[Updated August 2016]
If you haven’t made your way to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure on the West Coast in the past five years, we’d say you’re due for a visit. Celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year, Disneyland has upped the ante with vast improvements to many of its attractions, along with major updates. Here are our favorite additions from the last half-decade.
1. Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land
Radiator Springs is a must for any fan of Disney-Pixar’s Cars film. The new area opened to great fanfare in 2012, introducing iconic landmarks including Flo’s V8 Café, the Cozy Cone Motel, and Fillmore’s Taste-in. All roads lead to the Radiator Springs Racers, the pinnacle of attractions in both parks. Flawlessly designed Cars-themed racers zip six riders at a time through a world of movie characters before gearing up for a thrilling race through the rock formations of Ornament Valley.
2. World of Color at Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure pulled out all the stops with its game-changing water spectacle, World of Color, in 2010. With an estimated price tag of $75 million, no expense was spared in creating a nightly show that transforms the Paradise Pier area into a high-tech water stage. An update to the 30-minute show, called World of Color: Celebrate! and hosted by showman Neil Patrick Harris, was introduced in 2015 to highlight Walt Disney’s story and the original Disneyland theme park. Pro tip: For the best views of the fountains, fire, and lasers, you should seek out a spot at least 45 minutes prior.
Note: The original World of Color will return on September 6, replacing World of Color: Celebrate!
3. Paint the Night at Disneyland
Debuting just this May, Paint the Night is another 60th anniversary highlight. We can’t get enough of this Main Street parade, complete with 1.5 million LED lights, custom crafted special effects, and upwards of 76 performers in its 17-minute display. Look for a flying Tinker Bell, life-size Cars recreations, and of course Disney’s newest princesses, Frozen’s Anna and Elsa. Try the viewing spots further back in the the park to avoid the biggest crowds.
Note: Say farewell to the Paint the Night parade; it ends its run on September 5, though no replacement has been announced.
4. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney California Adventure
Opened in 2011, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a gentle ride in the dark through the highlights of the treasured film. Glide through scenes from “Part of Your World” to “Under the Sea” — one of the attraction’s most elaborate sequences filled with hundreds of moving animatronics, all orchestrated by Sebastian the crab. Villainous Ursula manages to make an appearance as well.
5. Peter Pan’s Flight at Disneyland
Peter Pan’s Flight, an original ride of the park since 1955, got a big update this summer. We don’t want to ruin all the 21st century surprises that the tech makeover has brought, but we’ll say that you’ll have fun spotting Tinkerbell throughout the ride. And be sure to pay attention during the revamped London fly-over section, where eye-popping LED lights and projections shine.