Disneyland is the original theme park in the growing family of Disney parks, and it is the one that I grew up with, which gives it a level of magic and nostalgia that few places on Earth can match. True story.
Some of my fondest memories involve Disney vacations and even today, at the age of 41 (gasp!), I still lose myself in them every time I walk into the park.
To all that come to this happy place, welcome*.
Disney rides are more than attractions, they are like time machines, floating through the past and creating new memories at the same time. It’s complicated.
We visit Disneyland often, and the magic never wears thin. In fact, thanks to the wonder of my two young boys, it is stronger than ever. Over the years, as the boys have grown and reached new heights, in this case quite literally, we have been able to expand our repertoire of rides to include the bigger and the faster, but we still enjoy those that made the memories, and we make new ones every single time.
The trick is getting to those rides at the right time. It turns out that other people want to ride them, too (go figure) and that’s where technology comes in. The Mobile Magic app from Disney Parks and Verizon provides information on wait times and other factors to help you plan your next stop with the shortest queues possible, and that’s a good thing.
Here are our favorite family rides for kids of all ages (and sizes):
Haunted Mansion 1 of 8Don't let the "haunted" scare you (get it?). It might be a bit spooky for some, but it's also a great attraction that the whole family can ride. Okay, it might be really spooky for some, but still a lot of fun! Ride it in October-January when it takes on a "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme!
Pirates of the Caribbean 2 of 8This was the last attraction that Walt Disney worked on before his passing, and it is fantastic fun. There are some skeletons and other pirate stuff that might alarm youngsters, but nothing a few hugs can't take care of. Recent additions to the ride include appearances by Captain Jack Sparrow.
Jungle Cruise 3 of 8This comedy show/safari cruise through the jungles of Anaheim are still an amazing experience for riders of all ages. Actual comedy may vary.
Mark Twain Riverboat 4 of 8From Frontierland take a 14 minute sightseeing voyage aboard a glorious 19th-century steam-powered paddlewheel riverboat like those that carried people and cargo up and down the mighty Mississippi. (Photo: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)
It’s a Small World 5 of 8On this legendary ride guests can experience Walt Disney's contribution to the 1964 World's Fair and enjoy the beauty created by Disney Legend and Imagineer Mary Blair. The song will stay with you. Always. (Photo: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage 6 of 8A few years ago Disneyland reopened the submarine ride with the welcome addition of Pixar's Nemo and friends. All ages will love the adventure! (Photo: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 7 of 8Join the silly old bear and his 100 Acre Wood pals as they deal with the issues of the blustery day. Fun fact: As your vehicle leaves the rather psychedelic swirly room take a look behind you — there is a special tribute to the Country Bear Jamboree that once occupied the same space in Disneyland. Photo: Whit Honea
Peter Pan’s Flight 8 of 8This is, by far, my favorite ride at Disneyland, and that is based 100% on memories of riding it with my grandparents when I was a little boy. Riding it with my own boys was, and still is, a very special treat that tends to border on the sunny side of melancholy. Photo: Whit Honea
*from Walt Disney’s Disneyland dedication speech
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
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Photos courtesy of Disney unless otherwise noted