Disneyland Resort is a place where magic happens. Every time I visit, I experience a sense of awe and wonder as I enter the gates onto Main Street. Each attraction is an escape to another world where my imagination runs free. I never grow tired of visiting the parks – it’s like I’m free to be a kid again and to believe in magic. 

Featured Image by Loren Javier, Creative Commons License

Disneyland Resort Overview

To help you plan your next visit, I have put together this brief overview of Disneyland Resort. Remember, Disneyland Resort has three distinct areas, each with its own flavor and ambiance.

The Land of Magic

This is my favorite park, where all the magic begins! Where else can you sail with pirates in the Caribbean, travel through stars, board a mining train, or take Peter Pan’s flight? Disneyland Park, which opened in 1955, has expanded over the years. Now, it includes the following distinct lands and areas:

  • Main Street, U.S.A. Step into a bustling street of old-time USA. Main Street is full of shops and services. If you listen carefully as you approach the lockers, you can hear someone practicing the piano or someone taking a shower, depending on the time of day.
  • Tomorrowland.  Here’s your chance to fly through the galaxy. Home to some of the most popular attractions, like Star Tours and Space Mountain, Tomorrowland is a place for thrills and interactive attractions.
  • Fantasyland. Although a few attractions have disappeared, Fantasyland remains much as it was in 1955. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle guards the gates to this magical land where fairy tales come to life.
  • Mickey’s Toontown. Look for Roger Rabbit and Mickey Mouse, who lives in the little cartoon town. Mickey’s Toontown is a great place to take the little ones to spend an afternoon.
  • Frontierland.  Again, Frontierland hasn’t changed much over the years, which is part of its charm! Visit a saloon, practice your aim, or take a wild ride on a mining train at Thunder Mountain.
  • Critter Country.  Between Winnie the Pooh and the waters of Splash Mountain, nicely shaded Critter County is a cool retreat on a hot afternoon.
  • New Orleans Square. Enter the spirited streets of the French Quarter. But, beware! Pirates and ghosts lurk throughout the area.
  • Adventureland. This little area is often packed with visitors waiting to explore the jungle, visit Tarzan’s tree house, or venture into the Temple of Doom. I love Adventureland at night, when
Lands of Escape

Every time I enter into one of these lands, I really feel like I’ve been transported somewhere else. Tomorrowland has the feel of a of a futuristic city, while New Orleans Square is really like being in the French Quarter. Fantasyland is the home for princesses and heroes, while Adventureland takes you into jungles and wild rides with Indiana Jones. Main Street, USA welcomes me every time I enter the park, as if beckoning me to a world where I can leave my troubles behind.

Celebrate California

California Adventure Park is growing up. It seemed a bit bare and lacking in the Disney flare when it first opened. Now, it’s got more of the feel and experience you would expect from Disney. While at California Adventure, you can explore 7 exciting lands that celebrate California and bring to life Disney and Pixar stories and characters:

  • Buena Vista Street. This is the Main Street of California Adventure Park. Recently re-imagined to feel like the Los Angeles of 1923 that Walt Disney first saw, it sets the tone for the entire park.
  • Cars Land. A recent addition to California Adventure, where you can enter the territory from the movie Cars and even participate in a car race at Radiator Springs.
  • Grizzly Peak. This area reflects the natural beauty of California, and has the look and feel of being in a National Park. Here, you can enjoy the rapids of Grizzly Peak and soar over wonderful scenery from around the world.
  • Paradise Pier. Step onto a California-style boardwalk along the sea. Enjoy a wild roller coaster or try your hand at 3-D carnival games, while strolling along the waterfront.
  • Pacific Wharf. Pacific Wharf provides a taste of San Francisco and celebrates the California fishing industry. Take a tour of a bakery or find a place to enjoy a great meal. It’s always a wonderful place to relax and take a break.
  • “a bug’s land”. This land is perfect for the littlest of little ones. Although small in geographic area, it packs a big punch for the youngest in your family.
  • Hollywood Land. Hollywood Land offers something for just about everyone. Shopping, theaters, attractions and animation classes. Don’t forget to look for the all new Guardians of the Galaxy.

Shop & Dine Disney Style

The Downtown Disney District sits between Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park. It is an outdoor shopping and dining district with Disney flair, and I always find an enjoyable meal and plenty of shopping there. Enjoy the following activities at the beautiful promenade:

  • Dining. The Downtown Disney District is one of my favorite places to eat and relax. I can always find something to enjoy, whether I’m looking for a quick bite, something more fancy, or even a sports bar. In fact, I love having breakfast a La Brea Bakery and Cafe before the parks open.
  • Shopping. You can find dozens of shops, from official Disney shops to brands you know and love. I often spend a bit of time here at the end of the trip to pick up those last minute souvenirs and to give myself one last chance to savor the resort before I head home.
  • Entertainment. The Downtown Disney District includes theaters, and sports arcade, and a jazz club. With free parking available, many locals come to the district to enjoy a fun evening at the resort.

The Downtown Disney District is within walking distance from all the resort hotels. You can also ride the Monorail to the district from Disneyland Park if your feet are too tired to make the walk.

Where to Stay

Grand Californian at Disneyland
The Grand Californian Hotel – Copyright Walt Disney Company

I recommend that you stay at least a few days to really enjoy Disneyland Resort. For a special treat, stay in Disneyland Resort at one of its hotels. Or, you can stay at a Good Neighbor Hotel nearby. Many Good Neighbor Hotels are within walking distance to the parks, and they all offer some type of shuttle service to get you back and forth.

Learn more about where to stay below:

Disneyland Resort offers three official resort hotels:

  • The Disneyland Hotel. The original Disneyland hotel! It has changed over the years, but always provides a magical experience. The hotel has three towers: Adventure, Fantasy or Frontier tower.
  • The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Every time I see this hotel, I’m reminded of old mountain lodges like The Ahwahnee in Yosemite. The Grand Californian offers premium accommodations and service, and even has its own entry to California Adventure Park. Stay at the Grand Californian for the ultimate luxurious Disney adventure.
  • Paradise Pier Hotel. This hotel takes you back to the days of The Beach Boys and California boardwalks, while also providing every modern convenience. The hotel has plenty of dining, shopping and recreational facilities.

Learn more about these hotels in our Disneyland Resort Planning Guide at “Places to Stay.”

Disneyland Resort has partnered with and approved many hotels in the surrounding areas. In fact, Disneyland Resort offers travel packages with these hotels. You can choose from a variety of styles of Good Neighbor Hotels:

  • Suites: Hotels like the Embassy Suites, Residence Inns, and Double Tree Suite by Hilton.
  • Superior: Enjoy the hospitality of the Hyatt, the Sheraton and more.
  • Moderate: Perfect for the family vacation. This class of hotels includes Best Western, Courtyard by Marriott and the ever popular Candy Cane Inn.
  • Economy: If you’re looking for a great deal, stay at the Motel 6 or Quality Inn.

Again, learn more about all the Good Neighbor Hotels in a Disneyland Resort Planning Guide at “Places to Stay.”

Plan Your Trip

Disneyland Resort offers many travel packages that include air, park entrance tickets, and hotel rooms at the resort or Good Neighbor Hotels. Often, the best deals, and least crowded times at the resort, are midweek, in late fall, and during January and February.

Get started by visiting our Disneyland Resort Planning Guide. Make sure to check out the “Special Offers”  and “Packages” Section of the guide. Of course, you can contact Greenward Travel at anytime, and I’ll be happy to plan your next magical adventure.