California Adventure

California Adventure anaheimer Sun, 11/30/2014 - 11:11

California Adventure park at duskCalifornia Adventure opened its doors on February 8, 2001. It is a totally separate theme park from Disneyland, but they both reside within the Disney Resort complex.

The park started with five areas but was remodeled recently to include 7 distinct areas. Each area represents various aspects of California, its culture, landmarks and history. It is home to Disney’s only real rollercoaster, a must see hang-glider ride and a unique Ferris wheel. 

Visit Paradise Pier or Pacific Wharf to relive summer times at a California beach town. Or go to Hollywood Land for a look into how Disney movies are made or to rescue the Guardians of the Galaxy. And for a trip into California's wilderness, visit Grizzly Peak. Finally, for a thrilling race through Radiator Springs go to Cars Land. 

To learn more about the history of the park, go here.

nullThis park is full of rides, shows and parades to enjoy - so plan your visit ahead of time. Your plans should take into consideration the ages of your kids, the length of your stay and your endurance power.

To make your experience more enjoyable and stress-free, plan your visit by going to Disney’s website. The site allows visitors to filter for attractions by “Thrill Type”, “Interests” or “Age”. For example, you can choose “Big Drops”, “Slow Rides”, “Teens”, etc. But before you go there, stick around and learn about the park from a local.

I live practically around the corner from the Disney Resort and spend a lot of time at the parks. I would like to share my experiences with you. Hopefully, it will help get the most out of your visit. 

The park is usually open from 9 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and from 8 AM to 11 PM on weekends and holidays.

Tip: Most rides offer a single rider line. Even if you don't see a sign indicating "Single Riders", ask the attendants. They will direct you to the "secret" line. You can take advantage of this feature even if you are with a group. If you don't mind being separated during the ride, just go for it. Read more about services here.

nullThe park is divided into 7 areas with California inspired themes. 

Buena Vista Street

As you enter the park you will be on Buena Vista Street, which was named after the actual street in Burbank where Disney studios sit.

As you walk down this street you will notice many shops and snack stands. Restrooms are to your right as you walk in. Read more here.

nullGrizzly Peak

Take a hike through California’s national parks with Redwood trees, whitewater rapids, and high mountain peaks. This area is home to Soarin Around the World and Grizzly River Run.

See all the rides and adventures here

Tip: Some rides offer FastPass. It is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. Read about California Adventure Services here.

nullParadise Gardens Park

After your adventure at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, turn right into Paradise Garden Park. Step back in time and walk into a carnival full of rides, parlor games, and fast food.

The area surrounds a large manmade lake where the “World of Color” show plays. Read about Paradise Gardens here.

nullWorld of Color Show

To end your day at California Adventure with awe and wonderment, you must plan to view this spectacular show. 

The show projects various movie clips from the vast Disney and Pixar collections on a giant screen of water and mist – with a fiery display of pyrotechnics. Accompanying the spectacular display is a magical musical score.

Read more about World of Color here.California Adventure Incredicoaster

Pixar Pier

Pixar Pier is just like any beach town boardwalk with lots of rides, food, and entertainment. You can spend a lot of time and money trying to win at shooting, racing, or other skill games.

Read about Pixar Pier here.

Cars Land

nullCars Land is the newest addition to the California Adventure park. It spans 12 acres simulating the town of Radiator Springs and Route 66 from the Cars movie.

The land is home to the popular ride Radiator Springs Racers along with other rides for the younger guests and several dining places. Explore Cars Land here.

Pacific Wharf

Like any respectable Wharf in California, expect to find a variety of dining experiences and snack shops here. You can also take a tour through a functioning bakery. The main attraction is Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar where you will get a glimpse of how ideas turn into reality.

Disney California Adventure - Frozen LiveHollywood Land

Hollywood Land you can step into the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930s and enjoy the magic of cinema and theater.

Stroll through Hollywood streets, catch a show at the Hyperion Theater, or go on a terrifying ride at the “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout!​”. Stroll through Hollywood Land here.

Dining Options

null​California Adventure offers many dining options. You can get a quick snack from places like “Corn Dog Castle” or “Cozy Cone Motel” or you can get lunch for a casual dining place like “Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill” or “Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta”.

If you are in the mood for something casual, go to “Award Wieners” where they serve delicious sausage and hotdogs.

For food truck experience, try the “Studio Catering Co.” for some corn dogs, chips or caramel popcorn.

For dessert head to “Schmoozies” for some great fruit smoothies.

