Destinations: Anaheim, California, USA
Smaller than Walt Disney World, the amusement park feels truer to the childlike enthusiasm of founder Walt Disney. Originally Disneyland was divided into four "lands" -- Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland, symmetrically arranged around the iconic Cinderella Castle, where fireworks still scintillate every night.
As the 1950s Wild West fad waned and Sputnik-era optimism went sour, Frontierland and Tomorrowland shrank and new areas were wedged in: Main Street USA, an old-timey-America shopping area; New Orleans Square; Critter Country; and Mickey's Toontown, a Roger Rabbit-inspired section for younger children. In 2005, Disneyland celebrated 50 years of make-believe. In the process, the park's layout has become a little more confusing so pick up a free park map at the front gate. Every kid will have different favorite rides, but these are some classics: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Fantasyland), Pirates of the Caribbean (New Orleans Square), Tom Sawyer's Island (Frontierland), Peter Pan's Flight (Fantasyland), Davy Crockett's Canoes (Critter Country), the Jungle Cruise (Adventureland), It's a Small World (Fantasyland), and Innoventions (Tomorrowland). Long lines are a fact of life at Disneyland, especially on weekends and all school vacations. Don't be suckers for them -- 5 minutes of watching huge ceramic Dumbos fly around flapping their ears can be more fun than waiting 45 minutes to ride them. If you must, arrive early and make a beeline for the most popular rides, which are generally the adrenaline pumpers -- the Indiana Jones Adventure, Star Tours, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Information: Magic Way (tel. 714/781-4565 or 714/781-7290; www.disneyland.com).
Nearest Airport: Los Angeles International, 33 miles. John Wayne Airport, in Santa Ana, 15 miles.
Accommodations: Candy Cane Inn, 1747 S. Harbor Blvd. (tel. 800/345-7057 or 714/774-5284; www.candycaneinn.net). Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, 1600 S. Disneyland Dr. (tel. 714/956-MICKEY or 714/635-2300; www.disneyland.com).