• What is Disneyland?

What is Disneyland?

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Apr 15, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

What is Disneyland?

Disneyland is an absolute classic. This is probably the best word to describe it. Disneyland is, after all, what really kicked off the idea of theme parks all over the world, transforming Mickey Mouse into the global powerhouse he is today.

If you are here, there is a good chance that you are planning a trip to Disneyland or are at least curious about it. That’s fine. We are here to help you out! This guide will answer a lot of basic questions about Disneyland. We will be answering things like:

  • What is Disneyland
  • The Two Main Theme Parks
  • Entertainment Options
  • Disneyland Hotels
  • Ticket Prices
  • The Mobile App
  • Best Dates to Visit Disneyland

These simple topics should answer a lot of basic questions that will be essential for your next trip. You will know how many theme parks there are in Disneyland, how the weather is throughout the year and the best seasons to visit so you can dodge huge crowds and have a great time spending time next to Mickey, Donald and the rest of the gang.

Disneyland Main Street USA Walt statue.webp

Later on, in separate guides, we'll explore FastPass options like Disney Genie+, which can save you significant time on rides. We'll also discuss specific strategies to enhance your experience at the Happiest Place on Earth.

So, let’s begin our adventure with a very simple question.

What is Disneyland?

Let's dive straight into it: Disneyland is an amazing resort featuring hotels, a vibrant downtown district, and two theme parks packed with great rides, themed restaurants, and endless opportunities for fun with family and friends. Yes, did you think Disneyland was just a single park with the Sleeping Beauty Castle in the middle of it? Nope. There is way more than just that, and you can spend days just visiting what a single park has to offer.

Disneyland is located in the United States, more specifically in the city of Anaheim in California. Disneyland is also pretty easy to move around, since it’s much more compact when compared to Disney World, which is a different resort situated on the opposite coast in Florida.

In fact, the two theme parks you find in Disneyland are located right next to each other, connected by a Downtown District full of stores and restaurants. If you have been to Universal Orlando in the past, it’s a similar layout to what you find with Universal CityWalk connecting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Disneyland Goofys Kitchen restaurant character.webp

The two main theme parks in Disneyland are: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Yeah, it’s weird that Disneyland resort has a theme park called Disneyland, but that’s the way it is! It also makes sense since, a long time ago, only Disneyland existed, way back in 1955. Disney California Adventure is way more recent, and opened its doors in 2001.

Each Disneyland theme park offers several fun attractions, from roller coasters to immersive motion simulators and live shows. Within these parks, you'll discover intricately themed lands dedicated to renowned franchises such as Marvel, Star Wars, and various Pixar movies.

Alongside the rides and entertainment, both parks, along with the Downtown district, host a variety of dining options, ranging from quick-service eateries to fancy restaurants where you can dine alongside Disney characters like Mickey or the Disney princesses. Oh, don’t forget to make room in your backpack: you will also find several stores scattered around the parks, each one offering everything from plush toys to t-shirts, action figures and even expensive jewelry based on some of your favorite characters.

So, yeah, Disneyland is an amazing destination for your next vacation. With so much to see and do, you could easily spend an entire day in just one of its theme parks, so it's recommended to set aside at least a week to fully experience all the magic it has to offer. And here's some more good news: Universal Hollywood is conveniently located nearby, so be sure to add that to your itinerary and enjoy that theme-park-lifestyle!

Disney California Adventure Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout.webp

Okay, we have told you what Disneyland is. It’s an amazing and classic place located in California. A place full of entertainment, shopping options and landmarks for you to create memories that will last a lifetime. It may sound cliche, but it’s the truth.

So, what Disneyland isn’t?

  • Disneyland is not Disney World. Disneyland is located in California and has two main theme parks, while Disney World is located in Florida and has four main theme parks. Both resorts share some of the same rides, but there are tons of different attractions and shows in each one as well.
  • Disneyland is not Universal Hollywood. Think like Apple and Google. They are both entertainment resorts offering a wide range of entertainment options, but they are not related. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is located in Disneyland, while Super Nintendo World is in Universal Hollywood. Universal Orlando is located about one hour away from Disneyland, so you should definitely go there as well when you are in California.
  • Disneyland isn't exclusively for kids. In reality, there are several thrill rides with height requirements that kids may not meet. Additionally, adults can enjoy alcoholic beverages like tequila and sake at various locations. Yummy!