If you really want to enjoy an upscale experience, try “Carthay Circle” or “Wine Country Trattoria. See the full dining guide here.

FASTPASS and other Services 

Disney California Adventure offers several services that help make your visit more enjoyable, like

Read about Fastpass, Maxpass, Single riders, rider switch, and Photopass.

Buena Vista Street

Buena Vista Street anaheimer Thu, 11/28/2019 - 11:13

Disney California Adventure - Buena Vista Street - by HarshLight - WikipediaThe Disney Resort is practically in my backyard. Throughout the years we learned a lot about Disney’s parks, hotels, shopping, and restaurants. In these pages, we will share our knowledge with you.

Buena Vista Street is the first thing you will experience as you enter the park. It is meant to represent the actual in Burbank where Disney studios are located. The street leads to the central plaza that represents Los Angeles in the 1920s. 

For an overview of California Adventure, go here.

As you walk down this street you will notice many shops and snack stands but there are no major attractions here. It is just a gateway to the rest of the park.

Entertainment

nullIt wouldn't be a Disney park without some music and dance or character meets.

So while walking the street you may get lucky and meet Goofy, Mickey, or Minnie – or you might come across the Five & Dime band.

The red car trolly starts from Buena Vista Street and takes you on a historic ride into Hollywood Land.

Dining

You can grab a coffee and pastry at the Café or an Ice Cream treat at Clarabelle.

If you prefer a sit-down dinner or lunch, visit Carthay Circle for great tasting food and drinks.

California Adventure Dining

California Adventure Dining anaheimer Sat, 11/30/2019 - 08:34

Disney California Adventure - Wine Country Trattoria - by JeffChristiansen - FlickrThe Disney Resort is practically in my backyard. Throughout the years we learned a lot about Disney’s parks, hotels, shopping, and restaurants. In these pages, we will share our knowledge with you.

​California Adventure offers many dining options. You can get a quick snack from places like “Corn Dog Castle” or “Cozy Cone Motel” or you can get lunch for a casual dining place like “Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill” or “Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta”.

For an overview of California Adventure, go here.

Snacks and Casual Dining

If you are in the mood for something casual, go to “Award Wieners” where they serve delicious sausage and hotdogs.

Disney California Adventure - Smoke jumpers Grill - by HarshLight - FlickrFor food truck experience, try the “Studio Catering Co.” for some corn dogs, chips or caramel popcorn.

For dessert head to “Schmoozies” for some great fruit smoothies.

Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company

For a snack, you have to visit this soft-serve ice cream stand. The lines are long, but it worth the wait. They serve the usual cup or cone – vanilla, chocolate or swirl. But they also serve coke or root beer floats.

Smokejumpers Grill

​Right next to “Soarin' Over the World” you can enjoy cheeseburgers, chicken and ribs. You can customize your burger by adding your own toppings.

Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill

Grab your authentic Mexican tacos, burritos or tamales and take them to the shaded outdoor patio. 

Upscale Restaurants

nullIf you really want to enjoy an upscale experience, try “Carthay Circle” or “Wine Country Trattoria. Those places require advance reservations and some offer the World of Color dine and show package. 

Carthay Circle

A fine dining restaurant that offers mouth water dishes like “Crisp Duck Confit” or “Herb-Crusted Lamb Scaloppini”.  For dessert, you should try the “Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée tart” or the “dark chocolate mousse bar”.

Mendocino Terrace

If you are thirsty from some beer or wine, you can order it from this counter service and find a place to sit and relax. Some standing only tables have a great view of the park. 

Lamplight Lounge

Disney California Adventure - view from the Lamplight LoungeFor a luxurious sit-down dinner, try the Lamplight Lounge with seats on the lake and overlooking Paradise Pier and the Roller Coaster ride. 

The view is great but the food is even better. During my last visit, I had the Cheddar Burger with fries. The burger was cooked to perfection and fries were seasoned and very tasty. For my drink, I chose the Open Ocean - a frozen raspberry and rum drink. 

Wine Country Trattoria

DCA Wine Country Trattoria - by chris alcoran - FlickrExperience a Napa Valley Winery in a Mediterranean garden setting with delicious Italian dishes and a great wine selection. 

I love sitting on the patio overlooking the lake and Pixar Pier rides while sipping wine and enjoying great tasting food. 

On a recent visit, we tried the Osso Buco (Slow-braised Lamb) and the Veggie Lasagna. Both were very tasty. For dessert, we ordered the Wine Country Tiramisù and we loved it.

Storytellers Cafe

Disney California Adventure - Storytellers CafeAnother great option for dining when visiting California Adventure is this Buffet restaurant inside the Grand Californian Hotel.

