DLR Explained

Disneyland Resort (DLR) is in Anaheim, California, a city south of Los Angeles (in Orange County). Most of us (well, anyone over 15 years old) grew up calling Walt Disney's original amusement park "Disneyland." Well, that was then and this is now... and the little 55-acre park has changed a bit.


DLR includes:

  1. Disneyland Resort (DL -  I know, Disneyland is one word),
  2. Disney's California Adventure (DCA), and
  3. Downtown Disney (DD).
  4. The 3 on-site Disney hotels.

The Longer (but still brief) Version

Herb Ryman's map of Walt's Vision for Disneyland (from   Disney Parks Blog  )

Herb Ryman's map of Walt's Vision for Disneyland (from Disney Parks Blog)

Walt Disney designed and built Disneyland as a place where families could enjoy a "day in the park" together. It was the first park of its kind, and the first potential investors couldn't understand the concept well enough to provide funding. At the time Disney was pitching his idea, amusement parks were associated with "unsavory characters" and drifters, bringing crime to the areas they visited. Walt knew he needed a better description of his vision. During a whole weekend in September 1953,  Walt sat with Herb Ryman (a good friend, also a very talented artist) describing his vision, while Herb drew an illustrative plan depicting a family park with various "lands," so that Roy Disney would have something to show when he met with and requested funding from executives on Monday. The plan obviously did the trick, because then-young ABC-TV provided funds and a loan guarantee in exchange for a television show, series and partial ownership of Disneyland. Construction began in 1954 and Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955.

Walt definitely created something special: within three months, 1,000,000 visitors had passed through the gates to the magic kingdom (not to be confused with Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida -- notice the uppercase vs lowercase letters).

Disneyland ca. 1958 (from  Mousemaps.com ) 

Disneyland ca. 1958 (from Mousemaps.com

Disneyland has grown over the years: adding new rides, attractions and lands; removing less-than-successful "lands" and attractions; changing themes of various areas; changing the admission and ticket structure; adopting and changing sponsors and commercial partnerships. And building a second theme park. And hotels.

DLR = Disneyland (DL) + California Adventure + Downtown Disney (image courtesy of   DLR Prep School  )

DLR = Disneyland (DL) + California Adventure + Downtown Disney (image courtesy of DLR Prep School)

The biggest change to the area occurred in 2001, when the Walt Disney Corporation opened Disney's California Adventure (DCA), and Downtown Disney (DD).  Disney built California Adventure as a new amusement park with entrance gates and admission separate from Disneyland. From opening day, it focused mostly on California's various geographic and cultural features, somewhat like stepping into a postcard from California.  Downtown Disney and California Adventure opened in the area that was formerly Disneyland's 5000-car parking lot. Now visitors park in the "Mickey & Friends" multi-level parking structure, which holds about 10,000 cars. Even with this new amusement park, attendance counts and revenue in its early years didn't impress Disney's accountants.  In 2007, Disney announced a $1.1 billion refurbishment and re-theming project for California Adventure to increase visitors' experience in the park as more of a Disney-themed park. This refurbishment incorporated more Disney and Pixar characters into the park (by this time Disney had purchased the Pixar Studios), for a more immersive Disney experience. Building upon the success of Pixar's "Cars" movies, Disney built "CarsLand," complete with characters, stores, restaurants, and rides inspired by these Pixar movies. See the Disney website for more detailed information about California Adventure.

Downtown Disney is described as "...a lively promenade featuring distinctive eateries, unique shops and exciting entertainment" (see Downtown Disney in the Disney Website). Disney's reason for building DCA and DD was to expand the Disneyland property and convert it into a multi-day vacation resort destination, to appeal to a greater audience - similar to Walt Disney World resort. Three Disney-owned and -themed hotels are within Disneyland Resort and have become part of the resort experience:

  • The Grand Californian Hotel within Downtown Disney;
  • Paradise Pier (which had been recently remodeled); and
  • the original Disneyland Hotel (also recently remodeled) .

Now that you know, don't be surprised to hear people say "We're going to Disneyland" when they really mean they are going to DCA, DD and Disneyland. Old habits take a long time to break.