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Here.s a quick readout for the compulsive visitor who must develop a detailed plan of attack before visiting. Not for you the endless wandering, the frustrating lines, the standing around the map after every ride going "well, where do you want to go next?" But first, some definitions:
Cast Member (CM): The Disney employees who work "onstage" where park visitors can see them.
Disney's California Adventure (DCA): The new park, opened in 2001, sitting where the Disneyland parking lot used to be.
FASTPASS: A ticket letting you mostly skip the line at an attraction at a designated time (not designated by you, unfortunately). Look for a machine dispensing FASTPASSes at the attraction you want to skip the line for. The current ten-minute window the machine is dispensing FASTPASSes for will be displayed above it. (Actually, the FASTPASSes will be good for up to an hour after the start of the window.) Run your park ticket through the machine and you will receive a FASTPASS.
Warning: At the most popular attractions, particularly Soarin' Over California, the day's allotment of FASTPASSes may all get dispensed by midmorning on a busy day. Corollary: Always check the time before getting a FASTPASS-- just because it's 10am doesn't mean you won't be getting a pass for late that evening. Also, you can't get another FASTPASS until after the window for your current one has expired, unless you got your ticket as part of a AAA Vacations package.
New Tomorrowland: A complete makeover of Tomorrowland performed in 1998, and now in the final stages of being reversed. In many ways this was the smaller precursor to the opening of DCA.
Park Hopper: A ticket which lets you move freely between Disneyland and DCA. All but the most bargain-basement tickets have this option. Without it, you can only visit one park or the other each day.
The Disneyland Resort today consists of three areas: Disneyland itself; Disney's California Adventure, the new park where the Disneyland parking lot used to be; and Downtown Disney, the hotel and shopping district.
Disneyland needs no introduction. Under its current management, it has finally emerged from the neglect of the late '90s and early '00s.
Disney's California Adventure (DCA) opened in 2001, touted as the culmination of the then-management's new cost-effective approach. Rides used off-the-shelf instead of custom-built parts. The attraction count was filled out with things like a tortilla-making demonstration and a window display about the history of the Monterey canning industry. Unfortunately, the public knew a bunch of dressed-up carnival rides when it saw them, and the California theme was not a big draw for the Disneyland crowd, two-thirds of whom were already coming from California. DCA's story ever since has been of an endless struggle to "fix" the park. Rumors now talk of ditching the California theme completely.
In between Disneyland and DCA is the Esplanade. There are bag checks at each end of the Esplanade, so that you can move freely between the two parks once passing them. The ticket booths are located at the center of the Esplanade.
Downtown Disney comprises the Disney-owned hotels (except for the Grand Californian, which is located inside DCA), a movie theater, and a group of upscale shops and eateries.
= Slow-loading or extremely popular ride;
go first thing in the morning, after dinner, or use FASTPASS
= Not-so-fast-loading or middling popular ride; try before 11am, after 3pm, or use FASTPASS
= Fast-loading or not-so-popular ride; avoid only at peak times
= Go whenever you feel like it
Exists at a level that only Disney can manage
Good theming and detail
A step beyond the average
Nothing your local amusement park couldn't do
|Alice in Wonderland||Dark ride||Alice in Wonderland movie||Fantasyland||Stable||People with sensitive hearing, cover your ears when you see the birthday cake.|
|Astro Orbiter||Carnival ride||None||Tomorrowland||The former Rocket Jets, moved to ground level in the New Tomorrowland||The only reason for riding this one was the terrific view you used to get from three stories up.|
|Autopia||Simulated driving||None||Tomorrowland||Completely remade from the two previous Autopias for the New Tomorrowland||Much more interesting than the old version.|
|Big Thunder Mountain Railroad||Roller coaster||Wild West||Frontierland||Accident causing a fatality in 2003; maintenance procedures much improved since||Coincidentally, the ride is much smoother these days.|
|Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters||Dark ride; first-person shooter||Toy Story||Tomorrowland||Opened in 2005||Design of guns makes it hard to tell exactly where you're aiming.|
|Casey Jr. Circus Train||Train ride||Dumbo||Fantasyland||Stable||Different view of the same scenery as the Storybook Land boats|
|Chip 'n' Dale's Treehouse||Play area||Cartoons||Mickey's Toontown||Stable|
|Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes||Paddle-powered canoes||None apart from the title||Critter Country||Stable||Canoes can maneuver at will, overtake other canoes, and potentially capsize. Small children are required to wear life vests.|
