Disneyland California has been a go-to destination for millions of visitors from around the world since it first opened its gates in 1955.
With its iconic attractions, famous characters, and thrilling rides, this incredible theme park has captured the hearts of people of all ages.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Disney enthusiast, this guide will take you on a magical journey through the park’s top must-see attractions, activities, and experiences.
1. Stay On-Site In A Disneyland Hotel
Staying on-site in a Disneyland hotel is the ultimate way to immerse yourself in the magic of the Disneyland Resort. Disneyland California offers three on-site hotels:
- The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
- The Disneyland Hotel
- Pixar Place Hotel (formerly Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel)
Each hotel has its own unique theme, amenities, and experiences that cater to a variety of guests. However, one of the biggest advantages of staying on-site is the convenience factor. All three hotels are located just steps away from the entrance of both theme parks (Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure), making it easy to come and go from the park throughout the day.
Additionally, hotel guests are eligible for Extra Magic Hours, which allows you to access the park before it opens to the general public. However, as you might expect staying in a Disneyland Resort hotel can be expensive. As such, if you’re able to visit Disneyland during the cheaper times of the year then a night here can be exceptional value for money.
2. Take A Grand Circle Tour On The Disneyland Railroad
Taking a Grand Circle Tour on the Disneyland Railroad is a must-do for any Disneyland visitor.
This iconic steam-powered train takes you on a scenic 18-minute ride around the park, offering a unique perspective of the attractions and sights from the comfort of your seat.
As you ride the train, you’ll travel through the park’s different themed lands, including Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland and see a variety of exciting sights, from the majestic waterfalls of the Primeval World to the towering dinosaurs of the Grand Canyon diorama.
3. Scream at Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT!
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT! is one of the latest rides to open at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
During this ride, your mission is to save the Guardians of the Galaxy from the clutches of the Collector, a notorious villain who has trapped them in his fortress.
Much like The Hollywood Tower of Terror which this ride replaces, the sequence of movements your gantry lift takes is randomised, which makes no two experiences on this ride the same.
4. Try A Delicious Dole Whip
Trying a delicious dole whip is a must-do for anyone visiting Disneyland.
This refreshing pineapple-flavoured soft-serve treat has been a fan favourite since it was first introduced in 1986 and can be found in multiple locations across the park.
5. Take A Ride On The Incredicoaster
The high-speed Incredicoaster takes you on a wild ride with the Incredibles as they race to catch baby Jack-Jack who has escaped from his babysitter.
The ride features multiple launches, steep drops, and loops that are sure to have your heart racing from start to finish.
6. Join The Mad Tea Party
The Mad Tea Party is a classic attraction at the Disneyland Park, perfect for all ages.
This spinning teacup ride is based on the Mad Hatter’s tea party scene from Disney’s animated film Alice in Wonderland.
As you board your teacup, you’ll have the option to control how fast your teacup spins by turning a wheel in the centre of your ride vehicle.
The faster you spin, the more dizzying the ride becomes, making it a fun and thrilling experience for both kids and adults.
7. Go On A VIP Tour Of The Park
Going on a VIP tour of the Disneyland Resort is the ultimate way to experience the Disney theme parks in style and luxury.
A VIP tour offers a personalised, customisable experience that allows you to maximize your time and enjoy the park’s top attractions without the hassle of waiting in long lines or dealing with crowds.
VIP tours of Disneyland cost between $500 and $700 per hour with a minimum of 7 hours and a maximum of 10 hours.
8. Pilot The Millennium Falcon
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is one of the newest rides to open at the Disneyland Park.
This ride can be found inside the highly immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and allows you to work together with other members of your party or park guests to control the Millenium Falcon.
Navigating through an asteroid field, you’ll need to steer the ship, fire lasers, and engage the hyperdrive, all while evading enemy ships, in order to complete your mission.
9. Compete For Bragging Rights On Toy Story Midway Mania
On Toy Story Midway Mania you’ll compete against your friends and family in a series of 3D midway games.
Using the spring-action shooter you’ll hit targets on a board, racking up points with each successful shot.
At the end of the ride, you’ll be able to compare your score with other members of your party, to find the winner in your group.
10. Take Photos With The Incredible Disney Characters
Across both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure you’ll find a number of Disney characters that you can meet and take photos with.
From classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Cinderella to more modern favourites such as The Incredibles and Lightening McQueen, there are dozens of characters to meet and greet throughout the park.
11. Get Spooked In The Haunted Mansion
While the name of this ride may seem scary, the ride itself is not.
