Disney California Adventure

Slowly but surely I’m catching up on the blog!!  Much like Disneyland, we hopped in and out of California Adventure multiple times on our four day tickets.  The park seemed small as far as the attractions offered – similar to Hollywood Studios in Orlando.  We did quite a few things, but it quickly boiled down to a handful that were favorites.

Must Do’s:

  • Explore Cars Land at day and night
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • California Screamin
  • Tower of Terror
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Soarin’
  • Carthay Circle
  • World of Color

Entering California Adventure, you feel like you are stepping into old Hollywood.  The street performers are authentic, engaging and pretty hysterical!






Like back home, half of our party LOVED Tower of Terror.  The other two kicked around in Bugs Land.  The ride was similar, but not the same, so we enjoyed the surprises!  I think you might be able to see all of Disneyland from up there – the view was gorgeous for the split second you got to see it :-)





One of the times we came off Tower of Terror, we almost bumped into Casey from DLR Prep School!!!  It was SO much fun to meet her in real life.  I used her for many Disneyland tips and tricks while planning.  We also met up later in the day at the Hearthstone Lounge in the Grand Californian.

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Cars Land was all it was cracked up to be.  It was literally like stepping into a favorite movie.  After experiencing what must be the creme de la creme of Disney Imagineering, I am more excited than ever for Pandora, Star Wars land and Toy Story land!!



We saw the end of Route 66 again :-)


Everything was there.  The Cozy Cone, Flo’s, Fire Department, Luigis, you name it!




Lightening McQueen, Mater and the gang drive all over Cars Land.  It’s really incredible to see your favorites riding up and down the streets!



Radiator Springs Racers was tied for our top attraction in California Adventure!!  It was such a FUN ride.  A little birdie told me it was the same track as Test Track before we went and I could totally see that!  We got to ride multiple time with fast passes.  There is a special entry gate into California Adventure from the Grand Californian and it’s really close to the pool.  I’d run over and get us fast passes, we’d swim or eat and then pop back over to ride!







There are two other rides in Cars Land.  We did both and both were entertaining.  I’d recommend bee-lining to Cars Land at rope drop for all of these!


And, you definitely must see Cars Land at night.  It’s really such a perfect replica of the Radiator Springs we all know and love!



Our other favorite part of the park was Paradise Pier.  I really didn’t have high expectations for this but we all loved it and had a lot of fun here!



California Screamin tied with Radiator Springs Racers for our favorite.  It was much easier to get on during the day and we rode it four or five times during our week!!



The littles loved Mickey’s Fun Wheel.  We did the stationary and swinging cars and both were fine.  The views of the park are great!!

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We did every ride at Paradise Pier except Toy Story Mania.  The littles enjoyed all of them!

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Another fave was Grizzly River Run (very similar to Kali River Rapids).  This was one where I’d run over from the pool, grab fast passes and then we’d run back for our ride.  It was maybe a 5 minute walk from the Grand Californian pool!

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One of our very favorite dining experiences of our trip was at Carthay Circle.  It was so beautiful lit up at night!



The restaurant is so beautifully appointed and is truly like stepping back in time to Hollywood’s Golden Age.  I could have spent hours admiring every detail, the romance and glamour.



Walt with his Oscar from Snow White, presented by Shirley Temple. It’s the only time the Oscar statue has ever been modified.  His is one large Oscar and seven mini ones.  Snow White premiered at Carthay Circle Theatre.



We were so beyond fortunate to be escorted to one of Carthay Circle’s private rooms – They Hyperion!





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Hidden in the wood of the gorgeous round dining  was the Evil Queen’s face.  Do you see it?!


We started with wine from the Disney Family of wines and the signature fried biscuits.


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Honey had the pork chop and I had the fish.  Both were excellent and we ate every bite!



John and I were both surprised with treats for our birthdays!  Here’s to 10 and 40!




It was such a special and memorable night!!  We felt like movie stars!


Another evening we had the great fortune to being treated to VIP seats for World of Color (thanks to the same amazing friend!).  Paradise Pier was so fun, colorful and exciting all lit up at night!




We all LOVED the interactive pre-show game on Mickey’s Fun Wheel before the show.  I would love to see more like this on our coast!!


World of Color itself was spectacular.  It was entertaining and emotional and really quite a feat with all of the water projections.




Tips and Tricks:

  • We didn’t plan on park hopping but the parks are literally a hop, skip and a jump away!  We bounced back and fourth too many times to count.  Get park hoppers for any length of stay!
  • Use the Disneyland app for wait times.  It was great!
  • Brush up on your paper fast pass skills.  It’s really a great system once you figure out / remember how to use it.
  • Be in the park the minute it opens!  Use extra magic hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We were in the park every.single.day by 7AM.  We hit it hard until about 10AM when the crowds became almost unbearable.
  • At park opening, head straight to Radiator Springs Racers and ride it.  Get a fast pass to ride again later!  It’s that good!
  • It can be cold and was very windy.  Dress in layers!
  • Take the afternoon off to relax at the resort before coming back for dinner and nighttime shows.
  • Make use of the dining packages with reserved seating for World of Color.
  • Look for the special 60th PhotoPass stations.  They are a lot of fun and also have animated movie clips!
  • If you are staying at Grand Californian, use the private entrance to the park.  It lets you in right at Grizzly River Run.
  • Other than Radiator Springs Racers and maybe California Screamin, consider saving California Adventure for the afternoons.  It didn’t seem to get as wall to wall crowded as Disneyland.

I’ll be popping in tomorrow with all the details on the Grand Californian!


As an independent consultant with Glass Slipper Concierge, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise LineDisneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and other delightful destinations.
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Read all about our trip:
GoPro Review
Disneyland | Club 33 | California Adventure
Grand Californian Resort  | Dressing for Disney

Everything Disney | Everything Disneyland


One thought on “Disney California Adventure

  1. We will be in LA for a few days and planned just one day for Disneyland. For my 10 and almost 13 year old boys, do you think Disneyland is the way to go or would you suggest California Adventure instead? We have only been to Disney (in FL) once if that helps! I think trying to do both parks might be difficult for just one day there. Thanks, Amanda!

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