Disneyland 101: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Meet Mickey MouseI have been writing a lot about Disneyland lately, and in doing so I have allowed certain assumptions to dictate, namely, that people have a basic familiarity with the Disneyland Park. I realize that this isn’t always the case so I thought I would take a moment to break it down for you. You are welcome. Please apply it to your family vacation accordingly.

It is probably fair to say that you have heard of Disneyland. It was the first of the Disney Parks, and, in my humble opinion, it is still the best. Sure, the other parks are great and my family loves them all, but for history, detail, magic, and fun, you can’t beat Disneyland. It is the Disney family vacation.

Disneyland was founded by Walt Disney as an alternative to the existing parks of his time. He wanted someplace clean and fun where kids could be kids and adults could escape from the pressures of their daily lives. He wanted a place where reality was checked at the door, or gate as the case may be. This obviously happened before Facebook.

Walt’s dream worked, and it is still working today.

Located in Anaheim, California, just south of Los Angeles, the park is popular with both locals (many have annual passes) and tourists. It can be visited in one day — one hurried, tiring and frustrating day, or it can be done at a slower pace. If you combine Disneyland with the second gate, Disney California Adventure Park, the Downtown Disney entertainment area, and some quality hotel time, then you can stretch it for a week. Note to everyone: The best times to be in the park are mornings and nights, if you are there for multiple days take a nap in the afternoon!

Disneyland is divided into different themed areas (lands), each connected via the hub in the center (or the railroad around the park perimeter). The lands consist of Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and Mickey’s Toontown (Toontown closes early each day, so take that into consideration).

Meet Mickey Mouse in Toontown

Each different land offers a variety of rides, shows, shops, dining, tons of magic, and opportunities to meet and greet an array of Disney’s famous characters.

In case you are wondering about the practical stuff, Disneyland has numerous spacious and clean restrooms, a quiet area for those with small children, first aid, assistance for guests with disabilities, plenty of shade and seating, lockers, healthy dining (vegetarian, gluten-free, allergy-sensitive), and anything else one might need while away from home. I do recommend bringing a few bottles of water, that way you can save your money for churros.

For more assistance in navigating Disneyland use the very helpful Mobile Magic App from Disney and Verizon. Or take me with you. I’m a lot of fun to be around.

Of note for parents/adults traveling with children that do not meet the height requirements on some rides, ask a cast member about a child swap voucher. This will allow one adult to stay with the kid(s) while the rest of the party rides the attraction, then after the ride they may switch and access the same ride through a much shorter line than the main queue.

Toontown Disneyland

So what is the appeal?

Like most things in life, the appeal is what you make it. In the case of Disneyland there is a perfect mix of marketing and innocence, legend and nostalgia, thrill rides and fine dining, family and romance — plus pixie dust. Disneyland vacations are also self-feeding in the sweetest kind of way, in that each trip helps build memories and create excitement for the next. Walt Disney was pretty smart.

Disneyland offers something for everyone, from the very young to the very old, and really, how many family vacation destinations can claim that?



A big thanks to Verizon for sponsoring this campaign. Data rates may apply for app download/use. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Honea ExpressRead 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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