It is dark, and there are ghost operations throughout. However, the Doom Buggy you ride in moves slowly and there are no shocking moments making the ride safe and spooky fun for the whole family.
12. Take A Ride Along Main Street
Taking a ride down Main Street USA in one of the vintage Main Street vehicles is a charming and nostalgic experience that is perfect for all ages.
The Main Street USA vehicles include an omnibus, jitney, fire engine and horse-drawn trolley all of which are available to ride.
You can jump on the Main Street Vehicles at stops in Town Square near City Hall and outside the Sleeping Beauty Castle all day long excluding during the parades.
13. Ride Space Mountain
Space Mountain is one of the most iconic Disney rides, that visitors to the Disneyland Park should look to experience during any trip.
This indoor roller coaster takes you on a wild journey through space, complete with twists, turns, and drops that will have your heart racing from start to finish.
14. Take A Picture In Front Of The Castle
Have you even been to Disneyland if you’ve not taken a photo in front of the castle?
The castle at the Disneyland Park is based on the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle located in Bavaria, Germany and was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, which has become an iconic symbol of Disneyland California and the Disney brand as a whole.
15. Rejuvenate At The Tanaya Stone Spa
Tanya Stone Spa is a full-service spa is located at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and offers a variety of treatments designed to pamper and rejuvenate both the body and mind.
The spa features a range of services, including massages, facials, body treatments, and salon services. With each treatment being customised to meet your individual needs.
16. See The World of Color – One Nighttime Show
World of Color – One is the new nighttime show at Disney’s California Adventure which has been specifically designed as a celebration of the rich storytelling legacy that started with Walt Disney a century ago.
During this 24-minute-long performance, you’ll see spectacular life moments from favourite films such as; The Lion King, Moana, Ratatouille, Soul, Star Wars, The Avengers and more.
17. Shop In The Downtown Disney District
Downtown Disney is a free shopping and dining area within the Disneyland Resort.
The shops here include; Sephora, Pandora, LEGO and the World of Disney while the restaurants include Earl of Sandwich, Catal Restaurant, and Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria.
18. Dine In Romantic Restaurants
Speaking of restaurants, while Disneyland is a family-friendly resort there are still several incredibly romantic restaurants across the parks.
Napa Rose and Carthay Circle are two popular restaurants that offer American cuisine, while Blue Bayou in the New Orleans Area of the Disneyland Park serves cuisine inspired by both Cajun and Creole flavours.
19. Ride It’s A Small World
It’s A Small World is one of the most iconic Disney rides of all time.
Having originally premiered at the 1964 New York World’s Fair the musical boat ride which features 300 animatronic characters was permanently moved to Disneyland in 1966.
This ride has recently re-opened having undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment, so there’s never been a better time to sing along with the catchy harmonious chorus.
20. Get Wet On Grizzly River Run
Situated in Disney’s California Adventure Park, Grizzly River Run is a white-water rafting ride that takes you on a wild and wet journey through roaring rapids, steep drops, and drenching waterfalls.
As you board your raft, you’ll set off on a journey through the Grizzly River wilderness, encountering a variety of exciting and unpredictable water features along the way.
From the rushing white water to the soaking geysers and waterfalls, you’re sure to get wet and have a blast.
21. Visit The Enchanted Tiki Room
The Enchanted Tiki Room is an iconic attraction in the Adventureland area of the Disneyland Park.
The show is hosted by four talking macaws – Jose, Fritz, Michael, and Pierre – who introduce the various musical acts that perform throughout the show.
Having first opened in 1963, this attraction is full of fun and nostalgia.
22. Go Underwater With The Finding Nemo Submarine
The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is a fun ride, suitable for the entire family.
To go on this ride you’ll board a real-life yellow submarine, similar to that shown in the film.
Once inside, you’ll be transported to a stunning underwater world filled with colourful fish, coral reefs, and even some familiar characters from the movie, including Nemo, Dory, and Crush.
23. Experience Delicious Food During Lunar New Year
If you’re visiting the Disneyland Resort during the Lunar New Year then be sure to head to Disney’s California Adventure where you will be able to experience some unique and flavourful dishes at the park’s exclusive pop-up food stands.
During the weeks before and after the celebration, this park is filled with new decorations and exclusive merchandise making it one of the best times to visit.
24. Take In The Views From The Pixar Pal-A-Round
The Pixar Pal-A-Round towers above other rides at Disney’s California Adventure theme park at a height of 160 feet.
During this ride, you’ll be able to board either a traditional non-swinging gondola or a new, swinging gondola which moves back and forth as the wheel rotates, giving riders a more thrilling and dynamic experience.
