We are really excited to experience Disney California Adventure (DCA) on our upcoming trip. Disneyland Park can be likened to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, but DCA isn’t like any of the Walt Disney World parks, so it will be completely new to us. On a recent episode of the DIS Unplugged Disneyland edition, I learned all about Disney California Adventure, so keep reading to see what I found out!
First, a quick recap. I’m the Senior Editor on the DIS and am planning my family’s (my husband David and I, plus Jacob – 7, Jonah – 5, and Lydia – almost 2) first trip to Disneyland! We’re Walt Disney World experts, but are relying on the Disneyland podcast team to help us plan this trip. Read my first three blogs here: Planning the Southern California portion of our vacation, general questions about the Disneyland Resort, and dining options at the Disneyland Resort.
The first few questions I asked were about Cars Land. Our boys are 7 and 5, and have wanted to go to Cars Land ever since they heard it was being built. I even found them banging hammers on their toy slide a couple of years ago “building Cars Land at our house.”
Image: Jacob and Jonah hard at work on “Cars Land”, June 2010
The team discussed the best strategy for Cars Land, including if we should get right in line for Radiator Springs Racers or head straight to get a FastPass for the attraction. Opinions varied, but we did talk about an interesting thread on the DISboards that mentions utilizing the “Wide Right Technique.” This is a strategy suggesting that the quickest way to get on the attraction is to stay to the right when in line at rope drop, because that side is dropped first and you can rush right into the line. We’re not sure what we’ll do yet, but the discussion was definitely enlightening! Oh, and something that I hadn’t realized until we all talked – the FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers are not located right at the attraction. They are actually near It’s Tough to be a Bug. Good to know, otherwise we might have wasted valuable time.
Image: Radiator Springs Racers
Our kids will love getting to meet Lightning, Mater and Red right in “Radiator Springs,” but I do wish they had separate meet and greet locations. Lightning and Mater share, so we may get in line for Lightning, but then it could change to Mater by the time we get to the front. Nancy suggested checking with the cast member to see how the timing is working and who will be there when it gets to be our turn. One neat thing that I learned is that every night at dusk, the lights of the neon signs are turned on and Cars Land really becomes a different place after dark.
Image: Cars Land at night
I’ll let you listen to the show to hear everyone’s full opinions, but I asked the team how they would spend the first hour of the day at DCA. The answers varied greatly – some said take it slow and enjoy the scenery and some said to head straight for a certain attraction. I always find it interesting to learn about the attractions that are at both the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. I did learn that Toy Story Midway Mania doesn’t have nearly the long lines as its Florida counterpart does. There is no option for FastPass on the attraction at DCA, so the line doesn’t build up and normally hovers around 30-45 minutes long; in Florida, it’s not unusual for the line to be up around 120 minutes. Soarin’ is the same on both coasts, but the queues are different. Tower of Terror is different than the Walt Disney World version, so we’ll definitely want to make sure we hit that ride. Goofy’s Sky School was compared to Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is actually a ride that I really dislike. They said Goofy’s wasn’t as bad, so I’m sure we’ll end up trying it at some point.
Everyone recommended the Disney Animation building, for several different reasons. We discussed the Sorcerer’s Workshop, the drawing classes, the Toy Story Zoetrope, and just using the main room to give our daughter a little break from the busy park.
Image: Toy Story Zoetrope
We had a little chat about Mickey’s Fun Wheel, or Mickey’s Wheel of Terror, as I’ve also heard it called. This ride has both swinging cars and non-swinging cars. I told a story about how my son and I went on a mini ferris wheel a couple of years ago. When he asked me to go on it, I didn’t even think about it, we just went. Once we started moving and our seat started swinging, I kind of freaked out and tried to stay as far back as I could on the seat without letting my three-year-old know that Mommy was scared out of her mind! I was so worried that our seat would swing too far and just tip us right out! After learning that Mickey’s Fun Wheel had “cages,” I’m not completely opposed to it, but I think I’ll probably just have to wait and see what happens once I see the ride in person.
Image: Mickey’s Fun Wheel
I was interested in the description of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. I have to be honest and say that when I first heard about it, I thought it seemed really boring. But after hearing Tom and Nancy talking about it, I think it seems like it might be a great way to burn off some energy in the middle of the day. It’s designed around the movie Up, and your kids work through several challenges, both physical and mental, to earn merit badges. Once they’ve earned all the badges, they get to take part in a special ceremony and become Senior Wilderness Explorers. I think our boys will really enjoy this area.
Image: Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
One of the major parts of planning a trip to DCA is deciding how your family wants to “attack” World of Color. Wayne mentioned a World of Color Superthread on the DISboards that is a great guide to everything you need to know about this popular nighttime show.
Image: World of Color
There are a few different ways to get a good viewing location. We could obtain FastPasses for the show in the morning, which would guarantee us a fairly good view. The other way (other than the standby line) is to reserve a World of Color Dining Package. The podcast team had a wealth of information and advice on how best to handle World of Color and what would have us standing in line for the least amount of time. This is especially important to us because we’ll be traveling with our small children, plus we’re not sure when we’ll be back to see the show. After the advice we were given, I’m pretty sure we’re going to opt for lunch at the Carthay Circle Restaurant as part of a dining package. This will guarantee us access to a fairly good spot, plus we won’t have to get in line as early as standby guests.
Image: Carthay Circle Restaurant
The last attraction we chatted about was the Aladdin show. I had heard great things about this musical and the podcast team confirmed them, so we’re really looking forward to seeing this show.
Image: Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular
We’ve got less than one month until our trip! We still have a few things left to plan, including how we’re going to surprise the kids, so if you have any suggestions for us, or tips on touring DCA, please make sure to leave a comment below.