An Adventure in Disneyland

So far, we've paid a lot of attention to Disneyland's younger, larger sister park in Florida so I think it's high time to go back and give some love to the original, the park that started it all. As California, and Los Angeles in particular, is a popular student trip destination, don't pass up an opportunity to spend a magical day with Disney!

The Anaheim dream park opened in 1955 under the direct design and supervision of Walt Disney himself. Disney chose everything from the paving stones on the streets to the set decorations on the rides and beyond, paying intense attention to detail and atmosphere. The animation genius conceptualized the park as a place for parents and children to find magic together in a park smartly designed and beautifully evolved. This gorgeous park is laid out in such a way so as to save your feet from aching (as they so often do in theme parks) and it indulges your senses with a magnificent design that makes you feel as if you've fallen into a Disney film.

The classic rides that you love at Walt Disney World were originally conceived, and still found, here at Disneyland. In 1955, the park opened with 12 attractions, now you'll find 83 total attractions between Disneyland and California Adventure, a secondary park added in 2001. If Walt Disney were to walk through his beloved park, he'd be able to recognize several of his own attractions. Many of the 12 original rides have made it to the 21st century, including the Main Street, U.S.A. Disney Railroad, Dumbo the Flying Elephant (always a classic), the Mad Tea Party and its spinning cups, as well as Snow White's Scary Adventures which was retired in the Orlando park in 2012.

The King Arthur Carrousel, for an interesting tidbit of information, is actually older than the park itself. The Carrousel was based on an idea Disney had while visiting Griffith Park with his daughters, which was, incidentally, where he came up with the concept for Disneyland. The ride itself was actually built in 1875 and had been in use at a park in Toronto, Ontario before Disney purchased the ride and included it in the opening day attractions.

Like Walt Disney World, Disneyland is fashioned in themed areas. Begin by walking through the main gates and be greeted by Main Street, U.S.A., styled in a Victorian theme lovingly recreated as a homage to Disney's childhood home in Marceline, Missouri. The idyllic and grand looking street of shops, confectioneries, theatres and train depots evokes a sense of nostalgia and harkens back to bygone days of horse-drawn buggies, parasols, and simple pleasures. If you visit, look closely and you can spot the little apartment Walt and his wife Lily kept over the Firehouse Depot. Disney used to spend nights at the park and look out over the proceedings from the front window. The apartment is not open to the public but it has been kept in pristine condition, just the way the Disneys left it.

From there walk toward Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Partners statue, showing Walt holding hands with his beloved creation, Mickey Mouse. Split off to one of the themed areas such as Tomorrowland, where you'll find Space Mountain, or Fantasyland, a magical mix of fairy tale and reality. At Fantasyland, you'd be disappointed not to ride Peter Pan's Flight or the Matterhorn Bobsleds, two of the park's most popular rides to date. Disney loved Fantasyland and strove to make it a walkthrough storybook for children to marvel at and for adults to reminisce, finding magic even in the smallest of details.

Other areas such as New Orleans Square have quite a different feel. The Haunted Mansion, with a bayou ghost backstory, is one of the most popular attractions in the land, as is the famous ride, Pirates of the Caribbean. Delve into the adventure of the Wild West at Frontierland and its mini themed area, Critter Country. Ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and explore the various intricacies of the American West. Have a wild quest in Adventureland and meet the Swiss Family Robinson, enjoy the Enchanted Tiki Room, or explore the wilderness with the Jungle Cruise. Mickey's Toontown is the last of the themed lands and is designed around a more animated feel, looking like it was taken directly from the storyboards at Disney Studios. Meet Mickey and the gang and have fun in the cartoon worthy rides.

Your fun at Disneyland wouldn't be complete without a visit to California Adventure! You wouldn't go to Walt Disney World and only visit Magic Kingdom, would you? Though the park is relatively new, you won't be disappointed with what you find. California Adventure is wholly unique to the Anaheim park, themed around the American West, the West Coast, and the personality of California in particular.

You'll find themed areas based on Hollywood, the Pacific coast, the California wilderness of its national parks, and much more. Explore the Grizzly Peak and find yourself wandering the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail up to a cave filled with primitive paintings and find your spirit animal; ride down the giant river rapids at Grizzly River Run; and go Soarin' Over California in a massively popular flight simulator attraction. Walk the replica of the Santa Monica Boardwalk at Paradise Pier and have fun in The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, walk through the Pacific Wharf based on Monterey, California's Cannery Row, the inspiration for John Steinbeck's novel of the same name. Find your group in Hollywood Land where you can test your bravery at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, see an Aladdin musical extravaganza and meet the Muppets in a Golden Age of Hollywood themed area. The park also has themed areas based on the movies Cars and A Bug's Life, both with new additions and fun, family-friendly attractions that everyone will love.

Please don't miss out on an opportunity to see Disneyland. The magic and beauty of this wonderful theme park have not ebbed in the slightest since its opening in 1955. The phenomenal personality imbued in every corner simply sings Disney magic and we guarantee your group will adore every second of your visit to Disneyland!