Continuing on with our “Ideal Day” series, we now venture into Disney California Adventure Park (DCA) to give you a play-by-play on how you can experience the newly reimagined Southern California Disney theme park in the most ideal way! Just like our ideal day at Disneyland Park, it’s a method that we’ve tested and will allow you to experience the magic of DCA in a day with flexibility in mind.
Whether it’s your first time or your first time taking those first-timers around the park, here’s hoping you experience everything you’d like to experience from Disney’s second California theme park. Are you ready?
Then let’s get started!
Before your visit
- Buy your ticket the night before so you can avoid waiting in the long morning ticket booth lines.
- Get a good nights sleep because your going to need all the energy you can get!
- Wake up early and get ready. It’s DCA time!
- Grab some breakfast either around the park at Downtown Disney or wait to eat in the park.
- If your going early in the morning and want to park in the Mickey and Friends Structure, try taking the Euclid exit off the 5 freeway to avoid being detoured to the Toy Story Parking lot and wasting time.
- Once the park opens, get a FastPass for Radiator Spring Racers because those will run out fast as it is the most popular attraction in the park.
- While you’re already in Cars Land, be sure to check out all the rides there including Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. It’s essentially the black horse of the three attractions there. Why you ask? You’ll have to ride it to find out, but take it from us that this attraction is crazier than it looks!
- After you finish Cars Land, cut through Ornament Valley and head over to Pacific Wharf and get some breakfast at the Pacific Wharf Café. They have a really good traditional American breakfast for a decent price…and a view.
- When everyone is well fed and full, it’s time to do to the extreme and make your way to Paradise Pier to get on all the pier rides that DCA prides itself on (it’s Disney CALIFORNIA Adventure, right?). Rides such as California Screaming, Toy Story Midway Mania!, Mickey’s Fun Wheel (the swinging version of course), Goofy’s Sky School, and last but not least The Little Mermaid’s Undersea Adventure.
- Make sure to always check to see what time it is just so you don’t miss your FastPass time for Radiator Spring Racers. This is one ride you don’t want to miss out on.
- Depending on if you already rode Radiator Spring Racers or you’re about to, head over to Grizzly Peak and attempt to brave the wild rapids of Grizzly River Run.
- Once you exit the Rapids, grab a FastPass for the nighttime water spectacular World of Color near the attraction’s exit. By this time, they should be handing out passes for the second showing (around 10:15 PM).
- Now it’s time for lunch! Usually I’d tell everyone to go somewhere in the park, but there a small restaurant in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel right across from Grizzly River Run that has some of the best food for cheap prices! That place I’m talking about is White Water Snacks. They have the best chili fries in the whole resort (just sayin’)!
- After Lunch, enter DCA through the Grand Californian’s entrance and continue down the path on the left to head toward Condor Flats and take a hang glider ride on Soarin’ Over California. Be sure to keep your nose on alert as you ride!
- After that, it’ll be time to finish up the park by going to Hollywood Land. First, check out MuppetVision 3-D. It’s hilarious and entertaining for an after-lunch activity, especially the Swedish Chef’s parts.
- After Muppets, head to Monsters Inc. and enjoy a tour of Monstropolis with Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!
- There is always time to check out the Animation Building across of Monsters Inc. My personal favorite thing to do there is the Animation Academy where you can learn to draw your favorite Disney character. There’s also Mickey’s Workshop where you can participate in a whole bunch of activities from finding which character represents you to karaoke in Ursula’s Grotto.
- After all the fun, you can catch either the third or fourth showing of a free Broadway showing of “Aladdin” at the Hyperion Theater. Make sure to pay extra attention to Genie because his antics will keep you laughing till your stomach hurts. Trust us!
- After Aladdin is over, there’s only one more thing to do. Get some “R&R” by checking into the Hollywood Tower Hotel aka the Tower of Terror!
*You’ll probably have a large amount of time between Tower of Terror and World of Color, so go back and visit your favorite attractions at DCA or make your way back into Disneyland Park for your favorite things to do there!
- It’s time to make your world a little more colorful! Make your way over to Paradise Pier, note which colored section you’re seated at and enjoy World of Color!
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We hope you’ve enjoyed our “ideal days” at the Disneyland Resort theme parks! We hope that many of you benefit from our tested plans. Be sure to let us know in the comments on what your experience was like following our plan or sharing your own ideal day plans too.