Theme Park Yes Or No — Disney California Adventure
Did you know that Disney California Adventure owns and operates 16 (!) different theme park attractions of note?
Yes, in the early days of the park, Disney officials jammed it full of rides, even though some of them came with questionable quality.
Since then, Disney has given this park a serious glow-up, making it one of the best tourist spots on the planet.
You’ve actually got too many good options for a day at the park. So, which one should you do?
In the latest Theme Park Yes Or No, we’ll discuss the must-dos at Disney California Adventure…and a few it’s okay to skip.
I’ll level with you at the start. Disney famously cut corners in building Disney California Adventure (DCA). Then-CEO Michael Eisner prioritized cheap attractions.
So, there’s a hidden rule at the park. Older rides generally aren’t as good as newer ones. I’ll discuss a couple of exceptions, but the rule applies here.
On the Golden Zephyr, you board a rocket ship, and it spins you around for two minutes. This ride isn’t up to Disney standards. You can safely skip it.
Goofy’s Sky School
Here’s another opening day ride that remains at the park. It’s the second-best of those day one attractions. And that’s still not saying much.
In fact, this ride copies the style of Primeval Whirl, which you used to find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You don’t now because the park closed it.
You can skip this one as well. We’re off to a bad start, but things can only get better.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
See?! Here’s a white-hot, must-do attraction!
A few years ago, Disney re-themed Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It turned into a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction instead, one with a rockin’ soundtrack.
Mission: BREAKOUT! is one of the best attractions at Disneyland Resort. You’ll be cheating yourself if you don’t ride it.
Similarly, Disney also altered the beloved California Screamin’. Imagineers added an Incredibles theme that somehow improved an already terrific ride.
You’ll still follow the same coaster path and even do the loop-de-loop in the middle. However, you’ll also chase Jack-Jack Parr as you do. It’s better this way.
This one is an absolute yes.
Jessie’s Critter Carousel
And we’re back to the no side. Disney recently revamped Jessie’s Critter Carousel to add the Toy Story theming.
Alas, we’re still talking about the least interesting Disney carousel in North America. This one’s only for carousel enthusiasts.
I’m listing these attractions alphabetically. If I’ve sounded negative so far, it’s happenstance more than anything else.
I promise that we’re getting to the good stuff soon.
Still, I feel the need to stress this point. If you skip anything at DCA, it’s Jumpin’ Jellyfish.
You bounce up and down for a couple of minutes while you look across the park. That’s it. This one’s in the conversation for the worst Disney attraction on the planet.
The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
Disney’s American theme parks host two nearly identical versions of this attraction. You’ll find the other at Magic Kingdom.
I happen to adore both and highly recommend that you pick this one during your visit. It’s the best kind of Disney Omnimover attraction, as it retells the story of The Little Mermaid.
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
Imagine a series of dancing convertibles, and you’ve got the right idea here. Disney initially hosted a different Luigi attraction here, one that didn’t work well.
So, the replacement is more of a half-measure. It’s perfectly adequate as a form of entertainment, but I’d still slot it toward the bottom of park attractions.
You can safely skip this one. However, you may enjoy it, and the lines are rarely long for this one. Go with your best judgment here.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
This attraction was the precursor to Alien Swirling Saucers, an attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that I happen to adore.
For whatever reason, the Mater theming just isn’t as good as the Little Green Men from Toy Story, but it’s still a fun ride. You should go to this one.
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
Speaking of exceptional Pixar titles, Monsters, Inc. is just about as good as it gets. And this ride tells a lovely story featuring Mike, Sulley, and Boo.
You want to make time for this ride, especially if you have children.
Here’s one of the park’s absolute no-doubters at the park. The Pal-A-Round has undergone multiple name changes throughout its existence.
What has never changed is the fact that it’s a spectacular variant of the Ferris wheel concept.
The only reason why you may not want to ride it is if you’re afraid of heights or odd motions.
The sensation of this style of Ferris wheel is unlike any other on the planet. It requires some adjustments.
Radiator Springs Racers
Yes! YES! A MILLION TIMES, YES!!!
Folks, this is the best thing that Disney California Adventure has to offer.
In fact, Radiator Springs Racers may be the best thing that Disneyland or anywhere else on the West Coast has to offer.
On this ride, you’ll journey through the world of Radiator Springs, interacting with the various Cars from the film franchise.
Later, you’ll race as if you’re viable competition for Lightning McQueen. It’s pure joy.
Silly Symphony Swings
I’ll go ahead and spoil you on the fact that this is the final no on the list.
In fact, if you look at the list in full, you’ll notice how many of those “skip it” rides come from DCA’s early years.
Meanwhile, most of the good stuff comes from the era after Disney had abandoned the carnival ride mentality at the park.
Silly Symphony Swings rarely requires a wait of more than 10 minutes. So, feel free to ride it if you must. Just don’t expect much from the experience.
Soarin’ Around the World
I wholeheartedly recommend this ride as the heart and soul of Disney California Adventure.
However, I do so with an asterisk. If you can ride Soarin’ Over California instead, you should do so.
I say this because the ride plays better when you’re in California than anywhere else on the planet.
Meanwhile, Soarin’ Around the World, while excellent, holds no special meaning for California.
This version of the ride is still exceptional, but it’s not the attraction that kept DCA afloat for the body of a decade.
Toy Story Midway Mania!
Yes, you should ride Toy Story Mania! Also, you should crush all your friends, laugh in their faces, and taunt them about your victory for the rest of the day.
You must establish dominance!
WEBSLINGERS – A Spider-Man Adventure
Do you want to swing through the air and shoot webs like Spider-Man?
Also, do you want to establish dominance on a different ride? Great! You’re my kind of people!
Seriously, this ride is the new hotness at Disneyland Resort. You do NOT want to miss it!