Are We at Disneyland Yet?

By Elizabeth McNamara

“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.”                                                                       -Walt Disney

Since 1955, Disneyland has been a huge attraction in Southern California. Walt Disney’s, an American animator and film studio founder, dream came to reality when he found the perfect space where dreams could come true. According to, originally Walt Disney bought 160 acres for Disneyland, which has grown into 300 acres in Anaheim, California and 30,000 in Orlando, Florida.

Disneyland has things for both children and parents to enjoy. Walt Disney said that he wanted the public to forget about the world they lived in and he wanted to have a place where parents and children of all ages could enjoy. At first, Walt Disney did not think it would survive after the rough start it had in 1955.

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Early Disneyland from the air
Photo from Creative Commons

Just Disney writes, “A 15 day heat wave raised temperatures up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, due to a plumbers strike, few water fountains were operating in the hot weather.” The asphalt was reported as steaming the next morning, because it had been laid the night before, which made it to literality trap high-heeled shoes. “After opening day, the heat wave continued, and almost wiped out the park,” Just Disney writes.

Although Disneyland had a rough opening day, the park, with a $1 entrance fee, did eventually pick up. By 1965, 50 Million visitors had come through the gates of the park. Walt Disney was already well known before building Disneyland, which helped the park become popular quickly.


Walt Disney in Disneyland
Photo credit:

Joel, a writer at addicted2success, writes, “After finishing his legendary film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, Disney immediately went to work on other feature films such as “Bambi”, “Fantasia” and many others.” Disney was a hard worker and it showed through his animations. His name, the studio and Disneyland grew together to become a household name worldwide. People all across the world visit Disneyland and people even try to save up to go.

Some people within Eugene, Oregon show more interest to Disneyland as the ultimate getaway. Mahlia Monroe, a student at Lane Community College, has only visited Disneyland once. She says that she wishes she was able to go more, but it is hard living so far away. She thinks it is one of the few places that hold a lot of magic and she loves how everyone is always smiling. “I’ve only been once and it was at the age of 10. I most definitely plan on going again,” Monroe says.

Monroe says that it is a big deal for people to go to Disneyland that do not live near it. “It’s inconvenient because flights are expensive and gas is even worse, but it’s totally worth it,” Monroe says.

Monroe thinks that people outside of California have to work through the expenses that is takes to visit Disneyland. “Disneyland makes me feel happy, excited, overwhelmed at times, but full of enjoyment and also blessed because not everyone gets to experience something so magical,” Monroe says.

Writer Modishmorgan from, a personal and fashion blog, says that as an adult she still loves Disneyland. She says that most of her childhood vacations were spent there, which is why she adores the parks so much. “Going on certain rides isn’t only fun because I like the rides, but also because I have childhood memories of them,” Modishmorgan writes.

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Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle
Photo from Creative Commons

Many people love Disneyland for many reasons but the two key and evident reasons that help make Disneyland what it is today is the feeling of escapism and the dream to live in a fairytale. This was not always how people thought about Disneyland, especially in the beginning. Walt Disney said that in 1953 people thought Disneyland would be closed and forgotten within the first year.

“It has that thing – the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement- I knew when I was a kid.”                       -Walt Disney


Shelby Giancaspro’s Runs for Disneyland

Shelby Giancaspro’s pale blue eyes light up when she turns down Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland. She sees the handcrafted buildings that give the feeling of being in past times and they give her a sense of home. Finishing the turn, she has her first glimpse of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Although she has visited Disneyland more than 20 times, this moment still brings tears to her eyes.


Shelby Giancaspro at Disneyland for a Halloween celebration

Disneyland means a lot to Giancaspro because it has been a part of her whole life. Giancaspro loves running in some of the multiple races Disneyland and Walt Disney World hosts at the parks. Before college it was not as big of a deal going to Disneyland because it used to be easier to get to. Now that she is studying environmental science at the University of Oregon, she realizes how much Disneyland truly means to her.

Giancaspro and her father started running together in 2007. He was training for the Vegas Half Marathon and she says that she did not really understand what the big deal was because it’s only 13.1 miles, she says. “He made me put my money where my mouth was. He signed me up for the race with less than 3 weeks to train,” Giancaspro says, “I ended up finishing within 3 hours.”

After the Vegas Half Marathon she was sorting through the race swag bags and came across a flyer for the Disneyland 2008 Half Marathon. “We signed up that night,” Giancaspro says. She found out that they were able to dress up in any Disney costume and it is actually recommended. There are prizes at the end for costumes, like the most creative costume.


