Disneyland Resort Trip Planner

On this page, we have put together a variety of categories that, when clicked, give you a wide range of detailed information to help you plan the various stages of a trip to the Disneyland Resort.

The Disneyland Resort in California is home to Walt Disney's original Disney theme park, simply known of course, as Disneyland.
Since 1955 Disney has been enchanting guests in more magical ways than can possibly be imagined.
The park has pioneered new concepts, new technologies, launched many celebrity careers, and been host to some amazing events.
Disneyland is Walt Disney's heart and soul brought to life in stunning detail and immersive experiences.
No Disney fan should ever miss the opportunity to visit Walt's original Magic Kingdom, and feel for themselves the true spirit of the man that has made tens of millions dreams come true.

A Note about this Planner

If you have read any of our other Trip Planners, you'll know that I have tried to keep some things brief, while giving an overall impression of everything.
Disneyland is historically important for the simple fact that Walt built it himself, and even lived inside the park to an extent (he had an apartment on Main Street). So, the pages you will read here are much more in depth than those of the other planners, as there is much more history and nostalgia to talk about.

Links to Other Pages & Websites

Many very useful and important links are provided in each section on the left, but below we have also included some of the main ones that you may need.

Useful Pages at Character Central:

Character Central Disneyland Resort Trip Reports:

Other Useful Links:

Pictures of Disneyland Resort

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The Disneyland Resort is situated in Southern California, just south of the city of Los Angeles. Disneyland is located in the city of Anaheim, in Orange County.

Airports servicing the Disneyland Resort

Los Angeles International Airport (known as LAX), is the major international hub in the area. Anyone flying from overseas, and from many US cities will find that they have to fly to LAX.
LAX is a huge, busy airport that sadly lacks the kind of organisation that you would normally come to expect from a major US airport. You might also want to consider Burbank, which is a lot smaller, but a lot of people find it easier to fly into here.
Security, customs and immigration lines can be long, as can waiting for transfers outside.
Closer to Disneyland, south of Los Angeles, is Orange County's John Wayne airport (SNA). Select US airlines (including United and Southwest) fly to SNA, from certain US cities. You may find that if you fly into SNA, you will have to connect in another US city to get there.
SNA is a small airport with limited facilities, but usually runs pretty smoothly.
One other airport in the greater Los Angeles area is Ontario. Although it's a little further out, it is worth mentioning so that when searching for domestic fares, you know to look for it. We have never flown through Ontario.
Links to all three airports are included on the panel on the right hand side. You should check the airport websites for more detailed information regarding airlines that service the airport, and facilities available.


Southern California is a huge destination, and virtually every airline has some sort of connection through LAX.
For domestic passengers, you should check out Southwest, who offer free checked baggage, relatively low fares, and pretty good year round deals form many US cities.
We have also found that United are a good airline to use. Although you have to pay for checked bags, if you have a United credit card you can use the United Club lounges at the airports, as well as using the priority boarding lanes. United credit card members also get a free checked bag for each member of their party.
Recommended international airlines include Virgin Atlantic and United. Although there are many more, such as Delta, US Airways and British Airways, in our own personal experience, Virgin and United tend to be the better ones. If you're a frequent flyer, they also offer the better frequent flyer programs.
In previous planners I have tried to give price ranges, but given that LA is such a big destination, with so many options, it is impossible to say to be honest. Internationally, you could possibly be looking at anywhere from $1000/£800/Euros 900 return, per person.

ESTA and Visas

Canadian Citizens can travel to the US with just their passport, without a visa (providing you don't have a criminal record).
All other tourists will need either a "visa waiver", currently known as an ESTA, or an actual visa.
I am not here to give visa advice, and you should check with the US State Department (website link on the right hand panel) to see if you can apply for a visa waiver, or if you need a full visa.
These must be applied for in advance, and you must be approved. You will not even be allowed to board your flight to travel to the US without the correct documentation, as the airlines check your documents at check-in. I have actually seen people turned away and sent to an internet cafe in the terminal to apply for their ESTA before they are allowed to check in!

Transfers - Car Hire and the Disneyland Express

When you arrive at LAX you have several options. If you have chosen to rent a car, it's a good idea to have researched the route to Anaheim carefully beforehand, and have a satellite navigation system in hand (the iPhone is sufficient enough these days, with its new mapping system that has route planning).
All of the car rental offices at LAX are offsite, and you will need to take a shuttle to them from out side your arrival terminal. This can often delay your arrival in Anaheim quite significantly, depending on the regularity of the bus to your chosen car rental, and how many people have been waiting ahead of you. If a flight just came in and 50% of them are hiring a car, getting on the bus and waiting in line at the office is not going to be swift.
The other option - and the one we recommend - is to use the Disneyland Express bus. This does not have to be booked in advance, and can be picked up outside the main terminals at LAX. The Disneyland Express serves nearly all (if not all, but I'm not 100% sure) of the Disneyland Resort area hotels. You should check the Disneyland Express website for more details (link on the right hand panel).
The bus journey can take anywhere up to and hour and a half, depending on where you're staying, and LA traffic (which can be quite bad, depending on the time of day).
When you arrive in Anaheim on the bus, depending on your final hotel destination, you may need to switch buses. The driver usually pulls up at the Disneyland Hotel first, and will tell you everything you need to know about getting to your own hotel, so don't panic!
There are many cabs and mini-buses that have 'Disneyland' written on them at LAX, and it can be easy to think that you should use one of those instead of waiting. Be careful not to get into any unofficial vehicles. Always make sure they are licensed, and the price is agreed beforehand. You don't want any nasty surprises at the other end! As I said before, the only service we recommend is the official Disneyland Express bus, which is clearly marked.

If you are arriving directly in Orange County at John Wayne (SNA), you can also take the Disneyland Express, if you aren't hiring a car.
Alternatively if you do hire a car at SNA, it is significantly easier than at LAX. For a start, the rental counters are in the main building, and not offsite - like all of LAX's are. SNA is quite close to Anaheim, and the roads are nowhere near as hair raising from SNA to the Disneyland Resort area, as they are from LAX!

Useful Flights & Transfers Links

Airport Websites:
It's worth noting that all three of these airport websites have very good information about ground transportation and other services.

Airline Websites

Transport Websites:

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The Disneyland Resort area is not the most budget friendly place on earth.
Southern California as a whole is an expensive place to live and visit. Generally, nearly everything is more expensive than elsewhere in the country (especially compared to the East Coast, bar maybe New York City), and taxes are a lot higher than a lot of other US destinations too.

Like anywhere else, there are peak times and non peak times at Disneyland. All holidays will be significantly more expensive, and significantly more crowded.
Disneyland Resort itself has three onsite properties, all of which are at the higher end of the budget. Unlike Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, there is no 'budget' hotel (or like HKDL, where they are cheap, period!).

The Disney Hotels

The Disneyland Hotel entrance
The Disneyland Hotel was the first hotel ever built on Disney property, and although was officially the Disneyland Hotel, it was for many years owned and operated by an outside company. Years later, and well after Disney had established their own hotels at other resorts, Disney finally bought out the Disneyland Hotel in the 1980s and have since given it a major overhaul. Today the hotel has three main towers that host the guest rooms, two pool areas, at least four dining locations, two gift shops, a convention centre, and countless other facilities designed for every guest need.
The Disneyland Hotel is located at the far end of Downtown Disney. To get to the theme parks you either have to walk to the main entrance (through Downtown Disney), or you can take the Disneyland Monorail from outside the hotel directly into Disneyland's Tomorrowland.
The hotel is modern, clean and has nice guest rooms. The outside is a little dated, but overall the Disneyland Hotel is a very pleasant experience.
In terms of price, the Disneyland Hotel tends to fall in the middle of the other two resort hotels.

Disney's Paradise Pier needs something more
The second hotel built on property, and usually the lowest priced, is the Paradise Pier. The Paradise Pier has gone through several identity changes over the years, and like the Disneyland Hotel, was not actually owned by Disney to begin with.
I often feel that compared to the other two onsite hotels, the Paradise Pier suffers with an aged look, and the lack of details and theming that the others have (it definitely does not scream 'paradise' to me!). Honestly, it's not my favourite hotel in the world, but the prices are often lower than the other two, making it an affordable onsite stay.
The hotel has a pool, several dinging options, a store, and is across the street from the Disneyland Hotel, Downtown Disney, and the Grand Californian.

A standard room at the Grand Californian
The Grand Californian is the by far the biggest, most beautiful, and therefore unsurprisingly, the most expensive of the three onsite hotels.
The Grand has its own private entrance to Disney California Adventure, which other DLR hotel guests can also use, as well as a lovely pool area, superb dining options, and a store.
The Grand is built into, and directly behind Downtown Disney (DTD), which can be reached through a private gate about half way through DTD.

If you have the money to stay onsite, I would highly recommend the Grand, but if not, the Disneyland Hotel is a close second.

The Dream Suite

The Dream Suite dining area
You may have heard people talking about staying in the park, the 'Dream Suite'. The Dream Suite is an exclusive apartment built on the upper level of New Orleans Square, and is only available to VIPs, sadly. You have to have won a competition, or be part of some sort of special event to be able to access it. It's worth looking out for competitions from Disney on their social media pages, because as they say, you have to be in it to win it!

Staying Off Site

If you are planning to stay offsite, then about a million options open up to you. Anaheim, and its surrounding areas have spent the last fifty years developing a safe, tourist friendly city filled with every hotel chain and amenity you could want.
Budget hotels are aplenty, as are midrange and high end. There is everything from Marriott, Hilton, Travelodge, Motel 6 to Howard Johnson, to name but a small few.
It's not worth my while listing every hotel in the area, as for one, you'd be here all day reading about them. The best thing to do is go to a hotel comparison site, such as Expedia or Hotels.com and play with dates. See what comes up the best prices, and how close they are. Don't be afraid to look at hotels on Katella Avenue, Disney Way, Harbor Blvd or Ball Road. All are a stones throw away.
Just one word about local hotels. Unless you know the hotel well, or have had it recommended by a good friend, try to stick with brand names and chains. Some of the local motels that seemingly offer good rates can often turn out to be really awful, run down places which would definitely ruin your vacation. If it isn't a chain, brand or listed as a Good Neighbour Hotel on the Disneyland website (link on the side panel to the right), then try to avoid it.
You should definitely check out the official Disney Good Neighbour Hotels section on the DLR website. There are a ton of Good Neighbour Hotels, and packages can be booked very easily. Packages can be booked to include park tickets, but just know that you might not always get the best deals though when booking through Disney. Although I definitely recommend using the DLR website to gage which hotels are closest, and have the facilities you want, afterwards you can look elsewhere to make the actual reservation (either directly, or through a discounted hotel search engine such as Expedia).

If you stay in Anaheim itself nearly all the hotels are walkable to the parks, but if you don't like that idea, then they offer shuttle busses that run from park open until after closing.

