If you’ve got young kids a good place to start is Mickey’s Toontown. From their you can wind your way down through Fantasyland then on to the other lands. The park is huge and its impossible to see it all in one day, even without the queues. We spent 3 days, the first two visiting each of the different theme worlds and the last day catching up on anything we missed and revisiting our favourites.
Fantasyland. image © Kids Holidays
Easily the most popular area for the kids with a huge number of rides and attractions. This popularity is reflected in the time you spend queuing for some of the rides so plan to spend some time here. The must do attractions include its a small world, Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pans Flight and Pinocchio's Daring Journey. Other rides in Fantasyland are Casey Jr. Circus Train, Dumbo The Flying Elephant, the famous Mad Tea Party, King Arthur Carousel, Mr. Toads Wild Ride, Snow White's Scary Adventures and the Storybook Land Canal Boats. Set some time aside to see the the Snow White musical at the Fantasyland Theatre - the kids will love it. The other attraction is the Matterhorn Bobsleds which was unfortunately closed for renovation while we were there. The longest queues are for Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pans Flight.
Mickey's Toontown. image © Kids Holidays
Perfect for the younger kids with Mickeys and Minnies houses the highlight as well as the excellent Roger Rabbits Car Toon Spin and Gadgets Go Coaster. The whole area features cartoon like houses and the kids will get to meet plenty of their favourite characters. At Minnies house you can queue to get your photo taken with Minnie, however she's not always around. Next door is Mickeys house and after a short stroll through his magical house you get to meet Mickey personally for a photo and an autograph. You need to queue but it was only for a few minutes. Other attractions include Chip 'n Dales Treehouse, Donald's Boat and Goofy's Bounce House. There are height restrictions on Gadgets Go Coaster and Goofys Bounce House. The longest queue here was for Roger Rabbits Car Toon Spin but it's well worth it.
Adventureland. image © Kids Holidays
Located near the entrance of the park is Adventureland, with some great attractions and rides for all ages. The Indiana Jones Adventure is a great ride, maybe not for the younger kids as it's a little scary and you do get thrown around a bit but for older kids and adults it's a must - probably the best ride in the park. The Jungle cruise is a leisurely cruise through a tropical jungle with plenty of animals to see. Tarzans Treehouse is a climb up into the jungle to see Tarzans and Jane's house and plenty of apes. The other attraction is the Enchanted Tiki Room which unfortunately was closed. The must see attraction is the Indiana Jones Adventure but it will have a queue.
Frontierland. image © Kids Holidays
The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was the popular pick here with the kids - a train ride/rollercoaster with plenty of twists and turns set in a typical US mining town setting. It's not as bad as a full on rollercoaster but does go fast and there are height restrictions. Tom Sawyer's Island is a bit more sedate with a boat trip to Tom's Island and then you get to explore caves, forts and walk across rope bridges. Little Patch Of Heaven is a animal farm and nursery where you get to see and pet farm animals. The Mark Twain Riverboat is a ride on an authentic riverboat around Tom Sawyer's Island.
Tomorrowland. image © Kids Holidays
Another land where there is plenty to do even though the list of attractions seems a little light. Start with Astro Orbiter which is a space rocket that goes round and round (and round). Don't queue too long. Autopia is a drive yourself car ride which the kids will love. There is a height restriction if they want to be the driver. Set an hour or so aside for Innoventions, a huge complex filled with computer games, virtual reality games and shows based on near-future technologies. Honey I Shrunk the Audience is a 3D experience where the audience gets shrunk. You have to then deal with a huge snake, a sneezing dog and mice running around your feet. Great fun. Star Tours is a simulator ride based on the Stars Wars movies. It culminates in a thrilling ride through the canyons of the Death Star. Starcade is an amusement parlour with over 200 games to keep the kids happy. Space Mountain, an indoor rollercoaster, is currently closed and will reopen in 2005.
Critter Country. image © Kids Holidays
Only a couple of attractions here but well worth the visit. Start with Splash Mountain, a log flume ride that takes you into the world of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. This is one of the better rides at the park and doesn't just rely on the final drop for it's thrills. The scenery is spectacular however the queue will be long. For a change of pace, especially for the little ones, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh is a journey through the Hundred Acre Wood in search of honey with Winnie and his friends. You can then get to meet Winnie, Tigger and Eyeore. The final attraction is Davey Crockett's Explorer Canoes where you get to row in a real canoe around Tom Sawyer's Island.
New Orleans Square. image © Kids Holidays
New Orleans Square
New Orleans Square features two of the better attractions in the park. Pirates Of The Caribbean is a flat-bottomed boat ride through the Blue Bayou. A couple of indoor waterfalls to navigate, a close up with a pirate ship attack on a fort and the battle to take the Spanish town. The characters are life-like, the scenery superb and the journey is one you'll remember forever. The Haunted Mansion is not as scary at it seems but younger kids may get a bit on edge. It's is a dark ride with heaps of special effects as you travel through various rooms, up to the attic and out to the graveyard. The Disney Gallery features Disney original art works, models and posters but was closed for renovation when we visited.
Main Street. image © Kids Holidays
Main Street, USA
Re-live the atmosphere and relaxed lifestyle of the late 19th century in Main Street USA. There are horse-less carriages and horse drawn streetcars to ride on, heaps of Disney characters to meet and countless shops and restaurants to visit. The main attraction here is The Walt Disney Story, detailing the history of Disney and his boy-hood idol, Abraham Lincoln, in a 3-D sound experience. The Main Street Cinema is an old fashioned moviehouse where you can see a movie on one of the six screens starring Mickey and Minnie and the rest of the Disney characters. Each night the Disneyland Parade of The Stars winds its way down Main Street. It features floats filled with all the famous Disney characters. Check the parade time and try to get a good spot on the sidewalk so the kids get a good view.
