Opening day of Disneyland in 1955 was more than a little disastrous, with concession stands running out of food and beverages, the Mark Twain Steamboat nearly capsizing and the park exceeding capacity due to a surge of counterfeit tickets. In spite of early troubles, the amusement park became a phenomenally successful world of magic, wonder and entertainment. Five more Disney parks have popped up around the globe since, with the latest, Shanghai Disney Resort, set to open in late 2015.
Based in Anaheim, California, Disneyland Resort is home to Disneyland, the classic theme park with a nightly fireworks show, daily parades and such famed attractions as Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. The resort’s other park, Disney California Adventure, has California-themed lands, including Hollywood Land and the beach-inspired Paradise Pier. Just outside both parks is Downtown Disney, a pedestrian-only complex filled with restaurants, shops, concert venues, nightclubs and a 12-screen movie theater. The resort operates three hotels, including Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, an elegant craftsman-style lodge with its own private entrance to Disney California Adventure. The park recognizes nearly 40 nearby hotels as Good Neighbor Hotels that are authorized to sell packages with park passes, early park admission and discount cards.
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, claims four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, which features many of the same rides from Disneyland; the movie-themed Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Disney’s Animal Kingdom, an amusement park and zoo; and Epcot, an international-themed land where you can experience 11 different countries. The resort also has two waterparks: Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach. Unique resort accommodations include Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, 750 acres for hiking, horseback riding, archery and canoeing. Bay Lake Tower and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa are luxury hotels accessible via a complimentary water taxi.
Land of the Rising Sun
Tokyo Disney Resort is in Urayasu, Japan, as little as 15 minutes from Tokyo to the resort’s Maihama Station via the Japan Railway. At the resort, transportation between major attractions, including its nine hotels and two parks, is available by monorail or a shuttle service free to hotel guests. Resort parks include Tokyo Disneyland, similar to its Anaheim counterpart, and Tokyo DisneySea, a nautical-themed park with boat rides, motion simulators and roller coasters. Park-hopping is available only to those with three- and four-day passes and only after the second day. You’ll find English-speaking cast members scattered throughout the park, English maps and some stage shows with headsets that provide English translation.
Ooh La La
Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallee, France, includes two parks: Disneyland Park, the sister park to the original, and Walt Disney Studios Park, with attractions that celebrate movie magic -- in particular, Disney films. The resort has its own railway station which services the train providing the 30-minute journey from central Paris. You can also take the Eurostar from London. The resort’s station is right outside Disney Village, an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex with a 15-screen movie theater, an IMAX screen and 30-person hot air balloon that sails more than 300 feet above the resort. Visitors can enjoy specialty hotels such as the Wild West-themed Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne and Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch, a 150-acre wooded area with rustic cabins and treetop trails.
Pearl of the Orient
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is in Penny's Bay, Hong Kong, on Lantau Island. The smallest of all the Disney resorts, it is home to one park and two hotels. Transportation to the amusement park is available from Hong Kong Island via Mass Transit Railway. The drive from the main island is about 25 minutes. A park promenade encircles the resort, making the entire complex accessible by foot. Hong Kong Disneyland offers attractions similar to its Anaheim counterpart, including stage shows, fireworks displays, parades and rides featuring Disney characters.