Movies That Will Make You Feel Like You’re at Disneyland
Whether you’re nowhere near the parks or they’re currently closed for some reason, you miss them when you’re not there, right? Well, Disney’s business model works because the parks mirror the movies and vice versa.
So, whenever you can’t be at the Happiest Place on Earth, you can bring the vibe to you. Here are movies to watch when you want to feel like you’re at Disneyland.
When Walt Disney broke ground at the theme park of his dreams, he planned something epic. He would tell stories as he’d previously done in movies and television programs. However, these stories would include more vibrant storytelling.
Disney appreciated that theme park patrons could ride the movies, so to speak. He’d recreate and expand classic Disney tales in a three-dimensional space. Still, the reverse is true, too. Sometimes, watching a movie is better than living it on a ride.
For example, Tarzan’s Treehouse provides children with a lot of entertainment. It can’t compare to Tarzan the movie, though. When you watch Tarzan soar through the trees, you’ll understand the spirit of adventure. Adults can’t really do that at Tarzan’s Treehouse.
Of course, Adventureland is supposed to have another movie option soon. Unfortunately, Jungle Cruise just got delayed until June of 2021. For now, you’ll have to watch a non-Disney movie, The African Queen, to get the same vibe.
Another option is to mirror Indiana Jones Adventure at home. To do that, you can watch any of the Indiana Jones movies, all of which are now Disney titles.
This themed land is one of the two that’s difficult to imitate at home. Imagineers based Splash Mountain on a movie that should never see the light of day again. Another possibility, Country Bears, celebrates an attraction that’s available at Magic Kingdom but not Disneyland.
So, that leaves The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as the best way to recreate Critter Country at home. You may wonder why I’m not mentioning a possibility based on a canoe ride. I decided to save that for a more suitable themed land in a moment.
Okay, when you want to celebrate Disneyland at home, Fantasyland is the easiest themed land for your purposes. You have nine different options.
You have your choice of Alice in Wonderland as an animated classic or a super-weird Tim Burton update. Similarly, you can watch Dumbo the same way, either animated or Tim Burton-y!
You could pick Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride by watching half of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Then, there are the Disney classics. Fantasyland simulates sequences from classic movies like Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Of course, my suggestion is The Sword in the Stone, my favorite classic Disney animated movie.
Even though Sleeping Beauty Castle is the centerpiece of Disneyland, another character mattered more during the park’s earliest days.
Right as Disneyland opened, a television mini-series exploded into the pop culture zeitgeist of the time. Davy Crockett became an overnight sensation, a character whose appeal extended for another 25 years.
Once the show started, Uncle Walt did everything he could to maximize the revenue from his shocking cash cow. It was the Frozen of the 1950s. Today’s Imagineers pay tribute to the importance of this property by leaving some elements in place, such as the shooting gallery.
To understand the essence of Frontierland, you should watch Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, which is available on Disney+. For that matter, you can watch the entire mini-series that way.
If not for this character, Disneyland legitimately might not have survived financially during those cash-strapped early park days.
Main Street, U.S.A.
You’re probably wondering if this one is even possible. I must admit that I struggled with it. However, I finally had an epiphany that a relatively recent Disney movie includes a scene on Main Street, U.S.A.!
In Saving Mr. Banks, Tom Hanks portrays Walt Disney. At one point, he tries to persuade an author, P.L. Travers, to agree to a cinematic adaptation of her work, Mary Poppins.
To sell the Disney vibe, Disney invites Travers to Disneyland. She literally rides up to the front gate and then receives a tour from the founder himself! This scene doesn’t merely remind you of Main Street, U.S.A. It transports you to the themed land of the early 1960s when it was still new and fresh.
Well, you can never go wrong by watching old episodes of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Still, most people who spend time at this themed land don’t think about Gadget’s Go Coaster as the anchor attraction.
To bring the Mickey’s Toontown vibe, you’ll want to watch the obvious movie. Yes, I’m talking about Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the driving force behind Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. In 1988, this film almost single-handedly restored the perception of Disney’s live-action movie studio.
New Orleans Square
All the options listed here are entertaining. However, none of the themed lands ties back to Disney films as readily as New Orleans Square.
The explanation involves the naming conventions. Rides like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean tie back to movies called…Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Whenever you want to feel like a pirate, simply watch Jack Sparrow movies to your heart’s content.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Okay, this one isn’t rocket science. Disney owns Lucasfilm, which has released nine main storyline Star Wars movies. Then, there are two standalone films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Also, there is an animated movie called Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And there’s a television series with a similar name. Look, if Star Wars stuff reminds you of Disneyland, you have a slew of options to keep you entertained at home.
While Disney still hasn’t produced a Space Mountain movie yet, the company is still responsible for several films with at least some semblance of a Tomorrowland theme.
The old school Mission to Mars attraction inspired a movie of the same name in 2000. Unfortunately, the usually reliable Brian De Palma let everyone down here. It’s not a good flick, which is why it bombed at the box office.
Thinking outside the box, you could watch Toy Story films since Buzz Lightyear has an attraction at Tomorrowland. Similarly, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage may not seem as tightly themed to the movie as The Seas with Nemo & Friends, but it still works in a pinch.
Fans of Walt Disney himself should pick Meet the Robinsons. This delightful comedy tells an origin story of a character with many similarities to Walt Disney. It’s a loving tribute from Disney fans to the man who built the company.
Of course, the clear choice here is to watch Tomorrowland, the imperfect but entertaining JJ Abrams film. I readily admit that the final part of the movie is kind of a mess.
However, the first hour feels like the most realistic version of a Disneyland themed land ever filmed. In that regard, it’s probably the best overall suggestion on this entire list.