Disney California Adventure Park Review

As part of our 3 week roadtrip west our family took a little detour to see Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. We spent 5 days in the parks so we could see everything. 
Disneyland California Adventure Park Review #disneyland #disney

Disney’s Carsland is Amazing

This is don’t miss are of Disney California Adventure Park! Carsland looks like it popped straight out of the movie Cars. At dusk, the neon lights will all come on along with the music from the movie – so cool!  Don’t miss how pretty it looks here after dark.
Disney Carsland
With that being said this is the newest and BEST attraction here and everyone knows it. If you want a Fastpass for Cars (which you do) you will need to get into the Fastpass line before they even drop the ropes to let you in the park. Ask a cast member to direct you – these fastpasses will be gone in no time and you could be waiting 2+ hours! YIKES!

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree

Disney Carsland
This is a fun ride! You get in the back of one of these adorable tractors from the movie and it spins you around. It has a different feel than the teacups because it kind of swings you around the corners. My husband couldn’t ride it as he gets motion sickness in circular rides, but it is a fun (albeit short) ride. You must be 32” or taller.

Luigi’s Flying Tires

Disney CarslandThe lines for this ride was always LONG – so hit it within the first hour the park opens. In this original ride you will be on a giant floating tire. You’ll feel like you are on an air hockey table – vey cool. The ride itself is noisy because of all the air being piped in to make you float. There are also a lot of tires continually being taken out of commission because people don’t follow directions and step on the inflated tire instead of the step. It will take you a couple minutes to get the hang of how to move your tire. You must be 32” or taller.

Visit with Tow Mater, Lightening McQueen, and Big Red

Disney Carsland You can meet To Mater, Lightening McQueen and Big Red (Fire Engine). They will actually drive out and park. Their eyes move and they honk their horn to interact with guests. Then they rotate every 30 minutes or so.

Radiator Springs Racers

This is the big headline ride that you want to grab Fastpasses for before you ride anything else. In my humble opinion, this may be the BEST ride at any Disney park! Seriously! It combines amazing story telling by having you drive through Radiator Springs, unique ride by having different parts of the ride you may go to (get new tires or a paint job) and culminates with a race outside where you will “race” another car. Amazingly well designed and executed as well as stunningly beautiful. Must be 40” or taller.

Flo’s V8 Cafe

Disney CarslandThis is a fun restaurant that serves delicious food. You can choose to eat outside by the “gas pumps” or inside if you can find a seat. The food is old times comfort food and is delicious! Try the apple cheddar pie – YUM! My kids loved the optional Lightening McQueen carry case their meal came in.

Cozy Cone Motel

Each cone sells a different snack item. Although overpriced, the apple slushy is incredible and a wonderful thirst quencher on a hot day. (Note: Lefou’s Brew at Gaston’s in the New Fantasyland Disney World is very similar)


Disney’s Grizzly Peak

Grizzly’s River Run

This ride is just like Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom park. Basically eight of you sit in a big circle and go down rapids. Expect to get soaked! 42” or taller.

Soarin over California

You will all sit in rows of seats with your feet dangling. You will put loose items in the basket below your chair and buckle up. When it starts your chairs will lift off the floor and you will be stacked up one on top of the other. Then a GIANT screen will show images from California and you will feel like you are hang gliding over them. The movement, fans, and even smells will make you feel lik you are soaring over California. If you’ve never experienced this ride it is a must! Even my 75 year old father in law really enjoys this ride! This is the same ride as at Epcot. 40” or taller


Disney’s A Bug’s Land

It’s Tough to be a Bug

This is such a fun show, albeit a little overwhelming for kids 3 and under. You put on bug eyes (so you can see in 3D) and sit down to watch a short show based on the movie A Bug’s Life. You will feel like they are flying straight at you, will smell the stink bug, and even feel them crawling under your bottom in the seats! Hopper (who is vey large) will appear as well and may be frightening for younger children. This is a fun show and is the exact same one as plays at Animal Kingdom.

The rest of Bugland

Disneland California Adventure Park   Disneland California Adventure Park

Although Disney has done a nice job of theming the rest of bug land after A Bug’s Life the rides themselves are cheesy and really not worth your time. There are bumper bugs, and REALLY short caterpillar ride that goes in a circle, and some other rides that were obviously there before Disney bought the park.