Extra Magic Hours

Guests who are staying on site at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, or guests who have booked a ticket or package through the Disneyland Resort website that specifically includes this option, are entitled to take advantage of an Extra Magic Hour (EMH). Unlike Walt Disney World, where EMH is everyday, sometimes at multiple parks, for several hours, at DLR it really is just an hour, and only on select days.
Be sure to know in advance which days are available during your visit by checking the Disneyland Resort website. A direct link to the EMH page on the right panel.

The Four Seasons Beverly Hills

Further Afield

If you are visiting Southern California for more than just Disneyland, and don't want to stay right at the resort, the surrounding cities offer limitless options.
The cities of Los Angeles (which encompasses Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and beyond), Long Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are all within an hour away. You'll probably have to hire a car, as public transport is definitely not reliable or user friendly (trust me, I learnt from experience on that one!). Given the vast range of hotels available, it's easier if you look on the internet for yourself.

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Tickets for the Disneyland Resort (DLR) can be purchased online in advance, or bought at the park entrance ticket booths.
It's highly recommended that you buy them online beforehand as to not be waiting in long lines a the ticket booths when you arrive.
Tickets start from $92 for one day, one park ticket (yes, one day!), and go up to around $300 for a 5 day Park Hopper ticket (as of September 2013). Disney hikes the prices at least once per year, so it's best to check the DLR website for more information (link on the right hand panel).

One-Park Tickets, Park Hoppers and more

In our experience, you cannot truly experience the DLR in less than three days, and even then you are pushing it. At least four to five days are highly recommended if you really want to see and do everything you want to, and not feel too rushed, or have the crowds get to you.
DLR is always busy, year round. The resort has a massive annual pass holder community who decend upon the parks daily. Southern California is a very busy place, and with 7 million people in LA alone, I'm sure you can imagine how crowded the DLR can get!
If you have four whole days, that will give you at least two days at each park. Five days would give you a day in the middle to relax, shop and hand maybe even venture outside of the resort.
Disneyland Resort tickets
Tickets options are quite varied, depending on your needs. You can get 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 day passes with or without the Park Hopper option.
If you chose to not go for the Park Hopper option you will not be allowed to go between the parks on the same operating day (staying past midnight in one park will not affect your entry to the other park later that day, as park closing resets the ticketing database).
A Park Hopper is definitely the most effective way to get the most out of your stay at the Resort, allowing you the flexibility to come and go as you please between the parks, at any given time.
Be warned that recently the Disneyland Resort changed their policy on entry with multi-day tickets, and you may now be asked for ID when entering the parks. On your first entry you may be required to have your photo taken by a Cast Member at the gate, to associate your ticket physically with you.
This has had a detrimental affect on the speed at which guests are entering the park, with lines often being very long.

If you plan on seeing more of Southern California than just Disneyland, you can buy a CityPASS, which will allow you entry into some of Southern California's other fantastic attractions, such as Universal Studios Hollywood, and SeaWorld San Diego. See the DLR ticketing website for prices and information (link on the right-hand panel).

One final piece of advice on purchasing tickets. Often outside the resort, on the streets etc, you will come across people claiming to sell discounted tickets into the parks. These are nearly always too good to be true, and should be avoided. These tickets have no guarantees, and if buy a dodgy ticket, there is no way you will get your money back. Never trust street vendors offering discounts!

Annual Passports

If you plan to visit the resort more than once in a year, for multiple days per trip, you might want to consider investing in an annual pass (AP). Although these can be an expensive purchase on the outset, in the long run you definitely get a return on them. When you take the number of days you spend in a year at the resort, and divide the cost of an AP by those days, the daily rate will always come out better than if you bought park hopper tickets.
Entering Disney California Adventure with a Disney Premier Passport
On top of that, you get dining, merchandise and hotel discounts year round, that will of course help save you money.
There are several levels of pass available, the cheapest being the Southern California Select (which has the most restrictions), right up to the very expensive Disney Premier Passport, which is also an annual pass to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida!

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The Disney Parks of Disneyland Resort, despite their more compact size (when compared to WDW's parks, DL Parc in DLP, and the TDR parks), actually pack a huge amount in.
Although I wouldn't be able to give an exact figure, I would say that the Anaheim parks probably pack more per square metre than any of the other Disney Parks.

At Disneyland Park, by my own count, there are 46 attractions. This excludes meet 'n' greets, shows, parades, multiple train stations, each individual Main Street Vehicle etc. Forty six unique experiences is lot for a Magic Kingdom style park.
Across the Esplanade, Disney California Adventure offers 27 attractions - again excluding shows, multiple Trolley stops, etc.

Disneyland or Disneyland Park?

If there are any hardcore fans reading this, you may be wincing at the fact I use the 'Park' part of the name. I know this bugs many people, but at the end of the day, that is its official name now, and has been for some years. It also allows there to be a clear definition between the Disneyland Resort (often just 'Disneyland'), and the actual Magic Kingdom park within the resort. Just like Disneyland Paris as a resort is, well, Disneyland Paris, the main park is in fact Parc Disneyland (Disneyland Park, effectively). So, to avoid confusion for newcomers, and to ensure clarity, when needed for clarification I will be using the park's actual name, Disneyland Park.

A Walk in Walt's Footsteps

For those interested in really getting to know Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom, try to experience all the attractions that opened at the park during Walt's lifetime. Walt was only alive for the first eleven years of Disneyland's history, sadly, but influenced several others before he died.
I have compiled a list on the side panel to the right, that lists everything that Walt personally oversaw, which you should do too, if you want the true grasp of how his limitless imagination changed the world of attractions forever - some were exceptional for their day.
City Hall and the Fire Dept are Walt Disney originals
Of course, over the years some of these have gone through major changes, but the original concept is there, giving you a sense of what Walt envisioned.
You can also take an official Disney Guided Tour, called A Walk in Walt's Footsteps, that traces the history of the park through Walt's eyes. You even get to visit his private apartment on Main Street USA! Definitely recommended! I don't get emotional/teary eyed about very much (I'm just not an emotional person), but being up there certainly moved me!
A side note here - as this is the attractions section, I have only listed the attractions Walt "touched" on the right hand panel. For dining and shopping experiences with a Walt influence, see those sections.

Disneyland Park

So let's begin with Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Park.
As I said above, there are 46 true attractions within the park (depending on how you look at them), ranging from roller coasters, dark rides, whimsical rides and more.
The park has the usual things on Main Street, such as the Main Street Vehicles and Main Street Station.
The Disneyland Railroad, as you expect, circles the park, and includes the Grand Canyon Diorama and Primeval World Diorama. You can also ask to ride aboard the Tinder Train, which is near the engineer and fire person, for a unique perspective.
For new visitors, there are two more unique attractions also on Main Street - Great Moments with Mr Lincoln and the Main Street Cinema. If you want to see something of Disney history, then visit the groundbreaking-for-its-day Mr Lincoln. Otherwise, be prepared to get a sugar coated American history lesson. Not a personal favourite of mine, if I'm honest!
The Main Street Cinema is nothing more than a screening room for old Mickey Mouse cartoons, but provides a cool, dark space to avoid the crowds and heat. It's also remarkable that given the lack of large retail space within the park, that this fairly sizeable room hasn't already lost its purpose, as the one in Magic Kingdom (WDW) has!
Although not really an attraction, it's worth mentioning that the Disneyland Fire House in Town Square is a classic piece that sits below Walt's original apartment. It's nice to wander inside to feel the history and nostalgia. The fireman's pole at the back actually originally led up to Walt's apartment above. Walt used to actually slide down it to get into the park! The hole itself has since been blocked off sadly, but the pole of course remains.

We'll continue our tour clockwise, and head to Adventureland.
For first timers, the Jungle Cruise is a must. It is a really fun, if somewhat corny, attraction, that takes up a surprisingly large amount of real estate in such a small park. This is a true Walt Disney classic, and much better than the WDW version.
The Enchanted Tiki Room is also a Walt Disney original, and was one of Walt's most beloved attractions. The cool air, dark room and seating provide a much welcomed respite from the heat. The singing birds and plants do a great job at entertaining, too!
For something a bit more turbulent than the previous two attractions, visit Indiana Jones Adventure. Be warned that the lines for this are often very long. It's a pretty bumpy ride, but definitely a fun attraction, and in my opinion, better than the newer Tokyo DisneySea version.
There is Tarzan's Treehouse, but it's nothing to write home about, especially if you've ever been to the other parks.
As you head out of Adventureland at the other end, you'll find yourself in a very busy place by the waterfront, known as New Orleans Square. New Orleans Square was one of the last areas that Walt Disney oversaw before he died. Pirates of the Caribbean was in development at the time, and opened shortly after Walt passed away. Pirates here is the original, and is longer than the other versions. For Florida visitors, this is a massive upgrade. The WDW version is a butchered mess compared to the original. Disneyland Paris's is just different by comparison. DLP fans will realise that the entire ride sequence is reversed. I don't really have a preference, but DLP's works better in my mind. The order seems more logical. Also, DLP's has the far superior exterior.
The Haunted Mansion was something that Walt never got to see, and was empty for several years while Imagineers tried to figure out what to do with the cool exterior.
It's a comparable experience to the other versions, but also slightly unique in its own way. If you visit during Halloween and Christmas, it becomes Haunted Mansion Holiday, with an elaborate Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. This is extremely popular, and during that time FastPass is usually available. I can't say whether I really like the Holiday version or not. Every time I go on it, I feel indifferent. That's just me, I suppose.

Splash Mountain is at the gateway to Critter Country
As you walk further past the Haunted Mansion, you find yourself at the foot of Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain is at the gateway to Critter Country.
Splash Mountain is a must for first time visitors to the US parks, but if you have been to Florida a lot, you might not like this one so much. The seating is toboggan style (one behind the other, as opposed to side by side), and overall the interior is inferior. The animatronics are recycled from old attractions (nearly all are from America Sings actually, I believe), and the scenes seem darker and more sparse.
Also, I realise that the name implies you get wet, I mean, it IS Splash Mountain, but I do feel this one soaks you rather unnecessarily. They fire water at you, at every turn, and it really detracts from the enjoyment of the scenes. At least at WDW you get to look around the scenes without being constantly shot in the face. At least, that's what Jon and I have always felt.
Winnie the Pooh has an attraction down here too, and although it's a whimsical kind of fun, it is comparable to the WDW and HKDL versions, and will never be TDR's Pooh's Hunny Hunt!
The Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes are technically located in Critter Country, though they travel the Rivers of America. For a unique view of the waterways, and to give your arms a workout, then these are fun, otherwise, just watching others struggle is amusement enough!

