What to Expect at Disneyland – Magic and Smiles All Day!

Disneyland was a must-see destination while traveling out to California on our West Coast vacation this Summer. We are big Disney fans but have never been to Disney World or Disneyland, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  All I can say is that we all felt the magic of Disney the moment we entered the gates!


I received tickets to facilitate this post.

What to Expect at Disneyland

Like I said, my family has never been to Disney World or Disneyland, although my husband and I have as children.  We go to many amusement parks and my kids love riding the biggest and best roller coasters and rides. We just weren’t sure if they would enjoy the more tamed, yet themed rides that Disney delivers.

This was especially a concern for my husband.  All I can say is I found the most joy out of watching my husband’s eyes light up as he was transformed into a kid again once we entered Disneyland! He had just as much fun as the rest of us – and we all can’t wait to go back to Disneyland and visit Disney World for the first time soon!


Sleep Beauty’s Castle was the perfect spot to snatch a family shot! Disneyland is celebrating 60 years of magic this year, as you can see in the picture.

As I said, we ride all the big roller coasters and rides everywhere we go. I was wondering how all the themed rides would go over with my family. They were a HUGE hit! The detail that Disney puts into creating unique experiences with each ride is astonishing.  It’s like you enter into the story of all your favorite Disney movies.

Just look how cute the Alice in Wonderland ride is! You even get to ride in an oversized Caterpillar.  For once, I actually had a hint of what Alice felt in that mystical world!Disneyland-Alice-in-WonderlandNext to Alice in Wonderland is the Mad Tea Party Spin.  I was surprised and delighted to see that the majority of the riders were no children – well, at least not children under the age of 18! They were adults reliving their childhood, spinning round and round in oversized teacup! The smiles and laughs were priceless.

Other popular rides at Disneyland include Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in which you travel to an active volcano and driving your favorite car in Radiator Springs Racers.

Disneyland-RidesOne of my personal favorite ride experiences as the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters! This interactive ride takes you on a space battle where you get to aim and shoot all sorts of targets, including the Evil Emperor Zurg!


My husband – all smiles below – and my son absolutely loved the Star Tours! They are huge Star Wars fans, so experiencing the 3D, motion-simulated flight into the world of Star Wars was magical to say the least!

Disneyland-Star-WarsYou even have the chance to Join the Jedi if you are one of the lucky ones chosen to train as a Jedi Knight at the Jedi Training Academy show! I love how interactive Disneyland is!!Disneyland-Star-Wars-characters

The Matterhorn Bobsleds ride is amazing! It was my 8 year old daughter’s favorite ride of all, so we rode it 3 times! Who can resist the chance to sled over snow-capped mountains and zooming past the Abominable Snowman?!  This is a popular ride but the Disney personnel quickly puts passengers into place in the quickest, most productive manner I’ve ever seen at any amusement park! We didn’t have to wait in any line at Disneyland for more than 45 minutes and most were less than 20!!!


One of my son’s favorite rides was the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. He’s a big fan of the dessert, so getting let lose on a runaway mine car and traveling through an abandoned mine shaft was just his style. Although the hills aren’t as steep as other larger roller coasters we’ve been on, Disneyland delivers an experience like no other, plus, the rides are thrilling! This ride has you swooping and turning and darting all over the  canyons and caves!


We do love the West, so a visit to Big Thunder Ranch was a must. The scene is in the 1880’s West and looks quite authentic. While visiting, you can pet goats, horses, sheep, donkeys and pigs too!Big-Thunder-Ranch P1360414
There are two on the water rides in which you can ride the river, exploring the Rivers of America. We rode the Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes along the river and around Tom Sawyer Island. Even though it was about 110 degrees out, it was fun to actually row the canoe on the water! Our guide was hysterical!

You can also sail on one of two ships for a more relaxing adventure.ship
We headed over to Tom Sawyer Island late in the afternoon – we were actually the last log raft to be taken to the island. Make sure you get there earlier in the day so your kids can explore the  secret island hideaway inspired by the stories of Mark Twain.

There is so much to explore including narrow passages, caves, forts, rope bridges, and more. My kids could spend the whole day here if we had something like this in Ohio!island

I have heard rumors of how expensive it is to eat at Disney resorts. Of course you aren’t going to find a $5 value meal but don’t be too alarmed. We were able to get an adult meal for around $10 and kids for around $7. That’s less than some local establishments for sure!!  Be sure to buy a churro while you are there too, many of the street side stands sell them and they are amazing!
disneyland-foodA great Disneyland deal that we found is at Hungry Bear where you can get 1 free refill on your drinks! Just keep your receipt and bring your cup back for 1 free refill. I also found out that they will refill your cups with ice water for free anywhere! This is a must to stay hydrated in the hot California sun!Drink-Deal-at-Hungry-Bear

We also had a surprise visit with Princess   Tiana at Hungry Bears! I loved the special sightings of Disney characters throughout the park.PrincessWe got a kick out of seeing Mary Poppins strolling along with Bert too. Disneyland-Characters

One of our favorite places in Disneyland is Tarzan’s Treehouse! My kids loved climbing to the top of this 80-foot-tall tree! It’s massive at 150 tons, 450 branches and over 6,000 leaves!  It really brought to life how Tarzan’s life must have been growing up wild!


There were plenty of place for kids to be interactive at the tree house too. My daughter loved climbing the ropes!tarzan-treehouse

The view from the top is amazing too!P1360438

Night time comes too soon at Disneyland but it is just as beautiful. disneyland-after-dark

The fireworks are best seen by “it’s a small world” castle. We arrived early for a good spot and had a great view. Unfortunately there were technical difficulties and only a few fireworks were shot off during our visit. At least we got to see them from our hotel the night before!


No worries, we just jumped on board the small world ride where we sailed along the Seven Seaways canal for a relaxing 15 minute journey around the world.

A quick stop in the gift shops and our visit to Disneyland came to an end.

So, what should you  expect at Disneyland? A full day and night of magic and smiles!

We were there from opening to nearly closing and had huge smiles on our faces the entire time – mom, dad, and kids included!


If you are thinking of visiting Disneyland, I suggest you order a free Disney Parks Vacation Planning Video – it’ll provide you with all the information you need and get your entire family excited for the trip!

We can’t wait for our next trip to Disneyland or Disney World!

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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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