Disney California Adventure Park’s Paradise Pier

Carnival Rides (Swings, Roller Coaster, Zephyr)

Disneland California Adventure Park More rides that were here before Disney took over the amusement park. You will find a giant ferris wheel (where you can choose swinging cars or stationary), arcade games, swings (one of the better rides here) and a couple other attractions. If you are here to just be at an amusement park go nuts. We were kinda disappointed. My son did enjoy the roller coaster that went upside down – Screaming California.

Toy Story Mania

This is a really fun ride exactly like the incredibly popular one at Hollywood Studios. You get in your vehicle and put on your 3D glasses. You will get to shoot plates, balloons, and more targets along your ride. I love how the air blows at you when you pop a balloon! At the end you can see who has the best shot in your group. This is based on the movie Toy Story!

The Littler Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Little Mermaid CaliforniaThis ride had a surprisingly low wait for our entire visit. Not sure why, it is a beautifully architected ride through The Little Mermaid story. Once in your clamshell you will journey under water and throughout the story with some larger than life (note the huge Ursula may be scary to children) characters and singing.
You can also eat with Ariel and the other princesses at Ariel’s Grotto just across the street. They had a very nice breakfast and was a nice way to see all the princesses at one time.

World of Color

This show is unique to this park and is in my opinion, Disney’s BEST evening show! You will be amazed at the beauty of the colored water show and then be immersed as characters appear in the water. Just beautiful and all choreographed to music.
My favorite Disney show - World of Color in California Note: Disney has really dropped the ball on seeing this show. It is standing ONLY and you need to arrive way before the show because it is packed. We did the World of Color to get reserved spaces (thinking it was like Fantastic at Hollywood Studios). The picnic was fine, but we still had to wait in a LONG line filled with the many, many other guests who had purchased the same reserved spots. So be in line very early. Once you are allowed down it is all basically one level. So… if you are short and don’t get up front you will miss 1/3 to 1/2 of the show.
I wish they would take this show to Hollywood Studios where they have seating and water to accommodate guests better. Even with all that hassle (and it was a hassle) it is an amazing show you really NEED to see!


Disney’s Hollywood Land

Disney’s Aladdin – Musical Spectacular

This is a really well done musical from the movie Aladdin. My kids thought it was hilarious that at some points the actors walk though the audience aisles. It is a must see and a great way to beat the heat. Line up early.

Pixar Play Parade

Pizar pals Parade in California
This is a lot like the parade that once lived at Hollywood Studios that sadly was removed. It is a fun way to see lots of favorite characters from the different Pixar movies. You’ll see Monsters Inc, Incredible, Nemo, and Toy Story characters.

Dancin with Disney

 Disneland California Adventure Park
This was one of the highlights from our visit. You can go hang out & dance with Disney characters. They vary and switch out often, but it was a great chance to mingle with some rarely out to see characters. Don’t miss this one!

Disneland California Adventure Park Disneland California Adventure Park Disneland California Adventure Park Disneland California Adventure Park

Monster’s Inc Mike & Sully to the Rescue

This is a fun journey through the movie Monsters Inc. This was another family favorite ride we wish they would bring to Disney World! The theming and detail within the ride is exceptional!

Tower of Terror

Head into an abandoned hotel where you will relive a story from The Twilight Zone. If your kids are fine in the Haunted Mansion, this is no scarier. Once you go up you will drop down and then you you back up. My kids 4 and 7 LOVED it!  This is a more tame version of the one at Hollywood Studios. 40” or taller


Unique Characters at Disneyland

Like I mentioned earlier, the characters in Disneyland are more interested in unique interactions than just posing for pictures. I thought it was a lot of fun to wander to find the unique characters. They will of course take pictures with you, but are not focused on that being the goal of your interaction. Here are some fun pictures we gook at Disney California Adventure Park.

Disneland California Adventure Park Disneland California Adventure Park

So is it worth Coming?

Yes, come here at least once in your lifetime. We liked Disney California Adventure Park. There are a lot of unique characters and experiences you wont get at any other Disney park. The bug land & paradise pier don’t really fit with Disney, in my opinion, and need an overhaul at some point. With that being said,

My favorite ride & show of all the Disney parks are here at Disney California Adventure Park! 

I think you could see it thoroughly in one day. Even if you live on the other side of the United States, it is a fun place to visit! Don’t miss Carsland and World of Color show – they are truly amazing.


Additional Resources

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About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! Beth is also the creator of www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com where she shares Kindergarten spedicif worksheets,& educational ideas.

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