Planning Your Day at Disney California Adventure

11026144_10153412687182488_837760179640340214_oRight across from Disneyland Park is Disney California Adventure, with many fantastically-themed lands from 1920s-style Buena Vista Street to the popular Cars Land. There’s quite a bit to do at Disneyland’s newest park, and I always recommend guests have a plan for visiting to see the highlights with as little waiting as possible.

Disney California Adventure has plenty of attractions, but with a good plan, it is do-able in one day. One important note about this park is that guests staying at an on-site resort have a big advantage: only on-site resort guests can take advantage of Magic Mornings at Disney California Adventure. Magic Mornings are similar to Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World, but operate by very different rules. While on-site resort guests and guests with a 3+ day ticket can enter an hour earlier than everyone else at Disneyland Park, only on-site resort guests receive this benefit at Disney California Adventure. This is a big deal for one reason: Radiator Springs Racers.

Radiator Springs Racers is the most popular ride in Cars Land, and in the entire park. It’s an amazing, not-to-be-missed ride, but because of that, it’s very, very popular, with an hour wait or longer even on slow days. If you’re an on-site resort guest, get to the park entrance early on a Magic Mornings day (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and go straight to Radiator Springs Racers. Alternatively, go to get a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers near the entrance to ‘a bug’s land’. Note: FastPasses are almost always gone by noon, if not earlier, and the line for FastPasses can stretch back to Buena Vista Street. Give one person all your tickets and have them stand in line to get your FastPasses. If you are not staying at an on-site hotel, be aware that the line for Radiator Springs Racers will already be very long if you visit on a Magic Morning day. Either get in line for a FastPass, or use the ride’s single rider line.

Most other rides in Disney California Adventure either do not typically have long waits (Monster’s Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree), or have FastPass available for you to use (Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Soarin’ over California, Grizzly River Run). The only exception is Toy Story Midway Mania, which does not offer FastPass, so visit that one early in the day.

In the afternoon, make room in your schedule for Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular. This 45-minute show only plays a few times a day, and really lives up to the name ‘spectacular.’ Arrive well before show time for the closest seats.

Disney California Adventure’s nighttime spectacular, special for Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration, is World of Color – Celebrate. This show takes place in front of Paradise Pier, with synchronized water and light effects. If you want to see this amazing show, you will need a FastPass to access the viewing areas. Same-day FastPasses are distributed at the Grizzly River Run FastPass machines, and be sure to get them early, because they will run out. World of Color FastPasses are non-connected, so you can hold other FastPasses at the same time as the World of Color FastPass. Another way to obtain a FastPass to the show is to reserve a World of Color Dining Package, available at Carthay Circle Restaurant, Wine Country Trattoria, and Ariel’s Grotto.

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Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful family. Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong – but she also realized how good planning can make such a difference for having a fun, relaxing vacation! Elizabeth became her family’s go-to resource for Disney planning. Now she is dedicating her planning skills to helping other families create vacation memories as a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations. She will plan your trip as if it were her own. Her blog,, has tons of advice on how to plan your next Disney trip, including trip planning instructions, sample itineraries, dining tips, and more. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter for more planning tips and theme park news. Contact Elizabeth at

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