Disneyland is divided into eight areas, known as lands. Each land has a theme, reflected in its rides, attractions, and shows. The park is laid out in a hub-and-spoke design, with entrances to most of the lands originating from the Hub, where you'll find the Walt and Mickey “Friends” statue.
Once you pass through the entrance gate, you're officially inside Disneyland, and will be standing in the area Walt Disney called the Lobby. Straight ahead are the Disneyland Train Station and a giant floral Mickey Mouse. This is a great photo spot, and a favorite spot for character greetings.
Main Street, U.S.A.
If you look down in the Lobby area, you'll notice that the pavement is red, to symbolize a red carpet. Walk to the left or right to pass under the train tracks and enter Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A.
As you pass under the train tracks, look up. You'll see a sign that reads, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” Just ahead is Main Street, U.S.A. with Sleeping Beauty Castle at the far end.
JUST FOR PARENTS
Chewing gum is not sold anywhere on Disney property. If you or your kids can't get along without it for a day, you can bring your own, but the Disneyland cleanup crew asks that you dispose of it properly, and not spit it out onto the ground or stick it under your seat.
Near the entrance, you'll find City Hall (where Guest Services is located), the main Disneyland Railroad Station, and the Opera House surrounding a small park, which offers nice benches to sit on. This is an excellent place to watch the daily character parade, especially when it starts from the Main Street end of the park.
The building that looks like the Disneyland fire station isn't. Instead, it's Walt Disney's personal apartment, where he sometimes spent the night when he was too tired to go home. By tradition, the light in the window has burned ever since Disney died, to symbolize that he's still around in spirit.
Main Street, U.S.A. was inspired by Walt Disney's childhood home in Marceline, Missouri. Disney Imagineers used a technique called “forced perspective,” making ground floors seven-eighths of normal size and upper floors smaller, to make it seem larger than it actually is.
While Main Street, U.S.A. is primarily a shopping and dining area, a few attractions here will be of particular interest to Disney fans and historians. They're described in Chapter 9.
At the center of the park is the Hub at which stands a life-size statue showing Walt Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse. The Hub is the center of Disneyland, from which you can easily travel to any of the lands. The Hub is also one of Disneyland's most photographed areas.
The iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland's most recognizable landmark, stands at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. Inspired by medieval European castles, this colorful 77-foot-tall castle was created specifically for Disneyland. If you've been to other Disney theme parks, you may notice that Disneyland's castle is smaller than the others. Walt Disney wanted to be sure it didn't intimidate guests and insisted on its scaled-down size.
The castle's water-filled moat is home to many fish and is visited often by ducks and swans. In fact, the same white swans in the moat have been Disneyland guests for more than fifteen years.
Next to the castle, to the right if you're facing it from the Hub, you'll find one of Disneyland's most overlooked spots, Snow White's Grotto. Small and quiet, it's a good place to meet your group if you get split up.
Don't leave Disneyland without walking through the enchanted castle. Having your picture taken while standing in front of it will also make the perfect addition to your family photo album.
The most popular place for marriage proposals at Disneyland is Sleeping Beauty Castle. This is also a popular spot for weddings.
Does the castle look a bit backward to you? Originally, it was supposed to face the opposite direction, but Walt Disney turned things around just before construction began to make the castle look more inviting to guests.
Your true adventure in Disneyland can begin in any of the lands. This one, however, takes you to exotic locales and re-creates Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. In Adventureland, you can take a Jungle Cruise, go on an adventure with Indiana Jones, climb Tarzan's Tree-house, hear tales of Aladdin and Jasmine's Agrabah, or listen to the birdies sing in the Enchanted Tiki Room.
As you'll soon discover, this is Disneyland's smallest land. It offers cute, kid-oriented attractions and a special opportunity to meet Winnie the Pooh and travel through the Hundred Acre Wood, but it's also the land of Splash Mountain, one of Disneyland's most popular thrill rides.
Sleeping Beauty Castle also serves as the entrance to Fantasyland, a magical place designed for the young and young-at-heart and one of the four original lands. Each Fantasyland ride and attraction features one of Disney's most famous and beloved cartoons or films. In Fantasyland, you can travel through the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland, visit Snow White's house, take a wild ride with Mr. Toad, fly to Neverland with Peter Pan, see an elephant fly, or spin yourself silly in a teacup.
Frontierland is dedicated to the pioneers of the Old West. Within its boundaries you can ride a runaway mine train, take a raft to Tom Sawyer's Island, sail on a riverboat, or see a saloon-style stage show.
Hollywood may be where human celebrities hang out, but the stomping ground for Disney's animated stars is Mickey's Toontown. This is Disneyland's newest land, where guests can meet and greet Mickey, Minnie, and other classic Disney characters. In fact, the entire area has the look and feel of a three-dimensional cartoon.
In Toontown, you can meet Mickey and Minnie, go for a spin with Roger Rabbit, climb into Chip 'n Dale's tree house, and ride Disneyland's gentlest roller coaster. Keep your camera ready: Even the buildings, mailboxes, fire hydrants, and manhole covers look like cartoons and the oversized “toy” cars on the main street make a great photo opportunity.
According to legend, Mickey Mouse founded Toontown in the 1930s to get away from Hollywood's hustle and bustle, keeping it a secret from all humans except Walt Disney. Mickey convinced Walt to build Disneyland next door, and finally, in 1993, the famous mouse opened his private town to the public.
New Orleans Square
New Orleans Square offers only two attractions, but they're both Disneyland classics: the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. This area is designed to look as the Crescent City did a century and a half ago, with sheltered courtyards and winding streets.
Step into the future for an exciting and positive look at what's to come. Here, you can check out cutting-edge technology and experience some space-age attractions, including Space Mountain, Disneyland's famous indoor, dark roller coaster. In Tomorrowland, you can embark on a shuttle to Endor, watch inventor Wayne Szalinski shrink a few things he wasn't supposed to, zoom around on a rocket, or take a monorail ride.