So first: big news! Alston and I are going to Shanghai Disney!! Yes, that mega park that just opened; we’re going! Our Disney Adventures continue around the world and I can’t wait to share the experience with you all!
I am especially looking forward to the new rides! The TRON Lightcycle is like a roller coaster you have to power (well, partially) and race against other teams!
Sora is bound to be jealous, because there’s a new Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Shanghai as well! Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure!
Set sail for seafaring fun that takes you on, over and under the deep blue in search of Davy Jones’ sunken plunder—all while crossing paths with pirates, mermaids and even the savage Kraken.
In honor of this, and to continue our magical adventures around the world, I thought I’d highlight the best attractions at the original Disneyland. Naturally these are just my opinions and such, but maybe you’ll agree?
Indiana Jones Adventure
I actually first discovered this ride at Tokyo Disney Sea back when I lived in Japan. That ride is based on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, arguably the only good thing to come out of that film (and I say this as an Indiana Jones kool-aid drinking fanatic; I even did a degree in archaeology). So when I was told the ride was also at Disneyland… I got very excited. The one in Japan is great fun and I had high expectations of its Californian brother.
The rides are pretty much identical save for the trappings and decor. The one at Disneyland isn’t Crystal Skull themed and Indy doesn’t speak Japanese in it (something I oddly missed haha). But the core principle of the ride is there: get in a jeep and drive around like a moron through the jungle and ruins. It’s hilarity and a lot of fun and easily my favorite ride at the park.
I wasn’t sure, at first, whether the changing of Tomorrowland essentially into Star Wars Land was a good thing. It screamed marketing all over and I felt personally offended seeing Space Mountain had been rebranded as Hyperspace Mountain. How dare you. I imagined Walt rolling around in his tube, a violently upset entrepreneur popsicle (you know he’s totally frozen right? RIGHT?! OK I’m joking… or am I?).
But it doesn’t take long to change one’s mind. All around I saw little girls dressed as Rey running around, I saw couples as BB8 & R2D2; the fact was, nearly everyone was in some sort of Star Wars gear. The Force Awakens had been out of theaters for awhile by that time, but it didn’t matter. Star Wars is something that is a permanent fixture in our pop culture, and this was living proof of it. My cynicism flew out the window. Of course Disney needed to change some things to move with the times, of course they needed to try and reach their target audience of children. That audience right now wanted to be Jedis, just like their parents. Besides, it was amazing to see just how many girls and ladies were rocking the Rey up-do and merch. Hot damn.
And this is why Hyperspace Mountain is on my best attractions list. The ride is mostly the same, it’s just the visuals have been changed and some Star Wars flair thrown in. You’re an X-Wing fighter pilot now and as you zip through the dark you’ll see the occasional First Order and Empire baddies coming for you. It’s good old fashioned fun with a current twist.
There’s no real rides at Toon Town, but that’s not what makes this fantastically whimsical area of the park remarkable. It’s the rolling hills, the cerulean water, and that everything looks like it’s drawn. Remember that movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I honestly thought that ‘Toon Town’ was just a construct of that film, but it seems it was actually based on… well… this!
You can have loads of fun (and we did) playing with all the cartoony aspects of Toon Town. There’s lots of things to do and goof off with, which is why I loved this area so much. It’s silly. We all need more silly in our lives.
Toon Town is also home to all the characters at Disney, where you can visit them in their houses. If you’re into that. I am not. They terrify me (long story).
The race track in Cars Land is epic. Not only that, the whole area is pretty rad. Bad nerd moment, I’ve never actually seen Cars. Soooo this was all new to me, and I fell in love with the retro midwest road stop vibe that was going on. Diners, 1950s music, and bright colors were abound. And it’s a good thing that the atmosphere was so interesting, because we went a bit batty in line waiting for the race track.
I really recommend surviving the wait though, because the ride was a blast and I’m a big fan of any attraction that has you competing against other guests. Especially when you win.
Which we did. Aw yeah.
I couldn’t decide on a fifth attraction because I was torn. Big Thunder Mountain is great fun, it always is, but it’s at every park. The Tea Cups are iconic, but again, iconic. And then I had an ‘Oh duh!’ moment. California Adventure is the secondary park to Disneyland and is all about the old school Americana boardwalk aesthetic. It’s got the wooden roller coaster, the swings, the cotton candy and popcorn galore. It’s also home of Cars Land, so while it’s kinda already been mentioned, I think it deserves its own post.
I don’t think of these are two different parks. Disneyland is a bit too small on its own and California Adventure relies heavily on Disney even though it has that Six Flags feeling as well. It’s the mix of both worlds and had a lot on offer for adults especially. While we were there the California Food & Wine Festival was happening, so there’s that for one. Also it’s a nice place to unwind as it’s remarkably less populated than The Magic Kingdom, but still has rides to offer. And good food.
So those are my five best attractions at Disneyland! What do you think? Missed something you adore? Let me know in the comments below!!
Photos by Noriko Sugiura.