One of the coolest things about Disneyland California is the proximity of the parks. Arriving from the offsite Anaheim hotels, there’s Disneyland to the right, and Disney’s California Adventure to the left. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that!
At Disney’s California Adventure’s main entrance I did a double take – am I at Hollywood Studios in Disney World? The outside is very similar! However, as soon as I looked at a park map I knew this park was anything but. We can easily do Hollywood Studios in half a day, but here – there’s so much more to do! The full day we had planned was needed.
When visitors first arrive Disney’s California Adventure they’ll find themselves in Sunshine Plaza, with Hollywood Pictures Backlot to the left. Here there are shows, like Muppet Vision 3D. There’s also the Tower of Terror, and if you continue down Hollywood, you’ll find yourself in “a bugs land,” which is popular for kids. Continuing, is the new Cars land, and oh man! Disney did an amazing job with this! I’ve never seen the Cars movies before, but this land makes me want to. I felt like I was walking in the middle of an animated movie. Leave it to Disney to allow me to feel something so impossible.
Next up is Paradise Pier, with the famous California Screamin’ coaster. This roller coaster is the forefront of the park (sort of like the Cinderella’s Castle, the Tree Of Life, Epcot Ball, etc), so I was actually expecting to see it when I first walked in, rather than it being in the very back of the park. What a cool land though! There are so many fun rides and shops that I could spend half a day here alone.
Completing the circle is Golden State, where visitors will find Grizzly’s River Run (like Animal Kingdom’s water ride, only better), Soarin’, etc. Soarin’ here is considered an “old ride,” so it doesn’t draw the insane crowds or have the super long wait like its Orlando counterpart. Same with The Little Mermaid ride. We pretty much walked on.
Fast Pass worked out really well for us (although many rides don’t have it). For example, since it was SO HOT OUT, Grizzly’s consistently had a 60-90 minute wait. Fast Passing was definitely the way to go. We walked on.
Paradise Pier is exclusive to this park, and, as I said above, we LOVED it. They take some amazing classic rides and add a Disney touch, like a Ferris Wheel. It acts as a standard wheel, but also has moving cars. We rode both, and I will never opt for the moving ones again. It was by far scarier than California Screamin’.
The other thing about this park is that it’s just beautiful. The theming is perfect and so well done. No matter where you are it’s just… pretty.
This trip we stayed at the Anaheim Marriott, and there was a great view of our hotel from the Ferris Wheel. This is the biggest difference from Disney World. Here, you’re in the middle of Anaheim. You can see parts of the city and are not “immersed” in Disney. However, I found the parks to be so magical that the proximity of other things didn’t bother me in the least.
California Screamin’ is one of those rides I won’t go on a second time in the same day, but I’ll gladly go back on the next time we visit. We both agreed that it’s far superior to Aerosmith. I could stand on the bridge and watch the countdown/launch forever.
We had a significant wait for Toy Story Midway Mania. You can’t Fast Pass it, so there’s no other option. This was also our only inaccurate wait time. It said 45 minutes, but ended up being closer to an hour. I can’t remember the last time I waited on a line that long, so it slightly killed me.
I also loved how easy it was to meet characters here. We never went to a “Fairytale Hall” type of place, or some location to wait in a long line. Rather, it seemed like the characters sort of “popped up” around the park, so it never took away from our day.
Cars Land impressed me so much!
For those who think Disney magic only happens in Disney World, think again! We received more magical moments here than our last two Disney World visits combined! I’ll share my favorite.
We were only here until 8pm because we had to catch our flight home. One thing Disneyland doesn’t have is an app to check wait times. Instead, they have Guest Relations kiosks all over the park. We’d go up to them and ask the current wait times, rather than spending the extra time walking to the rides themselves. By late afternoon, we still had a lot of rides to go, like Soarin’, the new Cars ride, Toy Story Midway Mania, etc. When we arrived at the park at 10 that morning, the new Cars ride was already out of Fast Passes. The wait did not drop below 120 minutes the entire day.
So after hearing all the current wait times, we had to make a choice; either wait on line for the Cars ride and miss out on the others, or skip the Cars ride and be able to go on another 3 or so rides. We thanked the lady at the kiosk for the information, and went off to the side to debate what to do. She must have overhead us, because the next thing we know, she’s asking if this is our first time here, and what time we’re leaving, etc. Then, out of nowhere, she hands us a special Fast Pass for the new Cars ride. She saved the day! Now, we were able to go on EVERYTHING, thanks to not having to wait on a 120 minute line!
We walked back to the new Cars ride, and thanks to this wonderful lady, WE WALKED ON.
And this ride, OMG. It’s like Test Track, only BETTER. We loved it! It’s definitely my favorite ride here.
So my favorite ride at Disneyland California is the Matterhorn, and at California Adventure it’s the new Cars ride – two rides Disney World doesn’t have. Well played, Disneyland, well played!