Shelby Giancaspro with her dad and other runners at the Disneyland Half Marathon

The races Disneyland and Walt Disney World host is one of the only times adults who are not employees are allowed to dress up in the park, so she makes sure her and her dad coordinate. “It’s easier to find each other in costumes than in the shirts they give you for the race. There are just too many people there,” Giancaspro said. This year her and her father are being Tweedledee and Tweedledumb.

Giancaspro has been a fan of Disneyland way before she started running the races. She says that it feels like her second home. The last time she went to Disneyland was January of this year. “It’s tradition that my family goes to the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena,” Giancaspro says, “and then spend the next few days in Disneyland and California Adventure.” Since 2008, running these races has become a tradition with her father and she says she loves having a lot of traditions revolving around Disneyland.

She says that her first vacation, at the age of 5, was at Disneyland. Giancaspro knows the park so well she does not even need a map anymore. “Some people, if given the option, would choose to escape to a paradise island for a few days,” Giancaspro says.  “I’d rather escape to Disneyland.”


Shelby Giancaspro and her father in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle

Now that she has been participating in the Disney races for 4 years, she says that it has made her connect with Disney more. Giancaspro says that running the races has transformed her love for Disney into a full-blown obsession meaning she counts down the days until she goes to Disneyland and loves anything Disney. She’s excited about the race during this coming Labor Day weekend and to continue the magical tradition her and her father began.


Q & A with Jason Coon shares his Childhood Memories at Disneyland 

Eugene resident Jason Coon, sales associate at Batteries Plus, is obsessed with Disneyland. The only time he has been was when he was 8 or 9-years-old, but has been dreaming of going back ever since. Since he lives far away he has not been able to have the chance to go back due the cost of the traveling. He is hoping to go within the next few years to relive those childhood memories and make more.

When was the last time you’ve been to Disneyland and why do you like going?

JC: I went to Disneyland when I was 8 or 9. Everything about Disneyland was great as a kid. The sights, sounds and smells are something every kid should experience. Seeing all the characters from the cartoons I watched like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. The sounds of all the rides and all the people laughing and enjoying themselves. I had a fear of the rides (heights and fast moving) but that didn’t stop my Dad from forcing us to ride them.

What does Disneyland mean to you and how does it make you feel?

JC: Disneyland means a place you can be kid. I think even now that I am an adult I would still enjoy it because it is a place full of magic. Anything you can do to feel young and have fun is a great feeling, Disneyland for me, and I’m sure for others, is just a chance to make you feel like a kid again. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to take kids there and enjoying Disneyland with them and seeing the smiles on their face.

What’s your favorite memory?

JC: My favorite memories of Disneyland has to be the time I spent with the family, I didn’t enjoy the rides very much but playing the games, winning prizes and eating the food was a very fond memory. At that age some of the rides scared me, which is why I enjoyed the atmosphere more. I cannot wait to experience the rides like Space Mountain, Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean as an adult

Since you live outside of California, is it a big deal going?

JC: I think it’s a very big deal if you don’t live in California because like any family vacation it has to be planning and saved up for. I think kids who have parents willing to save up and take them to such a magical place is something that you don’t experience very much and should be very thankful. We had family that lived in California and we would take road trips with the family down I-5 and that one year we went to Disneyland, which made the 13-hour car ride a lot easier. I’m not sure how it is for Californians but I would think the magic is still there even though they live close by because the atmosphere Disneyland provides.

10 Ways to Have the Best Time at Disneyland From One Local’s Perspective

Disneyland is the happiest place on earth but can be pretty frustrating if you do not know how to have a good experience. It’s more than going on the rides and seeing characters; it’s how you strategize your day. A ton of people crowd in Disneyland and it is important to stay with your group, but also you need to take advantage of the extra people you have. The more people in the group, the better time you’ll surprisingly have. It may seem easier to go with less people, but trust a local, having extra feet is always a bonus. Here are 10 ways to have the best time from a local’s perspective and experiences.

  1. Know the lay of the land

If you are not a Disneyland expert upon arrival, it will make the experience a little more difficult. Study the map. I mean study it. The reason why the locals can get on every ride possible is because they know the theme park like the back of their hand. Knowing where the rides you and your group really want to go on will help plan the day.

