Going to Disneyland Resort and wondering if Disney California Adventure is worth it?
Being a California local, I have been to Disneyland and California Adventure several times with my family. We typically visit both parks at least once a year.
Disney California Adventure is a theme park by Disney right across the entrance from the main Disneyland theme park. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure collectively are called Disneyland Resort.
The entrance ticket cost for California Adventure is the same as for the main Disneyland park and is quite high. The pricing is dynamic and can range anywhere from $104 to $179 per day.
California Adventure Park is unique to California and not that well known to folks visiting from out of state or out of the country. So it is reasonable to wonder whether California Adventure is worth the ticket cost.
I think California Adventure Park is more modern and experimental and has several cool attractions, rides, and shows that are not found in the main Disneyland park.
California Adventure is also popular for its dining and restaurants and special events throughout the year.
I believe California Adventure Park is 100% worth visiting on your trip to Disneyland, California, due to its unique themed lands, rides, attractions, shows, restaurants, and special events throughout the year. I would visit California Adventure just for the Cars Land and Radiator Springs Racers ride – it is the coolest ride!
Read on to find out more about the top reasons to visit California Adventure and things to do there.
Top things to do in Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure Park, which first opened in 2001, has a lot of popular and modern-themed lands like the new Avengers Campus and the superhit Cars Land. It has a great assortment of attractions, rides, shows, and restaurants that are not to be missed.
Themed Lands at California Adventure
Disney California Adventure offers a captivating array of 8 main lands or themes to explore, listed in a clockwise direction from Buena Vista Street:
Buena Vista Street: As the welcoming gateway to the park, Buena Vista Street presents a bustling downtown atmosphere adorned with charming shops and delectable restaurants.
Hollywood Land: Drawing inspiration from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, this land immerses you in the enchanting world of movies, theaters, and television, featuring captivating attractions.
Avengers Campus: The latest addition to Disney California Adventure, Avengers Campus showcases an epic assortment of attractions, all centered around famous characters from the Marvel Avengers series.
Cars Land: Undoubtedly one of the park’s most popular themed lands, Cars Land transports visitors to the picturesque Radiator Springs, faithfully recreated from the beloved Cars movie. The highlight of this area is the immensely popular Radiator Spring Racers ride.
Pacific Wharf: Emanating the nostalgic charm of Monterey, California’s old waterfront, Pacific Wharf has a delightful selection of diverse restaurants catering to every palate.
Pixar Pier: Serving as a vibrant hub of excitement, Pixar Pier is home to iconic attractions such as Mickey’s Ferris wheel and the thrilling Incredicoaster. The nightly spectacle of the World of Color show brings Pixar Pier to life!
Paradise Gardens: Nestled adjacent to Pixar Pier, Paradise Gardens hosts a variety of amusement park-style rides. This vibrant land also serves as the backdrop for special festivals and events.
Grizzly Peak: Majestic and awe-inspiring, Grizzly Peak pays homage to California’s renowned Yosemite National Park with its centerpiece, a mountain shaped like a grand grizzly bear, and waterfalls.
Disney California Adventure Rides
Disney California Adventure has several very popular rides that should not be missed! It has a great collection of both thrill rides and family-friendly rides.
Try to reach the park early at rope drop to maximize your time and be able to sit on most rides.
Best Thrill Rides that Make California Adventure worth it
Radiator Springs Racers – Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land is the most popular ride, and I think California Adventure is worth it just for this ride alone! Race in a convertible car along an excellent themed racetrack!
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure – This newest ride in Avengers Campus has been drawing huge crowds since opening. This high-tech ride reads arm movements to blast targets and is popular with adults and kids alike.
Soarin’ Around the World / Soarin’ over California– My personal favorite, this flight simulator will take you on an incredible journey across the wonders of the world. The music and special effects are mind-blowing. Sometimes Soarin’ Around the World ride is replaced with a California popular attractions-based ride, which I think is also very cool!
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! – This elevator-style drop tower ride is not for the faint of heart! The Guardians of the Galaxy-themed ride will delight fans.
Incredicoaster – Incredibles-themed Incredcoaster is the fastest ride in California Adventure and a roller coaster with crazy twists and loops.
Grizzly River Run – This water ride in a circular raft has some small drops and splashing fun.
Best Family-Friendly Rides in California Adventure
Toy Story Midway Mania! – Families love this Toy Story-themed ride in which they can blast at toys and aim for the highest scores.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters in Cars Land are spinning rides appropriate for young kids.
Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind is a hot air balloon-shaped ride popular with families.
California Adventure also has several carnival-type rides like Jessie’s Critter Carousel, Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris Wheel, Silly Symphony Swings, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, and Golden Zephyr.
Shows at California Adventure
Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome and Disney Junior Dance Party will delight young fans who will get to see their favorite characters.
Buena Vista Street has several performers parading throughout the day.
As you explore the Disney California Adventure Park, you’ll have the chance to encounter many beloved Disney and Pixar characters eager to meet and greet you while providing memorable photo opportunities.
Capture the magic with Lightning McQueen himself in the vibrant setting of Cars Land, where he awaits remarkable photo ops.
At various locations within the park, you can frequently find iconic figures such as Mickey and Friends spreading joy on Buena Vista Street, the charismatic Cars characters revving up the excitement at Cars Land, and the enchanting cast of Encanto movie captivating guests at Paradise Gardens Park.
In addition, don’t miss out on the latest attraction, the Avengers Campus, where legendary superheroes like Spiderman, Black Widow, Captain America, Dr. Strange, Thor, and a host of others can be spotted for photo ops.
