Disneyland California Guide – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Disneyland California

Disneyland is the West Coasts’ most Visited Attraction and ranks as the Number 2 Theme park in the World (Pipped to the post by Disney’s Magic Kingdom) However it can be a confusing and stressful place to visit. Our Guide is a series of articles we have put together to help you get the absolute best from your visit.

In our complete Disneyland California Guide, we take a look at When to Go? What to Ride? How to save some Cash? What to Eat Where to Stay? And shed some light on the Mysteries of FastPass and MaxPass Ride systems. We try and take the Stress out of your trip and show you how to make the best of your trip to the World’s Happiest Place.


Disneyland first opened in 1955 and was the direct brainchild of Walt Himself. The Park was built on a real budget and had a disastrous opening, but launched Dinsey to great new heights. Disneyland redefined what people expect from Themeparks and attempts to bring all the wonder and magic of Disney films to life.

The Park was designed as a single park with a luxurious hotel nearby for people to stay in when visiting the park. However, the resort has changed immeasurably, following the multi-park resort model that proved so successful at Disney’s other locations. The resort now boasts 2-Parks, three hotels along with a host of entertainment facilities. Yet the park still largely retains its original quaintness and magic.

The Resort is far less Flamboyant and Excessive than Disney World, crowd numbers and queues are lower and you really feel that Disney Magic, that little bit more than the Showier sister resort. There is still a lot going on and a lot to get your head around before planning any stay here though, So our guide aims to let you know everything you need to know so You can plan the perfect trip.

The Resort

The resort has 6 main components now, 2 Theme Parks, 3 Hotels, and the Downtown Disney District. Compared to the City Sized DisneyWorld Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort is very compact. You can get around all parks and resort areas comfortably on foot. There is no need for additional transportation once on Resort.


Disneyland Park sits on top (North) with Disney California Adventure at the bottom (South). The main thoroughfare runs between the two, with the Transportation hub on the right-hand side (East) and Downtown Disney on the Left (West). Both Park entrances sit at the center of this thoroughfare which is accessible from both sides.

Also to the left (west) of the Park are the Three Hotels. Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian, and Paradise Pier, Along with Disney’s Parking Lot’s. All around the Resort are a host of good quality local and Chain hotels and motels that you can reside in to avoid the HIGH cost of Disney hotels, More on those later.

Disneyland Layout

Disneyland Park

Disneyland is the Original park and still in its original location. While the park has changed dramatically over the years in many ways it has stayed the same. There are still a host of the original rides, such as Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pans Flight, and Jungle Cruise. Many others still remain the charm f the original park. The Center-Piece, Sleeping Beauty Castle, while being updated and modernized is largely unchanged, and while it can be underwhelming for some. expecting the grandeur of Disney World, the more petite, quaint, understated castle is just as well-loved.

Many people think theme parks are all about giant rides, flashy 4-D Simulators, and terrible fast food. Disneyland is very different and retains the charm and grace of yesteryear, the golden age of cinema, and brings it right up to date. If you come expecting the biggest and the best you will be disappointed, but come to experience the real Disney Magic and you will leave being charmed and delighted by the park Walt personally envisages and oversaw its creation!

Star Wars – A Galaxies Edge

This is a separate Land included inside Disneyland Park. It is included free with all Disneyland Park Tickets, but cannot be visited without valid park admission. It’s a super heavily themed Star Wars land and home to some really neat restaurants, some themed Star Wars experiences, and two BIG headline attractions, Rise of the Resistance and Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

Disney California Adventure Park

After multiple successes with the Multiple Park Model, the decision was taken to Expand the Resort. New Hotels, A new Entertainment and Shopping District, and a Whole new Park. This saw the Creation of Disney California Adventure.

Disney California Adventure is Disney’s more grown-up park. Offering bigger rides and high-tech thrills the park caters to the type of audience that may have outgrown the Classic style Dark Rides. While the park does not offer the kind of intense thrills the likes of Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm offer it delivers its thrills in a typically Disney king of way, with a sprinkling of magic dust.

Marvel Avenger Campus

Disney naturally wanted to expand and make use of their highly lucrative Marvel Franchise and in order to do this, they created the Avenger Campus. Like Galaxies Edge this is a separate Land inside Disney California Adventure that is included in the ticket price.

