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Southern California, Utah & Nevada Coaster Trip – Part 3: Disneyland Resort

Southern California, Utah & Nevada Coaster Trip – Part 3: Disneyland Resort


When Southern California was suggested, Richard immediately said we should go to Disneyland.  He had done the two Disney parks, Knott’s Berry Farm and flown home in 1 day in 2007, so he really wanted to get back and see what all he missed.  While I have had 2 multiday trips to Disneyland, I am never one to turn down a trip to any Disney park, so I was glad that we set aside two days for this.  We decided not to stay on property as I have in the past, but we found a Fairfield Inn that is literally across the street from Tomorrowland.  On Sunday, July 31 we walked from our hotel to begin what would be for me the highlight of our trip – two 16 hours days at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. 

The modern theme park exists, quite honestly, because Walt Disney built Disneyland in 1955.  Angus Wynne, Judge Roy Hofheinz, Pat Hall, the Marriotts, and others would pattern their parks of the 1960s and 1970s after this gold standard. Disneyland was open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight each day while Disney California Adventure was open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.  

With Park Hopper tickets in hand, we began our day Sunday at Disneyland, went to Disney California Adventure in the evening and returned to Disneyland to close out the day.  On Monday we started at Disney California Adventure, and went to Disneyland in the late afternoon.  I will review Disneyland first by its highly themed sections.


Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street USA is quintessential Disney. 

The train station is not as grand as the Magic Kingdom,

but the street itself is very similar, only with a much smaller castle at the end of the street. 

We did not spend much time in Main Street, mainly shopping.

Disneyland Railroad, a 1955 original ride, is closed for the addition of the Star Wars section, and we did not take the time to ride any of the Main Street Vehicles, another 1955 original ride, which include the Fire Engine, Horseless Carriage, Omnibus, and Horse Drawn Streetcar

Also here are The Disney Gallery, showcasing Disney-themed art; The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln; and Main Street Cinema, a 1955 original attraction screening of some of Disney’s earliest animated films.



Adventureland is as well themed as its Florida counterpart, but much more compact with four attractions compared to five at Magic Kingdom, with no Aladdin’s Carpet; here Pirates of the Caribbean is in New Orleans Square.  Perhaps most important to our group is that, like in Florida, it is the home of Dole Whip, which we visited both days.

Indiana Jones Adventure: The crowning jewel of Adventureland, this is a simulator darkride Like Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom.  This is extremely well themed, a lot of fun, and fits in perfectly with the Adventureland theme – 1 ride.

Jungle Cruise:

A 1955 original,

this is very similar to the one in Florida, even including the backside of water

– 1 ride.

Tarzan’s Treehouse:

Tarzan’s Treehouse is similar to Swiss Family Robinson’s (which it was originally built for) but is not as nicely decorated. 

I was surprised none in my group had done either treehouse – 1 walkthrough.

We did not go to the Enchanted Tiki Room.


New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square is the first of three sections to be added to Disneyland.  It has 3 attractions, compared to 3 at Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square (Here the Riverboat is in Frontierland).

Haunted Mansion: My all-time favorite darkride, I grew up with the Magic Kingdom version, but I had the record of the Disneyland version. 

While mostly identical to the Magic Kingdom version, there are some differences.  First the New Orleans style southern mansion is quite different than the Gothic brick mansion.  On the inside the stretching rooms were almost identical.  Once at the level to board the ‘doom buggies’ in DL there were a number of pictures along the wall that are not at MK.  On the ride there are several scenes (including the library) at MK prior to the hallway and conservatory, which is the first real scene at DL.  The knocking door hallway, Madame Leota’s and the Ballroom seem pretty much identical, but the attic goes in quite a different direction at DL with pictures turning into ghosts in front of you and the bride on the left hand side with a knife instead of the right hand side with just the glowing heart.  The Cemetery was very similar.  I like the MK version slightly better as it is longer, but they both are absolutely excellent. – 2 rides.

Pirates of the Caribbean: One can certainly make the case that this is the best darkride ever created, and while this version is similar to the one in Florida, its most notable difference is the Blue Bayou Restaurant, providing the opportunity to dine within the ride.  We had reservations for this on Monday night and the food was excellent, the atmosphere was amazing and the experience is not to be missed.  This is my second meal here, and I definitely will return.  It is expensive, but it is definitely worth the cost.  As for the ride, I thoroughly enjoyed it – 2 rides.