The Two main Theme Parks in Disneyland

Disneyland Park Entrance.webp

As you're well aware, Disneyland comprises two major theme parks: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Both boast numerous attractions, restaurants, and stores. It's entirely possible to spend an entire day hopping from one ride to the next. Just be prepared for some waiting, as queue times can vary from 5 minutes to two hours or even longer, depending on the season. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce wait times, such as utilizing FastPass options like Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes, but we will talk about those later on.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are conveniently situated adjacent to each other, making park hopping easy when compared to Disney World. In fact, you can even catch a monorail from the Downtown District, right in front of the Lego Store, and zip directly into Tomorrowland inside Disneyland!

Park operating hours can vary and aren't always consistent. Typically, they open between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM and close between 10:00 PM and midnight. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it's best to check the official Disneyland website or use the Disneyland App.

Disneyland Park is an old timer and perfect for kids. Disneyland Park has 25 rides with no height requirement (and 34 rides in total), compared to 9 rides with no height requirement at Disney California Adventure (and 19 rides in total).

Here are the two main theme parks in Disneyland:

Disneyland Park

Disneyland Star Wars Galaxys Edge Millenium Falcon.webp

One of the most iconic theme parks in the world, with Walt Disney himself having a hand in developing the original layout and rides. Disneyland has a ton of lands like Fantasyland (home of Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s a Small World), Toontown (where Mickey and Minnie live), Tomorrowland (where you can ride the indoor roller coaster Space Mountain), Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

If you have ever been to Disney World, Disneyland Park is more similar to Magic Kingdom, with a touch of Hollywood Studios. This place is great for classic dark rides and has a ton of attractions for kids. Do you have young children with you? Then they will have an amazing time here, no question about that.

Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure Incredicoaster roller coaster.webp

This park, sometimes referred to as DCA, shares a similar vibe to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. You can find Pixar Pier here, next to a giant ferris wheel which has become a landmark. It’s also in DCA that you can find Cars Land and the Avengers Campus. DCA has a steel roller coaster called Incredicoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (which is similar to Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios), Toy Story Midway Mania (a fun virtual shooting gallery) and Soarin’ (a chill and gentle motion simulator).

Disney California Adventure is usually less crowded than Disneyland. DCA is also slightly bigger with streets that accommodate bigger crowds, so it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic. It makes sense that the layout is more spacious, considering that DCA is fairly recent when you look at it. You can also find several festivals taking place in Disney California Adventure from time to time, like the Food & Wine Festival. Oh, there are also more options for alcoholic beverages in this theme park.

There are also several kid-friendly rides here, but it’s pretty much certain to say that families with small children will have a better time at Disneyland Park, while teenagers will enjoy DCA more.

Entertainment Options

Both parks feature numerous spontaneous street shows that add to the lively atmosphere. You might be strolling around and suddenly encounter Mickey greeting the crowd, or catch cast members singing and playing the saxophone from an old car. Disney California Adventure usually has more of that, thanks to the seasonal events that take place there, from the Lunar New Year festival to the Food & Wine Festival.

As for big shows, DCA only has one: World of Color - One which celebrates Disney and Pixar characters. Takes place in front of the ferris wheel in Pixar Pier and uses lightning effects and water to project scenes from movies similar to Fantasmic.

Toontown Disneyland (2).webp

Speaking of Fantasmic, this big, magical show takes place in Disneyland Park. There is also a great daily parade called Magic Happens that takes place in Disneyland. Let’s also not forget the fireworks on top of Sleeping Beauty Castle that happen usually Fridays through Sundays and also during other days of the week during busy seasons.

Both parks feature characters like Mickey, Donald, Pluto, Goofy, and Minnie, donning various outfits depending on the season. Disneyland showcases classic characters alongside Tiana in New Orleans Square, Mirabel and Miguel in Frontierland, Pooh and his friends, and many others. And don't forget to keep an eye out for Star Wars favorites like Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and more in Galaxy's Edge. No Jar Jar Binks, unfortunately.

DCA has Frozen characters in the Animation building, like Elsa, Anna and Olaf. Avengers Campus has Spider-Man and the Avengers (duh). Pixar Pier has characters from Inside Out and Toy Story. Although you can find Anna and Elsa here, there are more Disney Princesses at Disneyland Park.

