Test Brick Wall

If you ask me, Main Street USA is the most underappreciated land in Disneyland; there are just so many cool details, tons of park history, and some really interesting hidden gems. Everything in this land is so polished and perfect, it’s hard to spot anything that isn’t carefully manicured. But did you ever notice that one brick wall on Main Street has mismatched and uneven bricks?


The wall adjacent to the Main Street USA lockers is known as the “Test Brick Wall”. When Imagineers were choosing bricks for Main Street USA’s façades, they built the wall with different types of brick to see how the finished product would look. No one is sure why the wall with the test bricks remains; some speculate the park didn’t have enough money to replace it before Opening Day, and others think Imagineers kept it up to as a memento of the park’s construction.

Today, the Test Brick Wall is a piece of park history that guests stream past without much fanfare. Next time you’re nearby the Main Street USA lockers, stop for a second to check out the wall; you can appreciate the Imagineers’ dedication to detail and imagine Main Street USA before it was finished to perfection!

Gadget’s Go Coaster



Mickey’s Toontown – After crossing under the bridge and into Toontown, follow the main path to the left. You’ll find Gadget’s Go Coaster at the end of the main walkway, beyond Donald Duck’s Boat.


When Mickey’s Toontown debuted in 1993, Gadget’s Go Coaster was the land’s only operating ride. In keeping with Toontown’s focus on small children, the Go Coaster was designed as a miniature thrill ride without scary inversions or dramatic drops. Gadget’s Go Coaster opened with Mickey’s Toontown in January 1993, and has drawn large crowds of guests big and small ever since.



Based on Gadget Hackwrench from Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers, not Inspector Gadget, the ride offers guests a tour of Miss Gadget’s home on Toon Lake. To start, guests board in front of Gadget’s home, and she invites her new friends to join her on a trip around Toon Lake. During their trip, guests race around oversized spools, combs, soup cans, and other random items, before meeting frogs that shoot spurts of water at riders. Finally, guests return to Gadget’s home and continue on their travels through Toontown.

MY RATING: ★★★☆☆

Gadget’s Go Coaster is the tamest coaster in the park. This is a great stop for little ones that don’t meet height requirements for other rides, or for guests that aren’t sure if they can handle the bigger coasters. While it’s a fun ride, the Go Coaster can have very long wait times (and has no fast pass). Given the short duration of the ride, I don’t think the Go Coaster is worth a long wait, but if the lines aren’t too bad, definitely go for it.



Since the Go Coaster does not have fast pass, you may have to bite the bullet and wait in longer lines. Try to visit Toontown in the late afternoon, and you’ll have the best chance of shorter lines and less waiting.


Gadget’s Go Coaster is Disneyland’s only junior coaster, designed primarily for small children.

Tress MacNeille, the voice of Daisy Duck, provides the voice for Gadget Hackwrench.


Boardwalk Pizza And Pasta



Paradise Pier – Follow the pier on the side farthest from Pacific Wharf, near the Golden Zephyr and Goofy’s Sky School. You’ll find Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta on the right, behind the covered seating area.


Hungry guests exploring Paradise Pier will find themselves drawn to the sights and smells of Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. This Italian eatery offers an assortment of salads, pizzas, pastas, and desserts, and guests can enjoy their food on the covered patio. Live bands perform several times a day, and guests can also meet different characters as they pass by during parades. No matter what time of day visitors stop by this restaurant, they will be treated to a laid-back experience and some good Italian food.


Service Type – quick service

Seating – covered outdoor patio

Reservations – no

Entertainment – periodic live music


MY RATING – ★★★★☆

Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is my favorite restaurant in California Adventure. The food is generally pretty good, and the seating area is shady and comfortable. However, guests should know that this is not a light lunch; everything here is very heavy and comes in giant portions, including the salads. If you just want a snack or aren’t super hungry, you might want to steer clear of this restaurant. Otherwise, Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is a great place to eat.


  • Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
  • Cheese Flatbread Pizza 


Before California Adventure’s expansion/renovation in the late 2000’s, Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta was called “Pizza Oom Mow Mow”.

Opening Day: Disneyland (1955)


Image: Walt DisneySource

Walt Disney began envisioning Disneyland when he visited amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930’s and 40’s. He noticed that those parks catered primarily to children, and imagined a park that would be as entertaining for adults as it would be for their kids. When he began conceptualizing Disneyland, Walt realized he would not have enough room to build the park beside his studios in Burbank, so he purchased 160 acres of land in Anaheim. Crews broke ground on Disneyland in 1954, and Opening Day came approximately one year later.

In total, initial construction of Disneyland cost over $17 million, and affected the growth of the entire city of Anaheim. Highway 101, the major interstate under construction in the 1950’s, built two additional lanes in anticipation of new traffic after Disneyland’s opening.



On July 17th, 1955, after a full year of construction and design adjustments, Walt officiated the opening ceremony for Disneyland. ABC broadcast the ceremony live at 2:30 pm, and at the time it was the biggest live telecast in history. After being introduced to the crowd by actor (and future president) Ronald Reagan, Walt gave a speech to over 28,000 guests. In his speech, Walt invited guests to share in his dream:

“To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

Finally, the gates to Disneyland opened to the public, and anxious visitors flooded into the park. Famous guests on Opening Day included Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, and Danny Thomas. All of Disneyland’s guests had five new lands to explore: Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland. Today’s Main Street USA closely resembles its Opening Day counterpart, welcoming guests into a place of magic and nostalgia. Tomorrowland was an innovative exploration of technology, with a much bigger focus on space travel than it does today. Fantasyland and Adventureland have seen ride additions and facade changes, but both represented a sense of curiosity and wonder, whether in a jungle or fairytale setting. And finally, Frontierland was the laid-back, scenic region of the park, without any rides or attractions whatsoever. Instead, guests used this area as a picnicking and resting spot, a popular idea in the summer heat of Opening Day.

After making his speech and leading the dedication ceremony, Walt seemed to disappear when the gates finally opened. But he hadn’t gone far; Walt watched the crowds arrive in Main Street USA from his private apartment above the Fire Station. On Opening Day, he saw his dream become reality.



Although Opening Day introduced Disneyland to decades of success and widespread popularity, the park’s first day did not run smoothly. In fact, many cast members dubbed July 17th 1955 “Black Sunday” due to the vast number of technical and logistical problems within the park.

Last minute preparations the night before Opening Day cut a little too close to the ceremonial opening. Some of the paint and poured asphalt had not fully dried, making the ground horribly sticky. To make matters worse, temperatures that Sunday reached over 100 degrees, leaving tons of guests very hot and uncomfortable.

Several of the rides broke down throughout the day, including the Storybook Land Canal Boats and Autopia. All of Fantasyland actually closed for a few hours due to a gas leak. And Disneyland came close to a disaster when the vastly overcrowded Mark Twain Riverboat nearly sank.

However, Opening Day’s biggest problem was the sheer number of curious visitors. Walt and his staff anticipated major crowds for the park’s open, so they sold special tickets with designated entry times to stagger crowds. But this plan didn’t work, since the earlier guests never left, and the park became more and more crowded. In fact, the combination of all-day visitors and counterfeit ticket sales led to twice as many park visitors as anticipated. As a result of the overcrowding, restaurants and food stands quickly ran out of snacks and beverages.


Although the media were less than impressed with Disneyland’s Opening Day, the general public clearly understood and identified with Walt’s vision. Walt and the Imagineers quickly repaired the issues that plagued Black Sunday, and before long Disneyland became a renowned national treasure. Though the park has undergone incredible transformations and expansions (including a brand new park – California Adventure), Disneyland stays true to its original charm and character. Since 1955, Disneyland has captured the imagination of guests young and old, and has now become a world famous American icon.

