I have ambitious plans for noding about Disneyland; whatever I don't get done maybe others will help with. I would like to write some about the mythology of the park, as well as about the many attractions which are now gone. Below I offer a brief history of the park as well as a list of most of the attractions. I’m sure I’ve overlooked a lot, I plan return to this writeup and amend it as need be. Eventually, I’d like to have opening dates and a little info about all the rides, and possibly some more information on other aspects of the park here. I also intend to compile a hard-linked list of other Disneyland-related nodes at the bottom of this writeup. Any suggestions are welcome.

ooo             ooo             ooo             ooo             ooo             ooo             

Disneyland was the first true theme park. There had been amusement parks for years, but it was Walt Disney who came up with the idea of a place for the entertainment of fantasies, specifically fantasies centred in Disney movies, for the most part. It was his hope that visitors to the park would have the same sense of escape from everyday life afforded by his films. He also wanted to create a place for families to spend the day having fun together. He first conceived of the park in the 1930s but had to postpone development until after World War 2.

Construction began on the park July 21, 1954, in Anaheim, Orange County, California. $17,000,000 and one year later, Disneyland’s grand opening was July 17, 1955. The original plans were for a 45-acre area with construction costs of $9,000,000; when the park was completed it covered 160 acres.

Since its inception, Disney theme parks have opened in Florida (Disneyworld), Paris (Euro Disney) and Tokyo (Tokyo Disney), but none compares to the original. Though Disneyland has changed quite a bit over the years, they’ve maintained the integrity of many of their attractions and the overall design of the park, giving it a charm that is lacking in more modern Disney productions.

Disneyland occupies a unique (psychological) space in the USA. The park is important to many people either for nostalgia, the chance to return to childhood, or simply for the brief escape from ordinary life it offers. Some even get married at the Disneyland Resort. Though Fairy Tale Weddings aren't actually performed inside the park, they do come with a horse-drawn carriage a la Cinderella.

The park is divided into eight "lands" each with attractions grouped roughly by theme. I've listed them below, adding details to those I have personal experience with. I'm not bothering with restaurants, shops, arcades, etc. for the most part.

FastPass: Absolutely make use of the free FastPass system. All you need to do is show up at a ride you’re going to want to go on later and find the Fast Pass dispenser (ask if you can’t find it). The machine will issue you a ticket with the name of the ride and a one-hour time frame in which you need to use it. Show up during that hour and you can go in a special line only for FastPass holders. Frequently the pass can save you hours in waiting time. Sometimes there’s a two-hour wait for a popular attraction, and the fast pass will get you on in fifteen minutes. A mystery to me why everyone doesn’t bother with it.

ooo             Main Street, U.S.A.:

Main Street is by the look of it, a simulation of a main street in small-town America in the good old days (an indeterminate time period of somewhere between the late 1800s and the early 1950s, I suppose). Behind the facades are mostly miscellaneous shops selling Disney merchandise (much of it only available in the park). The best of these sells compact discs with music and narration from attractions current and past; using computer terminals, you can choose what to put on your own personalised CD. Also worthy of note on Main Street: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, a trip through Disney history narrated by the audio-animatronic Abraham Lincoln that obsessed Philip K. Dick and featured in several of his novels. Lincoln's first appearance at Disneyland was in 1965. Dick was dismayed at his removal; would that he were alive to see Lincoln's reinstatement.

ooo             Adventureland:

Enchanted Tiki Room
Opened 1963, The Tiki Room is a marvellously enchanted place inhabited by numerous talking birds, notably parrots representing goofy ethnic stereotypes of the era. Sponsored by Dole Fruit. Good fun, highly recommended.

Indiana Jones Adventure
Opened 1995. Overrated thrill ride. Worth a try if the wait is fairly short (15 min. or less). In fairness, mine is the minority opinion, this ride is well-loved by most it seems.

Jungle Cruise
Opened 1955. One of my least favourite attractions, the cruise is a rare example of Disney venturing into pseudo-hip irony. In an effort to salvage an attraction featuring fanciful (if not downright offensive) audio-animatronic savages, the ride is hosted by a wise-cracking tour guide. For me, one of the nicest things about Disneyland is that the attractions are kept in their original form for the most part.

Tarzan's Treehouse
Opened in 1962 as The Swiss Family Treehouse.

ooo             New Orleans Square:

New Orleans Square is where you find the Disney Gallery as well as outdoor Dixieland Jazz bands playing.

