The internet is filled with lists and itineraries of what you should do at Disney Parks, including the itineraries we’ve created on this blog. Many of those plans mirror each other to a degree but it can still be overwhelming to have so many factors pulling in different directions. Most itineraries (again, including ours) pack park days to the brim with activities. We realize that isn’t everyone’s preferred route when it comes to going on vacation. With that in mind, we’ve started this series in which we give our top five things to do in each Disney Park that we’ve been to. Essentially, it’s a ‘can’t miss’ guide.
If you missed any of the previous installments from this series you can click here to catch up. We’re moving on from Walt Disney World’s parks across the country to Disney California Adventure – the park that does away with the apostrophe S. California Adventure opened in 2001 to less than stellar reviews and has gone through many changes since. Now the park sits in a strange place with a confused theme and some amazing lands and attractions mixed in with mediocre aspects.
California Adventure boasts an impressive attraction roster though and that’s what makes the park an interesting one. While DCA doesn’t have the amount of attractions as a castle park, the park still offers 20+ rides along with solid entertainment and dining.
My top five for all of these posts can consist of attractions, shows, dining, or anything else I think of (it will mainly be in those first three categories). The main caveat is that these lists have to consist of tangible things to go and do. That doesn’t mean you should hop from one thing to another at California Adventure. The park has beautiful lands to explore, our favorites being Cars Land and Grizzly Peak.
None of these lists have only consisted solely of rides and we’ll keep that trend going at California Adventure. Since this is my list, I will happily bend the rules to fit my picks. I’m playing fast and loose with that whole ‘top five’ thing. Here’s what you should not miss at Disney California Adventure!
There’s no sense in burying the lede, despite being 7 years old Cars Land is the best part of California Adventure. While picking the whole land is a little broad for this post, it’s a short title and you can’t go wrong with much here. The real must-do is Radiator Springs Racers, one of Disney’s best attractions in the world. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is a good amount of fun, as well. If you’re hungry then the Cozy Cones offer some excellent snacking options and Flo’s has decent food with a great view.
I can’t say that I’m a fan of the Cars series but this land is exceptional. The land was one of the first to jump on the very specific IP-based lands that are now the norm in theme parks. It’s a beautiful land that is fun to be in anytime of day. Enjoying Cars Land should be priority number one in DCA.
Get in on the Superhero Action!
California Adventure does their action rides pretty well and the two based on superheroes are particularly fun. Weirdly, both are rethemed attractions. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! proves that an attraction doesn’t need to have a good name to be fun. Incredicoaster (formerly California Screaming) is the biggest roller coaster at California Adventure and always a blast. Both attractions are thrilling and worth doing, even if you aren’t a fan of the franchise they’re based on.
An Elegant Few Hours in Hollywood
This category is definitely a “go with me here” answer but… uhh… Go with me here! Hollywood Land at California Adventure is a mess but it does offer an exceptional, Broadway style show. Frozen – Live at the Hyperion is one of the best pieces of stage entertainment in a Disney Park and should absolutely be experienced regardless of your love (or hate) for the movie. Before or after the show, grab a bite to eat at the elegant Carthay Circle. The biscuits are incredible and we really enjoyed the entrees, as well. If you are looking for a shorter, more casual experience then Carthay Circle has a great lounge that offers very good food and a broad selection of drinks. Eating inside of the park icon is just a bonus!
World of Color
California Adventure’s nighttime spectacular is a unique water-fountain show. Guests gather in the Paradise Gardens Park to watch the show at park closing. The show takes you on a tour through some of Disney’s most popular IP’s with a great soundtrack and exciting sights. While it’s not Fantasmic! across the esplanade, World of Color has earned its spot as one of the better nighttime spectaculars. Once the show ends, let all the other guests leave while you stand down by the water, enjoying the music and fountains instead of being herded like cattle.
Enjoying the Outdoors on Grizzly Peak
California Adventure, to me, is at its best when trying to showcase California’s outstanding national parks. There’s no better example of this than Grizzly Peak. This little land houses Grizzly River Run and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. The latter is essentially a playground but takes a little more of an adventure spin on it. It’s nothing mind blowing but a nice getaway from the crowds while also being themed well. Grizzly River Run is a rapids ride that takes you through that same redwoods-style theme. It’s my favorite rapids ride that I’ve ever been on and not to be missed!
With apologies to Soarin’ Around the World and the Lobster Nachos at Lamplight Lounge, that’s our top five at California Adventure. There are plenty of other things that could have made this list but you have to draw the line somewhere. For me, that line is a list of about 10 things to do masquerading as a Top Five list.
What would be in your California Adventure Top Five? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our Disneyland Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Top Fives