As travel planners, we often hear that people want to visit the Disneyland Resort, but don’t plan to spend much (or any) time at Disney California Adventure (DCA) park. For many years, this park was thought of as an afterthought to those visiting the Magic Kingdom. After a major overhaul that officially debuted in 2012 this park made some major changes that should put it on your list as a destination.
If you have never been, or haven’t been in years, you may want to see if you fit into the type of person who might just fall in love with DCA, just like we did.
People With Kids
For kids of all ages, there are so many fun activities and events at DCA! For the littlest kiddos, A Bug’s Land is perfection. All of the rides are suited to small children. It's like Fantasyland without the insane waits. Not to mention, it has 2 separate splash pads that will help calm and cool down kids on hot So Cal days. Cars Land offers at least 2 more rides that young kids will love, and so much to look at!
Hollywood Land offers the new Disney Junior Dance Party, which is a live, interactive show featuring their favorite characters, and they can meet with Anna and Elsa. The Monster’s Inc. ride is also a big hit! Paradise Pier has rides specifically geared to small children. Lastly, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in the Grizzly Peak area is a giant challenge course for your little tykes. They can earn badges as a Wilderness Explorer with the Up crew!
People Without Kids
While families can have a blast at DCA, adults on their own can as well! There are great rides, and unlike Disneyland Park, DCA serves liquor. You can enjoy wine tasting at the Alfresco Tasting Terrace, with a large wine selection or be whisked away to 1930s Hollywood while enjoying a classic cocktail in the Carthay Circle Lounge. If you want a more casual experience, the Cove Bar is a fun choice for snacks (lobster nachos!!) and a drink, like Mickey's Fun Wheel on the secret menu. You can grab craft beers on Pacific Wharf or at Wine Country. You can even enjoy a spiked Pomegranate Limeade in CarsLand at the Cozy Cone.
People Who Love Food
To go along with a delicious adult beverage, DCA also offers some of the best dining options in Disneyland Resort. A personal favorite of our Pixie Planner Shana is Carthay Circle, an elegant nod to the golden days of Hollywood. Wine Country Trattoria is another great choice for delicious Italian food. Ariel’s Grotto on Paradise Pier also touts the only character dining experience that includes table service rather than the buffet found at all of the other options.
DCA also touts great quick service food options, like Mexican food at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill or the only Chinese food in Disneyland at the Lucky Fortune Cookery. You can also enjoy a fresh baked sourdough bread bowl filled with soup or salad at the Pacific Wharf Café.
For true foodies, you will want to visit during the Food & Wine Festival. This is a foodie’s paradise, complete with celebrity chefs, cooking classes and wine tastings. This once yearly event is not to be missed!
People Who Like Thrills
Some of Disney Park’s most thrilling rides are at Disney California Adventure. Disney Parks in the US only offer two rollercoasters that feature an upside-down loop. California Screamin’ is the third longest steel roller coaster in the US, and it’s a blast if you love coasters. Another ride unique to DCA is the Radiator Spring’s Racers. You’ll want to get the FastPass for this ride right as the park opens to avoid a 60-90 minute line. It is a fun thrilling ride, while you race another car towards the end of the ride.
If you like getting soaked, the Grizzly River Run will leave you sopping wet and laughing so hard you might cry. Another great thrill ride is the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! This ride will make even the most hardcore thrill seeker a little nervous as you help the Guardians breakout of the Collector's Museum. The ride also has a randomized drop pattern, so it changes each time you get on the ride. This adds to the thrill level, as you never know when you will drop! The new update of the old Tower of Terror is nearly twice as long and adds a fun new element to a familiar ride.
People Who Don’t Love Crowds
As much we love Disneyland Park, we know that it is almost always crowded. The park is limited to its original dimensions, and it can feel packed most of the time. Disney California Adventure, by contrast was built with crowds in mind. There are more open walkways and open spaces. In addition, because the park is less popular than Disneyland, it is rarely overcrowded.
These examples just touch the surface of why we don’t want you to skip a day at DCA. We didn’t even mention the amazing World of Color water spectacular or the amazing Soarin’ Over California ride. You will want to plan out at least 1 full day of your Disneyland vacation to spend at Disney California Adventure. We promise you won’t regret it!
What do you love about Disney California Adventure? Share in the comments!