2. Split Up!

All though we have always been told to stick together in large crowds, this rule should be broken in Disneyland. Have part of the group wait in one line while the other part of the group goes and gets Fast Passes. This allows time to pass and you can do this throughout the day.

3. Bring lunch

Did you know you could bring food into Disneyland? Well, bring lunch! The prices for food are ridiculous so this will allow you more money to spend on yummy treats and a good dinner. Avoid Downtown Disney from about 5pm- 7pm due to long lines, even longer than for Space Mountain.

4. Get there Early

Although it is a hassle to wake up early on vacation, it is completely worth it. If you start your day early you will be more likely to go on all the main attractions before the big rush. Also, some of the rides have a tendency of breaking down throughout the day so getting their early will boost your chance of getting on those rides!


Disneyland California Adventure’s Afternoon Winter Parade 2012
Photo by Elizabeth McNamara

5. Parade? Only if you NEED too

The parade means shorter lines. If you are not sure if you want to see the parade, then consider going on more rides. I recommend staying over in the Frontier and Adventureland. There are a good amount of big rides to take advantage of like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones. Also, Frontier land with Big Thunder Mountain is within the proximity as well.

6. Stay as late as you can

Most of the littler children go home after the parade, which means you can go on rides like Small World, or some of the original rides like Peter Pan. These are classic rides that always have long lines but should not be missed. You are able to really see the history and magic of Disneyland in the rides.

7. Save money in the sun

It gets really hot in the California sun, so take advantage of the heat! A trick to staying hydrated is to keep the water bottle you buy. Some people keep buying the overpriced water when there are water fountains near all of the restrooms and food areas. Keep filling up your water and stay hydrated!

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Some Fast Passes from Disneyland
Photo from Creative Commons

8. Fast Pass. Fast Pass. Fast Pass.

People do not take advantage of this feature as much as one would think. This is a great way to manage time, especially if you are travelling in a larger group. Get those fast passes early and strategize which ones to get first.   Remember that not all rides have fast passes.

9. Have you heard of Single Riders?

So you might not be sitting next to your mom, but you might end up in the same car. Single riders is an amazing feature that most people do not know about or do not even think about doing. You can actually end up sitting with people from your group or be in the same car as them. Indiana Jones is a great one to do single riders on.

10. Have fun!

Planning the day may seem stressful but the most important thing is for you to have fun on your vacation. Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, so try to have the happiest day you have ever had!

 Disneyland and Walt Disney World, What’s the Difference? 

Comparing Disneyland to Walt Disney World is harder than it may seem. To start with, many people do not know which one is the older theme park. According to, Disneyland in Southern California opened in 1955 on only 160 acres of land. Today, Disneyland is settled on 300 acres of land. Unfortunately it is set in an extremely developed area, which does not allow it to grow. They were able to add on Disney California Adventures Park, which opened in 2001. The 67 acres was originally parking for Disneyland. Connecting the two theme parks is Downtown Disney., a Disney fan website, believes this is a great addition, which includes restaurants, higher end shops, and Disney related activities and shops. Even with lack of space, Disneyland has three resorts for visitors to experience.


Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle during Christmas
Photo by Elizabeth McNamara

According to, Walt Disney’s “Florida Project” began in 1959. Walt Disney wanted to expand after the opening of Disneyland, which led to 30,000 acres in Orlando, Florida, which is now Walt Disney World. Most of this land is currently undeveloped. The first theme park to open in Florida was The Magic Kingdom in 1971. This repeated many of the highlights within California’s Disneyland. But, Disney World offers more than just Disneyland. It has EPCOT, the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios and two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. There are 23 themed Disney resorts within Disney World. This leaves Disney World in its own league.

According to DisneyGeek, it is unfair to compare Disneyland to the Walt Disney World Complex. “Disneyland does not have the land that Walt Disney World has. Walt Disney World is always growing due to the amount of land it is nestled on,” DisneyGeek writes. Since it is a more intimate park, Disneyland hold more magic than Walt Disney World.

According to multiple Disney Statistics, tourists visit Walt Disney World more. Disneyland gets about 14-17 million visitors per year while over 47 million people annually visit Walt Disney World.

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Walt Disney World Main Street U.S.A.
Photo from Flickr Creative Commons

Locals, including who live a few hours away, tend to visit Disneyland more than tourists do. According to, a vacation builder website, says that they are both wonderful parks but they offer completely different experiences. “It really depends if you would like to visit the first park or a series of parks and how much time you have to travel,” VacationStarter writes.