Opening Day: California Adventure (2001)


In the beginning, Disney used the area now occupied by California Adventure as massive parking space for Disneyland. But as Disney World in Florida grew into multiple parks and became increasingly popular, Disney wanted to repeat this set up in California. So in 1991, Disney announced plans to launch “WestCOT”, a California version of EPCOT in Orlando. However, financial and PR issues with the newly opened Disneyland Paris during the 1990’s delayed WestCOT, until Disney finally scrapped the project in 1995.

But Disney was still determined to build a second park in California, so company executives began brainstorming ideas for the next addition to the Disneyland Resort. Before long, Disney unveiled the theme of the second park: California. The new park would incorporate California history, landmarks, and boardwalk-style rides, primarily appealing to adults rather than children. Construction began in 1998, and California Adventure debuted on February 8, 2001.



As Disney prepared to open California Adventure to the public, the media anticipated massive crowds, similar to those that flooded Disneyland at its opening in 1955. The LA Times reported that Disney would likely have to turn away guests due to overcrowding, and some reporters predicted that California Adventure’s popularity may even eclipse that of Disneyland.

This photo shows Roy E. Disney, Michael Eisner, and Mickey Mouse at the opening ceremony:

OpeningDayCaliforniaAdventure20012 Source

However, California Adventure’s opening was immensely disappointing. In all of 2001, the park welcomed only 5 million visitors, just over 1/3 of those who attended Disneyland in its first year. And of those that did visit California Adventure, only 20% surveyed said they were satisfied with their experience.

Why the disappointment? For starters, California Adventure had a pretty standard theme, without the presence of Disney characters that make the parks so unique worldwide. Visitors felt like they were visiting a generic theme park, and quickly lost interest. Furthermore, California Adventure wasn’t enclosed by trees and backdrops the way Disneyland is, so guests could always see Anaheim looming in the background.

But California Adventure’s biggest problem was its target audience. Critics complained that there were few rides for children, and far more shops and restaurants than rides or attractions. While adults do make up a large portion of resort guests, a park that didn’t cater to children was sure to fail.


By 2007, Disney formally acknowledged that California Adventure needed to undergo substantial changes. CEO Bob Iger weighed a number of options, including combining the two separate parks into one major park. In the end, Disney announced a plan to bring a multi-year expansion and renovation of California Adventure, to be completed in 2012.

Read more about California Adventure’s expansion and renovation here.

After the project came to an end in 2012, attendance jumped dramatically. Disney now had exactly what they’d hoped for: two beloved parks for guests to visit during their stay at the Disneyland Resort. Since 2012, California Adventure’s attendance has continued to flourish, giving guests a new hobby of frequent “park hopping”. The Disneyland Resort finally has a park that compliments Disneyland, with a truly original theme and style.

2007-2012 California Adventure Expansion And Renovation


Though California Adventure was a massively anticipated addition to the Disneyland Resort, its initial design and premise did not resonate with guests. The absence of Disney charm and characters combined with the lack of rides for children left guests unimpressed and disinterested in leaving the Disneyland section of the resort. (You can find a complete breakdown of California Adventure’s initial problems here.)

After a few years, Disney executives decided to “re-imagine” California Adventure in the hope of attracting more visitors and matching the demand for Disneyland’s rides and attractions. In 2007, Disney announced a seven-year, $1.1 billion project to expand and renovate California Adventure. The project would be done in stages, in order to keep the park open and accessible to guests, and would end with an official reopening of the park.


California Adventure’s renovation and expansion began with the dissolution of its biggest land, Golden State. Instead, this area broke into several smaller lands: Condor Flats, Grizzly Peak, and Pacific Wharf. Imagineers changed the overall themes of each new land as well, romanticizing whatever region they depicted to match the surrealism and nostalgia of Disneyland’s lands. Condor Flats represented the golden age of flight, Grizzly Peak was a surreal redwood fantasy land, and Pacific Wharf represented the height of Cannery Row’s success and popularity in northern California.


