Exploring Disneyland



Jungle Cruise

The Jungle Cruise boat ride through the waters of the world is definitely a highlight of the park, not least because of the wacky jokes that are told during the ride and the eighth wonder of the world that you can discover during the ride. Without the long wait shortly after the release of the film of the same name starring Dwayne Johnson, the attraction is twice as much fun.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

The Enchanted Tiki Room is the archetype of all electronic bird shows worldwide and, interestingly, one of the few that still exists. Whilst the attraction hasn’t aged well at any other theme park in the world and even the few remaining shows are just scary, the Enchanted Tiki Room is simply great. The show has great humour, a well thought out storyline and the music is just wonderful, especially when the tiki totem poles come into play. I am blown away!

Indiana Jones Adventure

Probably the biggest attraction at Adventureland today is the Indiana Jones Adventure dark ride. This Intamin Enhanced Motion Vehicle ride is one of the best dark rides around. In keeping with the theme of the films, we have come to help Indiana Jones as he explores an ancient temple, hitting quite a few booby traps along the way.  

Indiana Jones Adventure is a very impressive dark ride. The use of Enhanced Motion vehicles makes our ride a rather wild one. Combined with the immersive environment, this is a ride not to be missed. 

New Orleans Square

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of Disneyland’s classic dark rides that everyone should experience, and it has an unexpected depth here in Anaheim. The ride offers the same breathtaking scenes as Orlando and Paris, but has a few more to offer. This makes for a more rounded ride overall, as Dead Men Tell No Tales is established as the attraction’s leitmotif before you experience the loose story of Blackbeard’s pirates raiding a village in search of treasure.

The Haunted Mansion

During my Halloween visit, the Haunted Mansion was the home of Jack Skellington and the other characters from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The temporary Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction is really worth seeing, which unfortunately makes the beloved attraction even more popular. Yet the dark ride itself has so many striking characters that it is simply fun to follow the action in the creepy mansion.

Critter Country

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain was originally intended to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film Song of the South, a film in which Disney succeeded for the first time in combining animated films with real actors. The film is famous for its animation, but also very controversial because of the way it portrays the time in which it is set. After its last release in 1984, the film was never shown again in America. Instead of the log flume dark ride that somehow kept the famous Disney songs “How do you do?” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” alive, next year we can look forward to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which picks up the story of The Princess and the Frog and takes us on a jazz-infused journey through the swamps of Louisana.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

The journey through the Hundred Acre Wood begins with the story of Winnie the Pooh and the stormy day when everyone is struggling to weather the storm. Exhausted from the exertions, Pooh quickly falls asleep and dreams of Heffalumps and Woozies in a very crazy dream sequence. Barely awake, everyone celebrates Pooh’s birthday together.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Star Wars Galaxy Edge is by far the most immersive themed area ever realised in a theme park. You feel like you’re in one of the Star Wars films. There is also a great bar, Oga’s Cantina, and a really great restaurant, Docking Bay 7.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

The Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance dark ride is hard to put into words. After standing on our feet for a while, we immediately enter the first pre-show, where we are prepared for our mission. We promptly board a spaceship, which after a while ends up in the clutches of a First Order Star Destroyer. We quickly reach the Stormtrooper hangar and here, at the latest, the whole wait is more than worth it. The oversized room is simply overwhelming. However, we only spend a short time here because we have been captured by the First Order. We are gradually led in small groups to other rooms to await our interrogation. Shortly afterwards, however, we are freed by the resistance and board a captured fleet transporter to make our way to the escape pods. What follows is a wild and, above all, surprising ride through numerous scenes, with each new scene surpassing the previous one. In the end, we reach the escape pods and are able to flee.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is by far the best dark ride in the world. The ride is stunning in every way and should be seen as more of a 15-minute experience that is absolutely worth a much longer wait.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is the second of the two dark rides in the Star Wars Galaxy Edge themed area and is often considered the weaker of the two attractions. However, Smuggler’s Run is actually a really strong attraction and definitely worth a visit. Here, a crew of six experience a breathtaking mission in which each passenger has their own task to fulfil. The highlight here is that we are in a simulator and can partly control it ourselves, which can lead to some really funny driving manoeuvres. Depending on how well you have controlled the Millennium Falcon, you are rewarded accordingly at the end of the journey. Great fun!