|Disney Gallery||Art gallery||Disneyland||New Orleans Square||Exhibitions change from time to time|
|Disneyland Monorail||Transportation to and from hotel||None||Tomorrowland and Downtown Disney||Trains wearing out; new ones to be constructed soon||Closed during the convention|
|Disneyland Railroad||Transportation around the park||None||Main Street, New Orleans Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland||Stable||Lines at most stations make it no faster than walking when the park is crowded|
|Dumbo the Flying Elephant||Carnival ride||Dumbo||Fantasyland||Stable|
|Enchanted Tiki Room||Animatronic show||Pacific Islands||Adventureland||Major refurbishment in late 2004||Still the original show, not the "Under New Management" Disney World version|
|Frontierland Shootin' Exposition||Shooting gallery||None||Frontierland||Stable|
|Gadget's Go Coaster||Roller coaster||Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers||Mickey's Toontown||Stable|
|Golden Horseshoe Revue||Lunch/dinner show||Wild West||Frontierland||Menu and reservation arrangements adjusted many times. Closes for refurbishment Sept 5.|
|Goofy's Bounce House||Play area||Cartoons||Mickey's Toontown||Stable|
|Grand Canyon & Primeval World||Animatronics||Educational||Railroad between Tomorrowland and Main Street stations||Stable|
|Haunted Mansion||Dark ride||Spooky stuff||New Orleans Square||Effects and sound updated in 2004. Closes for more refurbishment Sept. 11.|
|Honey, I Shrunk the Audience||3-D movie||Honey, I Shrunk the... series||Tomorrowland||Stable||Only interesting because it contains Eric Idle|
|Indiana Jones Adventure||Dark ride||Indiana Jones||Adventureland||Stable||By far the roughest ride in the park. To minimize the motion, try to get a middle seat in the second or third row.|
|Innoventions||Technology expo||The Future!||Tomorrowland||Exhibitors come and go||More Sharper Image than Comdex; true geeks will not be impressed|
|it's a small world||Boat ride||Children of the world||Fantasyland||Stable||The more boats there are in the water, the faster they all move and the shorter the ride|
|Jungle Cruise||Boat ride||Terrors of the darkest jungle: vicious predators, bloodthirsty natives, and horrifying puns||Adventureland||Shortened when Indy was constructed next door; guides got their guns back in 2005|
|King Arthur Carrousel||Merry-go-round||Sleeping Beauty, oddly enough||Fantasyland||Stable|
|Mad Tea Party||Spinning teacups||Alice in Wonderland||Fantasyland||Liability concerns have slowed the top spinning speed|
|Main Street Cinema||Movie theater with no place to sit||Old cartoons||Main Street||Stable||A nice, cool, dark place to retreat to for a few minutes in the middle of a summer afternoon|
|The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh||Dark ride||Winnie the Pooh||Critter Country||Opened in 2004|
|Mark Twain Riverboat||Boat ride||Old-time riverboat||Frontierland||Closing for refurbishment shortly after Labor Day.|
|Matterhorn Bobsleds||Roller coaster||Encounter with yetis||Fantasyland||Holes for the Skyway have been closed up. Closed for refurbishment starting August 28.|
|Mickey's House||Walkthrough||Cartoons||Mickey's Toontown||Stable|
|Minnie's House||Walkthrough||Cartoons||Mickey's Toontown||Stable|
|Miss Daisy||Play area||Cartoons||Mickey's Toontown||Stable|
|Mr. Toad's Wild Ride||Dark ride||The Wind in the Willows
||Fantasyland||Stable||Peter Pan's Flight||Dark ride||Peter Pan||Fantasyland||Stable||Pinnochio's Daring Journey||Dark ride||Pinnochio||Fantasyland||Stable||Pirates of the Caribbean||Dark ride in boats||Retroactively, Pirates of the
Caribbean||New Orleans Square||A few references to the movie
added in refurbishment in early 2006||Don't let the drops
put you off-- they're short
||Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin||Dark ride with vehicle you can spin||Who Framed
Roger Rabbit?||Mickey's Toontown||Stable||Sailing Ship Columbia||Boat ride||Old-time sailing ship||Frontierland||Refubished in 2004||Recreation of the Columbia from period
sources; check out the exhibits belowdecks
||Snow White's Scary Adventures||Dark ride||Snow White||
Fantasyland||Stable||Scares the pants off of many small children
||Space Mountain||Roller coaster in the dark||Space||Tomorrowland||Darker building, remastered sound, and new closing
effect in 2004||Splash Mountain||Thrill ride||Song of the South||Critter Country||Liability concerns led to re-engineering ride vehicles, reducing
capacity||Star Tours||Simulator ride||Star Wars||Tomorrowland||
Stable||Fun queue area
||Storybook Land Canal Boats||Boat ride||Mother Goose and Disney
movies||Fantasyland||Stable||Tarzan's Treehouse||Walkthrough||Tarzan||Adventureland||Formerly the Swiss Family Treehouse||Tom Sawyer Island||Play area||Tom Sawyer||Frontierland||Airguns removed from Fort Wilderness some time ago||Great place to let the
kids run off some calories while you sit and rest
