Cars Land has made Disney California Adventure crowds a popular park, and Radiator Springs Racers wait times are often unbearable. Not just that, but waits are higher all across the park as masses of guests make trips to the park and visit those attractions in Cars Land, which remains a big draw. While nothing will be quite as hectic as Cars Land, 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. Entertainment – From the streetmosphere on Buena Vista Street to the performers in Paradise Garden, Disney California Adventure now has a lot of entertainment acts that aren’t attractions on a park map, but are definitely worth seeing. Interacting with the hilarious Citizens of Buena Vista Street can be a lot of fun for adults, or if you have kids, check out the Cars-themed performances in Cars Land. Or, combine two of these tips into one and grab some food from Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta or Paradise Garden Grill (or a beer from Bayside Brews!) and enjoy the band in Paradise Garden.
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!
For Disney California Adventure attraction strategy to help you choose which rides to do, which to skip, and when to do what to save time in line, visit our Disney California Adventure Ride Guide.
If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland, we highly recommend you check out our comprehensive Disneyland Trip Planning Guide. It will assist you with everything from hotels (off-site or on?) to park tickets, and beyond!
Which Disneyland Resort restaurants are your favorites? Are there any restaurants you recommend avoiding? Please share your thoughts or any comments you have in the comments!