Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure opened as the Disneyland Resort's long-awaited second gate on February 8, 2001. It's Disney's least-attended of its six theme parks in the United States, but that still makes it the eighth most-visited park in America, with nearly 10 million visitors in 2019.

DCA might have the same Pan Pacific Auditorium-inspired entrance as Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios, but it shares a focus on seasonal food festivals with Epcot, staging the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival and Lunar New Year, as well as Halloween Time and Holidays at the Disneyland Resort.

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Our recommendations below come from our annual survey of Theme Park Insider newsletter subscribers. Locations with star ratings ranked especially highly among our readers. Subscribe here to our free weekly email of theme park news to participate in the next ranking survey.

Rides

Top recommendations

  1. Radiator Springs Racers ★ ★ ★
    "Cars"-themed dark ride with a high-speed finish, located in Cars Land. Height requirement: 40 inches
    Read Robert Niles' Radiator Springs Racers review.
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout ★ ★
    Indoor drop ride, located in Avengers Campus. Height requirement: 40 inches
    Read Robert Niles' review of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.
  3. Toy Story Midway Mania
    Interactive dark ride on Pixar Pier
  4. Incredicoaster
    Intamin launch coaster on Pixar Pier. Height requirement: 48 inches
    Read Robert Niles' Incredicoaster review.
  5. Soarin' Around the World
    Flying theater ride located in Grizzly Peak Airfield. Height requirement: 40 inches
    Read Robert Niles' review of Soarin' Around the World.
  6. Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure
    Interactive dark ride in Avengers Campus

Other notable attractions include the Grizzly River Run rapids ride and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail playground in Grizzly Peak; The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure dark ride, Silly Symphony Swings and Golden Zephyr swing rides, Jumpin' Jellyfish kiddie drop tower, and Goofy's Sky School Mack Rides wild mouse roller coaster in Paradise Park; Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris wheel, Jessie's Critter Carousel, and Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind spinner on Pixar Pier; Mater's Junkyard Jamboree whip ride and Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters trackless ride in Cars Land; and the Monsters, Inc: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue dark ride in Hollywood Land.

Shows

Top recommendations

  1. World of Color
    The night-time projection show on the Paradise Park lagoon returns April 22, 2022. [Shows vary by season]
  2. Animation Academy
    A DIY Disney animation step-drawing class, taught in the Animation building in Hollywood Land
  3. Mickey's Philharmagic
    A 3D movie in Hollywood Land

Other shows include Turtle Talk with Crush inside the Animation building and the Disney Junior Dance Party next door in Hollywood Land, as well as superhero character appearances throughout the day in Avengers Campus.

Restaurants

Top recommendations

  1. Carthay Circle Restaurant ★ ★ ★
    Table service dining inside the Carthay Circle Theater on Buena Vista Street
  2. Lamplight Lounge
    Table service restaurant and bar, themed to Pixar animators, located on Pixar Pier
  3. Wine Country Trattoria
    Italian-inspired table service restaurant on Pacific Wharf

Get your Starbucks fix at the Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe on Buena Vista Street. Other notable restaurants include Award Wieners in Hollywood Land; Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land; Paradise Garden Grill in Paradise Gardens Park; Smokejumpers Grill in Grizzly Peak Airfield; Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Lucky Fortune Cookery, and Pacific Wharf Cafe in Pacific Wharf; and Pym Test Kitchen Avengers Campus.

Map

The Disneyland Resort is located in Anaheim, California - about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and 30 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Strategy

You must make advance reservations to visit Disney California Adventure via Disneyland's website. This is true for "Magic Key" annual passholders as well as daily ticket holders. Unlike at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland hotel guests get no special preferences for admission.

If you want to go to Lamplight Lounge, make reservations up to 60 days in advance on the Disneyland website or the official app.

The Disneyland Resort now offers a new tool called Disney Genie on its official app to create a custom itinerary for each day of your visit. In addition, Disney offers two ways for its theme park guests to pay to access shorter wait times for many popular attractions. You can learn more about these options in our posts:

Plan to arrive at the front gate at least a half hour before opening in the morning, adding extra time to park and get to the gate. Then head first toward Web Slingers, if you're not paying for the Lightning Lane upgrade. Radiator Springs Racers is the other long line in the park, but we recommend riding that later in the evening. The crowd thins then, and it's a better ride at night anyway.

After Web Slingers, head for Guardians, then make your way over to Pixar Pier for Toy Story. Save Soarin' for later in the afternoon. Again, watch Disney Genie for wait times and estimated wait times to adjust your plans throughout the day.

Tickets

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