But these small additions of charm and history needed to stay consistent throughout the park. California Adventure needed to convert one of its much larger lands as well, and Imagineers saw their opportunity with Paradise Pier. Formerly a generic California boardwalk, Paradise Pier became a 1920’s Victorian-style boardwalk.

Here is Paradise Pier before the transformation:

20072012CaliforniaAdventureExpansionAndRenovation2  Source

And after:


The rear of California Adventure immediately transformed into an area with similar nostalgia to that of Main Street USA in Disneyland. In addition, many of the rides in Paradise Pier saw changes as well. These changes weren’t about nostalgia; instead, the rides lost their old themes in favor of newly incorporated Disney character themes:

Goofy’s Sky School – While the infrastructure and premise of this ride stayed the same, riders went from navigating the chaos of Mulholland Drive to pilots taking lessons from Goofy. With the installation of his own ride, Goofy became a frequent visitor to Paradise Pier, and now conducts his own water show throughout the day.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel – The ferris wheel overlooking Paradise Pier changed from the “Sunshine Wheel” to Mickey’s Fun Wheel. This was an easy way to incorporate Disney characters in California Adventure, but it was also an important one. Now, guests anywhere in the rear of the park could see Mickey in the skyline.

Silly Symphony Swings – Perhaps the most drastic change in Paradise Pier was the re-imagining of the swings. Originally, this ride sat inside a giant orange, called the “Orange Stinger” and riders flew as if they were hungry bees. But when the boardwalk took on its Victorian style, the orange disappeared in favor of conductor Mickey leading a symphony of swings.






On June 15, 2012, California Adventure held its official reopening. Although the park had stayed open throughout the expansion and renovation project, crowds actually camped outside the gate the night before in anticipation of the park’s new start. Dozens of characters, performers, and musicians put on a grand show for guests, and CEO Bob Iger officiated the dedication ceremony. The dedication also included the burial of a time capsule, to be opened in 2037.

Today, California Adventure attracts millions of visitors each year. Guests split their time nearly evenly between the two parks, which allows the resort to maintain crowd levels and has dramatically upped sales of “park hopper” tickets. With two fun and magical parks to explore, Disneyland Resort guests never run out of things to see and do during their time in the happiest place on earth.

Scarier Rides

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether or not your kids (or you!) are ready for some of the bigger rides. On the one hand, you don’t want anyone to miss out, but it’s also no fun to be petrified of the happiest place on earth. The following is a list of the Disneyland Resort’s more intimidating rides; the tamer but still nerve-wracking are classified as “somewhat scary”, while those that are the max intensity are “very scary”. This is a guide to using the somewhat scary rides as a measure of you or your child’s readiness for the bigger ones. For a more in-depth look of the very scary rides, check out their original posts (each has a breakdown of what the rides entail, plus my review).


Gadget’s Go Coaster – This is Disneyland’s smallest/tamest coaster, but it’s a coaster nonetheless. If you’re afraid of this ride, steer clear of anything fast, dark, or loud.

Haunted Mansion – Although the Haunted Mansion is not a typical haunted house, it’s still dark and ghostly. This ride is a good measure of how you will fare on rides that share its eerie vibe or darkness, with added speed and/or thrills (like Space Mountain or Snow White’s Scary Adventures).

Matterhorn Bobsleds – The Bobsleds are jerky, and the Abominable Snowman does growl at you on occasion, but most of this ride is not dark and does not go as fast as some of the other coasters. Use this ride to test your readiness for faster, louder rides like Big Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – This ride is not fast, but it’s very loud and dark. Like the Matterhorn, Mr. Toad is a good measure of louder, faster rides in the park.

