Cars Land will make Disney California Adventure crowds unbearable at times this summer. Not only will wait times be long for Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi’s Flying Tires, and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, but waits will be higher all across the park as masses of new guests make trips to the park and visit those three attractions plus the rest of the park. While nothing will be quite as hectic as Cars Land this summer, lines at other rides and crowds in general will be at levels previously unknown to the one-time “ugly duckling” of the Disney theme parks.
Luckily, Disney California Adventure isn’t just a great theme park with a lot of fun attractions. Much like Epcot, it’s also a great ambiance park. (Down the road, once initial crowd levels die down, I expect Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival to return–and, like Epcot, possibly other seasonal festivals.) Even though it doesn’t have anything equivalent to World Showcase, which is the ultimate place to grab a cold beverage and just spend an afternoon wandering, Disney California Adventure does have plenty of ways to spend a day without waiting in the lines. Here are my top ways to avoid the crowds at Disney California Adventure!
5. Blue Sky Cellar – Blue Sky Cellar opened as a spot to showcase all of the changes coming to Disney California Adventure as part of its mult-year transformation. Now that the transformation is complete, it’s somewhat unclear what will become of the Cellar long-term. For now, Disney has made clear that it continues to utilize the space through 2012, with a new Cars Land “historical” exhibit and film debuting when Cars Land opens. The exhibits and models in Blue Sky Cellar have always been a lot of fun to peruse, and the production value of the films is usually very high. It’s not nearly as impressive as One Man’s Dream at Walt Disney World, but you can definitely spend a decent chunk of time really exploring everything in this attraction.
4. Disney Animation Building – The Disney Animation Building in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure houses several attractions that show guests the process involved in bringing an animated feature to life, along with some other random cool exhibits. The lobby is covered with large screens featuring a Disney films, and these screens alone are fairly captivating in themselves. My favorite part of the Animation Building is the Toy Story Zoetrope. The Zoetrope is a relatively simple display as far as Disney “attractions” go, but I stare at the thing for like 20 minutes each trip. If you complete item #2 on this list prior to heading to the Animation Building, you might find it even more captivating! You’ll also find Turtle Talk with Crush in this area, and a number of other cool exhibits, walk-throughs, and other attractions. The only wait you’ll typically encounter is waiting for the next show to start.
3. World of Color From Paradise Pier Bridge – We’ve always enjoyed viewing World of Color from here when we can’t get our preferred spot in the front row, but this summer, expect the World of Color seating area to be even more crowded than normal and FastPasses even more difficult to come by. Given that, and since this bridge area rarely draws the same level of crowds, watch from over here. It’s not as good as a straight on view (for seeing the projections), but it’s better than being behind tons of heads. Another good alternative is standing up by The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure right behind the VIP section.
2. Drink Around California – If you’ve read our Disneyland Resort Bar Crawl Guide, you know we really love just wandering around Disneyland, grabbing drinks and enjoying the ambiance. Disney California Adventure has several stops on this crawl. My favorite stops are at the Cove Bar, which overs a great view of Paradise Bay and Paradise Pier, and the Al Fresco Bar. The Al Fresco Bar can be difficult to find; it’s a secluded area upstairs in Wine Country Trattoria that offers great views down the main stretch of Cars Land. Grab a table by the edge of the terrace and gaze off into the distance as the sunsets and the neon of Cars Land comes alive. It’s the best way to enjoy the new land without actually stepping foot in it! Other favorites for drinking in Disney California Adventure are Bayside Brews in Paradise Pier and the Karl Strauss Truck in Pacific Wharf.
After enjoying a couple of cold ones, head over to Silly Symphony Swings. It becomes a lot more fun!
1. Eat on the Pier - Paradise Pier is not especially known for its food, and I think this is unfortunate. From the soft serve ice cream at Paradise Pier Ice Cream Co. to the Cove Bar Lobster Nachos to the flatbreads at BoardWalk Pizza & Pasta to the Corn Dog at Corn Dog Castle, Paradise Pier has a ton of different options for dining, most of which are relatively uncrowded (Paradise Pier Ice Cream Co. can get some ridiculous lines). The best part is that you can grab many of these items and eat them on the go as you continue wandering around the Pier soaking up the ambiance. The things you can’t grab and go (I’m looking at you, Lobster Nachos), you can eat with a cold beverage while you sit at a table overlooking Paradise Bay!
All in all, there’s a lot to do at Disney California Adventure without ever stepping foot in the long lines you’re sure to encounter throughout the park. While these five things won’t fill an entire day (unless you do the Bar Crawl!), they are great things to do in between FastPass slots or when you want a respite from the crowds. Luckily, these aren’t the only things you can do that don’t involve long lines. Shows like MuppetVision, Aladdin, and It’s Tough to Be a Bug all have been attractions that could be hit without waiting in line in the past. Now, whether these attractions will remain easy options after the crowds descend upon Disney California Adventure this summer remains to be seen!
Make sure to check out our Disney California Grand Reopening Page where we’re posting content to get you excited about the Grand Reopening, and where we’ll have photos and video of the new attractions once they open!