Nestled in the heart of Anaheim is the Happiest Place on Earth where all of the Disney theme park magic began. Disneyland Resort was the first of its kind, but in 2001, Disney’s California Adventure Park (known by locals as DCA) opened it’s gates right next door. If you aren’t familiar with DCA, there are plenty of things there that make it just as fun and exciting as Disneyland, although DCA has it’s own unique flair. If you are considering heading to DCA, be sure to check out these 10 things you won’t want to miss out on.
- Cars Land
Cars Land is DCA’s newest and biggest expansion. This is no ordinary world though. Once you set foot in Cars Land, it’s hard to believe you haven’t stepped into the movie itself. The detail in this world matches the movie perfectly, down to the mysterious yellow light that always blinks slower on the third flash. The Radiator Springs canyon is simply gorgeous and has plenty of spots along it unobstructed for a beautiful family picture. The nighttime view of the canyon is even better, illuminated in brilliant warm colors. As if that wasn’t enough, the canyon is home to one of the park’s most famous rides – Radiator Springs Racers. This fast paced ride takes you on a journey through the canyon, meeting all the Cars characters along the way. Racers is slow enough for the youngins to ride, but fast enough to still give adults a thrill.
- World of Color
Exclusive to DCA is a fantastic show that is absolutely a must see, World of Color. All of Paradise Pier comes alive in a show of lights, music, and massive water plumes. World of Color is a grand spectacle that resides only in DCA. No other park has any show quite like this. World of Color is a fantastic way to end your fun-filled day at DCA.
- Frozen – Live at the Hyperion
No matter how many times you’ve heard “Let It Go,” this is an exciting musical that is well worth the watch. This show chronicles the entire Frozen movie condensed into 45 minutes, complete with the songs you know and love (or hate), and of course, snow. Frozen is no run-of-the-mill theme park stage show. It is a full live production backed by over 200 cast and crew, giving you a full live musical experience right there in DCA.
- Pixar Parade
Taking to the streets to watch parades is an essential part of any Disney trip. DCA’s premier parade is the Pixar parade. It features colorful floats with all the best Pixar characters riding along. You’ll see all your favorite friends from movies like Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Cars, and more! The Pixar parade is a whole lot of fun packed into one show that the whole family can enjoy.
- California Screamin
If big thrills are what you’re looking for, California Screamin’ is a must. This isn’t your average roller coaster ride. While it certainly isn’t the most thrilling coaster by any means, it’s definitely the most thrilling ride in the entire park. What makes this coaster magical is the Disney twist. The ride is just over two minutes long, sporting a delightful song made to go along with the ride and enhance the experience. The song shifts from suspenseful to action-packed to silly, creating a unique coaster ride that you won’t forget.
- Toy Story Mania
Thrills not your thing? Being a Disney park, DCA has plenty of rides that are family friendly. Another huge hit at DCA is Toy Story Mania, although it’s more of a game than a ride. Toy Story Mania is a 3D shooter game, allowing you to collaborate and compete with your partner sitting next to you. The ride takes you through a gamut of different types of games including breaking plates, throwing rings, and popping balloons with darts. Here’s a hint before you ride: each level has a secret to unlock, can you discover them all?
- Soarin’ Around the World
After all that rootin’ tootin’ shootin’, you might want to hop on a ride that’s a bit more relaxing. The all new Soarin’ Around the World is a great update to the original Soarin’ Over California. Soarin’ suspends you in the air in front of a massive screen to take you on a journey around the world that really makes you feel like you’re flying. Soarin’ gives you the greatest views of places like Paris, China, and Australia. Soarin’s also incorporates 4D elements to give you the most immersive flight possible.
- Disney Junior – Live on Stage
If you’ve got little ones with you, you won’t want to miss the Disney Junior – Live on Stage show. It’s a massive puppet show backed by whimsical sets and catchy tunes. Disney Junior’s stars come alive with songs that let everyone participate. Jumping, singing, dancing, and clapping are all encouraged during the show! The little ones will have a blast seeing their favorites up on stage like Mickey, Sofia, and Jake.
- Drinks: Disney Magic for Adults
DCA has always had the reputation of being the “big kids'” park when compared to Disneyland, and for good reason. DCA has one major thing that Disneyland does not – DCA serves alcohol, and a lot of it. All the restaurants have long lists of cocktails, you can find beer and margaritas on Paradise Pier, and the Hollywood Backlot serves drinks complete with glowing ice cubes. Disney never was one for mediocrity – these drinks are good! If you want a splash of adult Disney magic, DCA is the only place to get it.
- Delicious Food Literally Everywhere
DCA is home to some of the best restaurants. These food joints are nothing like what you would expect from your average theme park. Three of the staple restaurants there are Al Fresco Lounge, Carthay Circle Restaurant, and Ariel’s Grotto. All of them have top notch menus, and the latter is very kid friendly. You can dine in style, and your kids can enjoy a visit from the Princess of the Sea herself.