Disneyland Railroad, a 1955 original ride, was closed to add the Star Wars section.


Critter Country

Critter Country is also an added section of DL and not represented at MK, although its two rides are.

Splash Mountain: This darkride log flume combination is one of Disney’s best rides.  While the darkride portion is very similar to the one in Florida, the boats themselves are logs with single seats instead of the larger 2 seat across version at Magic Kingdom.  Both rides are equally good.  Thanks to a single rider line we got on quicker – 1 ride.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: This is somewhat different from the Florida version. 

I liked the this one better, and best of all, it didn’t require the removal of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, although it did replace Country Bear Jamboree, which the Magic Kingdom still has – 1 ride.

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes was closed for the Star Wars addition.  The closest comparison at Magic Kingdom is the defunct Mike Fink’s Keelboats in Liberty Square.


Frontierland surrounds the Rivers of America like at Magic Kingdom, but here it extends around to Fantasyland, placing Big Thunder Mountain Railroad about in the spot where Liberty Square is in Florida.  There are four attractions here while MK has five.

I enjoyed our lunch at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: (WED, Mine Train, 1979) Although perhaps more compact than the Florida version, it is great fun and one of the best mine trains ever built. Theming is great and it is especially fun at night – 3 rides.

Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island;

Mark Twain Riverboat,
a 1955 original ride;

and Sailing Ship Columbia were closed for the Star Wars addition.



Fantasyland here really shines compared to the Magic Kingdom, even after its huge remodel. 

While the Florida version is certainly grander, Disneyland’s ride offering is huge.  DL has 14 attractions; MK has 9.  While MK offers 4 darkrides, DL has 6.  DL has Fantasyland Theater.  MK has Mickey’s Philharmagic, MAOWTP and Little Mermaid.

Matterhorn Bobsleds:

(Arrow Dynamics, Steel Twin, 1959)

The park’s first roller coaster was the first coaster to use tubular steel track. 

In spite of the first use of new technology, it is quite smooth and very fun as it runs in and out of the large mountain structure, past a very animated yeti. 

One could argue Matterhorn was a forerunner of Expedition Everest at AK, which uses a similar theme. The single rider line is helpful – 3 rides.

“it’s a small world”: This is the original version used for the World’s Fair.  It looks quite different than the Florida version as boats are boarded outside with the ride going under the railroad tracks into a building outside the original boundaries of the park.  Inside is much the same as the Magic Kingdom version, and although the song can get annoying, I have grown to appreciate the representation of continents and countries on this ride – 1 ride.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures: A 1955 original ride, is similar to the defunct Florida version, although perhaps shorter– 1 ride.

Peter Pan’s Flight: A 1955 original ride, like in Florida it has one of the longest lines in Fantasyland, but it is not on FastPass.  It is very similar to the Florida version, but the detail of the streets of London is missing – 1 ride.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride:
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A 1955 original ride, the Florida version was one of my favorites before it was removed,

so it is great to see this classic ride preserved, much as I remember it – 2 rides.

Alice in Wonderland: This is fun as well and is a great complement to the Mad Tea Party.  It should have been installed in other parks – 1 ride.

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey: Another great ride; I wonder why this wasn’t installed in FL – 1 ride.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough:

It was neat to walkthrough the upstairs of the castle,

which I don’t believe I have done on previous visits – 1 walkthrough.

King Arthur Carrousel: (Brass Ring Entertainment/Dentzel; Classic Wood Carousel – 4 Row Park:  68 Jumping Horses, 1 chariot, Band Organ: Wurl 157 façade only; 1922) Originally a 3 row Dentzel conv. to 4 rows. Figures are a mix from the Sunnyside, Toronto Dentzel; Ward’s Kiddyland Carousel, CI, NY; a SC Looff carousel & Dentzel from Whitney in SF. Original frame replaced w/Brass Ring Entertainment frame.  History: Sunnyside Park, Toronto, ONT, 1922 to 1955; Disneyland, Anaheim, CA, 1955 to present. A 1955 original ride, it is in very good condition, albeit smaller than the 5 row 1917 PTC at Magic Kingdom – 1 ride.

Casey Jr. Circus Train: A 1955 original ride, this is a fun train ride through small fairy tale scenes– 1 ride.