Wandering back through Critter Country, back past the front end of New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America, you find yourself in Frontierland.
The biggest problem I have with Disneyland's Frontierland is the lack of depth to it. Overall it's pretty I guess, but it doesn't feel as grand or even as contained as say DLP's. There is no real definition of where it begins (near the New Orleans Square end), and basically "exists". That isn't to say there aren't things to do, but it's just not as immersive. At the time of writing, Big Thunder Mountain is undergoing a massive makeover, and we don't know exactly what Imagineering have up their sleeves for the new version next year. But, as it was, it was a fun ride, comparable to WDW and TDR (though, like those versions, has its unique side too), but again, lacks the grandeur. DLP's setting in the middle of the Rivers of the Far West still wins hands down for me.
You can traverse the Rivers of America on board two ships, the Mark Twain Riverboat, or the Sailing Ship Columbia. Both have exactly the same route, it's just what you see inside the ship that's different.
You can also travel across the Rivers of America, to the island in the middle, where you can explore Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. Similar experiences can be had at WDW, TDR and DLP (albeit on Adventure Isle).

Walking around the left side of Big Thunder Mountain, up the trail, you head into Fantasyland. Immediately you'll be struck with how small it feels.
Fantasyland here contains some of the classic originals that the fans love so dearly.
Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Scary Adventures and Mr Toad's Wild Ride are all original dark rides that have been copied at the other parks at one time or another. Mr Toad used to be in WDW, but is no longer there, as was Snow White. Snow White can still be found in DLP and TDR, though.
Disneyland may feel compact but has some nice intimate little areas
The Disneyland versions feel a lot smaller compared to the other versions, but definitely hold their own. Filled with nostalgia and charm, they really are classics.
Of course, just like the other parks, there is a Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Carrousel and a Mad Tea Party. I don't need to explain those. Although I will make one special mention to one specific horse on the Carousel. Jingles was one of Walt's favourite horses, and has since been decorated with iconic symbols from Walt Disney's Mary Poppins. So, be sure to look out for her galloping around!
Alice in Wonderland was opened in Walt's lifetime (though not an opening day original like the other dark rides, above), and is completely unique. It has never been copied anywhere else. It has received several updates over the years though, and is currently wrapped in tarps - as it has been for a year now - while Disney figure out how to deal with several safety issues. The attraction remains open though.
The mighty Matterhorn looms over Fantasyland, and the rest of the park, and again, was touched by Walt. Over the years the quality of the experience on board the bobsleds has drastically deteriorated, sadly, and now regular fans avoid riding simply because it's so uncomfortable. If you haven't rode though, and want something totally unique to Disneyland, then you should ride.
Pinocchio's Daring Journey is another dark ride, and similar to the DLP and TDR versions. It isn't all too thrilling, and was never experienced by Walt.
The Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough is of course located inside the original Sleeping Beauty Castle, and features a tableau telling the story of Princess Aurora. It's neat, and worth seeing if you're gunning for the hardcore fan experience, but it isn't as beautiful as DLP's Castle Gallery.
Storybook Land Canal Boats and the Casey Jr. were experienced by Walt, and offer a whimsical view of a miniature fairytale land, and nice views across Fantasyland. For DLP fans, you will know that DLP has a similar experience.
"it's a small world" is one of Walt's materpieces
Finally for Fantasyland is "it's a small world" (IASW). IASW is a true Walt Disney classic, featuring the design of the famous Disney artist, Mary Blair. It is a nice attraction, but I am never one to go over board about IASW anyway. I think the facade in DLP is better, but I know hardcore DL fans will disagree since it is not a "Mary Blair original". You either love it or are indifferent, I guess, depending on where you're from.
During the Holidays, IASW becomes IASW Holiday, which is by far the best version of this attraction, anywhere. Covered in tens of thousands of sparkling lights, a different soundtrack, and a wonderful seasonal overlay inside.

Walking past IASW and under the train tracks, you find yourself in the zany, colourful Toontown.
Toontown is the home to Mickey and all his friends. You can visit the homes of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Chip 'n' Dale. Don't be fooled into thinking that these are only for kids - get in and walk around!
Donald's Boat, Goofy's Playhouse and Chip 'n' Dale's Treehouse are cute, but nothing to go wild about.
Mickey and Minnie's Houses on the other hand are really neat to explore, and full of oversized furniture and gags.
Gadget'sGo Coaster is a brief zip around a track, apparently designed by Gadget Hackwrench of Rescue Rangers fame.
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin is a wild ride through Toontown's darker side. Probably one of the best things about RRCTS is the queue! It's extremely detailed and well themed.

Out of Toontown we go, back through Fantasyland, and head left into Tomorrowland!
Tomorrowland in Disneyland sadly suffers from the same problems as the other Tomorrowland's of the world - it became out of date the second they built it. A mixture of oddities and things that don't really fit, Tomorrowland is the least inspiring or consistent land in the park.
One of my absolute favourite attractions is not futuristic at all, and that's the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. You get to take a lengthy under the sea trip, past coral reefs, and out into the ocean visiting Nemo and his pals. Sadly, this attraction looks doomed to close in the near future, if the rumours are true. It is a massive headache for Disney on many levels, so ride it while you still can!
Autopia is what it is, and I can't say it's better or worse than other versions. The same goes for the Orbitron, which flies high above Central Plaza (it's in Tomorrowland, but is so far out, it more or less sits in Central Plaza!).
Captain EO has seen better days, and can be found in WDW, DLP and TDR too.
Buzz Lightyear is basically the same as DLP's, and similar to WDW's, but has slightly different scenes. The overall concept and experience is identical. Buzz can also be found at TDR and HKDL.
Star Tours is the newer version, which they also have at WDW and TDR. If you haven't rode the newer version, you definitely should - several times! You'll never get the same experience twice. Lines can be long, depending on the time of day.
Space Mountain's boarding area
Space Mountain is a lot of fun, and is better than WDW's (only since they ruined it a couple of years ago though), and much calmer than DLP's. Tokyo and HKDL also have Space Mountains. All are comparable, but offer something slightly different. If you haven't rode Disneyland's then it's definitely worth it, to compare if nothing else. At Halloween Space Mountain becomes Ghost Galaxy, with a different soundtrack, and "scary" projections throughout the ride.
Innoventions is an indoor interactive exhibit of current technology. It's a big lot of nothing really, but offers cool air when it's hot outside!
The Disneyland Monorail has a stop in Tomorrowland. Although it isn't an attraction, it's fun to ride. The only problem is, it's one way to Downtown Disney, and you have to exit the monorail, and re-enter through bag check all over again to gain re-entry.

As I mentioned at the start, Disneyland Railroad circles the park. It has stops in Town Square, New Orleans Square, Fantasyland/Toontown (it's in between both) and Tomorrowland. When riding from Main Street, you get to see the Grand Canyon Diorama and the Primeval World Diorama. DLP fans will know that DLP has a Grand Canyon Diorama also.

Throughout the park you can have other, smaller interactive experiences such as watching the "movies" in the penny machines on Main Street (inside the Candy Palace), getting advice from Esmeralda (Candy Palace) or Shrunken Ned (Adventureland), or target practice at the Frontierland Shootin' Exposition. All of these activities are at a small surcharge.

Ok, so that's it for Disneyland Park. Next, we are heading across the Esplanade to Disney California Adventure!

Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure (DCA) has by far undergone the biggest makeover in a rapid amount of time than any other Disney Park, ever.
It'd be easy to say "well Disneyland Park is unrecognisable compared to opening day too!", but then, Disneyland Park has been there for nearly 60 years.
When it opened, the idea was that DCA reflected the Californian dream, representing different aspects of the lifestyle.
That didn't really work for Southern California, especially since their main market was and is local fans.
In 2009 Disney decided to invest several billion dollars into giving the young park a brand new identity - it was just 8 years old at the time!
Disney's California Adventure Park was re-dedicated in June 2012 as Disney California Adventure, bringing with is whole new lands, attractions and experiences, completely new to the world of Disney.
Changing the name slightly allows Disney to take the focus away from it being so much about California, to being an amazing Disney Park that is in California.
Let's start at the front, on Buena Vista Street.
Buena Vista Street is the new heart and soul of the park. It brings together Walt's own Californian dream in a spectacular neighbourhood filled with charm, detail and history.
The Red Car Trolley passes by
The only actual attraction on Buena Vista Street is the Red Car Trolley. You can take one way trips to Carthay Circle and Hollywood Land from the front entrance, and vice versa from the other direction. It's not the most thrilling experience, much like the Main Street Vehicles, but is pleasant nonetheless.
In Hollywood Land you can ride through Monstropolis in Monsters Inc Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!
This is actually a cool attraction, and unique, so definitely worth a spin for first timers! I actually think this version is better than the newer Ride and Go Seek in Tokyo, which is similar, but different in its own way.
The Tower of Terror is the standard elevator drop attraction that we are used to, and although each park has its own slight variation, there's not too much that can be said about it.
Inside the Animation Building there is the drawing class, Turtle Talk with Crush (same as WDW and TDR, and similar to Stitch Live! from DLP/HKDL), and various interactive exhibits. You should wander into the Sorcerer's Workshop. The library room is pretty neat, but don't waste time if you're only at the park for a short while. The lobby of the Animation Building is actually a nice place to just sit and watch all the Disney animation and concept art displayed on the large screens. It's especially nice on a hot day!
Disney Junior is basically a kids puppet show with the Disney Junior characters. It's just like WDW's, and similar to DLP's (though at DLP they still have some of the older scenes).
I'm going to brush over a whole load of attractions now, as they aren't significant, and some are just as fun to look at as they are to ride, and I don't want to bore you with too many details!
Swinging and spinning attractions are poplular in DCA
Flik's Flyers, the Silly Symphony Swings and the Golden Zephyr are all fairly standard, whimsical spinning swing attractions.
Tuck 'n Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies are basically dodgems (bumper cars).
Francis' Lady Bug Boogie and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree are similar to the Tea Cups at the Magic Kingdom Parks of the world. Francis' is very basic, but Mater's is actually pretty fun, and admittedly is a bit wilder than just the regular tea cups! Mater's is comparable to DLP's Cars Race Rally at the Studios, but a bit better.
Heimlich's Chew Chew Train is a very tame and very small train/track attraction. You ride through some oversized props and fruit, and that's about it!
It's Tough to Be a Bug is a neat 3D movie set in the Bug's Life universe. If you haven't experienced it in WDW, then you should here, and the queue is better than WDW's, too! It's full of surprises!
Jumpin' Jellyfish is another standard up-and-down experience, and King Triton's Carousel is really just a fish themed carousel.
The difference with all of these attractions from anywhere else of course, is that you get the superior Disney theming, and of course the views are over DCA, which make for a nice change if you're not used to it.
California Screamin' is a large pier style coaster, with a loop, but it is very popular. Mickey's Fun Wheel is a ferris wheel that has two experiences. Swinging and non swinging. The swinging cars are pretty hair raising, and move pretty freely about the wheel! Views from the top can be cool (in the non swinging at least!).
I don't even count the Bakery Tour as a proper attraction, but it's listed as one. You can literally walk through in seconds, and learn all you need to know about bread.
Goofy's Sky School is a pretty dull mini coaster. Think Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom, but without the spinning, or the thrill.
Toy Story Midway Mania! still attracts long lines, all day long, and for those who haven't rode in WDW or Tokyo, it is an updated version of Buzz Lightyear really. The difference is that it is in 3D on screens in front of you, and you shoot at a variety of Toy Story themed targets, not just those form the Buzz Lightyear universe. It's incredibly popular, and while enjoyable, I personally have never understood the huge draw. It's fun, but it's definitely not worth the huge lines, not by a long shot.
Ariel's Undersea Adventure is a fun attraction
The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure is a great attraction. It is dark and cool inside offering respite form the heat, and lines are rarely very long. In fact, most of the time when we've been - including in peak seasons - it's a walk on. Although its exterior is not as great as WDW's New Fantasyland version, the ride itself is virtually identical. A must for those who have never been.
Soarin' Over California is an excellent experience, and if you have never been on the one in EPCOT, then you should definitely ride. Just be warned - it's not for those afraid of heights or flying! It isn't fast, or wild, but it's definitely very neat. I won't spoil the surprise!
Grizzly River Run is an exhilarating and extremely wet, whitewater raft ride over the peaks of Grizzly Mountain. Some people compare it to Kali River Rapids in WDW, and I suppose to some degree it's the same, but it is very different, too.
For something a little different, try your hand at the Games of the Boardwalk. There is a charge for playing the games, but they are a lot of fun, and the prizes can vary (although a lot are plushes - cute ones at that!).

