Disney’s California Adventure Park is the newest Disney park in the United States and one of the most beloved. Though it had a rocky start when first opening in 2001, DCA has found its footing and become a hub for so many great attractions. We love the atmosphere at this park with the introduction of Pixar Pier in 2018, the Pacific Wharf, and, of course, the addition of Avenger’s Campus (RIP A Bug’s Land).
Next time you visit Disney’s California Adventure Park, take these 6 tips with you and make your day totally awesome (insert Crush voice here).
Get to the Big Attractions First
Disney’s California Adventure is the smallest park in the United States. Spanning just 72-acres, it is nearly 30-acres smaller than Disneyland right across the street. There are also only 17 rides in DCA (Disney’s California Adventure) and most of those are smaller rides — i.e. Jesse’s Critter Carousel and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.
Because of the smaller nature of the park, you can easily knock out the larger rides first and fast! Take advantage of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure, Soarin’, and Incredicoaster early in the day. Now look at you! The rest of the day is ahead with fewer long lines for popular attractions. Don’t forget to make use of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
Don’t Skip Out on Pixar Pier
Pixar Pier is a great place and so much fun! Taking over Paradise Pier in Summer of 2018, Pixar Pier still has those incredible boardwalk games that are great fun for the whole family! Bullseye Stallion Stampede is a leftover from the before-times, but they added: La Luna Star Catcher, WALL-E Space Race, and Heimlich’s Candy Corn Toss.
Not only are there great games, but the food vendor stands are wonderful, as well! Angry Dogs is a can’t miss for us and, if you pay attention to Disneyland details, the Duke Caboom Roastie-Toasty on Pixar Pier is such a fun Easter egg. Leave it to Disney and Pixar.
Indulge in the Good Food
This seems like an obvious thing to mention, but there is so much good food to eat in DCA that you don’t want to miss it. With the new Avenger’s Campus open, the Pym Test Kitchen is a must-visit. The food is out of this world (from a quantum perspective, that is) and you won’t believe the chicken sandwich. Or the giant pretzel. I mean really, who thought of these things?
Another spot we love to visit is the Lamplight Lounge. Their California-inspired cuisine is delicious and the diverse menu is paired with cocktails both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. We also love the Pacific Wharf and the food options there. A few favorites include Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Wine Country Trattoria, Pacific Wharf Cafe, and, of course, Ghirardelli® Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop.
Whether you’re dining in Cars Land, Pixar Pier, Avenger’s Campus, or Pacific Wharf, there is so much to eat and enjoy! You can’t go wrong.
Let the Kiddos Let Out Their Energy
When you’ve hit your limit and your kids can’t hold your hand or sit in the stroller one more minute, take them to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. This is such a fun spot for kids to let out their energy and run wild. The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a forest-themed play area at Disney California Adventure’s Grizzly Peak area.
It features a network of trails simulating a trail in a redwood forest, a large network of stairs and rope bridges, a traverse rock climbing wall, a zip line, side-by-side slides, and an amphitheater. The best part about it is that there is no age or height limit to go in.
Hang Out For a While in the Animation Academy
So we know what to do for the kids when they get antsy, but what about you? This is where the Animation Academy comes in. We LOVE this spot in California Adventure. Right in Hollywood Land, you’ll find the Animation Academy. Truly a worn-out adult’s dream. There is a lobby that features dozens of large screens artistically placed, playing iconic clips from famous Disney films. The entire atmosphere of the room changes from film to film providing a serene moment in an otherwise hectic place.
But there’s more! The Animation Academy is a wonderful opportunity to hone your drawing skills with a Disney artist. You’ll be given step-by-step instructions on how to draw a beloved Disney character. It’s a lot of fun and a great time to step away from the hustle and bustle of the park and take a beat. And while you’re at it, visit the Sorcerer’s Workshop for some fun activities that are great for the whole family.
Claim Your Spot for World of Color
Without question, World of Color is one of the best shows any Disney park has to offer (I’m looking at you Fantasmic). We cannot get enough of this show and it puts a huge smile on our faces every time we see it. The lights, the effects, the water, the fire — just thinking about it is enough to make us wish we were sitting across from the Pixar Pal-A-Round awaiting the show. You are going to want to make sure you get there early!
Time was, you would have to have a paper FastPass and because this is such a popular show, you still needed to arrive early to claim your spot. With the show re-opening later this year, there might be some changes to the reservation process with the introduction of Genie+ earlier this year. So keep an eye out for that and make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get a good view of the show.
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