SH Sean Harding/blog
Disney’s California Adventure
Tuesday, April 8th, 2003
California Screamin

Kevin asked to hear my impressions of Disney’s California Adventure. I really enjoyed the park. I don’t think that it really deserves the amount of bad press that it has received. To be sure, it’s not as cool as Disneyland, but what is?

The smaller crowds at California Adventure are bad news for Disney management, but I thought they were great for my experience. On a day when I was told Disneyland was packed, California Adventure was only moderately busy. The waits for the major attractions weren’t terribly long (and, of course, were made even shorter by use of Fastpasses). The walkways were open and easily navigable. The overall pace of life in DCA seemed much slower than it was in Disneyland. It was a relaxing change. There was live music in various places to add some atmosphere. The park is beautiful in a different way than Disneyland is. It doesn’t seem magical like Disneyland, but it’s very nice to look at.

DCA at night

The day before we went to DCA, we had spent 14 hours in Disneyland, so I wasn’t as energetic as I could have been. That caused me to pass on many of the big rides. I didn’t do the California Screamin’ or Mullholland Madness rollercoasters and I skipped both Orange Stinger and Maliboomer. That had nothing to do with the quality of those attractions — they looked like fun to me. I was simply looking for a slower pace on that day.


I really enjoyed Soarin’ Over California. The sensation of flying was impressively good, the views were neat and the special effects were fun. Sun Wheel (the ferris wheel) was pretty fun, but I wish I had chosen a stationary car. You get the choice of rocking or stationary cars when you get in line. The rocking cars slide and rock back and forth as the wheel turns and stops. It’s ok, but not especially thrilling or fun. I didn’t find that it added much to the experience. That, combined with the fact that non-rocking cars had a much shorter line and reach a higher point at the top of the wheel, made me wish we hadn’t taken the rocking option. Next time we’ll know.

Grizzly River Run

The raft ride, Grizzly River Run, was a lot of fun. It’s much like similar rides at other parks, but those are fun too so that’s not such a bad thing. I saw some people using ponchos (for sale in the Rushin’ River Outfitters shop, of course) or garbage bags to stay dry. That kind of seems to defeat the purpose to me. I mean, what’s the point of going on a water ride if not to get wet?

We also saw two 3D movie shows: It’s Tough to be a Bug! and Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3D. Both were a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed the off screen effects in It’s Tough to be a Bug! It does seem that the two shows are similar enough that they barely count as two separate attractions, but I enjoyed them both either way.

My overall impression of Disney’s California Adventure is that it’s definitely worth going in to if you’re already going to Disneyland and have some extra time. It’s probably better for adults than it is for young children (though kids should enjoy A Bug’s Land). I don’t know that it’s compelling enough to make a trip just to go to DCA. It’s a beautiful and fun park and I think it’s a lot better than media reports had lead me to believe. If you have a chance, you should check it out.

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