Have you ever tried to complete a puzzle that was missing a piece? The hours of work, the build up to that final design and then just a nice open space on the top left third of the puzzle. Just like a puzzle, a theme park needs all of its parts to fit and work coherently. Most of them miss perfection with some of those pieces, generally known as lands. The difference in the land’s quality will tell whether a park will be spectacular or seem incomplete. In this series, we’re going to take individual lands one post at a time and answer some questions about them.
While this isn’t quite the deep dive into lands that we’ve done before, I’ll provide the bare bones information about the area as well as my overall opinion. We’ll also use these posts to talk about theme both throughout the land and within the park. Throughout the series, all of the posts will use the same questions. Let us know in the comments if there are questions that we should add!
After starting this series at Tokyo Disney Resort and then moving to Walt Disney World, we figured it was time to move on to Disneyland Resort. Disney California Adventure is a mishmash of themes and we’ll head there today, discussing Grizzly Peak.
What is your short(ish) review of Grizzly Peak?
Grizzly Peak is what most lands in California Adventure should shoot to be, an idealized version of a piece of the state the park is named after. Sporting a few excellent attractions, the land is reminiscent of the Redwoods and other Californian National Parks. While it may not have the flash or franchise connections of other lands, Grizzly Peak is beautiful and one of the best parts of California Adventure.
What’s in the land?
Grizzly Peak is a quieter portion of DCA and takes up a good amount of room. Here’s what the land consists of:
- Soarin’ – Currently Soarin’ Around the World has residency at this theater but the OG, Soarin’ Over California, has started to make more and more appearances. The former is a decent attraction but the latter is excellent and should be a mainstay at this point.
- Grizzly River Run – One of the best river raft rides in the world, Grizzly River Run takes guests right up next to the iconic Grizzly Peak and then careening down the river from there.
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – A wonderful trail and playground area that is fun for all ages. Kids could spend quite a while running around the playground but there’s plenty for adults to explore too. For a playground, this fits the land perfectly.
- Smokejumpers Grill – A counter-service restaurant that serves American food and honors the brave forest firefighters who would jumped out of planes.
- Rushin’ River Outfitters – A fairly large store near Grizzly River Run with some nice murals and amazing bear statues outside of it.
- Humphrey’s Service & Supplies – A much smaller store but they do have some random items you might have forgotten, like sunscreen!
- Meet & Greets – Pluto, Chip & Dale and a few others have been known to meet in the land.
- Chester – The land is also home to our favorite Disney cat, who we call Chester.
The land also features direct access to the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel.
What is Grizzly Peak’s backstory and theme?
The land pays homage to California’s vast national parks, specifically targeting the Redwoods. Grizzly Peak is built around celebrating the great outdoors and the whole area feels very natural. In 2015, the first half of the land if coming from the entrance of the park was rethemed to Grizzly Peak Airfield. This airfield is complete with a beautiful watchtower next to the giant hangar that houses Soarin’. While not as natural as the area around Grizzly River Run, the airfield still has tall pines and flows organically into the next land much better than its predecessor, Condor Flats, did. With the tall trees near Grizzly River Run, this area of the park feels secluded and fresh which is much different than other areas in DCA. The theme works exceptionally well, even if it is pretty straight forward.
What is your favorite part of the land? What’s the most memorable aspect of it?
This is a hard choice. My favorite part of the land is a little trail that walks through Grizzly River Run and out the backside of Grizzly Peak near Pacific Wharf. You can catch an up close view of the waterfall before seeing some details that are purely there as eye candy. It’s one of the most thoughtful areas of the park and there’s never anyone else there. You could start your journey all the way at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and then you’ve made up your own little trail!
The most memorable aspect of the land is probably Soarin’ Over California or the actual Grizzly Peak. The former is a brilliant ride that now holds some nostalgia for many. It fits into the park perfectly and is a breath of fresh air. As for the Grizzly Peak icon, it looks great throughout the park and is underrated as an icon.
By the way, both of those answers are wrong. Chester the Cat is my favorite and the most memorable part of Grizzly Peak.
Were there parts of Grizzly Peak that you don’t like?
Yes, Smokejumpers Grill serves bad food. Really, that’s about it. The American food served here is bland and doesn’t offer anything very interesting. It’s one of the worst quick-service restaurants at Disneyland Resort. I enjoy everything else Grizzly Peak has to offer.
How does the land coincide and transition with the rest of the park? Does it make the overall park better or worse?
Well, California Adventure is a bit of a mess. It was flowing pretty coherently for a few years but then a giant alien space tower was plopped down and then the pier got a little confused about its own aesthetic and theme. None of that is Grizzly Peak’s fault though and entering onto Buena Vista Street then turning right into Grizzly Peak is still a very pleasant and well thought out transition. Even the back half of the land flowing into Pacific Wharf makes some sense and isn’t a shock to the system. The land certainly makes DCA much better!
Where would you rank Grizzly Peak in relation to the others in the park?
While Cars Land reigns supreme in California Adventure due to its immersive-ness and massive budget, Grizzly Peak is an easy second place. There are days when you could talk me into it being number one overall. Not only is finishing second out of seven lands pretty impressive, Grizzly Peak remains one of the most underrated lands in any Disney Park.
What do you think of Grizzly Peak? Do you like our Land Exit Surveys? Would you add anything? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! 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: Land Exit Survey
I think your comment about smokejumpers grill is wrong. We loved the food and the ability to ‘dress’ your burger with as much and the exact things we wanted. In fact, it was one of our favorites. Loved eating there late at night when so tired and not many people around. Oh, and the saddest thing that happened was when they took away king triton carousel. I loved the fish and ocean creatures more than anything!!
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