Rumors and Commentary

What Comes Next for California Adventure

Over the last few months we’ve looked ahead at some theme parks, pondering what they could add next to augment their current state. After taking a look at Hollywood StudiosAnimal KingdomMagic Kingdom, and Disneyland, we now stroll across the Esplanade to Disney California Adventure. Avengers Campus recently opened at California Adventure to top off a series of changes over the last five years. Outside of adding to that new land, there aren’t any big projects on the (announced) horizon for California Adventure. In this post, we’ll discuss five additions California Adventure could, and maybe should, make going forward.

We’ve spent many words on this site discussing California Adventure’s themes and problems. That’s not really the goal of this post so I won’t dive into that discussion again. Instead I’ll try to enhance the parts of the park that I love and help the parts of the park that have some trouble. As far as just basic optics for DCA go, the park has quite a few attractions, some decent food and a few confusing transitions and placements.

Incredicoaster sunset Pixar Pier DCA

Despite large scale changes over the last ten years, California Adventure still has room for growth both in terms of literal space and ways to improve. The biggest thing that we’ve learned about DCA over 20 years is that it will change all of the time. Some of my changes will be bigger ideas while others will be small. Let’s get to the list!

Soarin’ Over California Returns Permanently

I’ve been on this train for a while and will continue to do so. Not only is Soarin’ Over California the superior version of the attraction compared to Soarin’ Over the World, it also fits the park much better. You know, they both have California in their name and all of that? Grizzly Peak is a beautiful land that heavily features air travel and adding in the far more believable California version of the attraction makes way more sense. This one is common sense and could be done for next to no money. Please!

Soarin over California Golden Gate DCA

A New Show at The Hyperion

There are parts of Frozen Live at The Hyperion that really worked, namely the big musical numbers. Unfortunately, I don’t think the condensed tale works as well as its predecessor, Aladdin. I think the theater could use some fresh blood in the form of a new Broadway style show. Once again, there’s no shortage of material to choose from. An original stage show would be great! Princess and the Frog, Hercules, Tangled or Lion King would also be on my short list of things to add there. More than anything, it seems people may have gotten a little Frozen’d out and a new show could add some excitement to the area.

Frozen pre show

Replace the Dark Rides

California Adventure is home to two of Disney’s more disappointing dark rides – Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. If they’re going to keep them then they should at least give them shorter names! I digress… Neither of these dark rides are very good and with the wealth of content Disney could base these spaces around, it shouldn’t be a problem to come up with something better. Honestly, I’d be fine with them continuing to be based on Little Mermaid and Monsters, Inc. Give Mike & Sully to the Rescue a complete overhaul, possibly converting it to the Ride & Go Seek version that’s found in Tokyo Disneyland. The Little Mermaid dark ride is a bit more problematic as it’s right in the center of the park and Disney invested more money into that. I’d be happy to see something completely new in that area but don’t know how likely that is.

Sully Mike Monsters Inc Ride and Go Seek DCA

Extend Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and Connect it to the Back of Paradise Garden Park

Okay, I’m deep in the weeds on this one but I absolutely love the state park portion of California Adventure. Adding a few trails through the wooded section to connect with the old pier rides and Goofy’s Sky School would make this park feel more Californian. Now, this is a lot of land to devote to a kid’s play area so maybe it becomes a more adult themed area to explore, similar to Tom Sawyer Island. DCA could use more areas to just wander and this would be pristine, taking away the bottleneck that leads to the Pier while adding substance to the park.

Path lights Redwood Creek Challenge Trail DCA

Clean up the Sightlines Rebrand the Park

Something clearly needs to be done with the hodgepodge of lands that California Adventure holds. Maybe that’s renaming it? Maybe it’s making a concerting effort to tie things into the Californian landscape moving forward? I’m not sure that there’s a clear answer at this point, with a giant alien skyscraper looming in the background of almost every view in the park. I think DCA has the bones of an excellent park with some great attractions but right now it seems to be a dumping ground for whatever IP Disney wants to throw in. Disneyland Resort is too small and too valuable to treat one of the two parks like that. If they remedy this issue in some fashion then California Adventure could take a giant step forward over the next decade.

Mission BREAKOUT outside DCA

I’d like to give a shout out to adding more cats and bringing in another exceptional table-service restaurant to the park. I can only put down five things in these self-imposed rules! California Adventure has some great pieces, it just needs to put them together!


What do you think should be done next at California Adventure? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our planning guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog on the right side of this page. That’s where you can find links to our social media accounts, as well. Thank you for reading!

2 replies »

  1. I think I’m missing something…more cats?? Are they pest control or just fluffy additions to the heart warming Disney scenery?

    • To Disney, I think they act as pest control. To us, they are fluffy additions to the heart warming scenery. They typically come out at night once the crowds have left but you can spot a few in the daylight, as well. There’s one close to Grizzly River Run that we call Chester.

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