Strollers can be rented for US$8 per day. Rental locations are inside the main entrance
and at the Star Trader in Tomorrowland. Lockers are available for US$4-6
per day, depending on the size. Wheelchairs can be rented for US$7 per
day and for US$30 per day for electric wheelchairs. A US$20 per day
deposit is required.
There is a baby centre available at the end of Main Street, USA. A first aid centre is located next to the baby centre. ATM's are located at five locations throughout the park.
All restaurants, shops and entertainment venues are wheelchair accessible. Many attractions allow wheelchair guests to remain in their wheelchairs during their experience however there are some attractions that require guests to transfer from their wheelchair. Check the Disney web site for more details. There are also attractions that offer assistance devices for guests with hearing disabilities.
Some Disneyland rides and attractions have minimum
and maximum height requirements:
89 cm or taller: Gadget's Go Coaster, Matterhorn Bobsleds
102 cm or taller: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Star Tours
117 cm or taller: Indiana Jones Adventure
132 cm or taller: Autopia (to drive)
132cm or shorter: Goofy's Bounce House
Fastpass is a great way to beat the queues
on selected rides at Disneyland. Here's how it works: look for the fastpass
distribution area near the entrance of a ride. There will usually be a
number of fastpass machines available. You will be able to see what
times are currently available to use your fastpass. Insert your
Disneyland admission ticket into the machine and you will receive a
printed card, showing a time range when you can use your fastpass.
Return to the ride within the allocated times and you will be able to
enter through the fastpass gate which takes you to the front of the
Once you have obtained a fastpass for a ride you will not be able to get another fastpass until the time on the first fastpass has expired.
The time you wait from obtaining a fastpass can vary - anything from one hour up to a couple of hours. For example you might get a fastpass at 10am with a return time between 12pm and 1pm. You need to return during the one hour allocated to use your fastpass. After 1pm you are free to get another fastpass for another ride.
If you are with other families and not everyone wants to go on a certain ride you can arrange to get fastpasses for a couple of rides at once, using all your admission tickets. If you have an energetic member of a group that doesn't mind walking across the park to get a fastpass while the kids are enjoying another ride you can time it so you can walk straight onto a ride when you arrive.
Probably the longest queue you'll encounter is Splash Mountain and you can save up to an hour's queuing with a fastpass.
Fastpass rides include Autopia, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, India Jones Adventure, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, Splash Moutain and Star Tours.
Plenty of food outlets to pick from, from
snacks to character dining to table service restaurants. The pick of the
areas would be New Orleans Square with the Blue Bayou Restaurant, a fine
dining restaurant situated within the Pirates of the Caribbean lagoon,
the French Market Restaurant and Cafe Orleans. You may need to book in
advance for the Blue Bayou.
In Frontierland you'll find the River Belle Terrace, the place to go for breakfast in the Park. Another popular restaurant in Frontierland is the Ranco del Zocalo Restaurante, serving Mexican fare.
The other breakfast favourtie is Plaza Inn, located on Main Street, which has a character breakfast buffet. Again you may need to book in advance to secure a seat. The Plaza Inn is also open for lunch and dinner (without the characters). Also on Main Street you'll find the Carnation Cafe.
In Tomorrowland, Redd Rockett's Pizza Port serves pizza, pasta and salads.
There are also another dozen or so quick service restaurants throughout the Park serving burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches etc as well as plenty of snack stalls.
The food is not too expensive, with the Blue Bayou the dearest at around US$25 per person and the fast food kids meals around US$5 with a drink and burgers a dollar or two more. You cannot take food or drinks into the park.
Where to start? You could spend a day just
visiting all the different shops in the park. Some of the better ones we
visited in Disneyland include:
Emporium - on Main Street, has heaps of Disneyland merchandise, a good place to finish your day. Also on Main Street you'll find the Mad Hatter with a good selection of Mickey Mouse ears and hats and caps, Disneyana, with Disney collectibles and the Market House, an old-fashioned general store. In Adventureland you'll find the Adventureland Bazaar with treasures from around the world. For Winnie The Pooh and friends merchandise head to Critter Country with the Briar Patch and Pooh Corner. In Fantasyland The Disney Princess Shoppe and It's A Small world shop are the picks, especially for the girls. In Toon Town the Gag Factory is worth a visit as well as the Star Trader merchandise shop in Tommorrowland. New Orleans Square is the shopping centre of the park with Pieces Of Eight, a pirate novelty store, jewelry at the Jewel Of Orleans, La Mascarade d'Orleans, and L'Ornement Magique, a Disney themed Christmas shop. And finally the Pioneer Mercantile shop in Frontierland is a must.
As with most theme parks, prices tend to be a little on the high side, however there are plenty of things to buy that you won't see anywhere else, so make sure you set aside some shopping dollars.
Use the fastpass option to save queuing time.
Fantasyland seems to be the place you tend to spend a lot of time queuing so plan to start your day there.
Make sure you visit all the rides and attractions if you have time, otherwise make a list of your preferences. We ticked off each ride as we went to ensure we got to see everything.
On weekends there will be a fireworks display. The view from the square outside the park is as good as anywhere.
Also on weekends there are many more people. Try to stick to week days if possible (weekends seem better in Disney's California Adventure next door).
Avoid US public and school holidays.
The Disneyland Parade Of The Stars tends to coincide with the parks closure. Get a spot close to the entrance for a quick getaway, especially if you need to connect to a bus or if you have to get to one of the car parks.
For more info check the Disneyland web site.