At the Games of the Boardwalk on Paradise Pier, you can pay to play four different games that involve a small level of skill. There are some neat prizes, and the games are fun to play. If you have a few spare minutes, they are worth trying to see what you can win! You must purchase a game card to play, as the Cast at the games do not handle cash. Game card machines are located directly across from the games, on the Boardwalk.

The scenery in Cars Land is beyond epic
Cars Land
I already mentioned Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, but felt that the last two attractions left to talk about were deserving of their own section.
Luigi's Flying Tires is an interesting attraction, and worth explaining. The concept came from a original Disneyland attraction, the Flying Saucers in Tomorrowland.
When Imagineers were designing Cars Land, John Lasseter recalled fond memories of the old DL attraction, and Cars Land was his 'baby', and so the Flying Tires were born!
The Tires are quite difficult to operate if you're not used to it. Most of the instructions in the queue are pretty hopeless. All I can say is, don't lean to the extremes. Go gentle, and don't shift around too much. One person per vehicle is better than two.
Lines can be long, not because of the amount of people, but because logistically the attraction is a nightmare. Each vehicle has to be manually dragged back into position if they are all bunched up, and if you have guests with disabilities waiting, expect the wait to be even longer.
If you get to try it though, it is a lot of fun.

Radiator Springs Racers is not to be missed!
I have saved the best until last, as they say. No, I hadn't forgotten about the most major e-ticket attraction in Disney history!
Radiator Springs Racers is the monolithic centrepiece of not just Cars Land, but the new California Adventure.
The red rock faces can be seen from all over the park, and look absolutely incredible. The depth and detail of the front of the attraction, which serves as the backdrop to Cars Land, really makes you feel like you stepped into the desert. Radiator Springs come to life with this there.
The actual attraction itself is a fantastical journey through the town of Radiator Springs, where you will come face to face with the real, living characters from the movie.
Following your trip through the town, you get catapulted off on a thrilling race around the desert. You are actually pitted against another car, and there is always one winner!
You should definitely ride multiple times, as not only can you win/not win, there are two different routes! You could either go via Luigi's for a tire change, or through Ramone's body shop for a new paint job.
Of course, there is one drawback to all this awesomeness. Lines. Radiator Springs Racers is on par with Tokyo's attractions when it comes to the insanely long lines and instant FastPass sell out.
Lines will form at the entrance to DCA long before park open, and once the gates open, everyone runs to get a FastPass. We were there as recently as September 2013, and by 10am, FastPasses had all gone.

For information on disabled accessibility to attractions at the theme parks, see the Practical Information section.

Disney's FastPass and Single Rider Services

Listed below are all the attractions that offer FastPass and Single Rider at the Disneyland Resort theme parks.

Disney's FastPass service is available at the following attractions:
Indiana Jones Adventure
Splash Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
Space Mountain
Star Tours - The Adventures Continue
Tower of Terror
Radiator Springs Racers
California Screamin'
Goofy's Sky School
World of Color (see the Entertainment section for details about this)
Grizzly River Run
Soarin' Over California

Single Rider service is available at:
Indiana Jones Adventure
Matterhorn Bobsleds
Radiator Springs Racers
California Screamin'
Goofy's Sky School
Grizzly River Run
Soarin' Over California

Attraction Recommendations

Clicking each item will take you to its dedicated page here at Character Central.
Attractions marked with WD are attractions that existed when Walt Disney was alive. Some attractions may have changed slightly over the years, but the reason they are listed is because overall they have remained true to how Walt would have seen them. There are more attractions here than I would normally recommend, for the simple fact I wanted to include everything 'Walt'.

Disneyland Park
City Hall (not an attraction, I know, but worth mentioning as a WD original)
Fire Department WD
Main Street Vehicles WD
Main Street Cinema WD
Main Street Train Station - Disneyland Railroad WD (originally featured 2 engines: #1 C.K. Holliday and #2 E.P. Ripley)
Disneyland Opera House incl. Great Moments with Mr Lincoln WD
Sleeping Beauty Castle WD (including the walk through)
King Arthur Carrousel WD
Snow White’s Scary Adventure WD
Peter Pan’s Flight WD
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride WD
Alice in Wonderland WD
Mad Tea Party WD
Dumbo The Flying Elephant WD
Casey Jr. Circus Train WD
Storybook Canal Boat WD
“it’s a small world” WD
Matterhorn Bobsleds WD (SR)
Indiana Jones Adventure (FP) (SR)
Enchanted Tiki Room WD
Jungle Cruise WD (featured 2 boats: Ganges Gal and Congo Queen)
Tarzan's Treehouse WD (although when Walt was alive, it was the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (FP)
Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes WD
Splash Mountain (FP)
Mark Twin Riverboat WD
Sailing Ship Columbia WD
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island WD (was just Tom Sawyer’s Island in Walt's day)
Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition WD
Autopia WD
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (FP)
Monorail Although this is a mode of transport to Downtown Disney, it's definitely worth mentioning here as a WD original
Space Mountain (FP)
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage WD (although when Walt was alive, it was 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Pirates of the Caribbean WD (Walt didn’t get to experience this before he passed, but he had a crucial input into its design)
Haunted Mansion WD (Walt didn’t get to experience this before he passed, but he had a crucial input into its design)

Disney California Adventure
Grizzly River Run (FP) (SR)
Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue
RadiatorSprings Racers (FP)
Luigi's Flying Tires
Soarin' Over California (FP) (SR)
Ariel's Undersea Adventure

(FP) = Disney's FastPass service normally available at this attraction
(SR) = Disney's Single Rider service normally available at this attraction

Useful Links

Pages here at Character Central

For each park, scroll down, and chose the 'Attractions' tab. You will then see a big list of all attractions at that park. Clicking on the individual lands in a park will take you to that land's dedicated page, where you can further filter the attractions on offer in that land.

Official Websites

Parades & Entertainment close

The Disneyland Resort probably has the best entertainment offerings of any Disney Resort, and that's not something that I would just say. Having travelled to all the parks so often, and being as hardcore as Jon and I are, it takes a lot to impress us nowadays (that's not to say we walk around with a critical eye - but we know when something is really worth it or not).
Let's take a look at what both parks have on offer.

Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park is one of the busiest parks in the world for live entertainment. Almost constantly you can find something going on.
From the many live bands, comedy acts and live shows, Disneyland really comes to life with an energy not found anywhere else.
The Disneyland Band is world famous, and plays on Main Street, daily, conducted by the also world famous Art.
While on Main Street you should stop by Refreshment Corner and listen to the resident pianists. Often Disney Characters will join the pianist for some musical fun.
The world famous Dapper Dans
The Dapper Dans are another staple of Disneyland, also on Main Street, almost daily.
Frontierland and New Orleans Square have a variety of acts that add to the atmosphere, including up at the Big Thunder Ranch which features live music as well as featuring Disney characters, games and pin trading. It's a really fun place, so if it's open during your visit (it isn't always), be sure to check it out!
Fantasyland's Fantasy Faire has live swing bands on select nights, and Tomorowland Terrace has live musicians playing to a more contemporary beat.
There are two stage shows at Fantasy Faire that offer some light comedy relief, while retelling the classic stories of Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast.
The park's major daytime stage production is Mickey and the Magical Map, which debuted in summer 2013. Dancers, characters and video sequences make this a good family show.
Of course, no Magic Kingdom would be complete without the parade, and Disneyland's current offering is Soundsational - a musical character filled extravaganza!
At night the park comes to life with a different kind of Disney magic, when the skies above the park burst with colour during Disney's Magical Fireworks Spectacular. Featuring Dumbo and Tinker Bell flying high above Sleeping Beauty Castle, it really is beautiful.
Fantasmic! is simply awesome
On the Rivers of America you can find the park's biggest spectacular of them all - Fantasmic!
Fantasmic! is an incredible production filled with water projections, fireworks, characters and an amazing soundtrack. Even though it's over 20 years old now, Fantasmic! is incredibly popular, so you need to stake out a spot well in advance.
For the latest shows and entertainment times, check the Disneyland Park schedule online before your visit (link on the side panel), or the times guide on the day of your visit.

Disney California Adventure

Daytime entertainment at DCA includes numerous small musical character performances.
On Buena Vista Street you can find Mickey in Red Car News Boys and Goofy with the Five and Dime.
Over on Paradise Pier you can rock it out with Phineas and Ferb, drum with the Green Army Men, and watch Goofy conduct the fountains on Paradise Bay, while Grizzly Peak sees Russell take part in the Wilderness Explorer Ceremony.
DJ looks awesome at night
DJ's Dance 'n' Drive in Cars Land features dancing waitresses, and actually looks pretty neat after sundown, as DJ's neons light up.
There several bands that play without characters too, including the Mariachi Divas at Pacific Wharf, the Happy Camper at Grizzly Peak, and numerous jazz and swings bands at the Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta bandstand.
There is a day parade, PIXAR Play Parade, but in all honesty, more and more keeps getting cut from this parade, and it has been around for so long, it really is none too inspiring. Be warned also that they spray water all over the place during the parade. If you don't want to get yourself or your belongings wet, it's best to stay well away.
Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular has been around for over a decade, and although it is a neat show for anyone who hasn't seen it before, it definitely has seen better days. The one thing that keeps it very fresh and current is that Genie is allowed to improvise jokes that are based on current affairs.
The Aladdin Musical and the PIXAR Play Parade both need replacing, really.

