Happy birthday to Disney California Adventure

February 8, 2024, 12:26 AM · Disney California Adventure is celebrating its 23rd birthday. The Disneyland Resort's second theme park opened officially on February 8, 2001.

Today, DCA has come a long way with fans from its poorly-received debut. A 2012 makeover introduced Cars Land and Buena Vista Street. In 2018, the former Paradise Pier became Pixar Pier. And in 2021, Avengers Campus introduced a fully Marvel-themed land to a Disney theme park for the first time.

Disney California Adventure also has become the Disneyland Resort's go-to location for festivals. Lunar New Year continues through February 18, before Anaheim Ducks Days takes over the park on February 22 and 23. Then, the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival runs from March 1 to April 22. After that, there's just a few days off then before Pixar Fest returns to DCA - and the entire resort - starting April 26 and continuing through August 4.

For more, you can find our reader ratings and advice for visiting over on our Visitors Guide to Disney California Adventure.

Radiator Springs Racers is our top pick among the attractions at Disney California Adventure

For a variety of discounts on admission, including deals for Southern California residents, please see our partner's Disneyland Resort theme park tickets page.

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Replies (4)

February 8, 2024 at 9:41 AM

I didn’t visit this park until Radiator Springs was already built. That land blew me away with its detail and obviously outstanding attraction. I quite enjoy this park and I’m glad that’s it’s a short walk across the esplanade from DL because IMO it’s best enjoyed as a half day park. I love it, and if I were a local I’d definitely spend more time to dig in deeper. But after the attractions that we have clones of over here at WDW it leaves only a handful of things to do. What I do love about this park though is it captures a bit of a synthesis of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios mashup vibe with the festivals, food and drink options. Happy birthday DCA, glad you got your glow up!

February 8, 2024 at 9:58 AM

I found it fascinating comparing my visits in 2003 and then last year. I did like some parts of the original but the California theming seemed a bit holding it back. The current version is much livelier in rides and can fill up more of the day with Radiator Springs a marvel of Imagineering fun. Good to see it coming so far.

February 8, 2024 at 10:37 AM

I used to work at DCA and I remember some days we had like 5,000 in attendance lol. People hated the place. It was so sad at the time that they were so cheap as they built DCA, Dinoland, and Walt Disney Studios, but then Tokyo Disney Sea opened the same year which just illustrated Imagineering's immense prowess...as long as they had other peoples money to spend.

I still think DCA (and DLR in general) are underutilized. The success of Harry Potter in Orlando made them nervous and they really pulled out all the stops for Cars Land (and Avatar) but then when Chapek took over they totally whiffed on Marvel. Its pretty sad they built one of the most amazing theme park lands for the Cars franchise but then when it came to building a land for the most successful movies of all time at the box office they cheapened out. That's just bad management.

IMO Disney, the city, and the Angels ownership need to work together to sell the land where the [woefully outdated] ballpark sits on to Disney, move the Angels to a new ballpark next to the pond, and expand DLR. There is literally nowhere else for DLR to go from here.

February 8, 2024 at 2:45 PM

You said it, @the_man4, Carsland remains one of the best lands in all of Disney, and Avengers campus is an absolute fart in comparison, Six Flags levels of non-theming.

Of course, I remember a time when you could get a fastpass and ride Radiator Springs. Now, it's either pay an additional fee to ride or wait in the interminably long standby line that results from the hateful G+ system. We refuse to do either of those things, and so we never get to ride RS any more, it's absolutely insulting. (Although I hear the ride is in such disrepair we're not missing much.)

DCA has next to nothing for small kids, next to zero shade for guests, and only a handful of quality rides. It started a dud, and is still largely a dud.

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