|Animation Building||Shows and exhibits||Educational||Hollywood Pictures Backlot|
|California Screamin'||Roller coaster||None||Paradise Pier||Accident in 2005 traced to design of automatic braking system, now corrected. May close for maintenance as early as Sept. 11.|
|Flik's Fun Fair||Kiddie carnival rides||A Bug's Life||A Bug's Land|
|Golden Zephyr||Carnival ride||None||Paradise Pier||Stable|
|Grizzly River Run||Flume ride||None||Golden State (Grizzly Peak)||Stable||The sign says, "You will get wet... you may get soaked!" It is not kidding. Make sure your personal electronics are protected.|
|It's Tough to Be a Bug||3-D movie||A Bug's Life||A Bug's Land|
|Jumpin' Jellyfish||Carnival ride||None||Paradise Pier||Stable|
|King Triton's Carousel||Merry-go-round||The Little Mermaid||Paradise Pier||Stable|
|Maliboomer||Carnival ride||None||Paradise Pier||Stable|
|Mike and Sully to the Rescue||Dark ride||Monsters, Inc.||Hollywood Pictures Backlot||2 according to online reports||Just opened|
|Mulholland Madness||Roller coaster||L.A. freeways||Paradise Pier||Stable|
|Muppetvision 3-D||3-D movie & animatronic show||Muppets||Hollywood Pictures Backlot||Stable|
|Orange Stinger||Carnival ride||None||Paradise Pier||Stable||Often closed due to wind|
|Redwood Creek Challenge Trail||Play area||Originally none, but some references to Brother Bear now||Golden State (Grizzly Peak)||Brother Bear additions in 2004||DCA's equivalent to Tom Sawyer Island: the place you can let the kids run around while you take a breather.|
|Soarin' Over California||Simulated hang-glider ride||California||Golden State (Condor Flats)||Stable||One potentially disconcerting moment: when the ride goes from "boarding" to "flying" configuration, the room goes pitch black and you are abruptly yanked into the air.|
|Sun Wheel||Ferris wheel||None||Paradise Pier||Stable|
|Twilight Zone Tower of Terror||Thrill ride||Twilight Zone, kinda||Hollywood Pictures Backlot||Opened in 2003||Even if the thought of the ride itself puts you off, take a walk through the queue and preshow to appreciate the scenery.|
Peoplemover? It was replaced in the New Tomorrowland by a ride called Rocket Rods. The new ride had so many mechanical problems that it was closed after a couple years. The return of the Peoplemover is said to have been approved in principle, but there is no timeline for it.
The Skyway? Closed in the New Tomorrowland makeover. The passageway through the Matterhorn has been closed up.
CircleVision? Turned into the Rocket Rods boarding area; the space is now occupied by Buzz Lightyear.
Submarine Voyage? Shut down for the New Tomorrowland, it will reopen in 2007 with a Finding Nemo theme.
Fantasyland Autopia? Combined with the Tomorrowland one in the New Tomorrowland.
Rocket Rods? See previous about the Peoplemover.
Country Bear Jamboree? Replaced by the Winnie the Pooh ride.
Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthough? Closed permanently.
Swiss Family Robinson treehouse? Now Tarzan's Treehouse.
Disneyland and DCA have a wide variety of entertainment going on throughout the day. A full schedule is available at each park entrance. Here we will simply deal with the giant headliners, of which there are three:
Fantasmic! is a multimedia show staged on the Rivers f America. It happens twice nightly though August 28th, and after that will only be available Friday through Sunday nights. The viewing area is the outer shore of Rivers of America; people may start picking out their spots up to a couple hours beforehand.
Remember... Dreams Come True is the current fireworks show, happening nightly through August 28th and Fridays and aturdays only afterward. While Disney makes much of the effects being viewable anywhere in the park, the only place to get the full treatment is in the hub in front of the castle. On crowded days it may not be possible to squeeze yourself in unless you get there an hour ahead of time.
The early showing of Fantasmic! and the fireworks are scheduled so that they happen back-to-back, thus guaranteeing gridlock afterward as all the spectators try to leave at once. If you are going to either of these shows, allow time for a long, slow extraction.
Disney's Electrical Parade is the exact same thing that used to be the Main Street Electrical Parade, moved over to DCA to keep the place inhabited after sunset. It will conclude its current run after Labor Day weekend, and won't happen on weekdays in the last week of August.
Don't. I mean that. Not only is the food overpriced, the ongoing Cast Member shortage means the food service locations are rarely fully staffed. Bring your own water bottles and have lunch elsewhere.
For even more detailed information, I recommend you consult The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, which has its own ratings, plus survey results and reader letters, including the one that invented the term "theme park commando". For those who prefer to let someone else crunch the numbers, it also contains detailed touring plans to help avoid the lines. Your true theme park commando, of course, already has this book.