There are two rides, the revamped Tower of Terror, now called Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, and the all-new Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. There is also a host of tasty treats from Pyms Kitchen and some amped-up Avengers experiences such as the avenger’s headquarters and the Ancient Sanctum.

The Avengers Campus is a dream come true for any Marvel fan…and that’s pretty much everyone right!


Disneyland Hotel

Originally there was just one hotel and due to budget constraints, this was not even owned by Disney but run on license and still Named the Disneyland Hotel. Unlike Disney World, there are no planning or land ownership constraints on the surrounding area so hundreds of third-party hotels have popped up meaning Disney has kept hotel building to the minimum and focused on high-end properties in prime locations with a range of perks.

Should You Stay at A Disney Hotel at Disneyland?

Disney’s Grand Californian – $600 +

Dinsey’s flagship hotel. The Price is through the roof but you are getting prime location and pure Disney luxury. Easily the best hotel in the area and with Direct access to the parks and Downtown Disney along with several perks such as extra Magic Hours you do get a lot for your $600+ a night.

Disneyland Hotel – $450+

The Original Disneyland Hotel. Originally built and operated by Jack Wraher (A Business partner of Walt’s) The Hotel is not in Disney ownerships and, while looking a little dated on the outside still offers excellent Dinsey-themed accommodation in close proximity to the Parks.

Disney’s Paradise Pier – $350+

This is Disney’s Budget Option, but it’s certainly an expensive kind of “budget” The location is a little further from the parks and overall has a cheaper feel. Apart from the Disney Perks, there is little reason to choose this over a third party hotel, which will be a lot cheaper

10 Best Hotels at Disneyland Anaheim

Downtown Disney District

Sandwiched between the parks is the Downtown Disney District. An area of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The good thing about Downtown is it is open to the public and does not require a valid theme park ticket to visit. Of course, it is not worth coming to the resort just for Downtown it gives you the chance to get a little Disney magic even on days you don’t have valid tickets.

Downtown Disney District Dining

Downtown Disney District Shopping


Splash Mountain Review

Really what most people come to Disneyland for are the Rides. We take you through every ride in the park and let you know what is worth the queue and which rides you can skip. Along with letting you know which are “Really” scary and which are likely to leave you with a sore head and back!

Disneyland Park Rides And Attractions

Disney California Adventure Park Rides And Attractions

Both Parks! Park Hopper Must Rides!

Tips and Advice On Planning Your Trip

Touring Plans

When To Go

Disneyland Parking

How Long Do I Need At Disneyland? – The Number one question asked about Dinsey Resorts. Find out how long you need to spend at California’s Disney Parks

Genie+ Guide – Genie+ is Disney’s Paid ride-booking system. Find out if the Pass is worth the money! +$20 per ticket per Day

Single Rider Lines – Legalised Queue Jumping! Find out all you need to know about this fantastic “hack” for getting shorter wait times.

Fireworks and Parades

Food And Dining

Blue Bayou restaurant Disneyland California

Disney has Taken Themepark dining to a whole new level. Renowned for extortionate flaccid hotdogs and canned burgers, theme park food has a bad rep. Disney Dining is completely different and you can find amazing things to eat that, while not exactly cheap, will not break the bank.

The sheer volume of establishments and options make writing a single guide impossible so we have compiled a number of Guides o help you navigate the minefield of Disney Dining and eat the best food there is in the resort.

Disney Dining Guide

Start here if you know nothing about Disneyland Dining

Dining at Disneyland Park California

The best restaurants inside Disneyland Park – Themepark Tickets Required

Dining at Disney California Adventure

All the best dining options from inside the Disney California Adventure – Themepark Tickets Required

Disneyland Resort Dining

Disney Dining and Restaurants around Disneyland California Resort area – No Themepart Tickets Required

Other Dining Articles:

Best Character Dining Disneyland California

Best Signature / Fine Dining Disneyland California

Best Table Service Restaurants Disneyland California

Cheap Tickets

Where to get Cheap Disneyland Tickets

Where To Stay

Should You Stay at A Disney Hotel at Disneyland?

10 Best Hotels at Disneyland Anaheim

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