World of Color is a spectacular nighttime show at California Adventure and occurs on select nights. It is a captivating story told through music, water, and laser special effects and features clips from Disney and Pixar movies.
Dining and Restaurants at California Adventure
Disney California Adventure offers an eclectic mix of restaurants that are sure to satisfy every palate and culinary desire. From quick bites to sit-down meals, the park offers a diverse range of dining experiences that enhance your visit and ensure a memorable dining adventure.
Pym Test Kitchen at Avengers Campus, Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land offer quick-service American Fare.
Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta at Paradise Gardens Park is popular with families, while Paradise Garden Grill offers ethnic cuisine like Mexcian and Greek.
You will also find several fine dining options with table service, like Carthay Circle Restaurant at Buena Vista Street and Lamplight Lounge at Pixar Pier.
The unique Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land is great for treats and snacks like soft-served ice cream, churros, and popcorn.
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Pacific Wharf serves San Francisco’s famous Ghiradelli ice cream!
Special Events at California Adventure
Disney California Adventure hosts a variety of extraordinary events throughout the year that draw enormous crowds and frequently result in sold-out days.
In the spring months of March and April, the park embraces the culinary wonders and exquisite wines of California with the highly anticipated Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival.
During the winter season, usually in January and February, the park pays tribute to Asian culture with the enchanting Lunar New Year Festival, a vibrant celebration featuring captivating performances and traditional delights.
For Halloween enthusiasts, Oogie Boogie Bash is a not-to-be-missed event occurring on select nights in September and October. This separately ticketed celebration will immerse you in the Halloween spirit with mesmerizing shows, thrilling entertainment, and delectable-themed food.
As the Disneyland holiday season approaches, from November to early January, Disney California Adventure comes alive with the enchanting Disney Festival of Holidays, where diverse cultures are honored through delightful festivities and immersive experiences.
Is Disney California Adventure worth it for toddlers?
Disney California Adventure is totally worth it for toddlers and families with young kids. There are so many amazing rides and attractions in California Adventure that are suitable for toddlers.
Cars Land has Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, which are popular with young kids with their spinning trucks and dancing cars.
Paradise Gardens has a number of carnival-type rides appropriate for toddlers, like Silly Symphony Swings, Jessie’s Critter Carousel, Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris Wheel, Golden Zephyr, and Jumpin’ Jellyfish.
Disney Junior Dance Party is a rocking show for young kids with their favorite Disney Junior characters.
Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta at Paradise Gardens Park has familiar foods that will please even the fussiest of young eaters!
Disney California Adventure is not as big as Disneyland area-wise, making it easier to navigate with young kids.
Is Disney California Adventure worth it for adults?
Disney California Adventure has newer themes based on Marvel’s Avengers and Pixar movies with some cool attractions and rides, making it totally worth it for adults.
I think the Radiator Springs Racers ride alone makes California Adventure worth it!
The new Avengers Campus at California Adventure has been drawing huge crowds with the new Spiderman ride, Guardians of the Galaxy ride, and Avengers character appearances.
Where to stay for Disney California Adventure
We find it most convenient to stay within walking distance of Disneyland and California Adventure, as it saves us valuable time in the morning. By avoiding the hassle of parking and taking the tram, we gain an extra hour in the morning when Disneyland park opens to enjoy the thrilling rides and attractions.
For an unparalleled Disney experience, the ultimate choice is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. As a luxurious Disneyland Resort hotel nestled right inside California Adventure Park, it offers unrivaled proximity and convenience.
Situated just across the street from the Grand Californian Hotel, Disney Paradise Pier Hotel is another excellent option within the Disneyland Resort hotels. Within a short 5 to 10-minute walk, you can easily reach the entrance of Disney California Adventure.
If you’re seeking a comfortable mid-range hotel, Fairfield by Marriott Anaheim Resort fits the bill perfectly. Located on S Harbor Boulevard, it boasts a refreshing pool and is only a 10-minute walk to the parks.
For the utmost proximity, Best Western Plus Park Place Inn is located literally across the street and provides not only a convenient location but also amenities like a pool and complimentary breakfast.
FAQs about Disney California Adventure
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Disney California Adventure:
Is California Adventure worth a full day?
Yes, there are several themed lands, attractions, and rides to explore in California Adventure. You really need a full day in California Adventure Park to experience it to the fullest. Plus, the wait times for many rides are between 20 minutes to 2 hours, so you will need the full day to sit on most rides, even with Genie Plus.
Is Disneyland or California Adventure more worth it?
Both Disneyland and California Adventure are different in what attractions and rides they offer, and they are both worth it. Disneyland has nostalgic attractions like Toontown and Star Wars, while California Adventure has newer attractions like Avengers Campus and Cars Land.
Is it better to start at Disney or California Adventure?
It really doesn’t matter which park you start at. Nowadays, both parks are equally crowded, no matter which day of the week. I would pick the park based on the attractions offered that day. Do not miss the fireworks in Disneyland or the World of Color in California Adventure.
Is one day enough for Disney California Adventure?
One day is usually enough for Disney California Adventure as it is smaller in size as compared to Disneyland. Make sure to take Genie Plus so that you can sit on all the California Adventure thrill rides in one day.
Final Takeaways: Is California Adventure worth it?
Disney California Adventure is totally worth it, and you should plan to spend a full day on your trip to Disneyland.
Explore the unique themed lands like Cars Land, Avengers Campus, Pixar Pier, and Paradise Gardens Park.
Experience some of the best rides like Radiator Springs Racers, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, and Soarin’ Around the World.
Enjoy the variety of restaurants and World of Color nightly entertainment, and have a great time at California Adventure!
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