California Adventure – Everything you Need to Know about Planning your Trip


Are you considering a trip to Disneyland and wondering if CA Adventure is worth your time? I am here to tell you YES it is! A couple years ago I might not have said that, but since they did their overhaul I honestly like it as much as Disneyland. I am going to break the whole park down for you today. I cover all my overall strategies in our Disneyland Planning Guide. I’m not going to repeat all of those same ideas, so be sure to read them here.

Radiator Springs is a really fun ride but the line gets looong! I really recommended getting a fast pass. Toy story Mania is also a great ride for all ages and the line gets long fast and it does not have a fast pass. This is usually why we hit it first. Then we hit up California Screamin’ because that line is not very long either first thing in the morning. If we want a pass for the World of Color I usually run and grab those on my way down. So here is how our morning looks: I wait with our tickets to get fast passes for Radiator Springs. My husband waits at the front where they have blocked the crowd. When they open the park he goes straight to Toy Story mania with our kids while I run to get the fast passes for Radiator Springs. Then I run down to meet them and we usually ride Toy Story a second time. If we want a pass for the World of Color I usually run and grab those on my way down. The fast pass line is fast, so I am usually on my way within 5-10 minutes. If you get there early you can get this all done very fast. But be aware that if you are some of the 1st in the fast pass line you will have an early fast pass. Sometimes I purposefully wait a few minutes so that we have a little more time down by Toy Story Mania and CA Screaming before we have to head up to Cars Land. As of May 2014 a fast pass for Radiator Springs and World of Color did not count against you. World of Color fast passes are distributed at the Grizzly River Run fast pass machines first thing in the morning. After the World of Color fast passes are distributed the fast pass machines are converted back to Grizzly River Run. You can have both Radiator Spring fast passes and World of Color fast passes and they don’t count against you. Meaning you can also get a fast pass for another ride while holding those. If you don’t understand fast passes you can read all about them here.

Now let me break down the rest of the park for you!



Cars Land!

It is such a fun place to explore. They did a great job turning Radiator Springs into real life.


There are 3 rides in Cars Land.

– Radiator Springs Racers. It is awesome! Best part, if you are pregnant you can still ride! It is so smooth! The line for this gets long – so long! We think its worth it to get there early and get fast passes. We like to think of it as getting to stand in line before the park opens. We did try once to go straight there. Mater does a good job of keeping the crowd going so slow that its hard to really get ahead of the crowd. For us we would rather get the fast passes and spend our morning on other rides and return later for a shorter wait.

– Maters Junkyard Jamboree – Fun ride for little kids and it is right at the entrance to Cars Land.

– Luigi’s Flying Tires – This ride is a little hidden but we really love it. Its like a huge air hockey table and the tires are like the pucks.

You use your body to lean and that makes your tires go in that direction.


There is still a lot to do in Cars Land but it mostly revolves around food and shopping. It is a great place to stop to eat just because of the atmosphere.

Hollywood Land

– Turtle Talk with Crush – This is a located inside near the Animation Academy  and is so worth your time. Its an interactive discussion with Crush from Nemo. It’s a great time to relax and is so magical for kids and fun for adults too.  Here is my son Caleb asking him a question.

– Animation Academy – is interesting but not a must do in my opinion. There are a lot of things in that area that are interesting but my kids would rather be doing other things.

– Monsters Inc. – Fun ride straight through Monstropolis. They use smells to give it a real feel. Great for  all ages and does not have a height requirement.

– Twilight Tower of Terror- Must be 40″ to ride. Super fun thrill ride. My 5 and 7  year old don’t like it because they think its creepy but my 10 year old loves it.

– The Aladdin Show – This is a show worth seeing! It doesn’t show every day so check your schedule before choosing which days to spend in CA Adventures. Plan on getting there about 30-45 minutes before the show time. We usually grab a snack and take a rest in line while we wait.  It is like a full Broadway production that is only 45 minutes long and geared to entertain kids. It is truly spectacular and hilarious!


The best place to sit is in the bottom section. They will make you choose outside.  You want the most bottom level. Then you want to sit behind the dividing wall.


Here is why! The  characters come out right in front of you!


 Condor Flats

– Soarin’ Over California – This is a great ride! Another ride you can ride while pregnant! Children must be 40″ to ride but if they meet the height requirement I think they will like it. They use smells in this ride too and it is just a really smooth fun ride for everyone!

– Grizzly River Run – It’s a fun rapid rides and kids must be 42″ to ride. Great ride on warm days because you will get wet!

– Redwood Creek Challenge – This is a great place to let the kids run around and have fun. All sorts of slides and things to explore. This is especially  a fun area to play if the lines are really crowded.

