Pick Nine: Ultimate Guide to Disney California Adventure
Disney executives believe that the average guest will experience nine attractions during a full theme park day. Since almost all Disney parks host more than nine attractions, how do you decide which ones to do? That’s why we’re here at MickeyBlog! This time, we’re heading over to Disneyland Resort to offer our thoughts. Here are the nine rides to pick during a day at Disney California Adventure.
Grizzly River Run
The other park at Disneyland Resort hosts a lot of attractions. In fact, it’s got 16 rides operating each day, not counting shows and character greetings. Thankfully, the ride wait-times are quite manageable. Only four attractions generally require waits of 30+ minutes.
Most of them are more like Grizzly River Run, a fun raft ride that generally takes 15 minutes or less to board. The West Coast equivalent of Kali River Rapids delivers the thrill that you’d expect from a Disney wet ride and is well worth your time.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
In terms of wait-times, this drop tower attraction qualifies as one of Disney California Adventure’s (DCA) big three. You may need as much as 40 minutes before you get to ride it.
However, any self-respective Marvel Cinematic Universe fan will want to jump into the elevator and follow the Guardians of the Galaxy into the great unknown. The story parallels the start of the second movie, and the musical accompaniments guarantee that you’ll rock out with the galaxy’s least reliable superheroes.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
One of the most memorable scenes from the Cars franchise imitates a popular farm prank. Lightning McQueen and his new acquaintance, Mater, bond as they learn how to tip over cows farm trucks.
You ride one of these vehicles on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and each time you whip sideways, you fear that you’ll tip over. It’s similar to Alien Swirling Saucers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which means that a lot of people aren’t impressed by it. I happen to adore it and think it’s one of the hidden gems at DCA.
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
Everyone’s favorite scream/laugh-inducers received their own ride at DCA in 2006. This addition wasn’t really planned as a different attraction, Superstar Limo, infamously failed when the park launched. It was dead on arrival.
So, Imagineers repurposed the space with this delightful dark ride retelling of Monsters, Inc. There’s actually a Tokyo Disneyland ride that’s similar but a bit better thanks to enhanced technologies.
However, the 15-minute wait for Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! is hard to beat. You’ll get tremendous bang for the buck on this one.
Formerly known as Mickey’s Fun Wheel (and the Sun Wheel before that), this ride is the most recognizable one at DCA. I say that because it’s the park weenie, too. Pixar Pal-A-Round isn’t technically a Ferris wheel because it’s more complex mechanically. A Ferris wheel’s structure allows one wheel to spin in a stationary circular motion.
Rides like the Pixar Pal-A-Round are known as Eccentric wheels since they do more. The passengers don’t directly attach their carts to the main wheel. Instead, they slide between the rim and hub, which allows for additional circular trajectories.
That’s a lot of fancy technobabble to get to the main point. The DCA weenie isn’t merely fun to look at. The ride experience delivers more excitement than any Ferris wheel that you’ve ever encountered.
Radiator Springs Racers
While Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree pays tribute to a memorable scene from Cars, Radiator Springs Racers operates on a higher level. It introduces riders to the entirety of Radiator Springs, the close-knit community that inspires Lightning McQueen to become a better person car.
The dark ride elements of Radiator Springs Racers rival anything that Disney had ever done before it or anything that’s come along since then. Once your vehicle enters Radiator Springs, you’ll fully believe that anthropomorphic cars have distinct personalities.
The color scheme on this attraction is also the gold standard at Disneyland Resort…or anywhere, really.
I believe that Radiator Springs Racers towers above everything else at DCA in terms of ride quality. That’s why I think that you must ride it, even though it claims easily the longest lines in the park.
Waiting an hour for a ride is problematic, but this one justifies the aggravation. It’s even better with a FastPass or Rope Drop line, though.
Soarin’ Around the World
Other rides have usurped the title, but Soarin’ was once the crown jewel of Disney California Adventure. Even as other attractions absorbed harsh criticism in 2001, this ride dazzled one and all with its brilliance.
On Soarin’, a giant Erector Set picks up a large number of guests and lifts them into the air. There, riders come face to face with a massive IMAX screen, the largest of its kind ever built at the time.
Then, the images on the ginormous digital screen display some of the most significant landmarks on the planet. Once, Soarin’ highlighted only the state of California, but it now transports guests on a journey around the world. The ride is an absolute masterpiece and well worth waiting 30 minutes in line.
Disney recently took the former California Screamin’ and somehow made it better. Imagineers added a special touch, something that provided a secret ingredient to elevate the ride experience. I’m speaking of The Incredibles, the family of superheroes that now roams the tunnels of the Incredicoaster.
You may expect a roller coaster with a Pixar theme to come with a significant line. On the contrary, the throughput of the Incredicoaster is good enough that the average wait-time recently is a modest 25 minutes. I’ve waited longer than that for vastly inferior rides, ones that don’t co-star Jack-Jack Parr!
Toy Story Mania!
Believe it or not, this attraction almost didn’t make the list. Don’t get me wrong. I adore it and ride it religiously. However, it comes with the second-longest wait at DCA.
Since I presume that you’re like me and have ridden Toy Story Mania! many times over the years, that’s a troubling amount of time spent in line. But come on! It’s a carnival-style video game starring beloved Toy Story characters! What trip to Disney California Adventure would be complete without it?
I’ve run the math on this Pick Nine. Park guests should be able to experience all of the attractions listed here without pushing too hard, at least on most days. Thankfully, DCA crowds remain significantly smaller than those at Disneyland.