I tried to make the most out of my first experience visiting Disneyland. With limited time I wanted to see and do as much as I could both in the original Disneyland as well as the Disney California Adventure Park. Although I kept hopping between the two parks, I very quickly realized that California Adventure was my clear favorite. From walking along Route 66 in Cars Land, to enjoying some amazing rides, I loved everything in Disney California Adventure, but these experiences helped define my time in this fun and engaging park. In the interest of full disclosure, Disney was kind enough to give me tickets to visit both parks, but all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
It seems that I can’t escape The Mother Road. I spent two weeks driving it in May, so imagine my surprise when I suddenly found myself once again walking along it in Cars Land. I love the movie “Cars,” but I had somehow forgotten that it takes place on Route 66, which is strongly and very well represented in California Adventure. Sure, they have the major features of the drive through the Southwest that we all recognize, but what really impressed me was the incredible attention to detail. There were small nods to the drive that only someone who’s driven it would know, all taken from the film of course. From the allusion to the famous Jack Rabbit Trading Post, to the many different ways Route 66 is signed, it was amazing to once again see these familiar sights, just in the middle of Disney. Even better, it was great to see both kids and adults enjoying themselves along the Route, hopefully instilling in everyone a deep love for the Mother Road.
Hands down, this new roller coaster on Pixar Pier was my favorite ride in either of the two parks. I love roller coasters, and this inverted loop ride is one of the best I’ve ridden. The reimagined ride used to be named California Screamin’ but re-themed to the Incredicoaster. Inspired by The Incredibles, the ride opened in the new Pixar Pier on June 23, 2018 in conjunction with the release of the film Incredibles 2. It was so much fun I rode it three times, the only attraction I decided to enjoy more than once during my two days in the park.
Disney pays homage to certain places and parts of our culture that they want to promote and foster a deeper appreciation for. They’ve always done this, starting back in 1955 and continuing through today and that’s especially true in Grizzly Peak. Disney’s own fictionalized National Park, every detail here is just as perfect as it is everywhere else. From the iconic National Park signs and fonts to the experiences themselves, it looks and feels like a real park. Never heavy handed, by creating a space like this it shares the beauty of our park system, especially important for people who’ve never visited one. It instills a love of the great outdoors and hopefully the importance of conservation and stewardship of our resources. It’s wonderful that Disney decided to add this and it was one of my favorite areas of California Adventure.
I really enjoyed all of the food options in both parks, but I especially enjoyed the options in California Adventure. Throughout the park you’ll find some basic staples, but what’s really interesting are the unique options that are tied to particular areas of the park. While in Cars Land I couldn’t resist grabbing lunch at the Cozy Cone Motel where I enjoyed Bacon Mac’n’Cheese in a bread cone because, why not? The real star though is the waterfront area in Pacific Wharf. Meant to look like San Francisco, the options are incredible including Ghiradelli, Boudin’s famous bread bowls and even Napa-inspired wine tavernas where adults can sit back and relax with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc or a craft brew.
Easy to Navigate
I clicked with California Adventure almost immediately and a big reason for that is how easy it is to understand and get around. The layout isn’t complicated and its size makes getting from one area to another relatively speedy. For the most part, the park is essentially set up as a loop, starting in Hollywood Land and continuing through to Cars Land and then Grizzly Peak. The one exception is Pixar Pier, which juts out without a two-way connector, meaning that one has to backtrack. It’s not the end of the world, but was slightly annoying. Hopefully they’ll figure out what to do with that part of the park in the years to come.
Just A Nice Place To Be
This may sound like a cop out answer, but I just really enjoyed being in the park. More than once I found myself wandering Cars Land for no reason other to just be there, or relaxing along the waterfront and watching people meander by. I enjoyed both parks, but I didn’t do that in Disneyland. No, in the original park I was methodical about what I saw and experienced, but I didn’t just hang out there for no reason. Maybe it’s because it was somewhat busier than California Adventure, but I didn’t find those same favorite spots in Disneyland. And that’s ok, there is a reason why there are two parks and both have a variety of different experiences that will appeal to different people. If I had to decide though, I’d return to Disney California Adventure first in a heartbeat. Luckily I had a Park Hopper pass so it wasn’t a concern, but I know that this first experience certainly won’t be my last and I can’t wait to see how they further develop the park in the years to come.