The pop-culture colossus of Disneyland is one of America’s most iconic sights, as well as one of its most expensive – most of the park’s hotels are ridiculously overpriced and there’s little quality cuisine in the area. The park is 45 minutes by car from downtown LA on the Santa Ana Freeway. Arrive early, as traffic and rides quickly become nightmarishly busy, especially in summer.
Disneyland’s best rides are in New Orleans Square and adjacent Adventureland: the Indiana Jones Adventure, an interactive archeological dig and 1930s-style newsreel show leading up to a giddy journey along 2500ft of skull-encrusted corridors; the Pirates of the Caribbean, a boat trip through underground caverns full of singing rogues; and the Haunted Mansion, a riotous “doom buggy” tour in the company of the house spooks. Other themed areas include Frontierland, with mainly lower-end Wild West attractions; Fantasyland, with low-tech fairy-tale rides, notably the treacly It’s a Small World; and Toontown, a cartoonish zone aimed at the kindergarten set.
It’s more worthwhile to zip right through to Tomorrowland, Disney’s vision of the future, where the Space Mountain roller coaster plunges through the darkness of outer space and the late Michael Jackson is celebrated in the Captain EO Tribute, a seventeen-minute 3-D film juiced up with special effects.