California Adventure: A Disney Theme Park in Anaheim California
California Adventure is one of the lesser known Disney theme parks. Located next to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, the theme of this park is all things California, with some Disney characters thrown in for good measure.
California Adventure is split into eight different areas. Each is unique in its scenery and attractions. Upon entering the park, visitors find themselves on Buena Vista Street. This street is a replica of the California Walt Disney himself encountered when first arriving in Hollywood. Buena Vista Street is full of souvenir shops and restaurants. If visitors took a left from Buena Vista Street and circled the park, they would first come to, " Hollywood Land", then, " A Bug's Land," then "Cars Land," Paradise Pier," "Pacific Wharf," " Grizzly Peak," and finally, "Condor Flats." Visitors should probably plan for one whole day to give themselves enough time to see and experience the park, as well as to reserve enough time to accommodate lines for some of the most popular rides.
Hollywood Land is fun because there is a backdrop of scenery which people can stand in front of and take pictures as though they were on a Hollywood movie set. It also is home to one of the most spectacular shows in the park, "Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular," which rivals any Broadway show this writer has ever seen. The costumes and creativity in this 45-minute show are spectacular. Audiences are treated to a thrill when at one point Aladdin and his princess come gliding down over the audience on his magic carpet. And we must not forget the genie, and his comedic timing as his performance really makes the show extra special. There are other treats in store for visitors in Hollywood land and they include small rides for the younger set, a Muppet 3D movie, a character area where children can greet Disney characters close up and personally, and the famed, 'Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" ride which brings riders into an old hotel, with props all around from Twilight Zone episodes, and drops them down through a series of drops as though they were on an out of control elevator.
A Bug's Land
This area is great fun for small kids. There's another 3D movie in this area about how tough it is to be a bug. There are a few rides for the small tykes, and a fun play area called, 'Flik's Fun Fair" where little ones can play. There's also an area where young ones can cool off on hot days under small fountains at the "Princess Dot Puddle Park."
This area houses one of the most popular attractions in the park. Radiator Springs Racers is a ride that takes passengers in a car that is on a track, through an inside area where cars from the movie drive out toward riders, some to have conversations, and some to look as though they may hit the car the passengers are in. The effect is a bit like the Peter Pan ride at the Magic Kingdom, but passengers are on the road instead of flying through the air. The whole place is set up like scenes from the movie cars. Seeing that movie before going to the park will really help young children enjoy the attraction more. Once riders have gone through that part of the ride, they find themselves outside, paired up with another car, also full of riders. The racing of engines lets riders know they will be in a car race, and before they know it they are whisked off neck and neck with the second car, up hills and around corners at what feels like a very fast speed. The scenery outside on this ride is absolutely beautiful. Riders feel as though they are in the desert hills of California. In the end, one of the cars has won the race, and passengers disembark to find a picture of themselves when going at breakneck speed. Of course, these pictures are available for purchase. Once outside the ride, the area surrounding it is filled with buildings and streets on old Route 66, which are very much the same as the buildings riders passed by inside the ride. This is a must ride attraction for kids who enjoyed the movie, "Cars."
This area is reminiscent of old California. Buildings are designed to look like the "old west," and include an actual Boudin's bakery which guests can tour for free. It offers a sample of Boudin's sourdough bread which is worth the tour. The bread is not available for purchase but is served at some of the restaurants around the park. Across from Boudin's Bakery is the Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. Filled with the famous San Francisco Chocolate company's delicious chocolate candies, there is also a soda fountain from which guests can purchase cold drinks and ice cream. From personal experience, I can tell you that the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream is the best I have ever had! In this area, there is also an outside food court where visitors have their choice of ordering Mexican, Chinese, frozen drinks, wine, beer and snacks from a variety of stands.
This area is designed to look like a pier along the water with a carnival atmosphere. There is a large Ferris wheel with Mickey Mouse on it which allows riders to choose from buckets that are stab or ones that swing back and forth as they go around. Trust me, the buckets that swing are much more exciting to ride on. From this ride, one gets a great view of Disneyland next door. It sits on a lagoon area where at night, the "World of Color" light show is produced. Around this lagoon area are pay-to-play games and other rides that one would find at carnivals such as, "Goofy's Sky School." This is a roller coaster for the beginning or intermediate roller coaster fans. For those who are die-hard fans, there is the"California Screamin'" roller coaster which takes riders on a very fast paced yet rather rough ride which starts out from a dead standstill to a 60 mile an hour ride. This is one of the most popular rides at California Adventure, but it is not for the faint of heart...literally. It carries a warning for people with heart conditions and pregnant women not to ride! The rest of this area has small rides for the kiddies and a refreshment area with musical entertainment. The lagoon in this also hosts a fountain show periodically throughout the day.
There are only two attractions in the Grizzly Peak area of the park, but the scenery in the area is beautiful. Visitors who are not concerned about getting wet can ride, "Grizzly River Run." It's a river raft ride that twists and turns through beautiful scenery and is sure to cool guests off on a hot California day! The other attraction here is the' "Redwood Creek Challenge Trail" which has rock walls to climb, hollow logs to slide down and rope bridges to cross. Great for the adventure-minded in the family.
Condor holds one of the most popular attractions in this park. "Soarin' Over California" is a ride that will thrill and amaze guests from beginning to end. Guests sit in rows and buckle in for what appears to be a hang glider ride. There is a 180-degree screen in front, and when the lights go down, guests are lifted into the air in front of the screen, so feet are dangling. On the screen are beautiful scenes from all over California and riders appear to be soaring over them all. Included in this are scenes from ski mountains, orange groves, the California coastline and much more. Riders may even feel the need to pick their feet up so that they don't hit the treetops. This ride is probably the most popular of all at the park. Condor Flats also has a staging area where guests may be treated to an outdoor show that includes Minnie Mouse and some of her stewardess friends from the past.
Tips for California Adventure Visitors
Because this is a Disney Park, it is expensive. The admission price at the current time ( May 2013) is $87 for adults and children ages 10 and up ( although there is a $2 non-advertised discount for seniors). The price for children ages 3 - 9 is $81. A Park Hopper pass to go to both California Adventure and Disneyland on the same day is available for $125 for visitors ages 10 and up, and $119 for visitors ages 3 - 9.
The lines can get quite long for some of the more popular rides, so it is suggested that visitors use the Fastpass system for those rides. This is a free service for riders where they enter the ticket into a machine and out pops a Fastpass ticket to return to the ride at a later time and not have to wait in line, or if they do, the line will be much shorter. Using a Fastpass system allows visitors to the park to make the most of their time by allowing them to see more of the park attractions instead of having to waste time waiting in line for an hour or more at each ride.
In most of the separate "lands" of the park, one will find restaurants and snack bars. It's best to look these up ahead of time to see which will work best for your family. Each day, a Pixar Parade takes place and is definitely worth staying for if families have kids who enjoy Pixar movies such as, " Bug's Life" and "Toy Story" as characters from both of those are in this parade.
In my opinion, if one has never been to a Disney park in Anaheim, California, the Magic Kingdom is the place to go. But California Adventure makes a wonderful day for those who have been to Disneyland, or have more than one day to spend in the parks. This park adds a bit of variety to your Disney experience. Enjoy it if you go!
Watch a video of the Tower of Terror Ride in Hollywood Land
California Adventure Poll
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© 2013 Karen Hellier