By night you can join the party - the Mad T Party! This is a ridiculously popular event with locals, who flock here nightly to see their favourite acts take to the stage. Popular songs, wacky outfits, crazy lighting and sets, neat street entertainment and cool refreshments with a mad twist, all make for a truly wild time!

Finally, at sundown, if you're in or near Cars Land, be sure to hang around on the street for their neat little Cars Land Lighting. It's not much, but it certainly adds to the overall atmosphere.

The Wonderful World of Color
World of Color
The other main attraction at night, and one of the big draws for all visitors to the park is World of Color.
Coloured water fountains, projections and lasers come together with a nice soundtrack in an array of rainbow colours.
If you have never seen World of Color, then you definitely should, but we personally have never really "got" the huge hype it receives. It's neat, but Disney Dreams! in Disneyland Paris blows it out of the water (literally). In fact, we personally prefer Fantasmic! just across the Esplanade at Disneyland Park, simply because at least Fantasmic! has a storyline, and has characters in it!
But I do want to make it clear that these are our own thoughts, and that you should definitely see it in person before you decide for yourself!
Dining packages are available for those who want to get "priority viewing" of the show. The quality of these "priority" areas in the past have been questionable. It's best to check on the day of your visit before you make a commitment.
FastPasses are also available for certain priority viewing areas around Paradise Bay. You cannot chose where your viewing area will be, and you can only get one World of Color FastPass per day (it's not like attractions where multiple can be gained).
The FastPass distribution area is over at Grizzly Peak, behind the Grizzly River Run.

Downtown Disney and the Resort Hotels

There are a lot of entertainment venues throughout Downtown Disney and the Disney Resort Hotels. Live music, big screen TVs and other forms of street entertainment regularly appear. Check with venues on the day of your visit for more details.
Venues that may offer entertainment during your stay might include House of Blues, Ralph Brannan's Jazz Kitchen and the ESPN Zone.
Don't forget that Downtown Disney also has an AMC cinema.

Recommended Parades & Entertainment

Here is a list of our recommended parades and shows at each park. Each location can be clicked, to take you to its dedicated page here at Character Central.

WD indicates that particular entertainment offering was around during Walt's life, in a similar format as today.

Disneyland Park:
Mickey's Soundsational Parade
Magical! Fireworks Spectacular
The Dapper Dans WD
The Disneyland Band WD
Mickey and the Magical Map

Disney California Adventure:
PIXAR Play Parade
Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Sprctacular
Mad T Party
Minnie's Fly Girls Charter Airline
Red Car News Boys
World of Color
DJ's Dance 'n' Drive

Useful Parades & Entertainment Links

Dining close

Dining at the Disneyland Resort has significantly improved over the last few years, and now offers some of the best theme park dining in the world.
There is a huge choice available at both theme parks, the three hotels and Downtown Disney.
The only real main problem with dining in California, is that it is expensive. In some cases, very expensive.
Let's take look at some of our own recommendations.

Disneyland Park

I have to say that of the two parks, Disneyland Park is the lesser of the two in terms of what it offers and quality. We nearly always find ourselves heading over to DCA across the Esplanade, simply because we prefer the dining locations over there.
But, that isn't to say you can't find a good meal here. Like I said above, the resort overall has drastically improved in recent times, and Disneyland Park has some really good options now.
When we do decide to dine in the park, we quite like the salads at Redd Rockett's Pizza Port (the mandarin chicken one is really good). The Pizza Port is one of the few counter service locations on property where you can get free refills - always worth remembering for when you want to escape from the hot sun, even if you don't eat in here.

A Dole Whip Float is a must!
Of course, a trip to Disneyland would not be complete without trying a world famous Dole Whip or Dole Whip Float. The Floats, in my opinion, are better as you get the ice cream and the juice. Great for when you want to cool off - just be warned that the line for the Tiki Juice Bar (Dole Whip's home in Adventureland) is nearly always very long.

We also like the Hungry Bear over in Critter Country. The food is a mixture of fast food and some more unique options, and overall isn't spectacular, but what really makes it is the outdoor, but very cool and shady terrace overlooking the Rivers of America. The back of the seating area up top nearly always has tables free, and you get great views of the boats and canoes passing by.

For breakfast you should consider the Carnation Cafe on Main Street. This is a very popular location though, so you may need to make a reservation.
I had the Mickey waffle here once, and it was really good.
Another option is the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe on Central Plaza. Pastries are the main speciality here for breakfast. In the afternoon the soup is a really good light option.
The Plaza Inn has some really great lunch and dinner options. If you time it right of an evening, you can enjoy your meal and watch the fireworks from the patio without the manic crowds all around you!
There is now a Starbuck in the place of the old Market house. It has proven to be ridiculously popular. So, if you need your coffee fix, stop by here for authentic Starbucks coffee in a great Disney setting.
An interesting note about drinks is that, at Casey's Corner, at the end of Main Street, you can have raspberry, cherry or vanilla flavouring added to any soft drink!

In Frontierland the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ has a great setting and excellent live entertainment. The food is of course very good too, including some wonderful desserts!

The Blue Bayou is a popular location. If you're looking for atmosphere, then this place definitely has it. French Market is very popular, but I can't honestly say I like it all too much. I know that a lot of people love it, so maybe it's just me! It is very expensive though, for what it is (mainly chicken and salads). Another option is Cafe Orleans, and while we haven't dined there, I'm told it's good.

Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure has some really great food.
One of our two favourite places in the park, and one of our top three in the Resort is Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land.
Serving separate breakfast and lunch/dinner menus, Flo's has really excellent food that is a fusion of good home cooking and roadside diners on Route 66 (that might sound odd to some, but it's really amazing!).
There isn't any one thing that Flo's has that we have not liked. Flo's also has excellent milkshakes for those really hot days.
One of the best things about Flo's is the setting. You cannot beat sitting in the 'Motorama Girls' room, gazing out of the huge glass windows at the magnificent backdrop of Monument Valley. It's truly spectacular.

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta has excellent food
A much simpler option on the other side of the park is Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. Although the setting is nowhere near as dramatic, the outdoor terrace is really quite pleasant, and the food is exceptionally good. Pasta, pizza and chicken dishes are the main offerings here, and you can get free refills too.
Immediately next door in the same complex as Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is Paradise Garden Grill. An outdoor window location, they serve up some pretty good kababs/kabobs (depends where you're from!).
Throughout the day live bands play at the gazebo that is in the shared seating area of the two eateries.

For something a little different, the Lucky Fortune Cookery at Pacific Wharf has some decent Asian dishes.
For those who want burgers, then Taste Pilot's Grill in Condor Flats is home to some of the better burgers in the Resort.

Carthay Circle Restaurant is the park's signature dining location,and although we are yet to try it, I am informed it is very good. We have walked up there to check out the theming though, and it is a gorgeous restaurant.

Disney California Adventure has a ton of other options, but those are our personal picks.

For anyone wanting to view the World of Color you might want to consider a dining package which includes priority viewing of the show.
Ariel's Grotto (dinner only, no characters), Carthay Circle Restaurant (dinner) and the Wine Country Trattoria (dinner) can all usually be booked for the World of Color dining packages.

The Earl of Sandwich is always busy

Downtown Disney

Honestly, we never really dine at Downtown Disney, as this usually means taking precious time out of visiting the theme parks! But, I do know that there some incredibly popular venues here that a lot of others really love, such as Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen and the House of Blues.
The Rainforest Cafe is pretty standard casual family dining, but the food is usually pretty good.
For sandwich lovers, you'll be pleased to know that the DLR has an Earl of Sandwich! Located near the far end (near the Disneyland Hotel), it's a very popular spot for lunch.
With the exception of ESPN Zone, Earl and Rainforest, most major locations also have an express restaurant. So, if you don't have the time to formal dine, you can get express versions. I'm told The Jazz Kitchen Express is really good, and our close friends also tell us that Tortilla Joe's is also very tasty, with food portions being especially large!

The Disney Hotels

Like Downtown Disney, we haven't had too much experience at the Resort Hotels, but we have tried a few locations at least.
The main ones we have dined at are the character dining restaurants, which you can read about in the Character Dining section below.
Outside of character dining we have frequently eaten at White Water Snacks in the Grand Californian. White Water Snacks is tucked away at the back near the pool.
It has a selection of sandwiches and hot food, which comprises mainly of burgers. The thing we like about White Water the most is its location. It is fairly secluded, and unless you are there in the height of summer right at midday for lunch, then more often than not, it's pretty quiet here. The outdoor seating area is nice, as it's shaded by tall trees.
Trader Sam's terrace is a relaxing place to hang out
At the Disneyland Hotel we really love Trader Sam's. Although their menu is pretty limited to snack items, you can also order from Tangaroa Terrace's menu while at Trader Sam's (Tangaroa Terrace is a counter service place adjoining Trader Sam's). Items from the Tangoroa menu include some pretty sandwiches. The best things about Trader Sam's are the amazing drinks, and the setting.
If you want to chill out after a hard day at the parks, Trader Sam's has some spectacular cocktails, that you can enjoy either indoors in what resembles the Tiki Room, or outdoors on the terrace under the flaming torches and palm trees.
Tangaroa Terrace, right next door, offers breakfast, burgers, salads and flatbreads.
All three Disney Hotels have a lot more options than those I've talked about, we have just never tried them. Our close friends tell us that Napa Rose and Smokehouse 55 are two of the most popular restaurants at the hotels. They're both pricey, but really wonderful.

Character Dining

There are five character dining locations at the Disneyland Resort, all evenly distributed between the parks and hotels.
Each park and hotel has one location, all offering something slightly different.

In Disneyland Park you can join Minnie and friends for breakfast at the Plaza Inn on Main Street. Food is served buffet style, and is generally quite good. Characters in the past have ranged from Eeyore, Max, Tigger and Rafiki. Characters are random (besides Minnie of course), but generally expect the usual fare. You can generally expect to meet anywhere from six to eight characters.
The good thing about dining here is that you can make a reservation for before park opening, allowing you to see a deserted Main Street, and by the time you're done, and the park is opening, you'll beat the massive lines at the entrance!

At Disney California Adventure you can enjoy breakfast with the Disney Princesses at Ariel's Grotto.
I'll be honest, I have never liked the restaurant in terms of its theming. In fact, it is all that was wrong with DCA before they set about putting it right. I can't stand the decor and the expensive dinner food isn't that good, but I have to say breakfast is enjoyable. We got to meet Ariel, Belle, Aurora, Cinderella and Snow White.
The breakfast food is served family style (like a buffet, but served at your table) and includes fruit, pastries, eggs, bacon, sausages, hams and cheeses.
I wouldn't rush back, simply because the place needs rebuilding, but if you have a keen princess fan in your family, the breakfast food is good and the characters are fun.
Just for a different perspective, we have two very good friends who dined here for lunch, for the first time in September 2013, and they loved it!