Pirates of the Caribbean – While most guests end up loving Pirates, certain elements within the ride can be frightening. Many rooms are very dark, the beginning has a drop into the caves, and the pirate skeletons and cannon fire don’t stray far from the boats. You can use Pirates as a measure for other coasters, and to test yourself on a water ride, if you’re thinking about trying Splash Mountain.



Goofy’s Sky School – This is California Adventure’s equivalent of Gadget’s Go Coaster. If you’re scared of Goofy, you won’t be ready for any of the other scary rides in the park.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel – The wheel has two different ride experiences: swinging cars and non-swinging cars. The non-swinging cars are only scary if you’re afraid of heights, as the wheel moves slowly and the cars are completely caged in. But the swinging cars are fast, and they are very intimidating for kids and grownups alike. You can use the wheel to test your readiness for rides with higher views, or the swinging cars to test how you’d fare on faster rides and drops.

Silly Symphony Swings – For the most part, the Silly Symphony Swings aren’t intimidating. But if you find yourself spooked by the height and rotation over the water, you may not like Soarin’ Over California or other high-flying rides in the park.

Soarin’ Over California – Like with the Swings and Fun Wheel, the only thing scary about Soarin’ is its perceived height. Riders explore mountain tops, and zoom over California landmarks and cityscapes, so guests afraid of heights will be miserable on this ride.


If you’re still unsure about how your child will fare on any of these rides, I have one final piece of advice. Almost every single ride can be found on YouTube, filmed by guests from a rider’s vantage point. Although this is obviously not the same as actually dropping or spinning on these rides, it will show you exactly what to expect when you visit the park. The only way to really tell what you are ready for is to try the rides out, so have fun and good luck!

French Market Restaurant



New Orleans Square – Follow the main path toward the Haunted Mansion and you’ll find the French Market on the left, just after Café Orleans.


Service Type – quick service

Seating – outdoor enclosed patio

Reservations – no

Entertainment – live music throughout the day



Diners looking for a relaxing lunch complete with live music need look no further than the French Market. Guests purchase meals inside the market, and then can enjoy their food on the adjacent covered patio overlooking the Rivers of America. Whether guests are having lunch, enjoying an afternoon snack, or stopping for an evening dinner on the waterfront, they are in for a wonderful dining experience in New Orleans Square.

MY RATING – ★★★★☆

The French Market is one of the best places to eat in western Disneyland. The food is good, but what makes the Market such a great stop is the patio. Even though the French Market is on the main drag of New Orleans Square, it feels very private, and the live music makes your dining experience all the more fun. If you’re looking for a Cajun lunch or want some live entertainment while you eat, the French Market is an excellent choice.


  • Royal Street Chicken Caesar Salad
  • French Quarter Chicken
  • New Orleans Mint Julep


Like many restaurants in Disneyland, the French Market had an official sponsor – Stouffer’s – but has not had any official sponsorship since 2008.

The French Market is the only restaurant in New Orleans Square with live entertainment. However, diners in all of the land’s restaurants receive periodic entertainment from the traveling “Bootleggers Pirate Band”, which performs along the waterfront in New Orleans Square several times per day.

One Day Hopper

If you’re visiting Disneyland for a day, it can be difficult to create a touring plan that incorporates both parks. I love to park hop, especially when using fast passes, but hopping too much wears you out much faster than you’d expect. Use this touring plan for your next one-day visit, and enjoy your time at the happiest place on earth.

Note: Like with the other touring plans, I list the fast pass rides below the itinerary. They are not included in the itinerary because it’s very hard to predict when return times will be. Start your day by obtaining your first fast pass, and then continue through the itinerary. Every time you hit a fast pass window, grab the next fast pass on that list, use the one you have, continue on the itinerary, and repeat.