25. Experience Character Dining
One of the best ways to meet characters while visiting the Disneyland Resort is by booking a character dining experience.
There is an extensive range of different character dining options available both inside and outside of the Disneyland Resort theme parks depending on your preferences.
On our most recent trip, we opted to dine at Goofy’s Kitchen which is located in The Disneyland Hotel.
During our buffet dinner, several friendly faces came to our table to say hello including; Minnie Mouse, Chip n’ Dale and even Donald and Daisy.
26. Experience Friendly Competition On Radiator Springs Racers
Radiator Springs Racers is a combination of both a dark ride and a high-speed thrill ride, inviting you to build and board your own car and race against another through a series of twists, turns and drops.
If you’ve had the pleasure of going on Test Track at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park, then take that concept and apply it to some Cars theming, and you’ve got Radiator Springs Racers.
27. Skip The Lines With Genie+
Genie+ is a new paid, premium service that allows you to use the Disneyland app to skip selected lines for rides throughout the day.
With Genie+ you’ll be able to enter a lightning lane once your time slot is available and skip the line for that ride. It’s therefore a great way to experience more of the Disneyland theme parks in less time.
is a great way to experience more of the Disneyland theme parks in less time.
28. Search For Indiana Jones
As you embark on the Indiana Jones Adventure ride, you’ll journey through a maze of tunnels and chambers in a cursed temple, where you’ll encounter Indiana Jones himself, who is able to provide guidance and help you escape from the temple.
This ride does have a height requirement as a result of the high-speed sections, sudden drops and sharp turns, it therefore may not be suitable for all guests.
29. Cool Off With Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream
Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream is the perfect place to pick up a cooling sweet treat during a hot day.
This shop first opened its doors at Disney’s California Adventure theme park in 2012 and is named after the character Clarabelle Cow from the classic Disney cartoons.
30. Explore Cars Land
Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure theme park is one of the most fun and immersive lands at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
During your time here be sure to have a meet and greet with everyone’s favourite tow truck, Mator and dine at Flo’s V-8 Café.
31. Go On A Jungle Cruise
Take a ride on the Jungle Cruise and see incredible animals and enjoy a high-sailing adventure on an exploration like no other.
This waterway adventure takes you through Asia, Africa and South America in just ten minutes, with plenty of action and comedy to keep you entertained.
32. Hop Between The Disneyland Resort Theme Parks
One of the best things to do at the Disneyland Resort is hop between the two theme parks; Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.
To do this you will need a park hopper ticket, however, in most cases, we think that’s a worthwhile investment for getting more from every day in which you’re visiting the resort.
33. Walk Through The Sleeping Beauty Castle
The Sleeping Beauty Castle is incredible to view from a distance, but did you know that at Disneyland you can walk through it as well?
Inside does have limited accessibility and is a little dark, but if able we highly recommend heading inside to see the detailed dioramas retell the story of Princess Aurora.
34. Experience Rise Of The Resistance
Rise of the Resistance is the most popular ride at the Disneyland theme park and often see’s wait times in excess of two hours.
Situated in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this ride takes you on a thrilling adventure through a battle between the Resistance and the First Order.
The attraction combines multiple ride systems, including trackless ride vehicles, simulators, and live-action sets to create a seamless and immersive experience unlike any other.
35. Take Part In The Oogie Boogie Bash
If you’re visiting the Disneyland Resort in September or October then be sure to purchase a ticket to the incredible Oogie Boogie Bash.
During this Halloween event, you’ll be able to meet exclusive park characters, ride selected rides in the dark and trick or treat across the park picking up candy as you go.
36. Join Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Musical Ride
The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a gentle ride which takes you on a journey in a clamshell through scenes from the movie.
The ride features animatronics, special effects, and beautiful music from the film, making it a truly immersive experience.
37. Play The Pixar Pier Carnival Games
Pixar Pier is home to four class carnival games which have been inspired by Disney and Pixar stories.
These rides require tokens which can be purchased from machines across this area of the park.
Exchange your token for a game to be in with a chance of winning an incredible prize.
38. Go On The Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride first opened in 1967 and was one of the last rides that Walt Disney personally oversaw before his death.
Throughout this ride, you’ll avoid close encounters with Blackbeard and Davy Jones, dodge cannon fire in a battle with Barbosa and enjoy seeing all the antics this scurvy bunch bring your way.
39. Ride A Tractor On Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is a popular ride located in the Cars Land of Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
The ride features a series of tractors which are designed to look like Mater’s tow trucks and spin around in a figure-eight pattern as Mater plays his favourite tunes on a homemade fiddle.