Storyteller's Cafe at the Grand Californian has Chip 'n' Dale's Critter Breakfast. This is actually our favourite character meal on property. The food is excellent, the restaurant is really nice, and the characters are always fun. You'll get to see Chip and Dale (of course!), and usually any combination of Meeko, Br'er Bear, Br'er Fox, Koda, Kenai and oddly enough, Terk. I'm not sure why an African gorilla is at a Californian forest themed breakfast, but nonetheless, it's fun! You usually see at least six, but on occasion all eight might show up!

Surf's Up is fun but not the best Character Dining on property
At the Paradise Pier you will find Surf's Up! with Mickey and Friends, at the PCH Grill. This is a breakfast character experience, where you can find any combination of Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto wearing their beach finest, and Stitch (no special costume for him, sadly). You'll usually only get four characters here, so if you end up with all six, it's a good day!
The food is actually very good, but the restaurant suffers from the same dated and sparsely themed look as the rest of the hotel (see the Hotels section for my take on that).
Also, the price is no cheaper than the other character dining options, you get less characters than the other ones, and it's the farthest to get to, which overall means it just isn't as an enjoyable experience.

The last character dining option is Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. Goofy's Kitchen is the only Character Dining restaurant to offer not just breakfast, but lunch and dinner also. It is a buffet restaurant.
Characters can be random, but these days tend to be a mixture of a standard set. You could get anyone of Goofy and the rest of the VIPs, to one or two Princesses, Baloo, or the Alice in Wonderland friends. You can expect to see anywhere from six to eight characters here.

Outside the Main Gate

The huge advantage of the Disneyland Resort being in the heart of a busy city like Anaheim is that it is on the doorstep of just about every other option you can imagine.
Walk outside the main gate onto Harbor Blvd, and you'll find everything from McDonald's, IHOP, Red Robin, to Cheesecake Factory and Subway.

Club 33

The former entrance to Club 33
You may have heard about Club 33, and wondered why it's not on the guide maps, or why there is very little information about it anywhere. This is because Club 33 is an exclusive members only club. Club 33 has a decade long waiting list, and commands membership fees that most regular people cannot afford (we're talking thousands and thousands). If you are really curious, Club 33 is located in New Orleans Square. At the time of writing it is undergoing a massive refurbishment, and so the former entrance may no longer be visible, but if it is, the picture to the right is what you should look for. You won't be able to get in, but it's fun to knock on the door and dream nonetheless!

Dining Recommendations

Every restaurant offers something different, so here are our top recommendations for dining at the Disneyland Resort (clicking each item will take you to its dedicated page here at Character Central).
Locations marked with WD are restaurants that existed when Walt Disney was alive. Some restaurants may have changed slightly over the years, but the reason they are listed is because overall they have remained true to how Walt would have seen them. There are more dining locations here than I would normally recommend, for the simple fact I wanted to include everything 'Walt'.

Disneyland Park
Carnation Café WD
Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor WD
Refreshment Corner/Corner Café WD
Jolly Holiday Bakery Café WD (as the Plaza Restaurant)
Plaza Inn WD (for lunch and dinner)
Minnie and Friends Breakfast in the Park (breakfast Character Dining)
Main Street Market House WD
Golden Horseshoe WD
Big Thunder Ranch BBQ
Tiki Juice Bar
Blue Bayou WD (Walt didn’t get to experience this before he passed, but he had a crucial input into its design)
French Market
Hungry Bear Restaurant
Redd Rockett's Pizza Port

Disney California Adventure
Flo's V8 Cafe
Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta
Paradise Garden Grill
Lucky Fortune Cookery
Taste Pilot's Grill

Downtown Disney
The Earl of Sandwich
Ralph Brannan's Jazz Kitchen
House of Blues
Rainforest Cafe

The Disney Hotels
White Water Snacks
Trader Sam's
Tangaroa Terrace
Chip 'n' Dale's Critter Breakfast, Storyteller's Cafe (breakfast Character Dining)
Goofy's Kitchen (breakfast, lunch and dinner Character Dining)

And finally here's a link to the official Disneyland Dining page on the Disneyland website.

Shopping close

Shopping at the DLR is a fairly enjoyable experience.
The resort has a large number of stores that sell a diverse range of items.
Sadly the biggest problem is the current Disney Parks branding, which means that a lot of merchandise is now shared with WDW, and to some extent DLP.
The one Disney brand concept hasn't gone over well with fans, and it's not hard to see why.
The Disney Parks stuff can be none too inspiring, and very non-specific (as in, it could be from anywhere, and says nothing for DLR). On an even sadder note, on our most recent visit in September 2013, the parks were even selling Disney Store merchandise at some locations! That seems like a real cheap move.
But, on the other hand, there is some cool and unique things, most notably over at DCA.
Merchandise that is really specific to DLR includes items from Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and World of Color.

Disneyland Park

Most of the stores in Disneyland are small, and get crowded very quickly.
Most stores sell a variety of the same things found at any other store.
There are a few exceptions that have more of a focus, which I'll discuss below. I am not going to list every store that sells Princess dresses, or stores that sell Buzz Lightyear toys, for example, because there is basically too much of that stuff everywhere at the parks. I want to try and focus on the stores that offer something a little different, as so that you can get something special out of your shopping experience at Disneyland Park.
For those wanting to see the stores that Walt had an influence on, check out the panel to the right that lists all Walt Disney original stores. Some of these may have changed names, or shifted focus slightly over the years, but the overall concept and overall store design is still there.

Inside the Disneyland Emporium
The main place for shopping in Disneyland Park is Main Street USA. The Emporium is the largest store in the park, and contains a very wide range of all Disneyland Park and generic Disney merchandise. The only problem is, it can get quite busy towards the end of the day.
China Closet on Main Street stocks all Disney ornaments for every occasion.
The Main Street Magic Shop is a tiny boutique on Main Street that specialises specifically in magic tricks, cards and puppets.
It's one of the few stores left that has a real focus to it. The Cast Members there are even talented magicians who often show off their tricks!
For whips, fedoras and Indiana Jones t-shirts, Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost in Adventureland is the place to go!
Besides the store in Epcot, Mlle Antoinette's Parfumerie is the only other dedicated fragrance shop I know of at a Disney Park. Apparently sometimes they even have exclusives or hard to find products.
The Star Trader in Tomorrowland has a heavy focus on Star Wars merchandise, and to my knowledge is the only place at the resort that you can build your own Lightsaber and build your own droid.

The Lube O Rama has some interesting items!

Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure definitely has the better selection of unique merchandise.
On Buena Vista Street Julius Katz and Sons carries Red Car Trolley items, and Oswald's Tires at the front entrance sells very specific Oswald the Lucky Rabbit merchandise.
Elias and Co (also on BVS) has a wide range of BVS and DCA items, all in one place.
Embarcadero Gifts, although a very small store, at Paradise Pier has World of Color merchandise and Little Mermaid items.
In Cars Land, of the four stores, Ramone's House of Body Art and the Lube-O-Rama which both run into one another (I always feel they are almost one store) have some very unique Cars Land items. Look out for the Lube-O-Rama t-shirts. They'll give the adults in your party a good laugh!

Of course, both parks also have some more specialised stores that aren't necessarily unique to the Disneyland Resort, but have a specific focus. For example Off the Page and Disneyana both specialise in Disney artwork, but what they offer isn't really specific to the Disneyland Resort. And of course both park have candy stores, clothing stores, and Disneyland Park has several crystal arts boutiques.

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is home to the World of Disney, the resort's largest retail store. Think of it as the Emporium on a much bigger scale. You can find a wide range of Disney items here, a lot of it is very generic, but it has some resort specific stuff too.
Downtown Disney also has a neat art store featuring some unique pieces (WonderGround Gallery), several fashion, accessory and teen stores (Disney Vault 28 and Studio Disney 365, for example), and a candy store (Marceline's), which all belong to Disney. For Vinylmation collectors, D-Street is the place to be
There is also a RideMakerz, where you can build your own custom (toy) vehicle, a Build-a-Bear Workshop and various brand name stores.


If you're looking to find some cool souvenirs that won't cost you a thing, Disneyland Resort has a few things you should know!
First up, buttons/badges (depending on where you're from). If you're celebrating a special occasion, if it's your first visit, or even if just being in Disneyland Resort is reason enough to celebrate, then ask any Cast Member if they have a button for you! Button designs across the whole resort include Happily Ever After, Birthday, 1st Visit, and generic "I'm Celebrating!" ones.
All character dining locations have their own unique buttons (making a total of five, since there are five character dining restaurants), and over in Cars Land you can ask in the stores to answer some trivia, and they'll give you a button for your troubles there, too! I'm not sure how many Cars Land designs there are, but there are quite a few!
If you like to collect leaflets and other paraphernalia, Buena Vista Street has its own newspaper, which comes out I think at least quarterly. You can always find it in bins near the Red Car Trolley stop at the park entrance, or in Fiddler, Fifer Cafe.
Over at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, ask a Cast Member for a trail map.
At any DVC location, you can ask for stickers, and the cast are usually very obliging.
When you ride the Jungle Cruise, ask a jungle guide at the end of the cruise for a map of the rivers, and at the Haunted Mansion you can ask for a death certificate!


The Disney Hotels each have a store (the Disneyland Hotel actually has two stores), which all offer a small selection of core souvenirs, sundries and supplies (such as toiletries, suncream and a small amount of medicines).

The Bullseyes model a locker for us

Package Pickup and Lockers

If you have bought a lot throughout the day, you can rent a locker on Main Street USA, Buena Vista Street and outside the parks in the Esplanade and Picnic Areas.
Depending on the location you're making your purchase, you can also have purchases sent to the front of Disneyland Park free of charge, to be collected when you exit. The Newsstand to the right of the turnstiles as you exit is where you pickup. See a Cast Member for more details.

Shopping Recommendations

Every shop offers something different and quirky, so here are our top recommendations for shopping at the Disneyland Resort (clicking each item will take you to its dedicated page here at Character Central).
Stores marked with WD are stores that existed when Walt Disney was alive. Some stores may have changed slightly over the years, but the reason they are listed is because overall they have remained true to how Walt would have seen them. There are more stores here than I would normally recommend, for the simple fact I wanted to include everything 'Walt'.

Disneyland Park
Disneyland Emporium WD
China Closet WD
Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost
The Star Trader
Candy Palace WD (which now incorporates the former Penny Arcade - another WD original)
Main Street Photo Supply Co. WD
Disney Clothiers (and all its stores – Chester Drawers, Castle Bros.) WD
20th Century Music Company WD
Main Street Magic Store WD
Disney Showcase WD
Mad Hatter WD
Disneyana (formerly the Bank of Main Street - the vault can still be viewed) WD
Pioneer Mercantile WD
Bonzana Outfitters WD
Westward Ho WD

Disney California Adventure
Embarcadero Gifts
Elias & Co.
Lube O Rama
Oswald's Tires
Ramone's House of Body Art

Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney Main Page
The World of Disney Store
D Street
WonderGround Gallery

And finally here's a link to the official Disneyland Shopping page on the Disneyland website.

