Pros: Great rides, more attractions for adults, less crowded, Aladdin musical...
Cons: ...not much for children, fewer rides, isn't as "magical" as Disneyland.
The Bottom Line: California Adventure is great, but if you're travelling with kids, you might want to spend an extra day in Disneyland instead- most of the magic is there.
After spending a day in the Enchanted Kingdom, my friends and I continued our Disney weekend at Disney's California Adventure, the newest theme park (opened in 2001) in the Disneyland Resort. California Adventure doesn't really seem like Disneyland at all (save a few rides and character appearances, but more on that later); there are more restaurants, scarier rides, no long lines, and alcohol is even served at the restaurants. However, the park suited us just fine, and the five of us enjoyed our day there.
The entrance to the park is through a wall painted like a postcard, and once you step through the main gates, you'll feel as if you've stepped into a story book depicting California. There's a small replica of the Golden Gate Bridge by the entrance, and there are several other California landmarks.
Again, we went to the park at opening, and as the gates opened, California Dreamin' blared from the speakers. Instead of songs from Disney movies, most of the music that's played in the park has a California theme, and we heard a lot of Beach Boys songs while we were there.
The Rides Like Disneyland, California Adventure is also split into several "lands" where the rides and shows are and the first one we reached was Golden State. The first ride we went on was Soarin' Over California, a simulated hang-glider ride. This was honestly one of the most fun rides I've ever been on. First, you're led to a room (that holds 87 people) with seats and a big screen at the front that reminded me of the IMAX theaters. Once you're seated, your chairs are lifted up, and soon you're "flying" over California. As you fly over the different areas of California (including Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Napa Valley, and for the finale, Disneyland), fans blow breezes across your face and scents are sprained into the room to make you really feel like you're soaring over California. Being a California native, and having been to almost all of the places in the video in real life, I'd say that Soarin' Over California is a great representation of the Golden State, and made me feel a bit proud to say that I was born and raised there.
Grizzly River Run was the next ride we went on. You've probably seen pictures of it for the California Adventure brochures- the water ride flows around a mountain of a grizzly bear (California's state animal). The ride is a raft that holds eight people, and since the raft is circular and turns quite a bit, everyone gets a chance to get soaked. Though it seems like the ride has a big drop, I was a bit disappointed, and I'm pretty sure that a similar ride at Six Flags Marine World has a much bigger drop. Either way, at the end of the ride we were all soaked, and because of the overcast day, it took us nearly an hour to dry!
The next land was Paradise Pier, where some of the biggest rides are housed. First up was Maliboomer, a freefall style ride that I refused to go on (the ride launches you 180 feet in the air!), but according to my friend, Joe, was really fun. Next was Mullholland Madness, a small roller coaster for children, though still fun. Orange Stinger is a big swing ride inside of a hollowed out "orange". California Screamin' is the infamous rollercoaster with a track in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head, but unfortunately, the day we visited the park the ride was closed. However, we took a spin on the Sun Wheel, a large Ferris wheel with swinging gondolas (let me just mention that I was terrified on this ride. Im afraid of heights, and my friends had to force me even get in line- I HATE Ferris wheels. And of course, we were inside one of the swinging gondolas, so imagine being on a Ferris wheel with someone rocking the basket back and forth once you're inside. It was exactly like that, but worse; the gondola rocked the entire time we were in it, and we were stuck at the top of the ride for nearly two minutes. I shut my eyes for most of the time around the wheel!).
A Bug's Land was up next, and the area was decorated to be a replica of the movie, A Bug's Life. This was probably my favorite theme of the park- everything is designed through the eyes of a bug. The entrance to the land is a turned over box of cereal and there are various other oversized boxes of "food" and "litter" scattered around to make you feel like an insect. Though the land is for children, we had plenty of fun on rides like, Flik's Flyer's (another swing ride, though this time the swings are made of plastic replicas of food containers, like juice boxes) and Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, a slow train ride, that takes you through a typical day of meals with Heimlich, a character from A Bug's Life. The best part of the ride is that as you travel through some of the food that Heimlich likes to eat (like watermelon and animal crackers), scents are sprayed and you can smell the foods that he enjoys. Heimlich's voice is also projected as you pass each object, and children and fans of the movie will enjoy this ride.
Another highlight is It's Tough To Be A Bug, a nine-minute 3-D movie narrated by Flik (another character from the movie). To get to the show, you have to walk down into an "ant-hole" and once inside, you'll see that the room is decorated like a theater- except the movie posters are all cute parodies of real movies (Beauty and the Bees, etc). The show itself is so much fun, and a lot better than the Honey, I Shrunk The Kid 3-D movie at Disneyland. There are a lot of interactive features, and one part of the movie managed to cause everyone to jump out of their seats.
The last land is Hollywood Pictures Backlot, obviously themed to look like a backlot in Hollywood. The most popular ride is The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror, a freefall ride in a haunted elevator. The ride is based on an old Twilight Zone episode and is appropriately creepy. Of course, the eleven story drop adds to the thrill of the ride, and despite my fear of heights, it ended up being one of my favorite attractions. Another fun ride is Mike & Sulley To The Rescue! a ride based on the movie, Monsters, Inc.. Like some of the children's rides in Disneyland, this is another where you're seated in cart and taken on a ride that tells the story of the movie. However, the Monsters Inc. ride has newer animatronics and better sets- you'll really feel like you're a citizen of Monstropolis.
Shows There are several shows at California Adventure, including Disneys Electrical Parade (which used to run down Main Street in Disneyland), but my favorite was Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular. Aladdin is probably one of my favorite Disney movies, and the Broadway style rendition of it was great. The show runs for forty five minutes, and all of the classic songs are performed (along with an original one especially for the production- To Be Free). Some of the highlights of the performance was the Genie's stand-up performance before Friend Like Me, and A Whole New World, when Aladdin and Jasmine "fly" over the audience on a magic carpet.
Food/Souvenirs/Prices As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, there are several restaurants throughout the park. Most of them (especially on Paradise Pier) are pretty basic- serving hamburgers and french fries, ice cream and funnel cakes. There are several vendors in the park selling popsicicles and other treats, and the Boudin sourdough bakery sells a yummy loaf of bread in the shape of Mickey's head.
There aren't many places for souvenirs, besides a few small shops. However, California Adventure is right next to Downtown Disney (placed between California Adventure and Disneyland), which is the basically the resort's shopping district- filled with shops and souvenir stands.
The ticket into California Adventure is $49, just ten dollars less than Disneyland. As I mentioned in the other review, we purchased Two-Day Hopper Passes for $116, and you can usually get discounts and passes to get into both parks for a cheaper price.
The Overall Adventure Disney's California Adventure is a great extension to the Disneyland Resort. However, besides catching some of the characters walking around (we spotted Goofy, Pluto, Mulan, Cinderella, and Hercules), you'll forget you're even in a Disney theme park. Despite that, it's still a fun addition to the parks, and has more thrilling rides for the adults. Children might feel out of place among rides like the Tower Of Terror and The Sun Wheel, but areas like A Bugs Land should keep the occupied as well. California Adventure is a great homage to the state of California, and anyone who visits the park will be charmed by the wonderful rides and attractions within.
Read About Day One Of My Disneyland Trip... Disneyland
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