Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor
Page 1 of 1

Author:  CJ [ Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor

I am a frequent Disney World visitor, but I have never been to Disneyland. I'm currently planning on taking my first trip in May. So, I'm looking for advice from those who have been to Disneyland. What are your Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor? What are your must see attractions/shows, favorite places to eat, or anything else? All advice and recommendations will be appreciated.

Also, I'm planning to go over to Knott's Berry Farm for a day. Anyone have advice for Knott's?

Author:  blackcauldron85 [ Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor

Disneyland Park:
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage- I have been going to WDW since 2003, and never got to go on the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, so when I went to Disneyland, I really enjoyed the Nemo Submarine Voyage.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride- Another one that I missed out on at WDW.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey and Alice in Wonderland- WDW doesn't have these, so these dark rides are must-dos.

Tarzan's Treehouse- Similar to the Swiss Family Robinson's, but different enough to be worth seeing.

Matterhorn Bobsleds, Indiana Jones Adventure, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin- Definitely must-dos.

California Adventure:
A Bug's Land- It's pretty kiddyish, but it has bumper cars (Francis' Ladybug Boogie), and Heimlich's Chew Chew Train is adorable. I think it's an area worth seeing.

Monsters, Inc: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!: I always wanted a MI ride since the film came out, and this is a fun ride.

Animation Academy: One of the most magical things I've ever experienced in my life. I spent hours in there.

Cars Land wasn't there when I went in 2008, but it seems like a must-do.
Soarin' Around the World also wasn't there when I went, but that seems like a must-do.

The Bakery Tour at Pacific Wharf is neat, and you get free food, so that's always good.

California Screamin', Golden Zephyr, Goofy's Sky School (This was Mulholland Madness when I went), Mickey's Fun Wheel, and Silly Symphony Swings: All in Paradise Pier...nothing too fancy, but fun that you can't have at WDW!

Toy Story Midway Mania! is always a must-do in my book, no matter how many times you've been on it!

World of Color: I've only ever seen it on YouTube, but this should be a huge must-do!

Author:  CJ [ Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor

Awesome! You're the best, Amy!

Is there anything that someone prone to motion sickness should avoid? For reference, I avoid Mission Space like the plague, and after riding Mt. Everest I have to go lay down for a bit.

Author:  blackcauldron85 [ Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor

My ex-husband also had a motion sickness problem, and I went to the parks often with him...so using what he would/wouldn't ride, I'd say avoid Space Mountain, (he went on Matterhorn), Mad Tea Party & Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin & Astro Orbiter & Golden Zephyr (these 4 if spinning makes you dizzy), Indiana Jones Adventure (the track is extremely similar to Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur ride, so if you can handle that, you can handle Indy), California Screamin' (it's a roller coaster that has earned its name!), Goofy's Sky School (the track is extremely similar to Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom, if memory serves me correctly), and Silly Symphonies Swings if you get sick on flying swings.

*edit* Oh yeah, and I forgot Grizzly River Run; it's similar to Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids, but, per Wikipedia, "It is similar to Kali River Rapids in Disney's Animal Kingdom but distinctive as the rafts are engineered to spin as they descend chutes."

Author:  CJ [ Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor

Thanks, Amy! You've been extremely helpful! I will probably sit California Screaming out. Looked at a couple of ride videos of that on Youtube, that one will more likely than not cause me to hurl. Astro Orbiter almost got me on my very first WDW trip, so once was enough for me on that one.

Author:  David S. [ Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor

I took a "bucket list", "dream trip" to Cali in late summer/early fall 2015, (first time since childhood) hitting many parks (including a few days at Knotts), but spent most of the time at Disneyland. I've been wanting to write a TR, but never got around to it. But even a year later, it's still really fresh in my mind.

As for recommendations, I would recommend doing everything at least once (if time permits) to form your own opinion of how it compares to the Florida version. I would give priority to unique things not found at WDW.


I will echo what Amy said. Despite being smaller in acres than Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Park has more attractions than the MK, including a lot of unique attractions that never made it to Florida, and a few that Florida once had and were removed in Florida. These got a lot of my attention, especially because most are located in my favorite land, Fantasyland.


If (like me) you like the old-school short but sweet Fantasyland-style dark rides, Pinocchio, Alice, Toad, and Snow White are all can't miss. The first two were never in WDW, and were 2 of the major highlights of my trip. I found Pinocchio incredibly charming and moving, while Alice perfectly captured the colorful, playful, zany, and episodic mood of the film. The second two were once at WDW but have since been removed. (Ironically, while I prefer the DL version of MOST attractions found in both parks, I think WDW had the better Toad and Snow White rides, but DL's are still a lot of fun).

