Tuesday, August 25, 2015

California Adventure!!

We are already having serious Disney withdrawals. Even though we went last year, it was kind of a last-minute whim trip. This year we decided to two days, stay at the resort, and put in a lot more planning. It was the perfect time to go - at 2.5, Em is now totally into Disney characters, but her entrance fee is still free!
Monday we started at Disney California Adventure. I'd never been before and I probably could have used a little bit more planning on this one, but we still enjoyed it. We rode:
  • Ariel's Undersea Adventure - This was one of Em's favorites. It's really mild, though dark. Even though Ursula might be seen as a little scary (she was pretty well done!), the music and other characters kept this ride upbeat. Hans and I love that the ride never stops, guests continually board and un-board via a moving sidewalk. Score! 
  • King Triton's Carousel (like... four times) - What can we say? Our kid loves carousels. This one was especially fun because the characters were otters and sea horses and whales. She especially loved one particular orange otter.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania - The wait for this one was a bit long, but they were handing out etch-a-sketchs to play with in the line. I found this ride very jerky and abrupt and it made me a little queasy. You have a little "gun" that you fire at digital screens to compete against the other rider in your car. It was a bit difficult for Em to reach the gun and figure out how to operate it, but she still enjoyed it. Hans definitely enjoyed this ride more than most. It definitely stands out as a more interactive ride than most at Disney.
  • Mike and Sully to the Rescue! - We expected to love this one, and didn't. It was surprisingly short and didn't offer much variety. The good news on this one: Since it was just us two and Em as a lap rider, they pulled us into the "single rider" line and we didn't have to wait at all. Score!
Haha, his favorite character
  • Francis' Lady Bug Boogie - We actually didn't plan to do this one, but Em saw it and surprised us by ASKING to go! And she loved it. I know she looks a little scared in this video, but I promise this serious face is the one she makes when she is having the most fun. It's just like  Disneyland's tea cups, but the line wasn't as long!

  • Heimlich's Chew Chew Train - It's a train. There's not much to it. Hans and I thought it was lame, even for a train, but the little one seemed to like it well enough.
  • And Hans went on California Screamin'. He enjoyed it, though came off saying "I may be getting a little too old for this..."
We also went to:
  • Elsa and Anna's Frozen Sing-along - I'd heard mixed reviews about this so I wasn't sure, but by this point in the day we were very hot and our feet hurt so we decided to go for no other reason than for the rest. And to our great delight, Em really, really loved it! She posed for pictures without prompting and sang her little heart out - LOUDLY! It was cracking us up. There was a little appearance from Anna and Elsa themselves, which was great since we didn't do the meet and greets with them. And at the end there was even a little snow flurry! I give this one a thumbs up.
She totally posed like this all by herself. I think she was trying to convey extreme excitement.
  • Pixar Play Parade - We didn't even know about this, but happened to walk out of the sing-along right as this was about to start. We didn't get a great seat (it was super hot!) but the parade was really fun! If you sit close, plan to get wet - many of the characters squirt water on the crowd. It had great music and all the fun characters. Try and get a seat in the shade and you'll really enjoy this one!
  • Meet and Greets with Goofy, Donald, and Orbit - I have no tips on how to find them... we just got lucky! I expected her to be a little afraid of them, but the first one she saw, she demanded to go meet. Tip: Disney employees are awesome at using your camera to take photos for you, so take advantage of that.

And if you're thinking about going, learn from our mistakes or missteps!
  • Even at 99th percentile height, Em was too short for Soarin' Over California. Make sure you check your toddler's height before you go so you don't walk to rides unnecessarily.
  • Radiator Springs is touted as the best ride in DCA. Em's height made her borderline but we watched it and while we enjoyed watching, concluded it was a little too fast, even for our daring toddler. Proceed with caution on this one is my advice. Oh, and the wait was crazy long. Be prepared for that, too.
  • She really wanted to go on the Golden Zephyr and Mickey's Fun Wheel but they both closed early to make way for the evening's show over the lake. Make a note of the times that rides around the lake close and hit those earlier in the day.
  • World of Color: This pretty much takes over the park. Get a FastPass in order to get a decent place to watch. Once people start staking out their seats, it's hard to even walk anywhere around the lake. And without a FastPass there's no good solution for finding a place to watch. So we didn't get to watch World of Color and I heard it was amazing. That's one of my big regrets of the day, so make a plan to go to this!
Last, but definitely not least, food!
  • Castle Corn Dog. We heard so many things about this place and while we aren't big corn dog fans, these were de-licious. Seriously, gobbled them down and wanted more.
  • We ate dinner at Napolini's in Downtown Disney. No wait, lower-priced food, still very tasty. Only drawback was seating is limited and proved tricky. But the pizza was tasty and we didn't have to wait an hour for the full-service restaurant next door.
  • Clarabelle's Ice Cream. It's right on main street and it was a great place to go while everyone else was at World of Color. We did the double scoop and it was yummy. Just maybe not the best idea at 9 pm... our little one was bouncing off the walls for the next hour haha

There were several rides we didn't get to that we wanted to, but my overall feel was that DCA didn't have quite as much for our toddler to do as Disneyland does. I might spend two days at Disneyland next time instead of spending one at DCA, but Ariel's ride and the Frozen Sing-along definitely made this day a hit.


  1. Did you do any rides with rider swap?

    1. Actually, we did not! Anything that was safe for Emma was safe for me, so we stuck to those rides. Anything we would have used rider swap on, didn't seem prudent for me. But maybe next time we'll take advantage of that!

    2. Oh yeah. I didn't think about that.