A Bugs Life Land

This is a great place for toddlers. There are 4 or so great little kids rides in here. They used big leaf vegetation all throughout the land, so you feel small and like a bug. When our kids were toddler/preschooler age we use to bring their bathing suits because there is a great water play area.


Paradise Pier

– California Screaming’ – One of the best roller-coaster ever (and I’ve been on a lot!) It is so fun and so smooth! Kids must be 48″ or taller to ride. For those parents that want to ride it but your kids are to small you can use the single rider line. You enter from the exit and and they place you on when there are spaces. So the kids can wait with Mom and watch Dad shoot off. Then when he gets off they can switch. There is also King Triton’s Carousel which is a fun thing to do while Mom or Dad use the single rider line.

ca screaming

– King Triton’s Carousel- Carousel where kids ride on sea creatures.

– Toy Story Mania- One of our favorite rides. It is fun for all ages. It is like virtual carnival games and the ride keeps a tally of your score. This line gets long and does not have a fast pass. It is best to hit it first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

– The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – Another great ride for toddlers and younger kids. Its slow moving, but really enjoyable. Plus the line moves really fast!

– Mickey’s Fun Wheel- Worth the time to do in a stationary car. I don’t get seasick, but we rode in a rocking car and I got so queasy. It was fun though and unlike anything else I’ve been on before!

– Silly Symphony Swings – This is great for kids, but if you get carsick I would opt out! Younger rides have to go in a tandem swing with an adult so maybe take some less drowsy Dramamine if you need it.

– Golden Zephyr – Another ride that is fun for kids but not great for adults with queasy stomachs!

– Jumpin’ Jellyfish – Must be 40″ to ride but it’s a great ride for  preschool/young grade school

– Goofy’s Flight School – Small roller coaster that kids must be 42″ inches to ride.

– World of Color – A nighttime show where they use the water as screen. You must get a fast pass early in the morning if you want to get into one of the viewing areas. It is worth getting them in opinion. The best spot we have found for viewing is to sit right behind a planter or railing. This way when the show starts there is no one right in front of you.


Where to start!?! There are a ton of great food places and lots of healthy options too. I will just give you a few of our favorites. You can see the full list and menus here.

– Corn Dog Castle- Best corn dogs EVER! We love to grab one and sit along the parade route, watch the parade, and juice our phones up a little bit (see  below).

– Flo’s V-8 Café – Great food and great atmosphere!

– Tastes Pilot Grill – Great typical kids food, but has good choices for adults too!

– Wine Country Trattoria – Great place to eat if you are a couple without kids. The food is good and the atmosphere is very relaxing!

Charging your Phone

There are two great spots in CA Adventures to charge your phone. The first is in the waiting area for Turtle talk with Crush. They have a big room you wait in and there are a lot of outlets. I just juice my phone up a little while we wait. Just don’t try to plug it in inside the show room- it makes the workers very cranky! The other place is along the parade route in front of the World of Color viewing area. They have green poles that have plugs on them. Most of those plugs will work in the yellow block. When you get farther down by Goofy’s flight school the outlets don’t seem to work.

 ca adventures

So there you go! Now you have a good overview and start to planning your day and knowing what is available for you in CA Adventure!

You can see the rest of our Disneyland series here

Disneyland Planning  Guide

Questions and Answers

Fantasyland Guide: Ride by Ride!

Frontierland & Critter Country – Ride by Ride!

Adventureland and New Orleans Square – Ride by Ride!

Tomorrowland: Ride by Ride

Disneyland trail mix recipe

Disney lunch box jokes and 2 week countdown


If you are looking for a way to save some money on your next vacation be sure to check out Get Away Today for some HUGE savings!




Previous author of Over the Big Moon. I shared my passion for home and family life! I love graphic design, DIY projects, cooking, and working in my garden! My favorite role is taking care of my husband and our 3 amazing and busy boys!

Comments (6)

  • I just got back from Disneyland and made it through both parks without a fast pass and waited no more than 20 minutes. It may be pure luck, but we found that if there is a single rider line, take advantage of it. Since there were only two of us, it was no big deal. While most people were in line for Radiator Springs willing to wait over 45 min, we went through single rider line and made it in less than 10 minutes. We jumped on Radiator Springs about an 1 hour and a half after park opened.

  • I just got back from Disneyland and made it through both parks without a fast pass and waited no more than 20 minutes. It may be pure luck, but we found that if there is a single rider line, take advantage of it. Since there were only two of us, it was no big deal. While most people were in line for Radiator Springs willing to wait over 45 min, we went through single rider line and made it in less than 10 minutes. We jumped on Radiator Springs about an 1 hour and a half after park opened.

  • I’m just going to take you with me ok? 🙂 seriously though, we are doing Disneyland this year and this is SUCH a great little guide…so detailed! Thank you!

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