Practical Information close

The Disneyland Monorail

Trips are always one way, no exceptions. There is no fee to ride, you must have a park ticket to ride.
If you take the Monorail from Disneyland Park, you are exiting the theme park, and arrive near the LEGO Store and Disneyland Hotel in Downtown Disney.
Park admission is required if you wish to re-enter the park again later via Monorail or the regular gates. As with the regular gates, bags will be inspected upon re-entry via the Downtown Disney Monorail Station.

Internet Access

There is currently no free wifi offered by Disney at the parks or Disney Hotels, unlike WDW or DLP.
If you are a DLR Hotel guest, you can pay for internet access in your room.
To my knowledge not even any of the non-Disney owned Downtown Disney venues offer free wifi.
Outside of the Resort, you could try McDonald's or IHOP. They nearly always have free wifi.

Photography - PhotoPass, DLSRs, Rules and Tripods

Normally Disney have no problem with guests bringing in camera equipment for their own personal use. But, I have to say through personal experience that on occasion, you'll hit a snag going through security. Disney have a fairly wishy-washy policy on long lenses for DSLR cameras, that Cast Members seem to enforce as and when they please. Sadly, if you are told you cannot bring a lens into the Resort, you simply will not be allowed.
They'll offer two options. One, you can turn around and go back to your hotel to leave it behind, or two, you'll be escorted by a member of security to a locker rental location at the picnic area outside of the secure park area. You have to hire the locker at your own expense. Security will remain with you until you re-enter as so that you do not attempt to re-enter with that lens - at least at that point! As we discovered, try another CM later on at a different booth, and you probably won't get stopped!
You can view and purchase PhotoPass photos at the parks' camera centres
Tripods are generally allowed, but if it is busy or crowded, Disney may request you take your tripod down if it is causing an obstruction.
The Disneyland Resort partakes in the PhotoPass service, whereby you can have your photo taken by a Disney photographer (at character greetings, and other random locations throughout the parks), and purchase it later either at the park's photo centre, or online at home. Borders and other things can be added to the photos free of charge.
There is no charge to use the service or view your photos online, but there is a significant cost attached to purchasing them.
If you want to save some money on the PhotoPass pictures, you might want to consider PhotoPass Plus, whereby you can purchase a PhotoPass package in advance, and it significantly reduces the cost. Of course, you need to know that you'll be using the service enough to warrant the initial outlay. See the Disney PhotoPass website for more details.

Locker, Stroller and Wheelchair Rental

Storage lockers are available for rent at the following locations:
The Esplanade between the two parks, next to the Guest Relations window to the right of Disneyland Park.
Half way up Main Street USA in Disneyland Park, at the end of the side street on the right.
On Buena Vista Street immediately after the main entrance turnstiles, on the right.
At the picnic area on the Downtown Disney side of security (outside the secure zone).
Sizes in the parks range from medium, to large, then jumbo. The picnic area lockers are a lot bigger - it's the picnic area, so they should be at least big enough for a picnic basket/holder.
For up to date price information, please refer to the official Disneyland website, or the location itself on the day of your visit.
The lockers on Main Street also include mobile phone charging lockers, which you can rent for limited periods for a nominal fee (as of December 2013, it was $2 an hour), and can charge virtually any mobile device without the need of your own charger.

Strollers and Wheelchairs can be rented here
Wheelchairs and strollers can be rented at the dedicated location to the right of Disneyland Park's main entrance, in the Esplanade. This location serves both theme parks. Strollers cannot normally be taken outside of the secure zone, and both strollers and wheelchairs should be returned to the rental office.
For up to date price information, please refer to the official Disneyland website, or the location itself on the day of your visit.

A note about accessibility in Disneyland Park: While we're talking about wheelchairs and strollers, it is worth noting that although Disneyland Park is a very modern theme park, it was built nearly sixty years ago. There are still some things there today that have been "grandfathered" in, I.E. the standards to which they were built were not as high as today's, but are allowed because they predate certain requirements.
Where possible Disney always try to accommodate for guests less able, but just be aware that sometimes this simply isn't practical. Some attractions are wheelchair accessible, some not. It's just the way it is, unfortunately.
Also, it should be noted that due to the smaller size of most of the park areas, and how it was originally designed, navigating the park's walkways may prove a challenge on busy days.
On the plus side, there are two attractions that do offer what Disney call 'alternate experiences'.
The Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-through, and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage both have special rooms where by you can view the entire attraction and still get to see what the real attraction is all about. Of the two, I actually think the Nemo one is the better designed one, but it's certainly a very good idea for those with disabilities.

Money, Disney Dollars, Foreign Exchange and ATMs

In case you wasn't aware, the currency for the United States is the US dollar $.
All major credit and debit cards, as well as cash are accepted throughout the resort, at practically every location. The only real exceptions would be things like balloon vendors on Main Street, who only accept cash.
If you need to exchange currency, you should be able to do this at Guest Relations at the theme parks, or at your Disney Hotel front desk, but check with a Cast Member first.
ATMs are located throughout the resort, including on the Esplanade, on Main Street USA, and in Hollywood Land.
Disney Gift Cards (US$ only) are accepted just as cash is throughout the resort, again except for some street vendors.
If you prefer not to carry cash or your credit cards, you can leave a card on file with your Disney Hotel, and charge your purchases to your Key to the Magic card instead. Most points of sale offer this service, but it's best to check when you visit.

Disney Dollars are fun to collect
Disney also have their own "currency", called Disney Dollars. The programme has been running for many years now, and has declined in popularity to the point we have even heard they may be discontinued, sadly. Most people just collect the newest releases (as designs do vary all the time) to add to their collections, and rarely use them as cash. They have had some pretty cool series in the past, such as heroes, villains, the Fab 5, Stitch and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Disney Dollars can be "purchased" at a dollar-for-dollar rate at Guest Relations at both theme parks, as well as some larger stores (you need to ask a Cast Member at the cash register if they have them at that location). Disney Dollars are accepted the same way cash is across the resort, and can also be used at WDW and on the Disney Cruise Line.

Sign for the Holiday Time Tour

Guided Tours

The Disneyland Resort offers a really good range of guided tours, which cover many aspects of the resort's history, design and operations. If you want more information then all Guest Relations locations will be able to help you, but if you want real specialised help, then you can stop by the Tour Guide Garden on Main Street USA, and talk directly with a Disneyland Tour Guide about the tours on offer.
Throughout the year the resort also has seasonal tours, such as the Happiest Haunts Tour at Halloween, and the Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour at Christmas.

Park Hours

Disneyland Resort really benefits from the near-perfect year round weather, and you will find that barring some special events and seasonal happenings, that the parks maintain long hours all year round. It is not uncommon to expect that on any given "regular" day at the resort, that Disneyland Park could open from 8am through 12 midnight.
The Disneyland Resort website gives the parks hours several months in advance, which can help plan your trip.

When to Visit Southern California

Southern California offers very warm temperatures all year round. The good thing is, they do not get a lot of humidity, unlike Walt Disney World in Florida. there are of course cooler times, such as January through to April, and December can be cool, but cool to anyone not from the tropics could potentially feel like summer!
Crowds do vary with season, with August, Thanksgiving and Christmas being exceptionally busy.
In our experience, once school is back in session mid-September can be almost perfect. You get the weather, and light crowds - and Halloween starts too!

Home Delivery Service

If you have made a particularly big purchase at one of the resort's Disney boutiques, and you live within the US, you can get the item shipped home. Shipping rates can really vary depending on what you order, and are not just done on weight, but size also. So even if your item isn't all too heavy you could still end up paying over the top because of the shape of it.
A convenient service for sure - and one that we have used personally with no problems - but expensive.

Meeting Disney Characters close

You'll be pleased to know that Disney Characters are abundant at the Disneyland Resort!
For detailed information about where to meet characters, check out the in-depth guidebook pages of this website, which contains all you need to know about where to find your favourite characters. Links are on the panel to the right.

Here's a brief summary of the highlights though, of who to find where at the DLR.

Disneyland Park

Main Street USA sees Mickey and Friends frequent often, as well as other random characters such as Cruella de Vil, Mary Poppins and sometimes some Princesses.
Adventureland's Aladdin's Oasis lives up to its name and has Aladdin, Genia and Jasmine (not always together).
New Orleans Square lacks characters usually, unless it's a special event or seasonal happening.
Eeyore greets his fans in Critter Country
Critter Country is home to Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore. Sometimes Rabbit will appear, but he is a lot less frequent. Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox tend to walk around randomly, but again, they are not always on a set schedule.
During off peak or "normal" times, Frontierland only really has Woody and Jessie, but during the summer, Halloween and Christmas (as well as some other special events) Big Thunder Ranch can come to life with Western and seasonal friends (it's never busy up there either, making meeting characters really fun!).
Fantasyland is home to Frozen Royal Reception with Elsa and Anna, as well as the other Princesses inside Royal Hall. Royal Hall is a dedicated Princess meet 'n' greet location. Ariel, Aurora and Cinderella are there virtually all the time, but they potentially could rotate randomly, so check the board outside on the day of your visit. You'll either get two or three of them, depending on how busy it is that day.
Rapunzel and Flynn Rider can usually be met after their show at the Royal Theatre.
Some other characters tend to wander around Fantasyland too, such as Peter Pan, and friends from Alice in Wonderland. You can also meet Merida at her permanent location near "it's a small world".
Pixie Hollow is technically in Fantasyland, but feels more like it is in Central Plaza. You'll most likely get Tinker Bell and one other random Fairy, but there is no actual guarantee of who will be there at any given time - even Tink might not be out on a certain day! (Yes, it can happen!)
Toontown is home to Mickey and his Friends. You can meet Mickey at his house, Minnie at her house, Goofy outside his house, and sometimes Donald, Chip, Dale and Pluto wandering around, too.
Tomorrowland doesn't tend to feature too many characters, but you might find Stormtroopers wandering around (and they don't usually stop, either), otherwise, that's about it. Buzz can appear randomly near his attraction, but we haven't seen him in Tomorrowland on our visits in a long time.

Donna the Dog Lady and Officer Calvin Blue on Buena Vista Street

Disney California Adventure

On Buena Vista Street, you can find Mickey ands some of his friends in special BVS costumes, as well as some of the Citizens of Buena Vista Street, such as Officer Calvin Blue, and Molly the Messenger.
Hollywood Land usually stars the Incredibles, Sulley and Playhouse Disney characters (such as Jake and Sofia).
Bugs Land used to feature Flik, but I don't think he appears regularly anymore, sadly.
In Cars Land, all day everyday you can get your photo with Mater, McQueen and Red (though Red's times can be shorter than the other two).
Pacific Wharf lacks any characters.
Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear have a permanent location at the back of PAradise Pier, near the Games of the Boardwalk.
Duffy and Donald Duck meet at certain times near Ariel's Grotto. Donald has a different outfit than his normal one at this location.
At Grizzly Peak you can meet Russell after the Wilderness Explorer Ceremony, and Dug sporadically throughout the day.

