Vacation Tips

Avoiding the Lines – Disney California Adventure

There comes a point in a full theme park day where you just don’t want to wait anymore. Feet are throbbing, the sweat has had time to dry twice over and all of the phone games have become half as interesting as they were when the day started. Usually this happens in mid-afternoon when the sun is the hottest and the lines are the longest but the longing for no lines can strike at anytime! In this series, we’ll talk about our favorite attractions that have next to no line regardless of the time. So far we’ve covered Magic KingdomEpcotHollywood StudiosAnimal Kingdom, and Disneyland. Today we’ll finish off the American parks with California Adventure!

DCA Carthay Circle night blurred

Not to confuse anyone, this series isn’t about the best time to go on popular rides. Refer to our itineraries for that! This post is dedicated to attractions that don’t really ever have a line, outside of waiting for loading or the next show to start. Does that mean there will be a few listed that aren’t exactly the highest quality? Naturally! But others are certainly hidden gems. I’ll be putting my favorites of what’s listed at the top before working our way down to ‘rides that have no lines because they are terrible’.

Even the worst on the list provide some air conditioning on a hot day or a respite from a rain storm. There’s also something to be said about personal taste, and my least favorite is probably someone else’s favorite! The underutilized critters on Jesse’s Carousel especially agree with that.

Moving over to California Adventure after the impressive attraction roster at Disneyland is an inevitable letdown. That said, the park still has the third highest number of rides of the six we’ve covered. It also has the longest list of any post in this series. Are all of these quality rides? Not at all. But there’s a decent amount to do here and that’s before considering any entertainment which is a highlight of the park during any of their festivals. I didn’t include festival entertainment because that only exists in the park for a couple of months at a time but our favorites include Phat Cat Swinger and Mostly Kosher.

Mater's queue license plate DCA

Other attractions that narrowly missed the list because of a slight line are Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Mater’s is worth waiting a few minutes for, Ariel’s isn’t as much although it will provide a ride to cool off on. Both Webslingers and Radiator Springs Racers have single rider lines that will save you tons of wait time but there will still be some waiting. Incredicoaster also has a single rider line but it isn’t as effective. Let’s get to the list!

Animation Academy

I’ve raved about the Animation Academy since this site’s creation and still love it. There’s a drawing class every half hour that will teach guests how to draw a Disney character. You can almost always get in without really waiting and then you’re set for a 20 minute class in the air conditioning with a charming Cast Member. It’s one of my favorite things to do in DCA even when not considering the lines.

Animation Academy DCA

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Across from the animation building is Mickey’s PhilharMagic, a short movie where Donald Duck is on a wild goose chase trying to track down Mickey’s sorcerer hat. He stumbles through different Disney movie scenes. It’s a really enjoyable short film that is housed in a big, comfy theater so there’s never a line for the next show.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

From places to sit and relax to a more active attraction, this is a walkthrough that doubles as a playground. I’ve always enjoyed the Challenge Trail thanks to how well it fits the area and the fun activities built into the structure. Whether you have a kid who needs to run off some steam or you just want to walk down one of the uncrowded paths, this is a good spot.

Tree path DCA

Five & Dime

This entertainment option plays right outside of Carthay Circle a few times each day. The group largely plays jazz music for around 15 minutes and is an easy option to just walk up to and enjoy while going about your day in DCA. Enjoying walk-up entertainment makes a theme park day much more enjoyable instead of rushing to wait from one line to another.

Golden Zephyr

I love the Zephyr more than most people. It’s essentially a spinner ride but in a cool vehicle. I think riding it around sunset has a very Americana feel to it. There’s never really any line but it does close down often due to weather. If you want more of a thrill then the swings are probably for you, although they usually have a slightly longer line.

Golden Zephyr blur night DCA

Red Car Trolley

This slow moving trolley won’t save you any time but, like Five & Dime, gives a fun sense of old Hollywood and California. No, it’s not going to make or break a park day but it is a nice addition to that area of the park and you likely won’t have to wait to get on the trolley.

Turtle Talk with Crush

Another in the line of attractions that are comfortable to sit in and somewhat entertaining. Crush interacts, largely with children, for about a 15 minute show. There’s not much of a plot but there are some funny jokes! This version of the attraction is far more comfortable than Epcot’s.

Jessie’s Critter Carousel

The only thing on Pixar Pier that doesn’t constantly have a line of some sort. It’s a cute little carousel with all of the different critters you can ride on. I personally like the turtle but there’s not a bad choice.

Jessie's Critter Carousel sign DCA

The Bakery Tour

This is the shortest tour you’ll ever take and it’s about making bread. I almost didn’t include it but… FREE BREAD!

Sorcerer’s Workshop

I really like this space, as there’s some cool light fixtures and little exhibits. But it was somewhat telling that I couldn’t remember what Sorcerer’s Workshop was meant for when I’ve been in there at least 10 times. If you want some quiet time, this is a good spot in the Animation Building.

Jumpin’ Jellyfish

One time there was a show going on in this area and we wanted to see it but walked over a little late. A crowd had gathered so we hopped on Jumpin’ Jellyfish to get a view. It worked somewhat and that is the best thing that I’ll ever say about the attraction. If this has more than 10 people in the queue, do not go on it.

DCA Pixar Pier sunset

What are your favorite places in Disney California Adventure without a line? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland, then check out our planning guide. 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.  You can do all of that on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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