Storybook Land Canal Boats:

A 1955 original ride, this is a boat ride

around the same fairy tale displays visible from the train. 

It is a great family ride

and provides insight into how Disneyland began – 1 ride.

In spite of our attempt to ride all rides, we ran out of time before we got to Mad Tea Party,

a 1955 original ride with an outdoor setting under colorful Chinese lanterns; or Dumbo the Flying Elephant, a 1955 original ride.  We also did not make it to Fantasyland Theater or the Fantasy Faire Theater.


Mickey’s Toontown

While Magic Kingdom turned their Mickey themed children’s section into a new part of Fantasyland,

Mickey’s Toontown
at Disneyland has more to offer as this version has a spinning darkride.

Gadget’s Go Coaster: (Vekoma, Junior Coaster, 1993)

While a little smaller than Goofy’s Barnstormer at MK, is a good starter ride for kids – 1 ride.

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin: A fun ride for both children and adults – 1 ride.

Disneyland Railroad, a 1955 original ride was closed for the addition of the Star Wars section.  Children’s attractions here include Mickey’s House; Minnie’s House; Donald’s Boat; Goofy’s Playhouse; and Chip ‘n Dale Treehouse.



Tomorrowland offers several familiar rides and a few not in MK.  In addition to the Monorail and Train Stations, they also Star Tours from Disney Hollywood Studios.  They do not have Carousel of Progress (any more), Tomorrowland Transit Authority (operating), Stitch’s Great Escape or Monsters Inc.

Hyperspace Mountain (fka Space Mountain): (Dynamic Attractions, Steel Enclosed, 2005)  In 2005 this replaced the original Space Mountain (WED, Steel Enclosed, 1977-2003) and it is absolutely great!  The ride is smooth, thrilling and fun and the special effects were light years (pun intended) ahead of the old one.  I hate to see any roller coaster replaced, but what a huge improvement!  In addition the Star Wars theming was very good – 3 rides.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: This is very similar to the Magic Kingdom version – 1 ride.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: It is neat that they have kept this attraction. 

Now with a Nemo theme, it is similar to the original but with animated scenes of Nemo added.  It is a surprisingly long ride – 1 ride.

Astro Orbitor: Like the one in Florida, but I like the high placement of the Magic Kingdom version better – 1 ride.

Disneyland Monorail: The original Disney Monorail, it actually takes you into the park – 1 round trip.

Autopia: A 1955 original ride, this is perhaps the best car ride of this type that I have done.  It has a long scenic route, even has a short off-road portion and you get a driver’s license – 1 ride.

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue:

This is good and like the one at Disney Hollywood Studios – 1 ride.

Disneyland Railroad, a 1955 original ride, was closed for the addition of the Stars Wars section.  We did not have time to check out Star Wars Launch Bay; Star Wars: Path of the Jedi; or Super Hero HQ.


Disney California Adventure Park (formerly Disney’s California Adventure)

Operating since 2001, this park has undergone a major transformation since my last visit in 2010, including a slight name change to Disney California Adventure from Disney’s California Adventure.  Gone are the Golden Gate Bridge and several California themed sections and attractions, although most rides remain.  One advantage to a park hopper pass at Disneyland Resort is that going from one park to the other is as simple as walking across the entry plaza. 

We spent Sunday evening July 31 here and about half the day Monday, August 1.  I will review by highly themed sections.     


Buena Vista Street (formerly Sunshine Plaza)

The front gate of Disney California Adventure takes you under the Monorail track, but gone is the replica of the Golden Gate Bridge which previously graced this area once known as Sunshine Plaza.

Red Car Trolley: We arrived at the Buena Vista Street stop from Hollywood Land.


Grizzly Peak (formerly park of Golden State)

Previously this section was Golden State, which was divided into Condor Flats, Grizzly Peak Recreation Area, The Bay Area, Golden Vine Winery and Pacific Wharf. While the attractions in the former Condor Flats and Grizzly Peak Recreation Area remain, the more California-centric attractions have been removed. The Bay Area had Golden Dreams, an interesting film on the history of California; Golden Vine Winery had Seasons of the Vine, a film on the wine country; and Pacific Wharf had Mission Tortilla Factory, demonstrating the process of making tortillas and giving free samples.  These attractions were removed in the overhaul.