The buffet offers quality salad, soup, pasta dishes, chicken, Prime Rib and Turkey cuts. 

The dessert station is also full of tasty treats and the cocktails were amazing.  

An added bonus to dining at storytellers is the special entrance into California Adventure. This entrance is inside the hotel and usually with very short security lines. 

Cars Land

Cars Land anaheimer Sat, 11/30/2019 - 07:37

nullThe Disney Resort is practically in my backyard. Throughout the years we learned a lot about Disney’s parks, hotels, shopping, and restaurants. In these pages, we will share our knowledge with you.

Cars Land is the newest addition to the California Adventure park. It spans 12 acres simulating the town of Radiator Springs and Route 66 from the Cars movie.

The land is home to the popular ride Radiator Springs Racers along with other rides for the younger guests and several dining places.

For an overview of California Adventure, go here.

Radiator Springs Racers

nullThis is a car driving experience through the town of Radiator Springs. After you board your six-passenger car, you will cruise through town and be greeted by familiar faces from the “Cars” movie.

​Passing through an Archway, a valley and under a waterfall, you will end up at the race starting line. Expect some surprises along the way as you pass through a dark and mysterious area.

At the start line, your car will race another car to the finish line going through some nullexhilarating sharp turns and steep drops. The cars in this section of the ride can go up to 40 miles an hour. 

While you race away, notice the “Cadillac Range Mountains”. The peaks resemble the tail fins of classic Cadillac models from 1957 to 1962. <FastPass Available> <Single Rider Line>

Tip: At one of those sharp turns with a drop - towards the end - your photo will be taken. Be ready to make your goofiest pose for the camera.

Disney California Adventure - Maters Junkyard Jamboree - by HarshLight - WikipediaOther Attractions

Cars Land also has two additional attractions that are more appropriate for smaller children:

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree: Ride a trailer that is pulled by a funny looking tractor. 

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters: You sit in your vintage cars, then the cars start dancing around the yard.

FastPass, PhotoPass and other Services

FastPass, PhotoPass and other Services anaheimer Wed, 11/27/2019 - 07:29

California Adventure IncredicoasterThe Disney resort is practically in my backyard. My family and I love to spend a whole day or just a few hours at the Disney parks. Throughout the years we learned a lot about the parks and attractions that we like to share with you.

Disney California Adventure offers several services that help make your visit more enjoyable, like

Fastpass, Maxpass, Single riders, rider switch, and Photopass.

California Adventure FASTPASS Attractions

FastPass is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. For example, if you go to space mountain and find out that the wait time is too long, get a FastPass. It will specify an appointment time for you to come back. When you come back you go through a different line which is usually very short. Be aware that you can only have one FastPass at a time (per rider).

Tip: Disneyland and CA Adventure now offer the Max Pass. For $10 extra you can book your FastPasses from the mobile app - avoiding the lines. You can get the app here.

Rides that offer FastPass:

  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark
  • Incredicoaster
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • World of Color.

Get the latest on FastPass/MaxPass here.

Tip: Some annual passes have MaxPass and PhotoPass included.

California Adventure Single Rider Lines

Another way to beat the lines and Disney parks are the single rider lines. If you are traveling alone (or willing to split from your group when you reach the ride) you can go to the single rider line, which goes faster than the regular line.

On a recent visit, the wait time for my ride was 75 minutes. I was able to get in within 5 minutes through the single rider line.

Rides that offer single rider line:

  • Incredicoaster (California Screamin')
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers (distributed near It’s Tough to Be a Bug)
  • Soarin’ Over the World.

Rider Switch (Swap) Rides

Do you have small children, but you don't want to miss out on the thrilling rides? Line up with the whole group, and when you reach the attendants let them know you would like to swap.

One adult will stay with the young children, and the other adults can go on the ride. When the first ride is done, the adult that remained behind with the children can now enjoy the ride while the others wait.

Rides that offer rider swapping: 

  • California Screamin'
  • Goofy's Sky School 
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Silly Symphony Swings - Single 
  • Silly Symphony Swings - Tandem 
  • Soarin' Over California
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 
  • Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies.

Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak anaheimer Fri, 11/29/2019 - 08:01

nullThe Disney Resort is practically in my backyard. Throughout the years we learned a lot about Disney’s parks, hotels, shopping, and restaurants. In these pages, we will share our knowledge with you.

​At Grizzly Peak you can take a hike through California’s national parks, go whitewater rafting, or soar over the world.

