Disneyland Resort Reinvents Itself

Here are five fabulous reasons to visit the Happiest Place on Earth.

Cars at Disney California Adventure, image

Cars comes to life at Disney California Adventure.

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Disneyland’s irresistible alchemy lies in the way it reinvents itself year after year, making the old (and the middle-aged) feel young again.

In 2007, the defunct Submarine Voyage rose from the depths to delight a new generation of seagoers as Finding Nemo. A year and a half ago, Disney California Adventure’s main thoroughfare was wholly reenvisioned as Buena Vista Street—a nostalgic snapshot of Los Angeles in the 1920s, complete with Red Car Trolleys and a spot-on re-creation of the Carthay Circle Theatre.

This year will bring even more upgrades. If you need a reason to visit, we’ll give you five:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad The popular Frontierland runaway-train roller coaster, set in a haunted gold mine, is scheduled to reopen later this winter with an updated track and new cars whizzing through the abandoned mine shaft, as well as fresh facades for the town of Rainbow Ridge.

Cars Land That new-car smell still hangs over Radiator Springs Racers, where Mater, Lightning McQueen, and their Cars pals prep visitors for a slotcar race through Ornament Valley. The themed area, which opened in June 2012 at California Adventure, also features a swingin’ tractor pull and a ride with giant tires that float like air-hockey pucks.

Star Tours—The Adventures Continue Reopened in 2011 with state-of-the-art 3-D motion simulation, the wild space ride transports guests to new planets with different characters from all six films, including C-3PO and R2-D2. With a new Star Wars movie due in 2015, who knows what the Force will unleash next.

Mickey and the Magical Map The newly renovated Fantasyland Theatre takes full advantage of the latest interactive LED screen wizardry in its new live musical show. The story follows apprentice Mickey as he tries to finish an unpainted “spot” on the sorcerer Yen Sid’s map. When the spot springs to life, Mickey gets sucked into the map, becomes animated, and embarks on a fantastic journey to faraway lands.

Disneyland Hotel The finishing touches have been put on renovations at the park’s classic hotel, and the wow factor is high. Monorail waterslides, musical headboards that light up, giant teacup chairs, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, and over-the-top themed suites are just a few of the dazzling details. And don’t forget to look for hidden Mickeys woven into the hotel’s decor.

Read about Disney's It's a Small World fifty years after the attraction first opened.

Photography courtesy of Disneyland Resort

This article was first published in January 2014. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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Request the Southern California TourBook and Orange County North map at AAA.com or any AAA branch. For information about visiting Disneyland, go to AAA.com/travel. To find lodging outside the resort, visit AAA.com/hotels.

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