Grizzly River Run: Based on a California river in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this is a very good white water raft ride with several significant drops.  It was fun and gets you pretty wet – 1 ride.

Soarin’ Around the World: With a new film that takes you to sights around the world instead of just in California, this is very good.  While there are several smells I do miss the orange smell – 2 rides.

This section also has Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, a challenge trail for kids.


Pacific Wharf (formerly park of Golden State)

This area retained The Bakery Tour showcasing how San Francisco sourdough bread is made.

The rest of the area is restaurants and we had a good dinner at the Lucky Fortune Cookery Chinese Restaurant.


Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier is a tribute to the seaside amusement park.  Gone now is Maliboomer, a launch tower.  My lunch at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta was good.

California Screamin’: (Intamin, Looper, 2001)

Although there is no wood coaster, this is made to look like wood.

From its initial launch to the airtime hills to the loop, this coaster gives a good, smooth ride and is fun – 3 rides.

Goofy’s Sky School: (Mack, Wild Mouse, 2001) Formerly Mulholland Madness, like all Mack mouse rides I have ridden, it gives a good ride.  The single rider line was helpful – 1 ride.

Toy Story Midway Mania!: This is such a fun ride, an interactive darkride/game – 1 ride.

The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure: This was my first chance to ride this as it was added since my last visit and the one in Florida was closed for maintenance when I was last there – 1 ride.

King Triton’s Carousel: This is nicely themed to sea creatures – 1 ride.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel: Previously The Sun Wheel, it is a huge Ferris Wheel that has both stationary cars and cars that run on a track like Deno’s Wonder Wheel at Coney Island.  While Ferris Wheels are always slow loading, it is worth the wait for a swinging car.  It is great to see Disney resurrect such an old idea – 1 ride.

Golden Zephyr: Another reborn ride – the old Traver Circle Swings that used to dot the landscape and now are hard to find, perhaps only at Blackpool.  Its sleek silver rockets give a fun ride – 1 ride.

Silly Symphony Swings: Previously Orange Stinger, it was an orange and bee themed, partially enclosed swing ride with the smell of oranges.  It still gives a good ride with its new theme but I miss the orange smell – 1 ride.

World of Color:

This is a very good light and water show

with California Screamin’

and Mickey’s Fun Wheel as a backdrop

– 1 show. 

There is one children’s ride here, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, a small parachute ride. 


“a bug’s land” (formerly Bountiful Valley Farm)

When last here this was Bountiful Valley Farm and had Flik’s Fun Fair, a group of children’s rides that are still here.We did not see It’s Tough to be a Bug!, although I have done it at Animal Kingdom.

Children’s rides include: Flik’s Flyers; Francis’ Ladybug Boogie; Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train; Princess Dot Puddle Park; and Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies.


Hollywood Land (formerly Hollywood Pictures Backlot)

This section shares similarities with Disney Hollywood Studios.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Like its counterpart at Disney Hollywood Studios this is a fun ride and is extremely well themed.  It gave a good and fun ride, but I like the Florida version better. 

I am sorry to hear that the theming will soon be changed to be based on a comic book instead of this great Hollywood Hotel theme  – 2 rides.

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!: A fun dark ride – 1 ride.

Red Car Trolley: We rode from the Hollywood Land stop to the Buena Vista Street stop – 1 ride.

We did not go to the Animation Academy; Sorcerer’s Workshop; or Turtle Talk with Crush.


Cars Land

I was highly anticipating this new section.

Based on the movies,

the detail is extraordinary

and a must-see at night.

Radiator Springs Racers: This is an excellent attraction.  It takes the technology of Test Track at EPCOT and adds so much to it.  I could ride this again and again.  While the line is long, the single rider works well– 3 rides.

Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters:

This is a unique and fun ride in dancing cars – 1 ride.

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree:

If a Whip and Cuddle Up (adult version of the Crazy Daisy) had a child, this would be it. 

It is great fun with great whip action as it changes among 4 tables.  Additionally, it is 2 rides side by side – 2 rides.


In 2 days we had a total ride count of 37 at DL and 24 at DCA, a total of 61 rides, which proves that Disney is the master of capacity.  They serve more people in a quicker time than anyone else.  Nobody does it better than Disney; I suspect no one ever will.  I look forward to a return trip to Disneyland Resort as it ranks with WDW as a great resort.


Next Up: Knott’s Berry Farm & Adventure City

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