Mark Twain River Boat und Pirate’s Liar on Tom Sawyer Island

In addition to a trip on the Mark Twain Riverboat, which travels past Tom Sawyer Island, it is also worth visiting the island itself, which can only be reached by raft. Although there are no rides on the island itself, there are plenty of places to explore and great photo opportunities in the direction of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Sometime in the late 19th century, gold was discovered on Big Thunder Mountain. Overnight, the small mining town of Rainbow Ridge flourished under the thumb of the greedy mine owner Barnabas T. Bullion. Mining flourished and an extensive network of mine railways was built to transport the ore. But the land was sacred, and the desecration of the mountain by the settlers soon led to a great tragedy. After an earthquake destroyed the mines and the town, the village was abandoned. It was later discovered that the locomotives travelled around the mountain by themselves without drivers or crews, giving us the opportunity to take a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

We start our journey by entering the mine. After a short right and left turn, we reach the first lift hill. Once at the top, we quickly pick up speed on a downhill right-hand bend. We then race through a rock formation before a turn, followed by a very sudden dip, leads us into another tight bend. We race through a long tunnel on a very fun and bumpy section of the route. After a right-hand bend, we reach the second lift hill. We gain some speed again in a fast downhill bend. Then we climb up a hill and enter a helix at the top. At high speed, we then go over a few hills with very sharp transitions that catapult us out of our seats before we reach the third and final lift hill. Once at the top, we first ride over hill and dale before finally gaining more and more speed. A long right-hand bend is followed by a left-hand bend as we leave Big Thunder Mountain behind us. Passing a dinosaur skeleton, we enter the last bend of the track, which leads directly into the braking section.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the perfect Mine Train rollercoaster. Compared to the version in Florida, the ride is a little more colourful and the finale during the third lift is a little more explosive. The sometimes quite bizarre ride sections of the track mirrored here emphasise the feeling of uncontrollability that you should expect when riding a ghost train. In short: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the perfect rollercoaster for the whole family.


Casey Jr. Circus Train

Casey Jr. Circus Train takes you on an amazing journey through Fantasyland. At the start, Casey Jr. breathes “I think I can” as he climbs up a hill, but soon shows his true strength and accelerates across the flat track. The ride is gentle but fun.

Storybook Land Canal Boats

Next door, and partly surrounded by the track of the Casey Jr. Circus Train, are the Storybook Land Canal Boats. This classic ride takes you on a relaxing cruise along miniatures of classic Disney films and their fairy tales.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

The Carousel, where you control your elephant’s flight, is one of Disneyland’s most popular and iconic rides. The first version of this ride opened in 1955 with some interesting mechanics that unfortunately never worked. Over the years, the attraction has undergone several visual changes and moved locations within Fantasyland. In 1990, a new Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride opened, now with 16 elephants instead of the original 10.

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey is a charming little dark ride that tells an abridged version of the film, with Pinocchio escaping from Stromboli’s puppet show and visiting Pleasure Island, ignoring Jiminy Cricket’s advice. After an appearance by Monstro the whale, Pinocchio is finally reunited with Geppetto and transformed into a real boy.

Snow White’s Enchanted Wish

Another famous dark ride in this section of the park is Snow White’s Enchanted Wish – formerly known as Snow White’s Scary Adventures. While it used to be Fantasyland’s classic Ghost Train, the ride is now much more lively and tells the story of the film in a more light-hearted way, making it a much less scary and more rounded attraction.

Peter Pan’s Flight

Peter Pan’s Flight is always one of the most popular dark rides at the big Disneyland parks and accordingly usually has a very long queue. It is one of the classic themed rides, but a rather short and, in my opinion, rather unsatisfying experience:

After leaving the Darlings’ nursery, we fly over London before reaching Neverland. Here the children are kidnapped by Captain Hook. Shortly afterwards, there is a short fight scene between Pan and Hook. After Pan has defeated Hook, the children take over the ship and Hook has to face the crocodile. The end.

Mr. Toads Wild Ride

Next to the King Arthur Carousel is the entrance to Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. The story is based on the ridiculous speedster Mr. Toad from the novel The Wind in the Willows, which was adapted into The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Driving recklessly through the English countryside with Mr Toad, we soon find ourselves in a lot of trouble, and after an accident in a railway tunnel, we end up driving straight through hell. The ride is one of the few remaining attractions to have been in operation since the park opened in July 1955.

Alice in Wonderland

Next to the Mad Tea Party – a classic tea cup ride installed in the park in 1955 – is another classic Disneyland dark ride: Alice in Wonderland. It is one of Disneyland’s most unique rides, taking you through the madcap Wonderland along Alice, with many references to the animated film. The ride directly inspired the Alice in Wonderland Dark Ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Matterhorn Bobsleds

One of the most important attractions in the world is the Matterhorn Bobsleds rollercoaster. Built in 1959, the roller coaster revolutionised the amusement park industry like no other attraction before it. The company Arrow Dynamics used a tubular steel construction for the first time.   

