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5 Movies to Watch Before a Disneyland Vacation


When you are prepping for a Disney vacation, it’s always fun to get in a magical mood prior to your trip. And you may be planning a trip where it’s someones, whether a child or adult, first time to the parks. Watching the films that inspire so much of the parks is a great way to get into the mood for Disney magic. So for me as a Californian, I specifically thought of the films that would be best to watch before a trip to Disneyland Resort.

Toy Story

With the addition of Pixar Pier recently in DCA, Toy Story is a great film to watch. Toy Story is a well-rounded representation of Pixar as a whole. And you can find Toy Story in both parks, with the Buzzlightyear ride in Tomorrowland and Midway Mania in DCA. So not only is it specifically represented but it really does cover the overall Pixar feeling.

Peter Pan

Peter Pan is everywhere in the Disney Parks, whether you notice it or not. Tinker Bell in the fireworks and the idea of pixie dust are the two most prevalent, and the ride is a staple and incredibly popular. Peter Pan also covers a lot of the feelings you want from a vacation to Disneyland: magic, adventure, fun, excitement, etc.

Sleeping Beauty

The biggest reason I included Sleeping Beauty is because of the castle. Every park has its own special castle, and in Disneyland, it is Sleeping Beauty Castle. And I was also reminded that in Fantasmic, which is a quintessential Disneyland show, Maleficent is the main villain as she transforms into the dragon to fight Mickey Mouse. So these two iconic aspects make Sleeping Beauty a must watch before a trip to Disneyland.

Star Wars

Disclosure: I have never seen any Star Wars film in its entirety. I know some of the most well-known parts like who Darth Vader is, what happens to Han Solo, and such. So that is why I don’t say a specific film in the franchise. However, despite my lack of seeing the films, I still think it is important to see for a few reasons. In the near future, we will have Galaxies Edge, a completely Star Wars inspired land in Disneyland. And that is a huge reason why watching Star Wars is good. And even as it stands now, Star Wars is all over Tomorrowland. I don’t think you need to watch every film prior to your vacation, but one or two would help.


Cars is on this list primarily for California Adventure, and for a couple of reasons. Obviously, Cars Land is a whole area and is one of the better parts of the park. But not only does the film help with this particular land, but it helps give you a feeling of the overall meaning of DCA, which is that outdoor adventure. The film itself looks like a piece of California with its area and representation of Route 66, which is partially in California. But the feeling of freedom, driving through beautiful landscapes, and the array of personalities in that film gives that vibe the reminds me of DCA in many ways.


The Nightmare Before Christmas 

If you are going to Disneyland during the fall or the holiday season, you need to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. Since Disneyland is the only park that turns Haunted Mansion into a special theme based on this film during Halloween through Christmas, it’s an essential film for that time frame. Not only does it set the holiday feeling, but you’ll appreciate Haunted Mansion Holiday a lot more.

Your Favorite Disney Movie

I can’t do a Disney movie post and not talk about Mulan, my favorite Disney film ever. The upside of watching your favorite Disney movie is that you’ll get more excited and remember why you love Disney after seeing it. While Mulan is not prevalent in the Disney parks except for Chinese New Year, I still enjoy watching it as a reminder of the greatness Disney has made.

What movies do you think would make you excited for a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth? Share them with me in a comment below.

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