You’ve Never Been to Disneyland. What Should You Know?
So, you’ve never visited Disneyland before? Why have you deprived yourself of a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth?
Okay, I understand. I don’t get there often, either. Many of us live on the wrong coast and find Walt Disney World visits more convenient.
Still, Walt Disney never walked through the gate at Magic Kingdom. As such, there’s something almost mystical about a visit to Disneyland.
Some of the attractions here came straight from Uncle Walt’s big brain, while others celebrate his legacy and impact on California culture.
Let’s talk about a few of the most storied attractions at Disneyland so that you’ll know what to expect.
Yes, Autopia is just a car ride…and not even a great one by modern standards.
However, you shouldn’t overlook the significance of Autopia. When the park opened in 1955, cars were still scarce in American society.
Many kids claimed their first driving experience at Autopia, which is why Disney once operated multiple versions of the ride in the park.
When you ride Autopia, you’re paying tribute to Disneyland’s past…which you’re about to see is true of many attractions here.
Both attractions at New Orleans Square count as bittersweet.
Walt Disney worked on both of them, but he didn’t live long enough to witness the opening of either.
In Haunted Mansion’s case, this attraction appears on early Disneyland maps from the mid-1950s…but didn’t open until 1969!
Imagineers argued over the look and style of Haunted Mansion, accidentally trapping it in limbo for the body of 15 years.
Now, Haunted Mansion is among the most iconic theme park attractions in the world, and Disney treats the original as the special one.
In early September, Disneyland will convert this ride into Haunted Mansion Holiday. It’s a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay that lasts through the end of the year.
When possible, you should visit Disneyland in the fall or early winter to appreciate the genius of this ride overlay!
Indiana Jones Adventure
One of the odd quirks of Disneyland is that Uncle Walt didn’t purchase enough land.
So, to expand the park, Disney has had to grow creative with some of its designs.
For example, much of Indiana Jones Adventure technically resides outside Disneyland Park! You’ll never notice it on the ride, but it’s still important.
Imagineers wanted to provide the best possible Indiana Jones experience and stretched the outer limits of the park to make it so!
You’ll appreciate the effort as you ride through this massive ride building and live out an Indiana Jones Adventure of your very own!
You’ll even get to see Henry Jones Jr., the man who took his name from the family dog, Indiana!
It’s a Small World
You’re exploring history when you willingly accept the droning earworm that is It’s a Small World.
Walt Disney himself came up with the idea for this ride, which took less than a year to complete.
Now, more than half a century later, you can visit the same attraction you would have found at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York!
Disney transported It’s a Small World to Disneyland after the fair ended.
Fans of puns will find their calling in life when they board this attraction.
You should take Jungle Cruise as seriously as a squirt gun fight. It’s a tongue-in-cheek adventure through fake sets and gloriously outdated props.
Disney built Jungle Cruise as a legitimate exploration of international cultures. Gradually, the Cruise Skippers turned on the ride and started mocking it.
Somehow, the sarcastic line readings have elevated Jungle Cruise into one of the planet’s most entertaining theme park experiences.
At one point, roller coasters weren’t something you’d find at amusement parks. Instead, THEY WERE the entire park.
Developers would build one shoddy coaster and create an entire tourist destination around it.
In 1959, Walt Disney aimed higher. He added the world’s first continuous steel roller coaster to the already-spectacular Disneyland.
After that, other would-be theme park operators took inspiration and mimicked Disneyland’s strategy.
Matterhorn Bobsleds is often credited as the genesis of the ongoing coaster wars that remain to this day. Everyone’s also trying to topple the best ones.
However, only Matterhorn Bobsleds can stake a claim as the first at a popular theme park.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Walt Disney World fans may feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you notice Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Magic Kingdom infamously closed its version of the attraction during the 1990s, which triggered outrage among loyal fans.
Thankfully, the original remains open and continues entertaining guests after over 65 years! Be prepared, though. This ride gets VERY dark!
Peter Pan’s Flight
Here’s another attraction that debuted on Disneyland’s opening day in 1955.
Walt Disney loved this ride because it mimicked the sensation of flight, something that only a handful of Disney attractions have managed to this day.
You’ll want to pay attention the moment the ride begins, though! Both the Darlings’ house and the scale model of London are breathtaking highlights.
Pirates of the Caribbean
This ride represents the culmination of Walt Disney’s lifetime of family entertainment.
Pirates of the Caribbean was the last thing he worked on before his death. In fact, Imagineers constructed a pulley and harness system.
This apparatus allowed the cancer-ridden man to experience Pirates of the Caribbean the way people in boats would.
While Disney has updated the ride many times over the years to keep it modern and fresh, the bloodthirsty pirate tale at the core remains…and the scenes are still over-the-top hysterical!
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
Here’s a 1955 ride that hasn’t stayed the same. From day one, audiences never quite grasped that they were watching Snow White’s story from her perspective.
For years, guests departed the ride and confusedly asked cast members where Snow White was. They hadn’t seen her!
Over time, Disney adjusted to allow for this, with the most recent update providing more clarity than ever.
The former Snow White’s Scary Adventures comes with an entirely new tone.
Now, our heroine earns her happily ever after as her Enchanted Wish comes true!
The ride plays out much differently than it did just a few years ago. Even Disneyland fanatics barely recognize it…and that’s a good thing!
Act now while operators are standing by, my friends. Disney just confirmed the arrival of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in 2024.
In the process, a countdown clock started on Splash Mountain, which is likely to close for good at some point during the next 18 months.
Despite the ride’s unfortunate association with a Disney movie best forgotten, Splash Mountain stands as more than just a classic.
Over the years, Splash Mountain has proven to be one of the best theme park attractions ever. It’s pure joy, and we’ll all miss it despite the unpleasantness.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Here’s the new alpha at the park, the ride you will wait for the longest to experience.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance anchors the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansion at Disneyland.
Imagineers pulled out all the stops for what I’d describe as the most ambitious theme park attraction on the planet.
Rise of the Resistance marries design elements from five or six different attractions, thereby creating something new and daring.
Of course, you don’t need to know what’s under the hood to appreciate this battle between good and evil.
Instead, you’ll just show up, get kidnapped, and fight for survival in the face of a particular expert using the Dark Side of The Force. It’s fine. You’ll be fine.
My favorite part of Rise of the Resistance isn’t even a set behavior. Cast members in one segment of the experience can talk smack to you if so inclined.
Since Disney customer service remains the gold standard, that little twist feels shocking. It’s that much better when you play along, too.
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Feature Photo: Disney