As a SoCal native, I have grown up going to Disneyland and I have never grown out of it (fortunate for my imagination, unfortunate for my wallet).
A place cannot become the happiest one on Earth without legitimacy to gain this reputation (and some really good marketing). But theres no doubt that Disney knows how to make magic. Theres an ora about the park that convinces you to wait in an hour-long line for a 4 minute ride and believe that every second was worth it.
My favorite rides at Disneyland are Space Mountain, The Matterhorn, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, The Teacups, Indiana Jones, It’s a Small World, The Haunted Mansion (and technically in California Adventures but deserving of a spot on the list: California Screamin’, Cars (a MUST), and The Tower of Terror- which was sadly torn down).
The only way to beat the long lines is to grab some food to bring while you wait. Trust me, you will lose your patience in a half second if you are hungry on top of standing in the heat for unusually long periods of time. Some of the standouts: Churros (you seriously can’t escape the smell), Frozen Lemonade, Soft- Serve Ice Cream (the best one is on the pier in California Adventures), Chicken Tenders or Corn Dogs, Beignets (Mickey shaped), and the classic Dole Whip Soft- Serve. Dining is essential to the Disneyland experience- seriously don’t shy away from giving into it.
And make sure to hydrate!!! Disneyland only sells Dasani water bottles so if you are going to buy the water in the park, just be aware that it will make you more thirsty because of the salt contents in it.
Disneyland makes dreams come to life and one day seem like a vacation to an imagined setting. There really is no place like the Happiest Place on Earth.