The Matterhorn Bobsleds offer two different lanes, with the right lane reserved for Genie+ users. Both sides start off alongside each other, and after a short turn through a cave, they enter the lift hill of the ride. At the top of the hill, the two tracks separate again, with the left side (Tomorrowland side) turning left and the right side (Fantasyland side) turning right. After a long curve, the two tracks meet again in a larger hall, with the Fantasyland track now going round in a helix for several laps, while the Tomorrowland track goes round once. After the encounter with the Yeti, both tracks are on their own for a while and experience some very fast cornering manoeuvres. After several long left and right turns, the Tomorrowland track finally dives under the Fantasyland track to continue its way along the mountainside. Shortly after, the Fantasyland track disappears into a long tunnel that runs right through the mountain. After another long turn and some wilder twists and turns, both tracks enter their final shoot ride, which takes them into a water basin. The final turns bring you back to the station at a much reduced speed. 

The Matterhorn Bobsleds are two really great and surprisingly wild rollercoasters. The ride is great fun and is still one of the park’s most popular attractions after all these years at Disneyland. I for one am delighted that it is my 900th rollercoaster ride. 

It’s a small World

The happiest place on earth is also home to the happiest cruise in the world: It’s a small World. The cruise takes us on a journey around the world and shows us the culture of each country from a child’s perspective. It’s a small World is a beautifully themed dark ride with a distinctive style, cute puppets and a very catchy tune. It is one of the must-see attractions at Disneyland.

Mickey’s Toon Town

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Train

Right at the entrance to Toon Town, we come across the El CapiToon theatre, where Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is being performed. We watch the latest Mickey Mouse cartoon in a small cinema, which quickly becomes reality. Mickey & Minnie are on a picnic outing while we are travelling on the train with Goofy. Before we know it, Goofy is travelling in one direction and we in another. Mickey and Minnie rush to the rescue to bring our runaway railway to a halt. What follows is a wild ride through various comic scenes, which are mainly supported by projection mapping and can change at lightning speed. At the end, we waltz and conga dance with Daisy before almost ending up in the scrap press. As absurd as it may all sound, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is great cinema and a wonderful homage to classic American cartoons.

Chip & Dale’s Gadget Coaster

Chip & Dale’s Gadget Coaster is the smallest family coaster at Disneyland. The coaster has a classic Vekoma Junior Coaster layout, but with some modifications to integrate a second train. After the lift, the train immediately turns into a steep curve that brings us to the ground, followed by a curve around the lift hill. After a small dip, a right-hand bend takes us into a helix. A short time later, we hit the brakes – and the ride is over.

Rodger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

After the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it’s no surprise that Mickey’s Toontown is home to Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin dark ride. During the ride, we steer a taxi and follow Roger Rabbit and Benny the Cab as they try to help Jessica Rabbit thwart the diabolical plans of the villainous Weasels. Although the ride is well done, it does not feel on the same level as the other dark rides in the park.


Tomorrowland has always been home to many first-class and admittedly quite unique attractions such as the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter – later Stitch’s Great Escape – or the Rocket Rods. Today, unfortunately, you will only find attractions here that you can also find at the other Disneylands.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

The Submarine Voyage is one of Disneyland’s oldest dark rides. Opened in 1958, the ride simulated a dive into the ocean. Unfortunately, the original idea of using real fish and other sea creatures never came to fruition. Today, the ride features Nemo and his friends on screens as you pass by. 


One of the best attractions in Tomorrowland is the old-fashioned car ride Autopia, which takes us on a cosy road trip. I particularly enjoyed the short off-road section during the ride.


Walt Disney pioneered the modern monorail – a mode of transport that has become very popular in amusement parks and airports. The elevated track takes you on a journey through Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney. It runs mainly through backstage areas and features a long and winding section above the Autopia ride. 

Space Mountain

Two years after the opening of the Space Mountain indoor coaster in the Magic Kingdom, a version of this coaster followed in Disneyland. However, instead of two tracks, the coaster had only one, and instead of the bob-like seating position, you sat in rows of two next to each other. The track layout is very similar though. Unfortunately, the ride was undergoing maintenance when I visited, so I was unable to test it. 

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

The interactive dark ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger is one of the smaller attractions in Tomorrowland, but it’s still fun because you can control the rotation of the vehicle as you try to get the highest score. The interactive dark ride is very solid and you should give it a chance if the wait times are limited.

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Galactic space travel agency Star Tours has been offering flights to Endor since 1987. The giant motion simulator ride defined this type of attraction and made it extremely popular in the 1990s. Nowadays, instead of just travelling to Endor, there are a variety of elaborate experiences that, combined with the fun simulator ride, invite you to return for more. However, as of 2019, waiting times at this Star Wars attraction have been significantly reduced due to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Pictures Disneyland

Conclusion Disneyland

I really enjoyed my visit to the original Disneyland. The park combines the best attractions that Disney has ever created in one park and has still remained small. Everything is much cosier here and the little castle in the middle of the park is simply cute, especially compared to the castle in Paris. Disneyland in Anaheim is and remains a park that every theme park fan should visit once in their life. I for one am glad that I finally made it.


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