For an overview of California Adventure, go here.

Soarin' Around the World

nullI always like to make this my first ride of the day. If you are anything like me, you will end up going on this ride multiple times. 

The ride simulates flying in a hang-glider above iconic world sites like the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, or Iguazu Falls. It also flys over the Swiss Alps, Greenland, Sydney, and Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa - to name a few.

​The ride ends with a flight over Disneyland right in the middle of the fireworks show.

The amazing scenery passing right under your feet is so realistic and the smells (yes! You heard it right: Smells) are so refreshing that you can very easily forget you are in a simulator.  <FastPass Available>

Tip: Some rides offer FastPass. It is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. Read more here

Grizzly River Run

California Adventure Grizzly River RunAs you exit Soarin' Over California turn right and walk towards Grizzly River Run. This is a ​whitewater rafting ride. 

The attraction's name comes from Grizzly Peak, the bear-shaped mountain that the rapids flow around.

You are guaranteed to get wet on this ride so go during warm weather, or you can buy one of the plastic smocks and avoid the worst of the drenching.

If you brave the cold weather and get wet, there are drying booths right outside the ride's exit. <FastPass Available>

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

null​Right opposite to Grizzly River Run, you will find this wilderness-themed play area. This place can be great fun for both kids and adults.

You can climb the rocks, glide on rock slides, climb up wooden lookout towers with rope bridges or slide down a rope in a suspended tire.

Don’t forget to go through the Spirit Cave to discover your mystical animal spirit. 

If you prefer to relax and let the kids run amuck, benches are available.

Tip: this play area is very large with many fun things to do. On the way in, inspect the large map to decide which way to go.

Hollywood Land

Hollywood Land anaheimer Sat, 11/30/2019 - 08:26

Disney California Adventure - Frozen LiveThe Disney Resort is practically in my backyard. Throughout the years we learned a lot about Disney’s parks, hotels, shopping, and restaurants. In these pages, we will share our knowledge with you.

​At Hollywood Land you can step into the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930s and enjoy the magic of cinema and theater.

Stroll through Hollywood streets, catch a show at the Hyperion Theater, or go on a terrifying ride at the “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout!​”.

For an overview of California Adventure, go here.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion

If you loved the movie, you will enjoy this theatrical rendition of the story. 

The show retells the story of Elsa and Anna in an hour-long spectacular production. Disney pulled all the stops with dynamic scenes, movie animation on the walls and special effects. 

Disney California Adventure - Guardians of the GalaxyThis show is worth your time, even if you don't have kids in your group.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout!

This ride is not for the faint of heart, pregnant women or people with back problems. This should be hint on what to expect on this thrill ride. Be prepared to be flung up high and then dropped in fits and starts. 

The ride used to be called The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror but it was engineered recently with a Marvels Guardians of the Galaxy theme.

California Adventure Guardians of the Galaxy​Your mission, if you are willing to take it, is to rescue the guardians from the evil collecter Taneleer Tivan who imprisoned them at the top of his tower. Your assistant on this dangerous mission is Rocket. 

The ride uses the latest visual and audio special effects with clips from the movie series.  <FastPass Available>

Animation Academy

null​Did you always want to draw Disney characters but didn’t know how? Then join this session with a Disney animator to learn the basics of animation. At the end of the session, take your creation home with you. No talent is required and all ages are welcome.

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!

Based on the 2001 Pixar movie, the ride takes passengers through the dark streets of Monstropolis where they encounter all kinds of monsters.

In a cavernous space with doors leading to children's rooms, Randall the angry monster tries to destroy Boo's door to trap her in Monstropolis forever. 

Mike and Sulley find the door and save the day as usual. 

Paradise Gardens Park

Paradise Gardens Park anaheimer Fri, 11/29/2019 - 14:12

nullThe Disney Resort is practically in my backyard. Throughout the years we learned a lot about Disney’s parks, hotels, shopping, and restaurants. In these pages, we will share our knowledge with you.

​Paradise Garden Park takes you back to the days of seaside carnivals with thrill rides, parlor games, and fast food.

This area surrounds a large lake where the “World of Color” show plays.

For an overview of California Adventure, go here.

The Little Mermaid

Disney California Adventure - Little Mermaid rideIf you loved the Little Mermaid movies you must go on this ride. This is especially enjoyable for the younger audience, but everyone can have fun reliving the story. 

Glide on your chariot through the magical kingdom of the mermaids and sing along to the popular under the sea tunes. 

This ride is similar to Small World in Disneyland but with a nautical theme.   

