5 Classic Disney Movies to Watch Before Visiting Disneyland

If you’re planning a visit to the Disneyland Resort soon, here are five movies from the classic era of Walt Disney Animation to refresh your memory before you go!

Since Disneyland opened in 1955, the Walt Disney Company’s intellectual property, including film characters, music, and more have featured in the theme park. From attraction storylines to character meet and greets, and even themed food and drink, there’s plenty of Disney content referenced for Guests to explore in addition to original park lore.

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Source: Disney

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As Disney Parks expands its entertainment offerings, and Disney Studios releases more films, it can be hard to keep track. So, starting at the beginning, here are some storylines from the earliest Disney movies you’ll find included about the Park:

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

This first film is probably the most obvious, considering it gives its name to Sleeping Beauty Castle at the end of Main Street which holds the entrance to Fantasyland! Even though the beautifully handdrawn film about Aurora, a princess cursed to sleep forever by the evil witch Maleficent would not debut for four years after Walt opened Disneyland Park, WED Enterprises built her castle in favor of Snow White’s in order to draw interest in the upcoming film, leading multiple future Disney Parks worldwide, like Disneyland Paris, to include a Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Although the Company passed over Walt’s first ever Disney princess when constructing the theme park, it still found multiple ways to pay homage to the film which made Walt Disney Studios famous. For example, in addition to the Snow White’s Scary Adventures dark ride, now Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, she also has an adorable wishing well beside Sleeping Beauty Castle which is perfect for photo-ops, and even features audio recorded by her original voice actor, Adriana Caselotti.

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

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Pinnochio (1940)

Next, after you watch this classic coming of age journey about a puppet who becomes a real boy and his father Geppetto, head over to Pinnochio’s Daring Journey dark ride before embarking on a journey of your own straight through the mouth of Monstro the whale during the Storybook Land Canal Boats.

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Alice seems to feature all over Fantasyland! Perhaps because Walt Disney Cartoons first got its start producing the Alice Comedies in the early 1920s? In fact, you can find the inquisitive little girl who falls down a rabbit hole into the whimsical world of Wonderland featured in the England section of “it’s a small world,” through a whirl on the teacups at the Mad Tea Party (which Alice herself will sometimes ride with Guests), or by joining her on her adventures in the Alice in Wonderland attraction.

Mary Poppins (1964)

Even if the magical nanny to the two Banks children doesn’t have her own attraction (yet), you can still find nods to the famous, Oscar-winning film starring Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews on Main Street with a delicious meal at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe! What’s more, Disney’s 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks on Mary Poppins’ creation even features scenes filmed at the Disneyland Resort!

Watch Swiss Family Robinson | Full Movie | Disney+

Credit: Disney Plus

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BONUS: Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

Most modern Disney Fans likely won’t know this more obscure Disney live-action film based on a popular 1812 book of the same name about a shipwrecked family learning to survive in an island treehouse. However, they will soon enough, as Disney has announced plans to retheme Tarzan’s Treehouse to a version similar to the original Swiss Family walkthrough in Disney’s Adventureland, as well as a reboot series coming to Disney+.

If you watch these classic Disney movies before your next Disneyland vacation, keep an eye out for these references throughout the Disney Park!

About Spencer Beck

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the halls of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @pinknpurble everywhere.