Peter Pan's Flight (the lone Fantasyland dark ride common to both Fantasylands) has better technology in DL than the MK's, but the emotional impact for me is the same in both - pure magic. On my trip, this typically got a line as soon as the park opened and kept it pretty much till closing, so plan accordingly!

Casey Jr. Circus Train and Storybookland Canal Boats are also not found at WDW. Both are nicely landscaped and VERY charming.

Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through serves a similar purpose as the mosaic tile murals in Cindy's Castle at WDW, (to tell the story of the princess it depicts) but is more elaborate as there are a lot more scenes and you actually get to climb up into the castle.

The Snow White Wishing Well next to the statues of Snow White and the dwarves on the front right of the castle is one of the lovely design touches unique to Disneyland. Every 10 minutes or so, you can hear Snow White singing "I'm Wishing" in the well, while there is a little fountain show near the statues.

Small World seems a little longer in Cali and has a lovely outdoor facade with charming animal topiaries. It also has the addition of Disney characters in the ride, which I enjoyed, but is an issue for some. Another thing I found interesting when comparing the two versions is that, unlike elements of Pirates and Mansion, the Florida version is not a direct copy of this DL original. In other words, the same continents and countries are represented, but not necessarily with the same staging and order. For instance, both versions have the iconic hippo with birds on its back in the Africa room, but the two hippos LOOK different and are not copies of each other. This is a personal favorite for me on both coasts, and I had a lot of fun learning the differences between both versions!

Matterhorn Bobsleds has a similar coaster system to the WDW Space Mountain and even the trains (sleds) are similar. (it's the ride the WDW Space Mountain was based on, tech-wise). There are fewer straight drops but more curves, and the theming/music is Alpine rather than space/futurism. Although there is less airtime, I loved it, but some find the ride "rough" or "bumpy". If you can handle the WDW Space Mountain, you'll probably have no problems. The splashdown on the "Tomorrowland" side/track can get you wetter than the "Fantasyland" side, although this doesn't happen on every ride and seems more like the exception than the rule.

Dumbo and the Carousel are very similar to their WDW counterparts. Dumbo is a lot like the single version that once was located in back of Cindy's Castle in the MK; the panels on top of the Carousel illustrate the story of Sleeping Beauty rather than Cinderella on the MK version. I liked that the lead horse on the DL Carousel (I believe called "Jingles") was themed for Mary Poppins in honor of Julie Andrews being the ambassador for DL's 50th in 2005.

Mad Tea Party doesn't have the roof of its Florida counterpart - it doesn't need it due to Cali's near-perfect, usually rain free weather. It's missing the doormouse peeking out of a central teapot, although he can be found in the Alice dark ride next door. Still, the atmosphere created by the lanterns hanging from the trees overhead, especially at night, can be pretty magical, as is the ride's close proximity to the Alice dark ride and Hatter gift shop, which combine for a nice little Alice "mini-land".

Likewise, the Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride combines with the Pinocchio's Village Haus restaurant for a nice little Pinocchio section, and Dumbo/Casey Jr. do the same for Dumbo.

In general, the facades of all these attractions are better in DL, as they are architecturally faithful to the stories they depict - as if you have entered into a storybook.


Now missing entirely at WDW, this is essential for those who enjoyed that one, or even perhaps for some who didn't, as it is more detailed and elaborate than WDW's (which was pretty detailed, at least in the Houses.)

All the elements that were found in Florida are located in the "residential" district. Mickey's House is more elaborate than the Florida version (which was the prototype) and has more "hands on" interactivity; Minnie's House is comparable to Florida's if slightly smaller; Donald's Boat is more elaborate than WDW's and you can explore the upper level; the coaster is themed to Gadget rather than Goofy, but Goofy is given his own house with the same type of wacky gags found in the old WDW Barnstormer queue (and some unique to DL). Chip and Dale have their own treehouse to explore which was entirely absent in the Florida Toontown.

Found at Disneyland but missing completely in the former Florida version is the "downtown" district (and the food court between both sections). Downtown has Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, which IMO was another highlight of my trip and "can't miss" for my taste. This is just a fun, wacky ride with a lot of humor and it has a well-done queue with a lot of nice toon references. As for the spinning, you can keep the wheel straight for a spin-free ride, as on the Mad Tea Party. Downtown also has a lot of fun "hands on" interactive gags, like the houses (and fountain) in the residential district do.


Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage was, hands down, my favorite attraction in Tomorrowland and one of my top faves in the entire park. I'm a huge Finding Nemo/Finding Dory fan, so I love any chance I get to enter the world of these characters. The story was similar to the Nemo ride in Epcot, but longer, and there is something IMO inherently cool about exploring the undersea world while riding in a submarine - a yellow one, no less!