Goofy's Sky School

nullThis is a crazy rollercoaster ride where Goofy will "teach" you how to fly. It is based on Disney's animated cartoon "Goofy's Glider".

The ride has a lot of turns, drops and sudden stops, but it is not very fast. The sides of the ​tracks are wide open. This gives the rider the feeling of falling off on sharp turns. The open sides and sudden drops may be unsettling for small children.

As you fly in your gliders, billboards on the sides of the tracks show Goofy giving step by steps instructions on how to fly. <FastPass Available>

Tip: Some rides offer FastPass. It is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. Read more here

Jumpin' Jellyfish

null​At the Jumpin’ Jellyfish, the younger kids can enjoy a parachute jump through a Kelp forest. The secure seats will take them up to a height of 40 feet and then drop them gently to the ground. On the way down they can enjoy a nice view of Paradise Bay.

Tip: If you have loose shoes or slippers on, take them off before the ride or you will lose them.

Silly Symphony Swings

nullHuge spinning swings rock you back and forth as they spin you round and round - synchronized to the music of "The Band Concert". 

As you spin, you have a great view of Paradise Bay and the other rides around you.

Golden Zypher

Ride on a retro rocketship and take a relaxing journey as you spin over the waters of Paradise Bay.

World of Color Show

nullTo end your day at California Adventure with awe and wonderment, you must plan to view this spectacular show. 

The show projects various movie clips from the vast Disney and Pixar collections on a giant screen of water and mist – with a fiery display of pyrotechnics. Accompanying the spectacular display is a magical musical score.

The show also utilizes lights, water, fire, fog, and lasers. Expect to see clips from The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Fantasia 2000, WALL-E, Toy Story, Aladdin and many more.

Tip: The show plays 2 times on the weekend and one time on weekdays. It is immensely popular so you will need to plan ahead.

null​The best way to attend the show is to head straight to Grizzly River Run ride and get FastPass tickets (or use the app). Those free tickets run out quickly, so make it your first stop when you arrive at the park. You can combine those FastPasses with other ride FastPasses.

Another option is to reserve a dining package at one of the sit-down restaurants surrounding Paradise Bay (Lamplight Lounge, Carthay Circle Restaurant, Wine Country Trattoria). Dining at those places is a little pricey, but if you were planning to have dinner anyway, this it is a good way to catch the show too. <FastPass Available>

Pixar Pier

Pixar Pier anaheimer Sat, 11/30/2019 - 07:01

Disney California Adventure - Pixar Pier

The Disney Resort is practically in my backyard. Throughout the years we learned a lot about Disney’s parks, hotels, shopping, and restaurants. In these pages, we will share our knowledge with you.

Pixar Pier is just like any beach town boardwalk with lots of rides, food, and entertainment. You can spend a lot of time and money trying to win at shooting, racing, or other skill games.

For an overview of California Adventure, go here.

Incredicoaster (California Screamin)

California Adventure IncredicoasterThis is the only real rollercoaster at the Disney resort. It is currently the fastest steel roller coaster in the US and features a full loop. 

The ride starts with rapid acceleration through the water in Paradise Bay and splashes ​most of the riders. 

The 55 mph speed and all the twists and turns make this ride the most thrilling ride in the Disney parks.

Recently, Disney reimagined this ride with a Pixar Incredibles theme. As you zip through the twists and loops you get to enjoy sights and sounds from the movie series.  <FastPass Available>

Tip: Another way to beat the lines and Disney parks is the single ride line. If you are traveling alone (or willing to pretend you are alone) you can go the single ride line which goes faster than the regular line. Read more about Disney services here.

Toy Story Midway Mania!

Disney California Adventure - Toy Story Midway Mania - by McDoobAU93 - WikipediaWear your 3D glasses and ride your spinning vehicle through the midway games.

Try your luck at Pie Throw, Hamm & Eggs, Rex and Trixie's Dino Darts, Buzz Lightyear's Flying Tossers, or Woody's Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gallery.

At the end of the game check your score to see if you are a winner.

Disney California Adventure - Pixar Pal-A-Round

Used to be called "Sun Wheel", recently reimagined with a Pixar theme. This 160-foot tall Ferris wheel features both sliding and fixed gondolas.

The sliding gondola is not for the faint of heart. If you prefer the fixed gondolas, make sure to pick the correct entrance.

As you climb to the top of the wheel, you will get a birdseye view of the Disney parks and Orange county.

Looking at it from across the pond, you can see a large Mickey Mouse face at its center. At night, it becomes a dazzling light show.