Disneyland Railroad
Opened 1955. A nice ride and a good opportunity to get off your feet for a while. The railroad goes through a tunnel through what seem to be exhibits from some pseudo-scientific natural history museum (dinosaurs fighting etc.) Stations are located at Main Street U.S.A., New Orleans Square, Mickey's Toontown, and Tomorrowland.

Haunted Mansion
Opened 1969. Fantastic. Amazing illusions of ghosts created with projections. Very groovy soundtrack music. Often overlooked by the crowds, generally a pretty short wait considering how enjoyable it is.

Pirates of the Caribbean
Opened 1967. Maybe my favourite attraction in the park. Audio-animatronic robot pirates galore! A nice long ride, quite spectacular. One of my favourite parts is the audio-animatronic whore auction! The endlessly looping soundtrack song: "Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirate's Life for Me"

ooo             Critter Country:

(known as Bear Country until 1988)

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes

Splash Mountain
Opened 1989.

ooo             Frontierland:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Opened 1979.

Mark Twain Riverboat
Opened 1955, this is a full-scale paddlewheel river boat that circulates aimlessly in the park's "Rivers of America."

Sailing Ship Columbia
Full-scale replica of the first ship to circumnavigate the globe. Houses the Nautical Museum.

Tom Sawyer Island
Opened 1956. Accessible only by raft.

ooo             Fantasyland:

Fantasyland is for the most part oriented towards children, however, the same could be said for all of Disneyland I suppose. The centrepiece of Fantasyland, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, opened 1957, is now the universal symbol of Disneyland. The castle also contains the Snow White Grotto, with a magic wishing well from which comes the faint sound of Snow White singing.

Alice in Wonderland
Opened 1958.

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Opened 1955.

Fantasyland Autopia
Opened 1959, replacing Junior Autopia.

It's a Small World

Opened 1966. The ne plus ultra attraction of Disneyland. The raison d'etre. Originally created as an exhibit in the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. It all seems to be made of construction paper and glitter and other kindergarten craft materials, almost as if the entire thing was constructed by some kind of super-coordinated team of psychotic children. Amusing/patronising/offensive portrayals of youngsters of the world, all singing the same happy little song, albeit in different languages. I noticed suspicious blank areas that I suspect are overtly racist displays that were removed, though I haven’t confirmed this as of yet.

I recommend visiting the Small World first, then returning whenever the theme song seems to be in danger of ceasing repetition inside your head.
It's a world of laughter
A world of tears
It's a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

There is just one moon
And one golden sun
And a smile means
Friendship to ev'ryone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small, small world

(repeat ad infinitum)

King Arthur Carrousel
Opened 1955.

Mad Tea Party
Opened 1955.

Matterhorn Bobsleds
Opened 1959. The ride goes up and down the Matterhorn replica that is one of the park’s most recognisable landmarks.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Opened 1955. Loosely based on The Wind in the Willows, I guess, this is one of Disneyland's cheesier offerings. Not terribly different than the spook house ride you find in any travelling carnival. A little car carries you around inside a dark building, banging through metal doors, pneumatically-powered scary things pop up and surprise you, etc. You do go through Hell, though, which is always a kick. It's hot and there are red-and-yellow plastic streamer flames as I recall.

Peter Pan's Flight
Opened 1955. A very nice ride, though not much to it. You travel through large empty dark rooms on a flying boat looking down on glow-the-dark dioramas of London and scenes from Peter Pan. Enjoyable but short, and generally quite a long wait. You might skip this one in favour of a repeat visit to something else.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey
Opened 1983.

Snow White's Scary Adventures
Opened 1955. Like a more elaborate version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, this ride brings you through a disjointed narrative based on the movie Snow White. Incomprehensible without the aid of LSD, and then too scary. Missable.

Story Book Land Canal Boats
Opened 1956.

ooo             Mickey's Toontown:

I'm not the biggest fan of this fairly recent addition to the park. It is quite an impressive real-world version of cartoon reality, with droopy cartoon houses etc. Toontown is worth visiting to meet the Mouse Himself (who mostly sits in his house taking pictures with fans) or his girlfriend Minnie. It's also the best place to meet Goofy. Probably more fun for today's children who don't mind its incongruousness with the 1950s/1960s aesthetic of the rest of the park.

Gadget's Go Coaster

Goofy's Bounce House

Jolly Trolley
Designed with odd-shaped wheels so that it bounces and jounces around as it goes.

Mickey's House
Memorabilia from Mickey's long career in film and a chance to meet him briefly for a photo.

Minnie's House
Don't go to Minnie's expecting to meet her (necessarily). Unlike Mickey, Minnie doesn't hang around at home all the time.