Space Mountain is a bit different than WDWs. It has 2 across seating instead of front to back, one track instead of two, and gives a smoother ride that seems a little shorter with less "airtime", but still has a great sense of speed while coasting through the darkness. A nice audio system, as well.

I prefer DL's Autopia over Speedway at MK, as the layout is just more scenic at DL (more trees, less concrete). Conversely, I prefer the Astro Orbitor in FL with its more scenic rooftop location.

I prefer the Monorail at DL. It has less track than all the loops at WDW, but a large percentage of the ride passes through Disneyland itself! And perhaps best of all, you can still request to ride up in "the nose" with the driver for an awesome panoramic view, which can no longer be done at WDW.

Star Tours at DL is virtually identical to the WDW version at Hollywood Studios.

Buzz Lightyear is similar to the WDW version. Some prefer the DL version because the lasers aren't mounted to the car which gives better control; although I got a better score on my rides in Florida due to knowing the "secrets" of that version.


I prefer the Railroad at DL because, even though it's shorter than at MK, it is integrated better with scenic views of the park throughout the ride. And of course, it has the Grand Canyon and Primeval World Dioramas for an awesome finale.

The Main Street Vehicles are more PRESENT at Disneyland. They get pulled later in the day than in Florida, and a LOT more come out. I can't tell you the last time I saw 2 horse cars out at the same time in Florida (where they pass each other in the middle); this was standard in Disneyland. The motorized vehicles (Omnibus, Fire Engine, Horseless Carriages), seem to have become rare in Florida, but on a typical day at Disneyland, there were TWO Horse-drawn Trolleys, one or two Omnibus, the Fire Engine, and one to three of the Horseless Carriages all out at the same time!

And I have to say, I got goosebumps when I realized I was riding in the EXACT same Fire Engine that Walt used to drive while in the park - the exact same Fire Engine in which he is photographed with Mickey in what is said/thought to be his last picture.

Likewise, I got goosebumps when I saw the Fire Station, and saw (from the outside) Walt's upstairs apartment. When Walt was alive and in the park, the upstairs light was always lit, and today, the light remains always lit. This is the type of history not really found as profoundly in the Magic Kingdom.

Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln is the precursor to Hall of Presidents at MK. While not as ambitious, I found it inspiring. The lobby doubles as a sort of mini version of "One Man's Dream" at WDW Hollywood Studios, as it contains park-related concept art, etc.


While the Florida Enchanted Tiki Room gets major points from me for bringing back the original show, I like DL's a little better, as the show is edited less severely in Cali and the Enchanted Fountain ("in the center of the room, that is") still works. The biggest difference is getting to see the original preshow in Cali with the Tiki Gods and Goddeses. Also, the locals at DL really seem to treasure the charm and history of the attraction. Shows late at night (at a time when the MK version would be pretty empty) were full or near full, with crowds often singing along enthusiastically with the birdies. Well done, Cali!

Jungle Cruise is basically similar to WDW, with a few differences. The Cali version may have a few more animals and better effects in some scenes; but is missing the indoor temple scene found in the Asia section of the MK version (those animals are outdoors at DL). The order of the scenes/continents is also different, but the main scenes and "gags" are generally present in both.

Tarzan's Treehouse, like Amy said, is a different story than MKs, and while the layout is near identical (although you now enter DL's in "reverse" of the original path) the retheme makes it in many ways a different attraction. I'm not sure which I prefer, but I will say nothing in the Swiss Family version touched me as much as the first time I saw the scene of Kala nurturing a young Tarzan with "You'll be In My Heart" playing in the background. I also enjoyed the vines you could pull to make animal sounds.

Indiana Jones - Although it has the same type of ride system and layout as Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, it has completely different theming, animatronics, and story which makes it a completely different attraction, unique to Disneyland. They did an excellent job with the theming, effects, queue, etc. As Amy said, if you can handle Dinosaur, you should be OK with this one.


Pirates of the Carribean - This is "can't miss" because its a bit longer and more "epic" than the one in Florida (although the second half of the ride is very similar to the MK version). The opening scene through the Louisiana swamp, past the perpetually nighttime dining courtyard of the Blue Bayou restaurant is extremely well done (similar to the Mexico boat ride at Epcot) and then there is a lot more of the Claude Coats "atmosphere" scenes before you get to the Marc Davis gag/character scenes which are generally comparable to Florida.

Haunted Mansion is very similar to WDW, I think one or two early scenes are shorter, but I like that this version does the "Nightmare Before Christmas" overlay during Halloween - Christmas seasons.

