And our series continues with the number two spot for America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks: Disneyland!
Disneyland in California was the very first park opened by Walt Disney. It remains one of the most popular all these years later. The park opened in 1955 and welcomes 18.3 million visitors each year.
No one can visit Southern California without spending a day at the “Happiest Place on Earth!” Disneyland is second only in attendance to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.
Since it’s opening in 1955 Disneyland has welcomes more than 700 million people. The park continues to get better with age as evidenced by the recent opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is the crown jewel of Disneyland. The It’s a Small World attraction in Anaheim offers hidden looks at some Disney and Pixar characters including Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Aladdin and Jasmine and Woody from Toy Story, and spends a small portion outside.
The New York World’s Fair and Walt Disney
The 1964 New York World’s Fair was a shining moment for Walt Disney and Disneyland. It provided the opportunity to create brilliant attractions that still exist today. The fair also provided funding for Walt Disney Imagineering which led to the development of new vehicles and showmanship that hadn’t been seen before.
One of those new developments included the OmniMover, a ride system still used in iconic attractions like the Haunted Mansion and the Little Mermaid. It also included water driven vehicles like the boats found in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. On top of funding, the Walt Disney Company was also hired by many U.S. companies to build pavilions, including:
- Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, sponsored by the State of Illinois. This grand attraction is still amazing guests on Main Street U.S.A in Disneyland.
- The Magic Skyway, sponsored by Ford. Parts of the attraction, like Primeval World and the Grand Canyon exhibits, can still be found on the Disneyland Railroad.
- The Carousel of Progress, sponsored by GE. The attraction was moved to Disneyland after the World’s Fair, but now calls Walt Disney World home.
- “it’s a small world,” sponsored by Pepsi-Cola.
Each of these World’s Fair pavilions provides fond memories of the past. However, it was the “it’s a small world” attraction that was one of the most popular at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. This pavilion, originally called “Pepsi-Cola presents Walt Disney’s ‘it’s a small world’ – a salute to UNICEF and all of the world’s children,” inspired fair-goers to remember that we are all truly the same. It pulled from cultures around the world and was no surprise when the ride became a permanent attraction at the Disneyland Resort.
Disneyland had opened in 1955 and Walt Disney was always looking for ways to improve his amusement park and he is famously quoted as saying, “Disneyland will never be completed and it will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world”. So, by working on these various sponsored attractions for the World’s Fair, Disney was able to develop new ride systems which would eventually be used in Disneyland.
After the conclusion of the New York World’s Fair in 1965, all the attractions were disassembled and moved to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. (Special Note: Walt Disney died in 1966 and the four attractions created for the World Fair were some of the last projects that Disney was directly involved in from concept to ride completion.
Although there are many of the same rides and attractions in Disneyland as in Walt Disney World such as Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – the rides are not identical on both coasts.
Disneyland also includes rides that haven’t made it to Florida such as Alice in Wonderland, Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Storybook Land Canal Boats.
There are lots of opportunities to meet the stars of Disneyland. Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Tinker Bell and of course, Minnie and Micky too.
Disney California Adventure
Disneyland’s sister park is full of roller coasters and interactive games starring Disney, Pixar and Marvel characters.
Disney California Adventure opened in 2001 and welcomes 9.6 million visitors annually. California Adventure is the go to park for comic fans and will be even better in 2020 when Marvel Land opens with a Spider Man ride, Avengers roller coaster and Doctor Strange stage show joining Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout.
Pixar Pier and Cars Land are popular areas of California Adventure and both offer fun filled looks into some of the best fantasy Disney has to offer.
One thing is for sure – if you’re a regular Walt Disney World visitor, you should really take the time to visit Disneyland and vice versa. As much as they are the same – they are very, very different.
Did you have the chance to read America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks – The History of Amusement Parks where you can learn how it all started! And don’t miss America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks – No. 1 Walt Disney World.