15 Disney Movies to See Before Visiting Disneyland

Updated January 14, 2017

You have enough to do to prepare for your Disneyland trip. I have no doubt. But, if you’re wanting to ensure your crew is well educated on some basic Disneyland-related movies, I’ve listed some key films for your trip.

There are many more than what are listed here. And arguments could be made for what some deem more important than my choices. But, I tried to choose the basics that will allow you to be familiar enough with the movies that relate to the layout of the parks, the attractions and experiences in the parks, and will add to your Disneyland visit.

This is by no means a list of my favorite Disney movies. For example, Wall-E is one of my all time loves and it’s not listed because Disney is a bunch of haters and he’s nowhere to be found in the parks. Iger! Are you listening to me?!

Moving on…..

These are in no particular order and I’ve mixed Disneyland with California Adventure related selections.

Let’s get started!

The Movies

Sleeping Beauty 1959

1. Sleeping Beauty 

  • The Disneyland castle is the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
  • The castle walkthrough details the story of Sleeping Beauty.
  • You can find Aurora at Disneyland for meet-n-greets.
  • Aurora is in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.
  • Maleficent can occasionally be seen for special meet-n-greets (almost always special events like the Halloween party).
  • Purchase.

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2. Toy Story

  • Pixar has a huge presence at California Adventure.
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania, the attraction, is at California Adventure.
  • Characters can be found at California Adventure for meet-n-greets.
  • Characters can be found in the Pixar Parade at California Adventure.
  • Characters can be see in the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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3. Monsters Inc.

  • Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!, the attraction, is at California Adventure.
  • Mike and Sulley can be found for meet-n-greets at California Adventure.
  • Characters can be found in the Pixar Parade at California Adventure.
  • Characters can be found in the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

  • Snow White’s Scary Adventure, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • Snow White’s Grotto is at Disneyland, near the castle.
  • Snow White can be found for meet-n-greets.
  • Snow White can be found in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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5. Peter Pan

  • Peter Pan’s Flight, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • Peter Pan can be found at Disneyland for meet-n-greets.
  • Tinker Bell can be seen during Disneyland Forever fireworks if you have a castle view.
  • Tinker Bell and fairy friends can be found at Pixie Hollow in Disneyland for meet-n-greets.
  • Tinker Bell can be found in the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland.
  • Peter and friends play a big part in Fantasmic! (currently on hiatus until mid-2017)
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

 

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6. Beauty and the Beast

  • Belle is available for meet-n-greets at Disneyland.
  • Beauty and the Beast, the show, can be found in the morning at Fantasy Faire Theatre.
  • Beast’s Library can be found in the Animation Building off of Hollywood Blvd in DCA.
  • Belle has a huge float with coordinating characters on the ground in the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland.
  • Purchase.

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7. Finding Nemo

  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • Turtle Talk with Crush is at California Adventure. Finding Dory characters have been incorporated into the show.
  • Nemo and friends can be found in the Pixar Parade at California Adventure.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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8. Little Mermaid

  • Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, the attraction, is at California Adventure.
  • Ariel can be found at Disneyland for meet-n-greets.
  • King Triton’s Carousel, the attraction, is at California Adventure.
  • Ariel’s Grotto is at California Adventure. Dine with Ariel and other princesses.
  • Ariel can be found in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland.
  • Ariel can be found in the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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9. Frozen

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10. Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl

  • Pirates of the Caribbean, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • Pirates roam New Orleans Square.
  • Pirate-themed shops are throughout New Orleans Square.
  • Tom Sawyer’s Island has the Pirate’s Lair. (on hiatus until mid-2017)
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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11. Winnie the Pooh

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the attraction, is at Disneyland
  • Pooh’s Corner, the bakery, is in Disneyland.
  • Characters can be found in Critter Country at Disneyland for meet-n-greets.
  • Purchase.

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12. A Bug’s Life

  • A Bug’s Land is at California Adventure.
  • Several attractions in this area are themed for A Bug’s Life.
  • A Bug’s Life Theatre shows a production themed around the Bug’s Life movie.
  • Characters can be found in the Pixar Parade at California Adventure.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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13. Cars

  • Cars Land is pretty much the best themed land in all of Disney parks.
  • Radiator Springs Racers is the number one attraction in both parks.
  • Characters can be found in the Pixar Parade at California Adventure.
  • This movie has a major part in The Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

 

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14. Alice in Wonderland

  • Mad Tea Party Tea Cups, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • Alice in Wonderland, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • White Rabbit’s House can be seen at Disneyland.
  • Characters can be found on Main Street for interactive fun like musical chairs and meet-n-greets.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

 

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15. Star Wars – any of them

  • Star Tours, the attraction, is at Disneyland.
  • Star Traders, the store, is at Disneyland.
  • Jedi Training Academy is at Disneyland.
  • Characters can be found for meet-n-greets at Disneyland. (See the post listed next for more info.)
  • Season of the Force is currently taking over Tomorrowland and is quite impressive.
  • Purchase.
  • Streaming Option.

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Tips:

  • Watch Mickey Mouse cartoons via You Tube if your children are not familiar with the characters.
  • I also recommend watching You Tube videos of character interactions prior to meeting them. These larger than life critters can be quite scary for little ones during character meals and meet-n-greets.
  • The movie list here is lacking some classics, but I chose these 15 based on what is most present in the park. For example, Dumbo was left off the list. The horror! It’s a classic and the ride is iconic, but there’s not a huge devotion to the story in the park, therefore, I left it off. Please don’t hate me.
  • Not all of the movies on this list are for young children. Take a look at one of my favorite movie review resources, Common Sense Media, prior to showing each to your children for a good look into what to expect.
  • Review my parade post for how to set up for the parades, when and where to find them and what you can expect from each. Consider a special dining experience to coordinate with your parade experience, too.
  • To find characters in the parks, use your Disneyland app and also take a look at my character post.
  • Some of the attractions that coordinate with these movies might be scary for little ones. Know what to expect before you jump on a ride.

Leave me a comment letting me know what you would add to my list. There are plenty more!

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Definitely adding Bug’s Life to our list because my daughter has never seen it. We also read some Frog and Toad stories so she might know who on earth they are.

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I am a Disney collecter and going to Disneyland in my! I am so excited! Thank you for this post !

  3. Awesome post! There are definitely others that could be included (Pinocchio, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, etc.), but you always have to draw a line somewhere. We definitely prepared our daughter for her first Disneyland trip by watching many of these movies. Peter Pan, Winnie, and Alice were her favorites as a young toddler and not too scary – either the rides or the movies. One movie that I’d love to see but isn’t in public release (for obvious historical reasons due to its portrayal of race relations) is Song of the South, which is the basis for Splash Mountain. I’m always surprised to find that even a lot of Disney fans don’t realize there was a movie connected to it.

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