Attraction Reviews

Rating The Shows – Disney California Adventure

Not long ago I finished up an attractions ranking series, going through every single park and ranking them from worst to first.  Life was swell and the pickings were vast (well, aside from Hollywood Studios).  But rides only tell a portion of the story when it comes to the Disney Parks.

Carthay Circle

Live entertainment is part of what puts Disney ahead of the competition, at least most of the time.  Each Disney Park offers shows to guests that will greatly enhance an experience.  These shows range from nighttime spectaculars to 5-minute interactions as guests walk past on the sidewalk.  As I said, some shows are great and will make your experience in a park better.  Unfortunately, not all shows are created equal when it comes to production value.  That’s where I come in.

In this new series I’ll be going through each U.S. Disney Park and rating the live entertainment on a scale of 1-10, 1 being “if you see this show, you better bring breath mints to get rid of the bad taste in your mouth” and 10 being “if you miss this show, you are an idiot.”  First, a few rules:

  • The show has to be live and no meet & greets – I covered 3D shows (and the like) in the attraction rankings. Meet & greet experiences differ from person-to-person so it’s nearly impossible to rate a typical experience, seeing how there really isn’t a ‘typical experience.’  For the record, I don’t often like meet & greets unless they involve King Louie.
  • I’ll try to keep up! – Some of the temporary live offerings will be on here but some I simply won’t be able to keep up with.  If I’m behind, feel free to drop me a note in the comments below!  In this same vein, there are some shows that I haven’t seen and I will skip reviewing them.
  • Show’s are rated mostly on production, minimally on subject – I’m not the target audience for Jedi Training but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad show.  I’ll try to be as fair as possible, regardless of subject matter.
  • Make up your own opinion – I’m always right… Except when I’m not.  If I don’t like the show, that doesn’t mean you will feel the same.  I don’t think my opinions are too outlandish and I try to rate things on show quality instead of subject but that doesn’t mean you should take my word as gospel.

We’ll start with Disney California Adventure, the place so nice that they named it without an apostrophe.  I’ll list the attraction, then the ranking, followed by a little explanation below.  We’ll go in alphabetical order.

Five & Dime – 6.5/10

This show is perfectly acceptable for what it is.  Five & Dime is a band playing old-time songs as they drive down Buena Vista Street.  Most of the time, these songs have a jazz flare to them.  The nature of the show makes it hard to watch for very long.  Not because the show is bad, but because the show is literally hard to stand and watch for a while.  Once in a while the car that the band is in stops as they perform a song or two but more often than not the car is moving.

DCA Band car

I gave this show a 6.5/10 because it has never struck me as much more than a show that is just there as you pass by.  The music sounds good but never jaw-dropingly so.  It’s an above-average show that adds to the atmosphere of the park.  You’ll likely see it as you pass by but I’m not often eager to stop and watch.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion – 10/10

This is a 45 minute retelling of the movie Frozen, done in near Broadway standards.  The acting, production value, and theater are all top-notch and the show is incredible.  Frozen – Live at the Hyperion is my second favorite Disney stage show and probably the best in terms of production value.  This is an absolute must-see and will make your day at California Adventure much better.

Frozen pre show

Mariachi Divas – 7.5/10

The Mariachi Divas are another example of a really good atmospheric act.  This band of five plays along the Pacific Wharf, singing Mexican Folk songs as well as a few American Pop songs.  I think the music fits the area that they play pretty well.  I give this act a slightly higher rating than Five & Dime because they are more accessible to watch and the music is a little more out of the ordinary.

Pixar Play Parade – 3/10

I guess I should state that I’m not a big fan of parades, but this one is lacking.  The Pixar Play Parade doesn’t last very long, is on a short, crowded route, and is entirely forgettable.  There are only five floats in the whole parade.  I love Pixar as much as the next person (in fact, probably more) and the only redeeming quality of this parade is seeing the characters you don’t get to see very often.  Again, I’m not the biggest fan of parades but I do not like this one.  More often than not, I forget it’s even in California Adventure.

Red Car Trolley Boys – 6.5/10

This is very close to the same show as Five & Dime except instead of a band in a car, it’s an a capella (sort of) group in a trolley.  Bands are better than a capella, trolleys are better than cars.  It all evens out, so 6.5 it is!  A few benefits here are that Mickey Mouse shows up, and the thought behind it is quite nice in that it’s celebrating Walt Disney getting off the bus in Hollywood for the first time.

World of Color – 9.5/10

Disney California Adventure’s nighttime spectacular is beautiful and stunning.  The show is especially wonderful when they’re running the original version.  World of Color celebrates Disney films using water screens, projections and fountains as colorful scenes pop up around guests standing on Paradise Pier.  The show is breathtakingly beautiful and a real thrill.

The reason it doesn’t get a perfect 10 is because I don’t think the show has the same rewatchability as some other Disney spectaculars.  World of Color’s novelty doesn’t wear off but the wow factor might just a little bit.  I’m sure some would argue with this. World of Color absolutely is a must-see and is unlike any other stateside nighttime spectacular.

WOC Blue Fountains


California Adventure doesn’t have many shows compared to some other Disney Parks. What it does offer is an extraordinary stage show and a great nighttime show.  For what it’s worth, I have seen an act similar to the Jammitors in Epcot where janitors drum on garbage cans.  Toy Story Green Army Men also show up from time to time.  Both of those shows are fun to stop and watch but are hardly ever on the schedule.  While California Adventure might benefit from a few more streetmosphere type acts, the park does have quality entertainment for guests to watch.

Please let me know your questions and thoughts on California Adventure’s entertainment.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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