"Miss Daisy," Donald's Boat

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
Opened 1994. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride with Who Framed Roger Rabbit?-inspired props. Dull! Might be okay for little kids, but watch out for a long wait. The ride itself is short and not very fun.

ooo             Tomorrowland:

Astro Orbitor

I was turned off by this Nickelodeon-sponsored exhibit. I guess it's a sort of science museum, could be fun for kids, but isn't particularly in keeping with either the aesthetic or the escapism of the rest of the park.

Disneyland Monorail
Opened 1955. Tomorrowland is one of two stops for the monorail; the other is the Disneyland Hotel. The first monorail in the United States to operate daily.

Space Mountain
Indoor roller coaster opened 1977. Source of perhaps the most pervasive Disneyland urban myth, that someone stood up and was decapitated (and, the way I heard it, his head landed in someone else's lap behind him).

Star Tours
Opened 1987, this is a great Star Wars-themed motion simulator. Everyone sits inside a compartment which tilts in synch with a film to create a very realistic impression of hurtling through space.

Opened 1955, this attraction was closed for a while and recently re-opened in a modernised form. One of Disneyland's more obvious propaganda pieces, sponsored by Chevron.

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
Often overlooked, this is a great 3-D movie based on the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids series of movies. The 3-D effect is enhanced by other special effects. Don’t believe them when they tell you it doesn’t matter where you sit; the illusion is much better if you get a seat near the front.

ooo             Parades and Other Entertainment:

The Main Street Electrical Parade
Premiered in 1972, alas, it is no more; though I read at the California Adventure node that it's been more or less moved to that park (next door to Disneyland). Mostly in this writeup I'm not including attractions of the past, but I'm making an exception as the electrical parade is such a classic, and it's my hope that it'll be returned to it's rightful place before long. A night-time spectacular, the parade featured floats in the shape of ships, characters, etc. from Disney movies entirely covered in coloured lights. Music by Perrey and Kingsley! SpectroMagic may be a worthy replacement, from the sound of it.

Night-time parade with over 600,000 lights and colourful fibre optics.

Cinderella's Surprise Celebration
Disney good guys vs. Disney bad guys in front of Snow White's Castle. Also live singing.

Share a Dream Come True Parade

Parade of the Stars
Boring. Characters waving, floats.

Various marching bands
Disneyland is always host to various high school marching bands.

"Fantasy in the Sky" Fireworks

Believe: There's Magic in the Stars

Amazing! Film projections onto sheets of water spraying up into the air, quite a beautiful effect, acrobatic stunts by big furry brightly-coloured creatures of some type in the rigging of Sailing Ship Columbia, Mickey fights a dragon! Only on Saturday nights in the summer, worth sticking around an extra hour or two to see.

Mickey's Detective School
A "musical whodunit." Strictly for the kids.

There are numerous live bands and other live entertainment throughout the park.

ooo             Meeting Characters:

The following characters can be met wandering around the park (usually in Mickey's Toontown):

Mickey Mouse
Can be met in his house in Mickey's Toontown most of the time.

Minnie Mouse

Donald Duck


Aladdin and Jasmine

Ariel, The Little Mermaid

Snow White

Sleeping Beauty


Belle (from Beauty and the Beast

Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore

Other Disneyland-related nodes:

It's a small world
Haunted Mansion
Enchanted Tiki Room
Pirates of the Caribbean
Star Tours
Space Mountain
Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise gunshot signals
Adventure Through Inner Space
Snow White's Grotto

California Adventure
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disney Resort
Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Resort Paris

Disneyland deaths
I’m going to Disneyland
The music of Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Epcot Center
Disneyland Records
Disney Dollars

Relating to Disney more generally:

How to Read Donald Duck
Radio Disney
How Disney Ruined Broadway
Disney to acquire MIT for $6.9 Billion
Nasty sexual images in Disney movies
The Testimony Of Walter E. Disney Before The House Committee On Un-American Activities
Allegro Non Troppo
The Cat from Outer Space
Mickey Mouse

My Disney node wish list:

  • Jean Baudrillard's thoughts on Disneyland, and/or the thoughts of other French intellectual types.
  • Good writeups on the old (removed) attractions by people who were there.
  • Secrets of the park. How it works. Crazy stuff that's happened there.
  • Disney and class/race. Was Walt a fascist?
  • Disneyland and homosexuality. I believe one of the parks lost a lawsuit brought by two men who were kicked out for dancing together. Now apparently some Christian groups are boycotting Disney for being too soft on homosexuality!
  • Tripping at Disneyland.

  • ooo

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