Travel With Kids: California Adventure

There was a time when California Adventure was an afterthought, the "second choice" park after Disneyland. After our most recent trip, however, I can confidently kabosh that perspective.

Travel With Kids: California Adventure 1

We spent an entire Saturday at the Golden State themed park and were completely mesmerized. The new Buena Vista Street welcomes you in with the class and cheer of Disney. From there, you can opt to explore Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak, Condor Flats, Pacific Wharf, Hollywood Land, A Bug's Land, and Cars Land.

Travel With Kids: California Adventure 2

Our family particularly enjoyed the sights and sounds of Cars Land, which opened June 2012. Though we didn't get to drive the Radiator Springs Racers (There was a 190 minute wait! Eek!), our girls had a ball on Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and we had fun tapping our feet to 50's tunes at the Flo's V8 Cafe. Breakfast options include: Seasonal Fruit Plate with yogurt and blueberry muffin for $5.49, American Breakfast with Scrambled Eggs, Potatoes, Bacon, and a Biscuit for $7.99, and French Toast with Salted Caramel Sauce and Bananas for $7.99.

Travel With Kids: California Adventure 3

Other favorite experiences: relaxing aboard a seashell on Ariel's Undersea Adventure and Soarin' over California. Our 6-year-old rode Goofy's Sky School twice, laugh-screaming for the entire duration of the ride. In the past, we've also enjoyed the thrills of Grizzly River Run and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

When the afternoon heat picked up, I made use of the Baby Care Center to change and nurse our 5-month-old baby (such a lovely amenity - thank you, Disney!) and our family picked up chocolate samples at the adjacent Ghirardelli shop.

As with any Disney park, there are ample opportunities to meet and greet characters, watch flawless live song and dance performances, and bask in the magic of creativity. I would love to see an addition of an attraction called Calipreneur, where you watch a film or go on a ride that gives an overview of what makes the state such a "hot spot" for innovators and also highlights some of the diverse companies that have their origin in California - Apple, Safeway, Hilton, etc.

I'd also love to see a play area (perhaps with a water component?) called "Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest."

If you have to choose between the parks, go with Disneyland if you've never been (just to be a part of the history). But don't undermine the adventure that awaits just a few steps away. Park Hopper or multi-day tickets are worthwhile.

Have you been to California Adventure? What is your favorite attraction/show?

* Thanks to Disney for providing us with complimentary day passes at California Adventure.

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9 comments on “Travel With Kids: California Adventure”

  1. Hi Stephanie,
    It looks as if you and your sweet family had a magical time at California Adventure Park. We love all new places and things to see and experience. I especially love the photo of your little one with Minnie dressed in her Fly Girl outfit. ;)
    You mentioned wishing there was a play area. I didn't know if you came across Redwood Creek across from Grizzly River Run. It's a huge play area. Believe it or not ... it's our youngest grandkids favorite attraction. There have been days when we have spent hours on end there. One day it's all we did. We only came out to watch the Christmas parade and get their faces painted. LOL There's also a very small water play area in "a bug's land".
    The Little Mermaid attraction is housed in the old Golden Dreams theater where visitors watched a film about the history of California. It starred Whoopie Goldberg (odd choice I thought) as Califia who narrated the film.
    I suppose because Anaheim doesn't have the land available like WDW there's a limit to how many attractions there can be. Oh how I wish they could keep the old and keep adding new!
    I bet you already knew all that though ;)

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Cathi.

      We missed Redwood Creek, but I'll specifically look for it next time we visit California Adventure.

      The Bugs Land water area is a nice reprieve on hot days, but wouldn't it be fun to have some kind of attraction themed after Robin Hood as well? Though often overlooked, it's one of our family's favorite Disney animated films. Winsome characters, memorable music. :)

      1. I'm with you on Robin Hood Stephanie!! Definitely a family favorite at our house too. And I adore the music. Whistle it all day long kind of music. I can only imagine the possibilities with a Sherwood Forest! ;) I could actually see Redwood Creek with a Sherwood Forest theme!
        Currently it has a Wilderness Explorer theme after Russell in the film UP. There are trails the littles can walk along looking for specific animal footprints. At the end they earn their Wilderness Explorer Badge. There's also a rock wall, tire zip line and numerous log slides and rope bridges and towers. There's even a Bear cave that's not scary! hehe
        Sometimes we wonder why we have premium passes when the grands want to play in a "park" all day. Then we remember the "magic"!

    1. I actually often read (and place high value on) reviews of products and places where the writer has received complimentary experiences or items. As long as the writer has high integrity and discloses any material connections, I gladly accept tips and ideas.

      In this case and in every case, please know that I strive to give the pros and cons of my travel experiences and the products I review. Trustworthiness is of utmost importance.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. I went to both 3 years ago and my favorite ride was Screamin' although Soarin' was a close second. Really two different types of rides though. And sadly, I wasn't quite as impressed back then because half the park was under renovation. The lagoon was dry, but you could see ALL the stuff it takes underwater to make the light show actually happen so that was kind of cool. I'd love to go back and visit now, especially with my boys for Carsland. :)

    1. You're braver than I am. ;)

      I like roller coasters, but not ones that go upside down.

      Please do give California Adventure a second chance. It's drastically improved over the past 2 years - more attractions, more restaurants, etc.

  3. We were at the parks in August and were able to visit Cars Land. Just like walking into the movie, it was amazing!!
    I loved seeing World of Color, my mouth was gaped open the entire show ;)

    1. I agree. Cars Land is definitely a sight to behold - like walking right into the film! We loved it. Can't wait to try the Radiator Springs Racers next time we're in the park.

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