The original ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ in sunny southern California is a landmark, a monument, a cornerstone for everything that came after it. It is the original, authentic, and treasured place where magic is always revered and abundant, and dreams come true. This is Disneyland defined.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
It wasn’t until I was 26 years old that I entered this magical place for the first time. Gabriel and I drove all the way from Portland, Oregon in March of 2007. We drove as far as we could go before we were too fatigued to drive another mile, and stopped in a scary little town in California. The hotel had urine stains all over the walls, the smoke detectors were pulled out of the ceiling, lamps were missing light bulbs, and someone was screaming about their drugs in the middle of the night.
From the minute we stepped foot into Disneyland Park Square we were converted. Cinderella asked me if Gabriel was my Prince Charming, the Castle towered over the park in beautiful splendor, the churros were hot and crunchy and soft! I was sold. We immediately planned a second visit the same year in December.
Fast forward a few months, and Gabriel was hired at Avalanche Studios. Becoming an official Disney cast member at a subsidiary of the Disney corporation as a level designer working on video games. They worked on a little game you might have heard of – Disney Infinity.
For 7 years we called Disney family and it was a huge part of our life, and a big reason we got to experience so many fun Disney excursions.
Shortly after Gabriel was hired at Disney, I began working for an airline and we took every opportunity to visit a Disney theme park. It was an obvious choice, it was virtually free, and completely immersive fun. We’d jump at the opportunity to hop on a plane at 8 in the morning, spend the day at Disneyland, and fly back the same night at 10. First world problems, amiright?
We truly love Disneyland and feel at home here. Maybe because we’ve been so many times, this park ranked a little lower on our ranking of every Disney park across the globe. However, there is something very special about this park that none of the other parks have. It is not short on charm, magic or excitement.
The original Disneyland is comprised of two parks. Disneyland Park, and Disney’s California Adventure. Disneyland Park opened in 1955, while Disney’s California Adventure didn’t open for another half a century. For the past 10 years, California Adventure has been a construction zone, but since the work has officially been completed it now fully echoes the sentiment offered by it’s sister park Disneyland. Disney has abandoned the original model for this park, paying homage to the state of California, and gone back to their roots swapping attractions such as Whoopi’s Golden Dreams for the Little Mermaid ride. It’s a vast improvement.
The ease of traveling between the two parks is perfection. The ability to navigate the parks emulates precision. The layout of the property, as a whole, is impeccable. When Gabriel teaches his level design university courses, the first lesson is always on the layout of Disneyland. It’s built with multiple entrances and pathways so that you can’t get lost. Each land has a towering landmark that helps you navigate the park easily. It is constructed in a way as to be able to go from one side of the park to the other without ever missing a beat. The design is extremely well thought out and everything is streamlined.
Maybe I’m a nerd, but you can’t not mention the artistry that is parking at Disneyland. It is so sleek it’s like watching a procession go by. The way they orderly direct cars, filing each level, each row, each stall, and then file the humans into lines to make their way to the escalators and then into channels for the tram. There is no guesswork.
This park has it all! Iconic Main Street, the debut and singularity of Cars Land, the nostalgic rides, and the food. The food! Food you dream about, you crave, and have a mental list running through your head at all times. Though this park doesn’t have any standout restaurants (other than the Blue Bayou), it has specific items that you come equipped to consume during your visit.
And they are:
- Vendor Turkey Leg
- Main Street Corn Dog
- Dole Whip at the Tiki Room
- Monte Cristo at Café Orleans
- Churro at any Cart
- Soft Serve Ice Cream on the Boardwalk
And if at any point you feel full, just keep shoving it down or you will regret it.
It even has a doggy boarding kennel. On that first magical trip, we brought our sweet little Lhasa Poo with us and he won Pluto’s Dog of the Day award (post coming soon)! The Downtown Disney shopping arcade is open to everyone and has classics including the always revered Lego store, and our favorite Earl of Sandwich.
This park also features three classic resort hotels. The Grand California Lodge, The Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier. Each one is uniquely Disney themed, and offers a different perspective of the resort (posts coming soon).
► For Kids: This is the classic, iconic Disneyland Park that childhood dreams are made of. You have to visit at least once in your lifetime. Don’t make your kids wait until they are 26 and take themselves to fulfill a childhood dream.
What is your favorite part of Disneyland? When did you take your first trip to the most magical place on Earth? Who is your favorite character at the park? We want to hear all about it! Check out our rankings of every Disney park, and our other favorite Disney theme parks!
► Nap-Time Version: This is Disneyland. The very definition of what Mickey Mouse represents across the world. It has the food, the rides, the magic,… it has everything.
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