  1. Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  2. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters


  1. Matterhorn Bobsleds (use single rider line)
  2. It’s A Small World
  3. Mad Tea Party
  4. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

New Orleans Square

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean
  2. Haunted Mansion

Fast Passes

  1. Space Mountain
  2. Splash Mountain
  3. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

When you’re at a good stopping point, or finished with this part of the plan, grab lunch in Frontierland, New Orleans Square, or on Main Street USA. Then head over to California Adventure.


Hollywood Land

  1. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sully To The Rescue!

A Bug’s Land – pass through here to Cars Land

Cars Land

  1. Radiator Springs Racers (use single rider line)
  2. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree

Paradise Pier

  1. The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  2. Golden Zephyr
  3. Goofy’s Sky School
  4. Silly Symphony Swings

Fast Passes

  1. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  2. Grizzly River Run
  3. Soarin’ Over California

Again, when you’ve reached a good stopping point or finish this part of the touring plan, have dinner in Paradise Pier or Pacific Wharf. You will continue your touring plan in California Adventure, but take a break and let it get dark before you finish the rides in Paradise Pier.


Paradise Pier

  1. Mickey’s Fun Wheel
  2. Toy Story Midway Mania
  3. California Screamin’



  1. Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  2. Peter Pan’s Flight
  3. King Arthur Carrousel
  4. Snow White’s Scary Adventures


  1. Astro Orbitor


If you’ve still got extra time—and energy—after you’ve completed this touring plan, use it to revisit your favorite rides or check out any that didn’t make the list. This is also a great opportunity to check out some of the shows, as the lines will go down significantly after dinnertime. And last but not least, don’t forget to grab an ice cream before the night is over. (Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor is my favorite!)

Buena Vista Street



The original entrance to California Adventure was not Buena Vista Street, but a central walkway called “Sunshine Plaza”. But the plaza was largely empty, had no unified theme, and was often overlooked by park guests, so when California Adventure went through its major refurbishment, this area was completely redone. Today, guests enter California Adventure through Buena Vista Street, the park’s equivalent to Disneyland’s Main Street USA.

Buena Vista Street is a snapshot of 1920’s Los Angeles, where Walt Disney began the Walt Disney Corporation. Observant visitors will notice tons of references to old Hollywood Landmarks, including the Hyperion Bridge and Carthay Circle. Guests of all ages enjoy the restaurants, entertainment, and characters they find in Buena Vista Street, making this area one of California Adventure’s liveliest lands.



Guests arriving on Buena Vista Street experience an overwhelming variety of sights, smells, and sounds. Tons of vendors align the sides of the street, offering all kinds of snacks and drinks, and the different trolleys and cars usually provide live entertainment. Buena Vista Street has a number of restaurants, lounges, shops, and cool window displays that give guests a taste of the past. Whether you’re breezing through on your way to another land or just exploring at a leisurely pace, something on Buena Vista Street will undoubtedly catch your eye.



  • 5 and Dime (Jazz Band/performers)
  • Red Car Trolley Newsies
  • Mickey
  • Minnie
  • Donald
  • Daisy
  • Goofy
  • Pluto
  • Chip
  • Dale


  • Red Car Trolley


  • Carthay Circle Lounge
  • Carthay Circle Restaurant
  • Clarabelle’s
  • Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe



The Carthay Circle Restaurant is modeled after the Carthat Circle Theater, where Snow White and the Seven Dwarves premiered in 1937.

Sunshine Plaza, Buena Vista Street’s predecessor, was supposed to make guests feel like they were inside a postcard. This concept didn’t really resonate with guests, so Imagineers designed Buena Vista Street to be a more cohesive land with a specific theme.



Like Main Street USA, Buena Vista Street is most crowded during park open, park close, and when the Pixar Play Parade passes through. Since there aren’t many attractions within Buena Vista Street, your best bet is to check out the shops and restaurants during breaks. If you have some time between fast passes, or if you need to relax between coasters, Buena Vista Street is a great spot to unwind.

Pro tip: make sure to stop and check out Buena Vista Street as you leave the park; it’s very pretty at night!