Friday, November 25, 2011

Disneyland Tip--Watch Classic Disney Movies Before You Go

The Expectation

My friend went to Disneyland a few years ago with her kids who were then 7, 6, and 3.  They were so excited.  But when they got to Disneyland, they realized their kids had never seen Peter Pan, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, or Dumbo, much less Mr. Toad or Sword in the Stone.  Not only did their kids not really understand the rides in Fantasyland, but the children had been expecting rides from their favorite movies--Beauty and the Beast, Cars, and the Incredibles. They still had a wonderful, even magical time, but my friend badly wished she had a few well planned movie nights before they left.

The Reality

Disneyland (and California Adventures) have tried to incorporate more recent movies into their their parks by either creating new rides or revamping old ones including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Tarzan, Monsters Inc, It's a Bug's Life, Brother Bear, as well as have character appearances from recent shows.  Most notably, DCA is scheduled to open an entire Cars land in 2012.  But you should prepare your children if their favorite Disney movie does not have a ride.  

The Tip

To prepare for our trip, we watched a different Disneyland movie each Saturday night for a couple of months.  We usually made popcorn and sometimes even had candy (Halloween helped with that). Watching my youngest kids see Dumbo for the first time was amazing.  During the lullaby, my three-year-old climbed into my lap and started swaying back and forth.  The older kids loved Sword and the Stone (wizards are popular) and Tarzan.  Hands down, the family favorite was Peter Pan. My oldest two kids also read a simplified version of Tom Sawyer (they are now eagerly awaiting a trip to the island playground) and Wind in the Willows (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride).  They could not believe they got credit at school for reading what they considered Disneyland fun.  Depending on the age of your children you will definitely want to see the Toy Story series, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, It's a Bug's Life (there are several rides associated with this one movie), Pinocchio, Dumbo, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Little Mermaid (multiple rides), any Winnie the Pooh, and something Mickey Mouse.  Other movies you might want to watch (and this list is not complete) are Sword in the Stone, Star Wars, Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tom and Huck, Brother Bear, Inspector Gadget, the Muppets, Monsters Inc, and Indiana Jones (we did not watch all the movies on this list).  

Certainly Disneyland can be enjoyed without seeing every movie associated with each ride.  Splash Mountain continues to be the most (or second most) popular ride in the park and it is virtually impossible to find a copy of Song of the South.  Similarly, my children love the Pirates of the Caribbean ride even though they are too young to watch that movie series.  Other popular rides are not associated with any movie like Matterhorn, It's A Small World, and Space Mountain.  So, do not feel like you must see every movie.  


So go ahead and let yourself have some family fun with a movie night and you just might have a better Disneyland experience as well.  


  1. Luckily young kids are not going to be traditionalists. Older people such as I end up complaining about Disney adding Jack Sparrow to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

    By the way, I live in southern California and work in Anaheim. If you have any questions before you go, you and Jesse can feel free to contact me.

  2. I also have mixed feelings when they change the park--I still think of it as Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. But I love the Toy Story rides. I can't imagine what the park will be like in 20 years.