Part two of my how to visit Disneyland like a pro series! This post focuses on California Adventure, the second park built on the Disneyland lot. Like the first post, this is based on how to get around the park in the most fun and efficient way possible, with in-depth descriptions on the rides, parks, and other fun options!
Some things to remember (with some repeats from post 1):
- Don’t go during peak season. Peak season is summer and the holidays where you’ll be guaranteed longer lines and hotter hours.
- Get to the park as early as possible.
- Get Fastpasses! Especially for the Radiator Springs Racers and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout!, two of the most recent and popular rides in the park. If you don’t, you may not be able to ride some of your favorite rides! My advice, have a parents or friend who may not be able to ride some of the rides or doesn’t want to sprint around go and get Fastpasses for everyone. In my family, my dad does this and it guarantees fast lines every time!
- California Adventure is a newer park and is therefore very wheelchair accessible, although there are some rides where you can still go straight to the front.
- Young kids should take a nap in the middle of the day, leaving them fresh for the least crowded and less hot part of the days.
- 100% you must see World of Color, it’s a one of a kind experience that is heaven for any Disney fan.
This park differs from the original Disneyland park in that it is dedicated to California, from the giant stone grizzly bear, to the food, to the Hollywood-inspired main street. However, it loses none of that classic Disney magic in that it is a more modern meld of Disney, Pixar, and Marvel.
The park is split into seven, with A Bug’s Land closing in the summer of 2018 to be replaced by a Marvel themed land to go along with its new Guardian of the Galaxy’s themed ride that overtook the classic Tower of Terror. The other lands are: Buena Vista Street, Cars Land, Pacific Wharf, Paradise Pier, Hollywood Land, and Grizzly Peak.
The most popular rides to get Fastpasses for are: Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!, Radiator Springs Racers, Grizzly River Run, Soarin’ Around the World, California Screamin’ (becoming Incredicoaster), and Toy Story Mania.
This land doesn’t get quite as crowded as Disneyland, as it was also built to seem less confining. This is a rundown of each land and the attractions within.
Buena Vista Street
This is the first place you’ll visit when walking through the main entrance. It pays homage to the early years of Walt Disney and his company, with many 1920s references and performances done in cable cars. This is also where you’ll do the hefty bit of your shopping in California Adventure, as the street is lined with both food and merchandise.
This land is a hodgepodge of different attractions, united by the common aesthetic of Hollywood and the movie process. There are only two rides, one a Monsters Inc themed ride and the other, the newest ride, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!. Many people think of this space as merely a place to walk through in order to get to this new ride, but there are hidden treasures here, including my favorite place in either park! First, there are two theaters. One for small children that is based on Disney channel shows targeted for young ages. The other, a true gem that offers condensed versions of Disney movie musicals. The two I’ve seen have been Aladdin and Frozen, both of which were amazing and worth getting to the front for good seats. My hidden secret of the park? The Animation Academy. This is a quiet, unassuming place from the outside, but the inside holds all the true magic of Disney. First, you walk inside and are greeted by giant screens of Disney movie images, be it storyboard sketches, stills from the movie, or movie clips. There are more than a dozen different movies in rotation, each enchanting in its own right, with theme music playing and different lighting.
There are four different places to visit within this building, including the Drawing Academy, where you can learn how to draw Disney characters with a real Disney cartoonist! Then the Sorcerers Workshop, where you can make your own small movies by dubbing over songs and make still pictures move. There is also a place to find what Disney character is most like yourself. Next, Turtle Talk with Crush, where people can ask Crush from Finding Nemo any question they want, and the high-tech screen and microphone reacts in real life time for a convincing conversation. Then finally, the room where you can meet Anna and Elsa, a huge moment for many kids. This building is truly magical, and is my favorite place in all of Disneyland. One can sit and relax on cushy couches while watching captivating images fill the room. Then, one of my favorite places to shop is right outside, even connected to the building! It’s called Off The Page, and is mainly dedicated to the artwork of Disney.
A Bug’s Land (soon to be a Marvel land)
Unfortunately, this land will be disappearing soon to make way for a Marvel themed one. What I will say however, is that this land truly made me feel as if I was in A Bug’s Life when I was little. The detail and planning of it was meticulous and I will miss it greatly.
The newest full land! This land took reference from A Bug’s Land and made each detail movie-perfect. Walking through the land is like taking a stroll down Radiator Springs as you saw it in Cars. There are three rides, two for younger children, and the other called Radiator Springs Racers. The Racers ride is vastly popular and rightfully so, as it mixes speed and thrills with nostalgia, storyline, and animatronics. It also serves as a connecting point between three other lands.
This Wharf is all about food and drinks, and is one of the few places to serve alcohol in the Disney parks. It is modeled after the Bay Area of California, stretching from San Fransisco to Monterey. My tip? Get some sourdough bread from the Boudin Bakery, you won’t regret it!
Paradise Pier (soon to change)
This is largest land in California Adventures as of now, but is mostly shut down for renovations. The land will soon split into two parks, one called Pixar Pier, with California Screamin’ becoming The Incredicoaster and a rumored Inside Out ride to go along with Toy Story Mania. The second, called Paradise Park, will include rides on the right side of the Pier, from Jumping Jellyfish to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. The new Pixar Pier will be amazing, as the new renovations come mostly as theme changes and the rides themselves won’t be much different structurally. Paradise Park will be the same as always, at least for now, and is mainly for younger children. However, it does offer an amazing view of the World of Color. My advice? You must absolutely see World of Color, no excuses! It is an amazing arrangement of water features with Disney collages projected upon them with music, and fire accompaniment.
The last land on the list, and actually my favorite land in California Adventures, is Grizzly Peak. The theme is the California wild and airplanes, and is complete with two of my favorite rides in the whole park and one area dedicated to Brother Bear and Up that offers wilderness activities that are fun for all ages. The two rides reign supreme however, with Soarin’ Around the World being a unique experience that offers an experience of different, beautiful places around the world, while suspended in the air with music and different smells piped in for your pleasure. Then Grizzly River Run, a ride with a precious memory attached to it. While I’ve mentioned this earlier, Disneyland is great to visit while raining because most rides will stay open and won’t be crowded. When I was young, my family was caught in the rain and I didn’t want to leave the park. My mother and little sister who was very young at the time, decided to go back to the Grand California Hotel (accessed from the exclusive entrance in front of Grizzly Peak, a hot tip for anyone staying in the hotel!). My father and I decided to ride Grizzly River Run, a fast-paced river ride with rapids, geysers, and huge drops. Nobody else wanted to go on the river ride while it was raining, so we went again, and again, and again. Laughing hysterically as we sprinted from exit to entrance over and over again, this was one of the best moments of our trip, and indeed, any trip I’ve ever taken to Disneyland.