Only you can decide which type of vacation you would enjoy. It solely depends on personal experiences and preferences. Disneyland would be a part of your vacation while Walt Disney World would be your whole vacation. Visiting and determining this yourself is when you can decide which one you prefer. You may develop a preference, but both will bring magic to you.

Why People Love Disneyland

There is something about Disneyland that some people just cannot describe. Alicia Quintana, an English major at the University of Oregon, loves going to Disneyland to relive childhood memories. Even though she is from Bothell, Washington, she was able to visit Disneyland throughout her childhood. “I felt like I was able to experience something other kids couldn’t. I always felt special being able to go, especially since I live 2 states away,” Quintana says.

Quintana says that she loves going because she is able to bring back those childhood days. She says that the feeling of innocence comes back to her immediately upon entering the park as a young adult. “It is a different experience now, but I can still see through my childhood eyes,” she adds.

Space Mountain is one of the highlights of Disneyland Park, but she says that when she was little she did not even know what the ride was like, “I was terrified all throughout Space Mountain! I closed my eyes the entire time,” Quintana says.

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Inside the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland
Photo from Creative Commons

She says that ever since she was little, Pirates of the Caribbean has been her all-time favorite ride. “It scares me every time I go on it because of how real it still looks to me,” Quintana says.

The only thing that stops Quintana from going is the lack of convenience. She says that it is difficult for people who do not live there to get there because of how expensive it is. Since the prices rose a couple of weeks ago, she says that she will have to save up before making the journey down south.

A Southern California native Sara Hupp does not know what she would do without all the memories she has had at Disneyland. As the years have gone by, it’s become less about seeing my favorite princesses and cartoon characters and more about spending time with some of my closest friends,” Hupp says.

She continues to go because she says that she enjoys reliving the memories from the past as well as add more layers to the stories. “Disneyland has been the setting of some of my most carefree days spent with the best of friends,” Hupp adds.

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Space Mountain Disneyland
Photo by Creative Commons

Hupp says that she loves all the rides at Disneyland because she has not always been a fan of rollercoaster’s. The first time she went on Space Mountain, she said that she did not even think they were able to go on it because it had been closed for a few weeks for renovations. Her family friend convinced her that it would be a fun ride, but she says that it stopped right at the very top of the whole ride. “After a couple minutes of sitting in the dark silence, they turned off the music and on came the lights. We got to see the massive steel structure that comprised the oh-so-mysterious Space Mountain,” Hupp says.

Hupp says that whenever she is in line for Space Mountain she always tells her friends about that experience. “Out of all of the rides Pirates of the Caribbean is my all time favorite and on my must do list,” Hupp says. She says she was first afraid of the ride because of the sudden drops but now cannot visit Disneyland without going on it.

Kate Jensen, a junior at the University of Oregon, travels frequently from Chicago to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. She says that she does not care how many times she been because it does not change her experience there. She goes to Disneyland a couple days in a row to make sure she has the best experience possible. “Sometimes the rides need a little repair throughout the day, which sometimes means you can’t go on it,” Jensen says.

Living in Chicago means Kate and her family have to strategize when they can go to Disneyland. “It really makes you appreciate your time there when you can’t go all the time,” Jensen says, “If I lived close to it, I feel like it wouldn’t feel as special or fun because I could go whenever I wanted.”

Jensen says she always looked forward to spending time at Disneyland. It would always be the highlight of her year when she would be able to go. Her two favorite rides are Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland and Alice in Wonderland in Fantasyland.

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Big Thunder Mountain
Photo from Creative Commons

Besides for being one of Disneyland’s bigger and faster rides, Jensen enjoys Big Thunder Mountain’s atmosphere. “It makes you feel like you’re riding through the mountain,” Jensen says. She says that she likes how detailed they are with all of the rides and she always finds something new each time she goes on it.

Jensen loves the classic rides at Disneyland. She likes how they are about popular movies and really show the charm of the park. “I like Alice in Wonderland because it’s an old school ride and it’s one of my favorite movies,” Jensen says.

There are many different reasons why people love Disneyland. Whether they live far away or close by people are drawn to this particular theme park.

“It has that thing – the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement- I knew when I was a kid.”                                                                                                – Walt Disney

My Life with Disneyland

Some people only imagine what it would be like to grow up driving distance away from Disneyland, I was lucky enough to experience it. Disneyland has sculpted me and my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Now that I go to school out of state, I have realized how big of a part Disney and Disneyland played in my life.

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