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10 Reasons to Love Disneyland: A Disneyland Theme Park Review

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 07-04-2013

There are many reasons to visit Disneyland in California.

I always say that if you haven't made it to any of the Disney theme parks around the world, and you get the opportunity to do so, you should go, as Disney never disappoints. But why should you make the pilgrimage out to the west coast, when there's so much on offer at Walt Disney World? There are many, many reasons, but I've broken it down into the top ten ...

10) Visiting Disneyland gives you the chance to see more of California. In theme park terms, just about everything you can find in Orlando is here somewhere in the state, along with amazing added extras like the San Diego Zoo and its associated safari park. I probably don't need to sell the obvious sights of Los Angeles, like Hollywood, Beverley Hills, and the beaches, but there's so much more to see, from the Queen Mary berthed in Long Beach, to newer attractions like the Space Shuttle Endeavour, now stationed at the California Science Center. Further afield, San Diego is well worth a visit, while Palm Springs is also an enjoyable stopover, while national parks are scattered around southern California, with our favorite being Death Valley.

9) Let's turn to Disneyland itself. One of the things I love most about is that it's compact. You can walk between all the points of Disney property if you want to. The two theme parks are across a central plaza from each other, with the entrance to Downtown Disney just a couple of minutes away, with all its shopping and dining options. The resort hotels aren't much further away, although if you want, you can always grab a monorail from the Disneyland Park to the Disneyland Hotel to ease the stress on your feet, but no boats, buses, or monorail are needed to travel between parks.

8) I personally love the Grand Californian Resort, and have ever since I first went in there. There’s just something about its theming that makes me feel instantly at home, with its roaring fire in the cavernous lobby and its own private entrance into Disney California Adventure.

7) Although they don’t appeal to us, there are plenty of rides for thrill seekers, from the California Screamin’ coaster (no, thank you!) to the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which opened just four short years after Disneyland first threw open its doors to the public. Far too bone-rattling for us, it still has plenty of appeal to others, with long lines during peak periods. Then there’s the Indiana Jones Adventure, always a huge amount of fun.

6) It’s home to a series of original rides, many dating back to opening day. By original, I also mean that you won’t find them in Florida. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was there on opening day, and is still fun to this day, while the Storybook Land Canal Boats, although slow, are still enjoyable. I personally love going on Alice in Wonderland, and we now always make a beeline for the Finding Nemo Submarines. The Indiana Jones Adventure is another more recent addition, and one well worth checking out, while Disneyland is now the only place in the States that you’ll find Toontown, after its Florida counterpart was razed to make way for the expansion of Fantasyland.

5) If you’re heading to California, whatever you do, do not miss Aladdin – the Musical. It’s absolutely superb, and it’s no surprise it draws huge crowds. This is a Broadway-quality musical, and it’s testament to its popularity that it’s been recreated on board the Disney Fantasy. We were foolish enough to miss this on our first couple of visits to California, but it’s something we won’t miss again, now we’ve seen it.

4) Disneyland is home to different versions of some Disney classics. Personally, I love the setting of Pirates of the Caribbean, in New Orleans Square, as you float past the Blue Bayou restaurant at the start of the ride. But perhaps the best thing at Disneyland are the holiday "overlays" that they do for the Haunted Mansion and It’s A Small World. They are both absolutely superb, and change these classic rides completely, and for the better. Having been lucky enough to enjoy both during the holidays, I really hope we get to see them again in the future, as they’re well worth the wait.

3) Disney California Adventure is home to the most amazing night-time spectacular, World of Color. It’s unlike anything you’ll find in Florida, and is a superb addition to the entertainment lineup. They do something similar at Fantasmic! with the images projected on water, but this ramps it up to another level. The fact that the best viewing areas are available only through dining packages says something about how good this show is.

2) It’s got the original Disney theme park, the only one that Walt ever saw in his lifetime. As you walk around it, you can feel his hand in its creation. Until recently, I couldn’t think of any better reason to visit Disneyland…

1) However, things change and now my top reason to visit Disneyland is simple… Cars Land! Having enjoyed this on our most recent trip to Disneyland Resort, it’s a real triumph, and adds a huge draw to the resort. Radiator Springs Racers, while it uses the same technology as Test Track, is a complete step-up from what you’ve experienced there, and I fell in love with Luigi’s Flying Tires, such a fun ride, with nothing that really compares to it, unless you count the wonderful Aquatopia at Tokyo DisneySea. But Cars Land is so much more than that. The immersive theming sucks you in completely, and you feel as if you are in Radiator Springs, somewhere along Route 66. It really has to be seen to be believed, and it’s going to be a huge draw for visitors for many years to come.

So there you go… just 10 good reasons to visit Disneyland in California. There are plenty more reasons than just these… so what are you waiting for?!

About the Author: Cheryl is the author of the e-book, PassPorter's Walt Disney World for British Holidaymakers, and is the co-author of PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide: For Members and Members-To-Be. Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have travelled around the world, taking in a number of Disney cruises, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani in Hawai'i, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland on the way. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

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Updated 07-04-2013

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