The Disneyland Hotels

Disneyland Main Street USA castle.webp

There are three hotels in Disneyland:

  • Grand Californian Hotel
  • Disneyland Hotel
  • Pixar Place

All of them are at walking distance to Disneyland, and all of them offer a perk called Early Entry. This means that, if you stay at one of these hotels, you can enter Disneyland Park or DCA thirty minutes before anyone else!

Disneyland hotels can get pricey, though. Prices range from $300 all the way to $900 per night, which means you should definitely book months in advance to save a lot of money.

Disney also offers what they call "Good Neighbor Hotels." These are Disney-certified hotels that are not owned by Disneyland but offer convenient proximity, often at more affordable rates. Many of them are within walking distance of the theme parks, making them an excellent choice for visitors seeking convenience and value. Plus, they often have special deals and packages in collaboration with the theme parks.

Tickets

Disneyland Monorail transportation.webp

You can purchase a one day ticket to Disneyland or a multi-day ticket. Tickets can also have the park hopper option, which is a perk that lets you visit Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure on the same day. It’s a fun perk if you have been to Disneyland multiple times, but first time visitors should probably stick to just a single park per day.

Single day ticket prices depend on the day of your visit: Christmas will be more expensive, while the middle of January, for example, will be cheaper.

You know what’s interesting? Multi-day ticket prices are fixed for Disneyland. As of the end of 2023, a 2-day, one-park ticket for adults cost $285, while adding the Park Hopper option brought it to $345. Opting for a 5-day ticket lowers the per-day cost, with the one-park option around $415 and the Park Hopper at $475. These tickets can be printed, emailed to you, or linked to your Magic Band, a physical accessory resembling a bracelet, for added convenience.

Mobile App

Lunar New Year Disneyland.webp
Disneyland©

Make sure to download the Disneyland mobile app. It’s not the same as the My Disney Experience app, used for Walt Disney World, but it serves the same purpose.

You use it to buy Disney Genie+, Individual Lightning Lanes, order food through Mobile Ordering, link your tickets and way more than that. It’s essential for a good trip to Disneyland, since that’s the only way you can buy Fastpass options and save a lot of time on the most popular rides.

Best Dates to Visit Disneyland

One thing is certain when visiting Disneyland: always try to avoid June and July. Summer is packed with guests from all over the world and California can get really, really hot. You don’t want to stay in line for a ride while melting under the sun, it’s certainly not a very fun experience.

Disneyland Alice in Wonderland ride.webp

Also avoid school breaks like Spring Break and Christmas. October can also get chaotic near the end of the month with Halloween. Try to avoid holidays like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. Most holidays = bad. Just remember one thing, there won’t be a day where Disneyland will just be “empty” and you can visit every single ride with zero queue times. You want to select dates where you can have a good time and don’t experience long lines, but Disneyland will, almost always, be full of people.

Now, let’s see what are considered the best months to visit.

January is usually a good month, even if it’s a bit chilly. Make sure to bring an extra jacket and check the weather. If you visit a week after New Year’s Day, you will see some of the lowest crowds of the year. People are already coming back to their hometowns and resuming work, so January 7-30 can be a good option for your next vacation. Just make sure to avoid the Martin Luther King weekend.

February is a great time to visit Disneyland, except for President’s Day Weekend. Temperatures begin to rise, making it pleasant and unlikely you will need that jacket anymore. Plus, you can enjoy Valentine's Day festivities at Disneyland! So romantic. Just steer clear of the third Monday of February, which is President's Day weekend. You can also experience the Lunar New Year events, which typically run until mid-February.

April is more crowded than both January and February, but not quite as busy as other months of the year (*cough* October during Halloween and Christmas season *cough*) and offers plenty of things to do. During April, the popular Disneyland Food and Wine Festival takes place in Disney California Adventure, which is one of the best festivals offered at Disney in any of their theme parks.

August is a very hot month in California, but not as bad as July. As many schools resume classes before Labor Day, August sees a decrease in tourist crowds, making it one of the slower months of the summer season. The end of August is a pretty good time to visit Disneyland…

…which brings us to September. The earlier in September you can visit, the more crowds you can avoid. Plus, you'll have the added bonus of experiencing the start of the Halloween season, which typically kicks off in the first week of September.

November is a fantastic winter month to visit Disneyland, especially as it marks the beginning of the holiday season, usually within the first week. If you're interested in experiencing both Halloween and Christmas, consider visiting starting November 1st. This timing allows you to catch the tail end of the Halloween decorations as they come down and witness the magical transition to the festive holiday decorations.

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