Top Five Movies Kids Should Watch Before Going To Disneyland (Plus An Announcement!)

Happy Saturday to you all.  I’ll get to the actual post in a minute but I had a quick announcement/programming note about the blog.  If you haven’t heard, there is a special on ABC tomorrow night (Feb. 20th) celebrating Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary. While that is going on, I will be ‘live-blogging’ the event over here on Wandering in Disney.  Since no one has live-blogged anything in the last decade, I’m not sure how this will go but I’ll be adding commentary and thoughts on anything that’s announced, including any Star Wars Land information.  So, come over here tomorrow night as you watch the show!  On to the post…

castle front right

Disneyland Resort is filled with immersive environments.  Some of these places are inspired by original ideas while others were inspired by the Disney film collection.  As my wife and I were walking today, we got to talking about Disney movies each kid should see before heading to Disneyland.  While the easy answer is ‘most of them’, I think some specific films would really enhance a child’s first visit.  While I think the list would be quite a bit different from an adult perspective, I decided to take it from a kid’s perspective first.  Here are my top five (and a few honorable mention) movies for kids to see before they go to Disneyland!

5.  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

This pick might be for some older kids, as the movie is more ‘adult’ than most of the others on my list.  In a perfect world, I would tell people to watch this movie after you came back from your trip.  But, they have updated the attraction to the point where it might be worth seeing the movie first.  There are some fun things that kids can find in the attraction and knowing Jack Sparrow from the films makes the ride a little more fun.

4.  Tarzan

This isn’t my favorite film but it will really make Tarzan’s Tree House in Adventureland much more enjoyable for kids.  Treehouses are awesome in their own right, but when you get to explore Tarzan’s then it’s even better.  There are quite a few details in this attraction that are much easier to track down if you are familiar with Tarzan.  Plus, if you watch the film then you get to hear those sweet Phil Collins songs!

Tarzan's Treehouse

3.  Peter Pan

One of my favorite attractions in the Disney Parks simply wouldn’t be the same without seeing Peter Pan.  The attraction takes you through some of Peter Pan’s plot but is still abstract enough to be a bit confused if you aren’t familiar with the story.  This is a great watch, especially for young boys.  Much of Fantasyland can feel a little ‘princessy’ for boys but Peter Pan is a safe haven from tiaras and fairies.

Peter Pan Sign

2.  Toy Story

Toy Story makes the list mainly because there are 2 attractions in Disneyland Resort with a Toy Story theme.  Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters inhabits Tomorrowland and is way more fun if you have knowledge of who Buzz is.  In the queue, there is an audio-animatronic Buzz Lightyear and many kids get extremely excited when they see him.  Similarly in California Adventure’s Paradise Pier, there is a Mr. Potato Head in the queue for Toy Story Midway Mania.  Unlike Buzz, Potato Head will converse with you while standing in line.  While this attraction is fun no matter if you’ve seen Toy Story or not, it does help to be familiar with the characters.

Tomorroland night tall

1.  Cars

Cars was the inspiration for this post.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of the film, at least compared to other Pixar movies.  Still, being familiar with Radiator Springs and it’s characters makes one of the best theme park lands in the world even sweeter.  While I do think the area would be a blast even without seeing Cars, I don’t think that kids will get as excited without seeing the movie.  Cars was a clear top choice, and quite a way ahead of the other films that I’ve listed.

Cars Land at night

Those are my five but there are many others I considered.  Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Indiana Jones and Star Wars top my list of honorable mentions.  Many of the attractions that correlate with those films just tell the plot of the movie, so I didn’t think it would be important to see them before you go.  Other may disagree with that sentiment though.

I’d like to do another post like this for Walt Disney World and then one for adults (and more obscure films) at some point.  If you disagree with any of my choices or have some to add, please leave them in the comments!

– Andrew

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