post office
  • It is interactive
    • There are many interactive elements to the land. If something says do not pull, PULL IT!

Rides

Gadget's Go Coaster

This is basically a family coaster like the Barnstormer but with a different theme. The station is great if you are a fan of the classic TV show.

Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin

Facade of Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin Disneyland

This is a great ride that would easily fit alongside classic Fantasyland dark rides like Peter Pan's Flight and Snow White's Scary Adventures. Make sure to wait in the queue which takes you past the Ink and Paint Club and through the back alleys of Toontown.

Restaurants

I'm going to make this short and simple. Don't eat here. Got it? Good!

Shop

There is one shop in this land, the Gag Factory. It features mostly Mickey Hats and Disney plush and Tsum Tsums. Recently they started offering Roger Rabbit Tsum Tsum's.


Station of Space Mountain roller coaster Disneyland Tomorrowland

This land is nothing like it is at the Magic Kingdom, and that's not a good thing. It still uses the crumbling (literally in some cases) infrastructure from 1967 with the exception of Space Mountain.

Main Differences

  • There is no Peoplemover
    • Well that's a lie, the Peoplemover is there it's just been abandoned above Tomorrowland for the last 20 years
  • There is no Carousel of Progress
    • Once again, it was there, it was just gutted and replaced with a Star Wars exhibit

Rides

Star Tours

This is the exact same ride as at Disney's Hollywood Studios. A little bit of trivia about this version: The C-3PO animatronic in the queue is actually a costume from the films with an animatronic inside of it.

Astro Orbitor

Astro Orbitor at Disneyland empty night

This is the only ride ever copied from Disneyland Paris to a US Disney park. It is similar to the Disney World version, but is in the park's hub instead of the center of the land and is on the ground, meaning you don't get the views you get in the Magic Kingdom version.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

This was built after the Magic Kingdom version and it shows. The sets are more elaborate, the scoring system more streamlined, but most importantly YOU CAN PICK UP YOUR BLASTER! That alone makes this the superior version.

Space Mountain

Space Mountain exterior at night tomorrowland

Ok, this is better than the Magic Kingdom version in almost every way, so let me start with the few ways the Magic Kingdom version is better. The Magic Kingdom has better queue music and has a post-show Disneyland never got. That's it.

The coaster got a full track replacement in the mid-2000's meaning the ride is much smoother. There is onboard music synced to the track, which the Magic Kingdom doesn't have. You also sit side by side on this ride as opposed to back to back. Add on to this a better track design and fun seasonal overlays and this is the superior version.



This is a Finding Nemo retheme of the classic Disneyland submarine ride. If you can get past the claustrophobic ride vehicles this would be a better Finding Nemo ride than The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot if not for one thing. This ride has been maintained terribly.

Now you're not going to get hurt or anything with this ride, but the effects have slowly stopped working over the years and it's gotten darker and harder to see anything. Hopefully, it gets a refurbishment soon and returns to its former glory.

Autopia

If you like Tomorrowland Speedway you will love Autopia. You drive your own car through the highways of tomorrow with ASIMO the Honda robot. It is better themed but just as smelly. You can get an Autopia drivers license here, something not found in the Magic Kingdom.

Monorail

This is what the Disney World Monorail would be like if it was actually updated properly. You can either use this to get to Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotels or as a fun ride with views of California Adventure Fantasyland and more.

Star Wars Launch Bay

This is roughly the same as the Disney World one. The bonus here is a meet and greet with Rey.

Restaurants

Pizza Port

This is quite possibly the worst pizza I have ever had. If you want pizza go across Harbor Boulevard and get Pizza Press.

Galactic Grille

This used to be one of the worst restaurants in the park but recent updates have made it a great counter service place with comfort American food, similar to Casey's Corner at Disney World

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