…Continued from Disneyland.
Disney’s California Adventure
“To all who believe in the power of dreams, welcome. Disney’s California Adventure opens its golden gates to you. Here we pay tribute to the dreamers of the past: the native people, explorers, immigrants, aviators, entrepreneurs and entertainers who built the Golden State. And we salute a new generation of dreamers who are creating the wonders of tomorrow, from the silver screen to the computer screen, from the fertile farmlands to the far reaches of space. Disney’s California Adventure celebrates the richness and the diversity of California… its land, its people, its spirit and, above all, the dreams that it continues to inspire.”
– Michael D. Eisner, February 8, 2001, In front of the Sun Icon of the former Sunshine Plaza
California Adventure opened in 2001, with a fury of negative reviews. It took some time, and a major 5 year revamp in 2007 for the park to really blossom into it’s own incredible theme park – still making major improvements and experiences for guests today. I first visited this park at my graduation trip with my classmates and remember the feeling of it being “not quite Disney-esq”. I can’t say the same today – with Cars Land, Guardians of the Galaxy, World of Color, the Buena Vista street, and the Frozen show, you can’t say this isn’t a Disney Park. In fact, over 9.4 million people visit each year! During our visit they also celebrate Halloween Time – and they hit the mark. The decorations were great, the specialty food/drinks were awesome, and we loved seeing the characters in their costumes. I am so excited to see the park in the next 10 years, as they are updating it quite frequently.
Attractions & Areas to Highlight:
Buena Vista Street – This is the main street guests walk through once they entered the park and it is named after the street Walt Disney Studios was located on. It is set to a 1920s theme (about the time Walt Disney arrived in California!). In the morning the characters are out and about, often in 1920’s attire. It is outside Carthay Circle restaurant (modeled after the Carthay Circle Theatre where the movie Snow White had its debut), that guests are treated to the Dreamers statues.
A Bug’s Land – This area is modeled after the Pixar movie, “A Bug’s Life”. The area allows us humans to experience life as a bug, traveling on ladybugs, or standing next to a giant watermelon (partially chewed). This area has attractions for children – Flik’s Flyers, Francis’ Ladybug Boogie, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, Princess Dot Puddle Park (a water feature), and Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies (bumper cars).
Hollywood Land – This area features a main Hollywood Blvd., and back-lot features. The main street has its tribute to Hollywood with attractions like the Animation Academy. The area is meant to be a tribute the 1930s Hollywood, but with a mixture of attractions it doesn’t quite have that affect anymore. Nonetheless, this is our go to area for Groot bread, Groot rides, and did I mention how much I love Groot!? Oh, okay… if you happen to like the movie Frozen – the show at the Hyperon is fantastic – but let’s move on to Groot…
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT – This is the new attraction in DCA, opening summer 2017, replacing the Tower of Terror. I am a huge fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and was super excited to get on this ride. We did not want to wait the 2 hours, and opted for a fastpass. With the fastpass, it means we also missed out on some of the cool queue items. The building is the collector’s fortress, which means, he has some pretty cool items from the Marvel series – A Nova Corps uniform, Kree weapons, and even Figment from EPCOT is in the collection. We still got to see the preshow, which shows the five guardians trapped in the collector’s secure location. I won’t give away everything, but the next preshows are pretty epic and the queue after that preshow is amazing – shout out to those who saw the original abominable snowman from the Matterhorn! The ride itself has 6 different settings, corresponding to 6 different songs. We have now been on the ride 3 times, and have ridden only two of the settings – all by random. I can’t stress enough how much detail and thought went into the recreation of this ride from Disney. I loved it!
Monsters After Dark – Oh, but I am not done yet. For the Halloween season there is a special edition of the Guardians of the Galaxy Ride. This one has nothing to do with the Guardians Breaking Out, and instead has us riders take a journey with Rocket to rescue Groot from monsters, and ghouls. The queue has the same items, except there is occasionally a Yondu ghost wandering in the preshow. The preshow is different since it is a different premise, and the ride is set to a different song and different screens. It does have more Groot time which is my preference anyway. Fantastic ride! If only I didn’t get so nauseas doing those types of rides!
Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! – This dark ride is very cute, but after riding the one in Tokyo with the interactive flashlights, I think this one is ready for an upgrade.
Car’s Land – The newest area to California Adventure with a lot of thrill and adorableness. The area is a complete recreation of the town Radiator Springs from the movie Cars. During Halloween time, the entire area is decorated!
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters – Okay, so if you have read my posts about Disney parks before, you will know how over the moon I get about trackless technology. I won’t get into specifics, but know that I think this technology has a lot of potential (as seen in the newest Hong Kong ride, Mystic Manor or Paris’ new Ratatouille ride). This ride allows guests to “dance” in a festival in the tire yard behind the tire shop. For Halloween, the guests dance to “spooky” songs! It is a lot of fun and if you are geeky like me, a must do!
Radiator Springs Racers – This ride is similar to EPCOT’s Test Track, but with a Car’s theme. The ride takes a car of 6 people through a Radiator Springs, getting your car’s tires fix or possibly car painted, and finally a race against another car. This ride uses the third generation of Test Track technology (the first being Test Track in EPCOT, second is Journey to the Center of Earth in Tokyo).
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree – The baby tractors takes guests through lots of whipping turns. Yes this ride makes me a bit dizzy, but it also makes me giggle like a 5-year kid.
Grizzly Peak – This area is themed to the National Parks of California – like Yosemite. It is where the entrance to Grand California Hotel is (also modeled after the lodge in Yosemite). It is home to three attractions: Grizzly River Run, Soarin’ Around the World, and Redwood Creek Challenge. On this trip, we didn’t do any of these rides because of weather and crowds.
Pacific Wharf – Although there are no attractions here (unless you count the bakery tour), this place is a must stop for us. We particularly like eating in this area. During the fall season, the bakery had a Beer Cheese soup, which was amazing and made me miss my family in Minnesota!
Paradise Pier – This area is currently getting a major makeover to become Pixar Pier, but while we were there in October, it was still Paradise Pier. This area is home to our favorite bar, The Cove Bar as well as several rides! The area is meant to resemble a Victorian era beach side amusement park – with ice cream, churros, food, and boardwalk games – it feels like it. We didn’t get to all of the attractions: Golden Zephyr, Goofy’s Sky School, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and Silly Symphony Swings.
California Screamin’ – This roller coaster is the fastest at the Disneyland Resort – going 55 Mph! With Neil Patrick Harris as the coaster’s audio host, and music playing throughout the coaster, its hard not to feel PUMPED when exiting the ride. The ride is being transitioned to Incredicoaster (themed after the Incredibles) opening in 2018.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – This dark ride takes us passengers in clamshells through Ariel’s under the sea into her world and story. It is similar to the one in Magic Kingdom, except the facades – in California it looks like an aquarium, whereas the one in Florida is in Fantasyland so it is modeled after the Prince’s castle.
Toy Story Midway Mania – This is Steve’s favorite ride at California Adventure. When we go, we ride it numerous times. It is the same exact ride as Florida, with the same games and strategies. The ride recently added a fastpass system to it, making it even easier to go on multiple times a trip!
Similar to Disneyland, we actually didn’t do any entertainment during our Halloween weekend – including the famous World of Color show. With the crowd size, we tried our best to get as many rides as we could, as well as spend time with our friends.
We love to shop at California Adventure. Our favorite place to buy pins is the shop to the right on Buena Vista Street, next to the sweets. Now with all the Marvel items, I find myself in love with the merchandise at Guardians of the Galaxy ride as well.
The Cove Bar – MUST for us. Lobster Nachos plus colorful cocktails – YES.
Pacific Wharf Café – We love getting claim chowder (or in the fall, beer cheese soup) bread bowls here!
Cozy Cone Motel – They recently introduced cocktails here, which we enjoyed. Also – Mac & Cheese in a bread cone – YUM!
Schmoozies – These are fun, seasonal, smoothies that are refreshing and tasty. On every visit I always check this place out.
Groot Bread – Hard to find, sells out quickly, but OH so cute.
We LOVE Disneyland Resort, including California Adventure. I feel like in the 15 + years since it has opened the park have made such major improvements. I love that there is change, and new attractions it seems like every other year. Just writing this post makes me itch for new trip!