DO YOU KNOW WHICH ATTRACTIONS WERE IN PLACE ON OPENING DAY IN DISNEYLAND? AND HAVE YOU VISITED THEM ALL? DOWNLOAD OUR FREE CHECKLIST AND DON’T MISS THESE ICONIC EXPERIENCES!
Everyone has their list of favourites and must-dos at the Disneyland Resort in California. Big thrills, nostalgic rides and amusements galore. But does your list include the classic Disneyland attractions? Believe it or not, you can experience ALL the originals in just one day! With a bit of careful planning and our handy downloadable checklist, you can complete a Disney bucket list!
So let’s start planning!
What are the Classic Disneyland Attractions?
When Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, it was an incredible feat. Millions tuned in on their television sets to watch the event. So many doubters had said it couldn’t be done.
And yet, here we are, nearly 67 years later and Disneyland shows no signs of slowing down! Better yet, we can still enjoy some of the classic Disneyland attractions that thrilled visitors right from opening day!
Not surprisingly, the majority of the remaining classics can be found in Adventureland, Fantasyland and of course, Main Street USA. And be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Main Street USA for more information on the hidden gems found there!
Let’s take a look at what remains from opening day by the different lands:
The sole classic attraction found in Adventureland, the Jungle Cruise continues to delight guests of all ages. From the silly jokes of the skippers to the animatronics that, in their day, were ground-breaking, the Jungle Cruise is a MUST-see for any Disney fan.
And if the Jungle Cruise is one of your favourites, you can even bring home art prints inspired by this classic attraction!
Mark Twain Riverboat
Can you imagine a Frontierland without Big Thunder Mountain? Nope, neither can we. But back on July 17, 1955, the attraction was the Mark Twain Riverboat. A beautifully crafted vessel that provides a different view of the park and a chance to take a breather from the crowds, you’ll want to be sure to have this one on your list!
Over in Tomorrowland, the remaining classic attraction is Autopia. Kids of all ages have a great time driving their own little car around this track. So much fun! Just remember that on this attraction, riders must be at least 54″ tall to drive on their own. Riders that are at least 32″ can drive, but they must be accompanied by someone that is at least 54″ tall.
Main Street USA
Main Street Cinema
Fun and history combine in the Main Street Cinema, a little gem tuck in between shops on – you guessed it – Main Street USA! Be sure to pop in and enjoy! Pro tip – the Main Street Cinema is a great place to hide out from short rain showers!
Main Street Vehicles
Continuing our stay on Main Street USA, be sure to check out the variety of vehicles transporting guests to and from the main hub and Sleeping Beauty Castle! Another great way to slow down and take in some sights!
While the Railroad does have four stations, we still always think of it as a Main Street USA attraction. After all, it’s where the grand circle journey begins!
Not surprisingly, the majority of the classic Disneyland attractions are found in Fantasyland, tucked in behind Sleeping Beauty Castle.
FUN FACT: Even though the iconic castle has been in place since opening day, the walk-through located inside the castle was not opened to guests until 1957!
The list of Fantasyland attractions original to opening day are:
Casey Jr. Circus Train
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
King Arthur Carousel
Mad Tea Party
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Peter Pan’s Flight
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish (previously named Snow White’s Scary Adventure)
Storybook Land Canal Boats
Of course, back when the park opened, there was dining available! Two locations still stand today – the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland and the Plaza Inn on Main Street USA. When Disneyland first opened, the Plaza Inn was known as the Red Wagon Inn, and Walt was known to host very special guests for fine dining and excellent company. You’ll want to be sure to check out both of these dining options!
How to Experience the Classic Disneyland Attractions in One Day
Making sure you complete a list is all about planning! Of course, a little faith, trust and pixie dust never hurt anyone!
In order to get through any list in Disneyland, you want to plan ahead as much as possible. In this case, you won’t need to park hop, which can take quite a bit of time out of your day, and two of the attractions are restaurants.
Of course, the schedule we outline here assumes that all attractions are running without restrictions.
And don’t forget to print out our FREE Checklist of the Classic Disneyland Attractions, which you can get using this form:
Where to Start
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so get your big day off on the right foot with a Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn. This step is important for two reasons. One, you’ll check the Plaza Inn off your list. Two, by booking the earliest possible reservation, you can often get into the park before it officially opens! That puts you one step ahead of many of the other guests. If you combine it with a Magic Morning, you’ll have early access to one land.
Note: At the time of this writing, the Magic Morning has not yet been re-implemented. Be sure to check the Official Disneyland Site for more information when booking your trip!
Now, it goes without saying that the longer the day and the lighter the crowds, the more success you will have. We do NOT recommend trying to get through any sort of bucket list on a Saturday of a long weekend or holiday season. BUT – if that’s the only time you can travel to Disneyland, it doesn’t hurt to try.
Once breakfast is finished you want to line up for your first ride. In our experience, the lines for Autopia and Peter Pan’s Flight will get the longest the fastest. However, by choosing Autopia first, you then move over to Fantasyland and work your way through those rides. All the attractions in Fantasyland are fairly slow-loading, so do be prepared for some wait times. Again, this is where mid-week in an off-season will help you have the most success. In fact, if it’s a rainy day, you’ll have the MOST success! That’s when having a poncho in your backpack can be especially helpful! Generally speaking, when it’s raining, locals and season ticket holders tend to stay away. When you can go anytime, why not go when the sun is shining?
Spend the morning working your way through Fantasyland. The wait times will fluctuate, so you need to be prepared to go with the flow. As I’m writing this, I’m looking at my Disneyland app on my phone. Wait times are anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes for attractions in Fantasyland. That’s actually really really good! It’s a Wednesday morning in late January, so naturally, the wait times are reflecting the off-season crowds.
Once you have finished all the rides in Fantasyland, it’s time to head to Adventureland. BUT – when you pop out of the castle, cross the drawbridge and hop onto a Main Street Vehicle. Ride it down to the Main Hub near City Hall. At this point, you could either get on board the Disneyland Express or you could take another Main Street Vehicle back to the Castle. I personally would work through the land-by-land attractions first and save the train for closer to the end of the day.
Based on expected wait times for an off-season visit, you’ll have time to ride the Jungle Cruise before stopping for lunch. Hop on board the friendly voyage and enjoy the sights, sounds and jokes before heading to the Golden Horseshoe for a quick-service lunch of my personal favourite – the fish and chips! If it’s still a little too early for a meal or you’re still full from the amazing Character Breakfast, take a peek at the wait time for the Mark Twain Riverboat.
HINT: When dining at quick-service locations, eating before or after the “standard” mealtimes can often ensure you have less of a wait and more tables to choose from.
After lunch, it’s time to head back to Main Street USA. Again, make your way to the castle and ride a specialty vehicle back to the main hub. This time, get in line for the Disneyland Express! Built out of Walt’s love for model trains, the Grand Circle Tour on the Disneyland Railroad will take you back in time and around the park. Settle in and enjoy the sites. Of course, if you’re making good time on your checklist, you can always hop off at any station to enjoy other attractions. Just be sure to get back on and complete the Circle!
After disembarking at the Main Street Station, walk over to the Main Street Cinema and enjoy a short film or two. Be sure to check out the shops along the way!
Before long, you’ll be able to jump aboard yet another Main Street Vehicle and make your way back to the castle.
And that’s it! You’ve covered all the classic Disneyland attractions in just one day! The biggest question, of course, is which is your favourite?
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