Popularity and Wait Times

Disneyland Resort can be a real funny place when it comes to character lines. On the one hand, characters are as popular as ever, and local fans descend upon the resort in their tens of thousands when there is a character event happening, but for some reason lines are never too long - or at least they feel that way.
I think that people tend not to go literally crazy like they do at the other parks around the world. There is a calmer attitude to character greetings, which makes the whole thing a lot more pleasant.
Rapunzel at her Tower is usually the consistently longest line. She is incredibly popular in California.
Sometimes the Fairies at Pixie Hollow can hit maybe forty five minutes, and Mickey at his house on peak days can be around the same, but that's about it.
Generally though lines stay below thirty minutes, and usually aren't even close to that.
Of course, that's just in our experience, but having been many times, in many different situations, with many different groups of people, I can tell you that you will not have to wait long to meet characters at the Disneyland Resort.

Character Autographs

It's worth mentioning that the signatures the characters sign while they are in California vary somewhat from the other parks around the world. For some reason they always seem to be more elaborate and artistic in California than anywhere else! Definitely worth remembering so you can get the most out of your meet 'n' greet experiences.

Character Dining

You can find out more about character dining experiences in the Dining section of this planner, but just be aware that there are five character meals on property - one at each park and hotel. Each has a slightly different theme, according to its setting.

Useful Character Hunting Links Here at Character Central

Seasons & Events close

The Disneyland Resort celebrates most major US holidays in their own unique way, making these times of the year even more magical!
It should be noted that Disney frequently change the line-up of events at the parks, and no two years are the same. It's always best to check the official Disneyland Resort website nearer the time of when you are planning on visiting, for more information.

Pumpkins are in during Halloween


Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort is a real blast. Mickey Friends dress up in the Halloween costumes to greet guests, the parks are filled with awesome decorations, and the Disney Villains come out to play in Frontierland!
You can also meet Jack and Sally over near the Haunted Mansion - which itself is transformed annually into the Haunted Mansion Holiday. Don't just think that Haunted Mansion Holiday is a small overlay either - they really go to town with it, making the interior virtually unrecognisable as the regular Mansion!
In Tomorrowland Space Mountain becomes Ghost Galaxy - complete with a different soundtrack, ghostly projections and extra chills!

Throughout Halloween Time Disneyland Park also plays host to the extra special ticketed event, Mickey's Halloween Party.
This special nighttime event has its own Halloween fireworks, starring Zero, who flies high above the Castle!
There is the Cavalcade which has some really fun characters in some great costumes, and dance parties located throughout the park where you can dance with some of your favourite stars.
Of course, there are meet 'n' greets throughout the evening, featuring some more unusual characters, and neat costumes for your favourite Disney pals.
The atmosphere of the parties is really great, and of course there are extra surprises along the way! Don't forget you can also trick or treat for candy, around the park!
Definitely worth attending.
Halloween Time runs from around mid-September thorough to the end of of October.


Christmas - or Holiday Time as Disney like to call it - at the resort is breathtakingly beautiful.
There are thousands of decorations and twinkling lights that deck out the parks, as well as special treats and merchandise.
Of course, the Disney Characters dress up in their Holiday finest, and you can meet Santa Claus.
There are special Christmas fireworks, the magical Christmas Fantasy Parade, bell ringers, Yuletide bands and so much more.
Christmas lights adorn "it's a small world"
Don't forget also that "it's a small world" becomes "it's a small world" Holiday, which sees the beloved attraction covered in thousands of twinkling lights on the outside, and a seasonal overlay inside.
Haunted Mansion Holiday stays in place at the end of Halloween Time, and remains throughout Christmas.
There is so much to see and do, that I cannot simply describe it all here.
I recommend you head over to our dedicated Holiday Time page here at Character Central (link on the right hand panel), and see for yourself all the awesome things they offer.
Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort runs from around mid-November through to the first week of January.

Photos don't do justice to the awesome New Year's fireworks at DCA

New Year's Eve

Although New Year falls within the Holiday Time period at the resort, New Year's Eve has something extra special.
Both parks put on a huge party to welcome in the New Year.
In Disneyland Park there is usually a countdown party near "it's a small world", and various live entertainment offerings throughout the park.
At California Adventure, they have some live entertainment throughout the park, as well as countdown happenings at Hollywood Land and Paradise Bay.

Both parks see the turn of midnight in with mind-boggling fireworks. For New Year 2012/13, we were in California Adventure, and I have to say the countdown and the fireworks, followed by World of Color was completely awesome.

Disneyland Park gets extremely congested during New Year's Eve, and exiting the park can be utter chaos. We actually found that California Adventure was a real breeze by comparison, as the park has wider walkways and is generally better at accommodating large crowds than Disneyland Park.
Worth remembering if you want a little less stress on the busiest night of the year!

For more information on the New Year's Eve events at DCA, and to see some videos from the nights' events, check out our dedicated New Year's Eve page here at Character Central - a link is on the right hand panel.

Chinese New Year

Around January/February time is when Chinese New Year falls, and the Disneyland Resort usually holds a small celebration to recognise this important occasion.
In the past activities have included meet 'n' greets with Mulan and Mushu, and special Chinese entertainment.
The programme of events can change year-on-year, so it's best to check the Disneyland website nearer the time for more information.

Mardi Gras

Disneyland Park usually celebrates the carnival season with decorations and special live entertainment, all in New Orleans Square of course! In the past there has been special performances by Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen and Louis the alligator, as well as other live acts.
As with all other seasonal events, things can change, so it's best to check the Disneyland website nearer the time for more information.

Visiting the Area close

Theme Parks and Attractions

Disneyland is not the only attraction in Southern California.
If you want theme parks locally, Knott's Berry Farm is just up the road (I think shuttles run from the Anaheim resort area), and is actually older than Disneyland!

Universal Studios decked out for Grinchmas
Up in Hollywood you have Universal Studios, which has some awesome attractions, the world famous Studio Tour, and Universal CityWalk (think of it as a grown up version of Downtown Disney). For character hunters, Universal Studios has a really good selection of stars from the movie world, who are a lot of fun to meet. You can usually find cool characters such as the latest DreamWorks Animation characters, Fievel, Scooby-Doo, Woody Woodpecker, Shrek and more!

Further afield there is Six Flags (north of LA), SeaWorld San Diego, and LEGOland California (in Carlsbad).

If you like animals and zoos, then Los Angeles Zoo is fun, as is the world famous San Diego Zoo.

Los Angeles and San Diego

San Diego is about two hours south of Anaheim, and is a destination unto itself, so I won't go down that route here. Suffice to say, when visiting Disneyland and LA, it is definitely worth considering a multi-destination trip to encompass the beautiful city of San Diego, too.

The Hollywood sign watches over the city from afar
Los Angeles and Hollywood of course have many different experiences, such as walking the Walk of Fame, seeing the Hollywood sign, shopping in Beverly Hills, and tanning on the glorious pure white sand beaches.

Santa Monica has a very famous promenade, pier and retail/dining street. Santa Monica's beaches are white and golden. It's a trendy, up-market town, and one of my favourite places in LA.
Venice Beach neighbours Santa Monica, with their beaches running into each other further down the promenade. Venice is home to the world famous 'muscle beach'. Street artists, music, vendors and side streets filled with quirky boutiques make Venice one of Los Angeles more diverse beach communities. Watch out for the rollerbladers too, they just might not stop!

The Soda Fountain and Studio Store pre-Ghirardelli

Disney Studio Store & Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop

For those looking for a little bit of Disney elsewhere, aside from the DLR, if you go to the main part of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd, be sure to stop by the Soda Fountain Store. The Disney Studio Store & Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop (Soda Fountain for short) is a unique Disney experience for sure! You can pick up exclusive merchandise (most notably pins), and enjoy sundaes and desserts with a distinct Disney twist!
The Soda Fountain is next door to (and even has a connecting door) the El Capitan, which is a famous historical theatre owned by Disney. Many Disney premieres and events have taken place here, and if you are able to watch a movie there on your visit, it's worth it just to see how neat it is inside.
Important Note: It was announced in September 2013 that the Soda Fountain part of the store would be taken over by Ghirardelli. It is not known how this will affect the overall experience at the store, whether the pin traders delights will still be offered etc. I will update this section as more information becomes available.

Walt's Los Angeles

There is quite an extensive history of Walt Disney's life in the Los Angeles area. You can still drive by all his past houses. You can even take pictures in front of the several houses he lived in in Silverlake and Los Feliz. The Carolwood Dr. home in Holmby Hills cannot be seen from the street, though. But, you can visit the Carolwoood Barn where Walt kept his trains at the LA Train Museum in Griffith Park (not too far from the Studios). Not too far from there, also in Griffith Park, is the carrousel at which Walt dreamed up Disneyland. Then, of course, there is the studio itself which you can't, unfortunately, outright visit. But, if you are a gold or silver D23 member, the studios do often offer tours for $50 and are well worth it. And, then there's the Tam O'Shanter in Atwater Village which Walt once called his commissary before the Burank Studios open. You can see the table where Walt sat every day he went there. Finally, in Los Feliz, you can visit the site of the Disney Brothers Studios. It's now a copy shop, but they have a little thing about it inside.

Advice on Exploring Southern California

Above I have talked about many of the other attractions on offer in the Southern California area. It should be noted though that many of these places take considerable effort to visit. You will almost certainly need a car, or book a tourist bus tour to get to them.
If you drive, you run the risk of finding yourself in unfamiliar neighbourhoods in LA, that are not safe for tourists. I can speak from direct personal experience when I say you can literally turn a corner, and not realise you have walked into something very dangerous (when I was younger my mum and I got lost in downtown LA, and ended up basically a block from the infamous 'skid row').
If you are going to drive, ensure you have a good tourist map or guidebook, that you stick to the main freeways and interstates (the I-5 being the one you'll use to get up and down from Anaheim to LA, Hollywood and beyond), and if ever in doubt, simply don't do it.
Not only that, traffic in Southern California, particularly in and around LA can be horrendous, so if you don't have to do something, then don't. Enjoy Disneyland, Anaheim and other local attractions. If you want to go to LA, then look into a bus tour from your hotel. Every hotel will have information about local companies that offer tours to the major sights around the city. Most tours will cover the main sights, such as Hollywood Blvd, the Hollywood sign, maybe one of the beaches, some of the stars homes in Hollywood, and more.
I personally have used Gray Line, albeit long time ago, and more recently some very good friends of mine used them too. Although I cannot guarantee the quality and efficiency of their services, I can say that when I used them in the past, and when my friends used them in 2013, they seemed to be a fairly decent company. A link is provided on the panel to the right.