Day 2: California Adventure

Our second day at the Disneyland parks we headed to California Adventure. None of us had been there before, so it was a new adventure for everyone. We’d heard from a lot of people that we would want to spend more time there than Disneyland but, as we suspected, that didn’t hold true for us. I say that with the caveat that we didn’t go see any of the Guardians of the Galaxy stuff. Our kids don’t even know what GOTG is and it seemed like that section was all a bit too “old” for them.

First thing in the morning, California Adventure was slightly less crowded than Disneyland, but it certainly gained a lot more people as the day went on. We started off in Cars Land, which of course was a huge hit, especially for Alden. He is super into vehicles of all kinds these days. The whirling Tow Mater ride was fun, but it was the Radiator Springs Racers that were the biggest hit. It’s essentially a roller coaster, made to look like cars, and at one point you “race” another car. It looks a bit like the dirt track where Lightning McQueen races Doc Hudson in the movie, and there are points where you go past characters from the film. It’s also a “photo-op” ride where you get a picture at the end. I think we experienced this particular attraction no less than four times.

This was the kids’ and my first time through
Then Zach’s first time through. You can’t even see Alden next to him!
Fourth go-round. Zoey is behind Ellie.

For me, one of the biggest highlights of Cars Land was just walking through the recreation of Radiator Springs. It’s amazing, the way you can feel like you’re inside the movie.

The Cozy Cone (with a cameo by my finger)
Flo’s V-8 Cafe

Pixar Pier and Pacific Wharf are where we spent the majority of our time at California Adventure. Zoey and I went on the Incredicoaster (Eleanor and Alden weren’t tall enough) and then we talked her into doing it a second time so we could rider-swap and Zach could go. Unfortunately, she hadn’t eaten much breakfast and it was almost lunchtime by then, so Zoey really wasn’t feeling good after that second run on the roller coaster. She gets motion sickness sometimes, and combining that with the overstimulation of the loud, fast ride with an upside down loop and hunger was a bad combination. Personally, I thought it was a pretty fun ride, and I don’t tend to like most roller coasters. There’s a point on the ride where you go through a tunnel and can actually smell Jack-Jack’s “num num” cookies (if you’ve seen Incredibles 2 you’ll know what I’m talking about).

I think Zoey had her eyes closed the entire time

We got lunch at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, which was quite delicious and really perked Zoey up. I have to say, the food at California Adventure was quite good and better than Disneyland’s.

The kids really enjoyed the “Jumping Jellyfish” ride (themed from Finding Nemo), Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (which briefly broke down while we were on it, leaving us listening to Ursula sing “Poor Unfortunate Souls” for a prolonged stretch) and Toy Story Midway Mania. There did seem to be a lot more instances of rides breaking down at California Adventure. We attempted Goofy’s Sky School three times; twice we could see that it was unavailable, and the third time Zach stood in line with the girls for more than twenty minutes (using our Fast Pass, mind you) and they were the very next people to go on the ride when it was shut down again. Toy Story Midway Mania also seemed to briefly shut down while we were waiting in line for it.

The Jumpin’ Jellyfish

In the afternoon, we headed over to Grizzly Peak. The Grizzly River Run was closed for refurbishment (at the time this seemed like a bummer, but I have since heard that you get pretty soaked on it so it was probably for the best). It was truly pleasant to walk the shady path amongst the trees. It really felt like you had entered the woods of northern California. The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail was amazing and positively enormous. Think three-story tree house, full of ropes, slides, ziplines, rock wall climbing and other cool surprises. At a less crowded time, or with slightly older kids you can trust to find their way back to you when told, it would be a great place for parents to sit and take a break while the kids explore and have some free play. A fantastic break from all the standing in lines. It was hard to get our kids to leave, and their brains and bodies seemed much better afterward.

My absolute favorite ride in California Adventure was in this area: Soarin’ Around the World. It’s a virtual reality ride, much like Star Tours in Disneyland. Your seats actually lift in to the air, legs dangling, as a giant 3-D IMAX screen makes you feel like you are actually flying all around the world. They even pipe in scents at certain times. Positively breathtaking. I would have gone on it a dozen more times if I could.

We had dinner at Wine Country Trattoria (again, use the app ahead of time and make reservations! Soooo worth it!) and the food was excellent. The kids kept raving about theirs and devoured most of it. After dinner, the sun was beginning to set so we hurried over to the enormous Ferris wheel to watch the sunset as we rode.

The demon-eyed Clegg Clan

We were all quite worn at at this point, and opted not to watch the water light show that they do at night. It seemed like you needed to get tickets to that anyway, and we hadn’t gotten any. We slowly started to make our way out, planning to stop in Hollywood Land for Spiderman themed mouse ears for Alden. During our search for those ears, we stumbled upon a Nemo hat complete with Lucky Fin, which of course we had to get for our own Lucky Fin kiddo.

As we went through Hollywood Land, we remembered a recommendation to go in the Animation Academy and find the Beast’s Library. It was a fun, interactive exhibit that would have been a great place to spend quite a bit of time if it wasn’t the tail end of an exhausting day. The highlight of this area, though, was that we happened to come in at the perfect time for Turtle Talk with Crush (the sea turtle from Finding Nemo). It’s an interactive experience, where you ask Crush (who is on a screen) questions and he answers and asks you questions. It was super cool and quite funny, and the best part was Crush choosing Zoey to ask a question. If you go to @Momsasaurus on Instagram you can see video of it. It was hilarious and adorable at the same time.

There are these interactive books in the Beast’s Library that take your picture and then tell you what Disney character represents your true spirit. I got Cinderella, which sounds about right considering how much laundry I had to do after this trip.

Our day at California Adventure was fun, and we’re glad we went. There’s a lot more to explore there, but I think it will be better when our kids are more like tweens and teens. I can see us having a lot of fun there then.

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