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Disneyland, California Travel Guide

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA consists of two theme parks, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, and the adjacent Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment district. Summer draws big crowds at the parks, while the rest of the year is fairly uncrowded.

Disneyland: The original theme park and the product of Walt Disney’s splendid imagination, Disneyland opened its gates in 1955 and was an immediate success. The Happiest Place on Earth enjoys just as much success today, attracting millions of visitors per year. Disneyland is considered the model for theme parks around the world and features nine themed "lands" including Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toon Town and Frontierland. Nighttime parades, fireworks, and Fantasmic – a water show based on Fantasia – provide magical entertainment for the whole family. Disneyland rides range from mild to thrilling, guaranteeing that there is something for everyone at the park. Disneyland is especially magical at Christmastime, when holiday decorations, a 100-foot-tall Christmas tree, and holiday parades and versions of rides such as Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world add to the park’s charm. “Snow” tops Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and a special holiday fireworks show ends with “snow” falling on Main Street. Children can visit Santa and his reindeer at Big Thunder Ranch. Disneyland also decorates for Halloween and Chinese New Year.

Disney’s California Adventure: A California-themed park across the esplanade from Disneyland that opened in 2001. California Adventure offers thrill rides for older children such as the “California Screamin’” roller coaster and Tower of Terror as well as milder rides and attractions for little ones, including A Bugs’ Land and Jumpin’ Jellyfish. Like Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure is divided up into themed sections, including Paradise Pier and Hollywood Boulevard. Disney’s California Adventure also gets dressed up for Halloween and a beach-themed Christmas, featuring surfer Santa.

The Disneyland Resort is well worth the expensive tickets and long lines. Both parks have several restaurants and refreshment stands offering cuisine to suit every palate, and the selection of rides and entertainment ensures that no one will be bored. Vibrant Downtown Disney offers a wide selection of activities: a movie theater, live music, the Anaheim House of Blues, restaurants, ESPN Zone, and shops, including big names like Sephora, Build-a-Bear, and Roxy-Quiksilver.

For the ultimate Disney experience, visitors can stay in one of three Disney-owned hotels. However, these hotels are pricey, so guests on a budget may prefer to stay at a hotel near Disneyland instead. Disneyland is surrounded by several quality, non-Disney-owned, wallet-friendly accommodations, many of which are located a five- to ten-minute walk away from the theme parks.

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