New Orleans Square itself is EXTREMELY well done, and I say that as a "native" New Orleanian. They really captured the charm, ambiance, and architecture of the French Quarter without the drunks, lewd behaviour, and smells, so of course I like the Disneyland version better! The Mickey-shaped beignets tasted pretty authentic, and I enjoyed the jazz music played on the outdoor stage.

Winnie the Pooh is absolutely one of my favorite Disney dark rides. While I miss my beloved Country Bears, I also love this worthy replacement, and it makes for a nice one-two punch with Splash Mountain in Critter Country (but with thankfully shorter lines). The scene order is slightly different in Florida, and while I may prefer the beginning of the MK version, I may prefer the end of the DL version. The ambiance in Florida is more "storybook", in DL its more "woodsy" and "rustic", given its location. Both versions are fantastic, underrated rides, IMO. (Melvin, Buff, and Max from CBJ are hidden in the attraction, but I won't say exactly where).

I also liked the themeing of Critter Country's Hungry Bear Restaurant, which was themed to Country Bear Jamboree characters; and it's seating area offers spectacular, beautiful views of the Rivers of America.

Splash Mountain was one of the few things that I clearly preferred in Florida. The story didn't flow as well IMO, and, as a single rider, I found the tightly-packed front-to-back seating VERY awkward from a "personal space" perspective (unlike the WDW Space Mountain and DL Matterhorn, you don't have an individualized seat completely isolated from the other riders, although you do at least get your own seat back). Also, the front seat got me a lot more soaked than the front seat in Florida, and I don't like getting wet (I ride it for the critters, songs, and story, not because its a "water ride").

My solution to all of this was to only ride it first thing in the morning or late at night right before closing, while the ride was a complete walk-on. That way, I could ride solo, sitting in the middle of a very light log, barely get wet, and avoid the awkward personal space cramping with strangers. This resulted in some great rides, but backfired on me twice at the end of the night (including the last night of my trip) when the ride was broken down and they were doing an "evac" with no hope of reopening that night.

I will say, though, that on my rides, there was far fewer broken-down animatronics than what I've become accustomed to at WDW. (The same was true of Small World and the other animatronic-heavy rides)

Tom Sawyer Island - I liked this better at WDW. The MK version has a working fort (closed at DL), more caves, paving (part of DL's was sand), and more to do on the upper level (the treehouse was closed at DL's). Also, I prefer the straightforward Tom Sawyer theme in Florida over the Pirate "overlay" currently found in Cali.

Frontierland watercraft - Like Main Street at DL, the Disneyland Rivers of America are so VIBRANT and ALIVE with river traffic and kinetic energy. While the MK just has the one riverboat and two rafts going to TSI, Disneyland has the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, a fleet of canoes, and the TSI rafts. Of the three choices for circling the island, while the scenery may be the same, each has different vantage points, spiels, etc., and I think each should therefore be experienced at least once - especially since the Columbia and Canoes are not found in the MK. On the Mark Twain, I had another "historical" moment when I realized I was walking past the very stage where Louis Armstrong sang and played trumpet in the Disneyland tv special, "Disneyland After Dark".

As for the scenery, it is comparable to the MK, although there may be a few more animatronic critters at DL, and I like how the Rivers at DL are divided into geographic zones representing different rivers and regions of our country.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - this is literally a "near-mirror" image of the WDW version (except for a few minor differences, each left hand turn on one is a right hand turn on the other), and the drops/profile and trains are pretty much identical in both. Both have lots of tunnels and some nice pops of airtime, and make for great night rides. The DL version has better special effects in the final scene, but I haven't been on WDW's since its last refurb. The WDW version has more animatronic critters (in the Tumbleweed scene best seen from the WDW railroad), but the DL version has the historic "Rainbow Ridge" town with nice audio theming easily heard in the queue.

Big Thunder Ranch (RIP) - this was a wonderful petting area with live animals just up Big Thunder Trail from BTMRR. It was closed just a few months after my trip to make way for the now under-construction "Star Wars Land". As an animal lover, I spent a lot of time here. You could pet some of the draft horses used to pull the trolleys on Main Street, as well as miniature donkeys, a cow, goats, and sheep. There was also a western cabin to explore. The western theming fit perfectly with the Big Thunder Trail area and I found it to be a very tranquil, relaxing, and lovable little corner of the park (by the end of my trip, I knew all the animals by name)

I hope this helps for now. I will comment on DCA and then Knotts as time permits, but sooner rather than later.

Author:  CJ [ Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Disneyland recommendations for a first time visitor

Thanks, David! I really appreciate these summaries. I'm looking forward to the rest!

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group