How to Make Disney California Adventure a Two-Day Park

When you go on vacation, you probably want to relax. You don’t want the stress of having to do things within a short amount of time. By scheduling two days at Disney California Adventure, you’ll be giving yourself more than enough time to get all of the attractions in during your trip. You could likely do all of the attractions in one day without much of a push, but if you get sick for some reason, the extra day gives you the opportunity to go back to your hotel room to rest up and recover your strength. You don’t have to worry about pushing through tiredness or other issues. Still, by midmorning of the second day, you might be wondering what there is left to do. If you don’t want to pay for a park hopper, here are ways to fill out the rest of your day.

A Typical One-Day California Adventure

You should always start your morning with a good breakfast. If you eat outside the park, don’t settle for one of those “Breakfast Included” meals from your hotel. Grab something filling and relatively healthy from a nearby restaurant. Otherwise, you can start in Disney California Adventure with a decent meal from Pym Test Kitchen. The breakfast food from the Shawarma Palace court was also pretty good. The only other choices, at least in September 2022, was the Starbucks Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café on Buena Vista Street and the cappuccino cart at the intersection of the Pacific Wharf and the Pixar Pier Bridge. (Rumor has it that the Corn Dog Palace also served an interesting breakfast item, but we didn’t make it to that side of the park to find out.)

Once you have a good breakfast on board, you should head to one of the E-ticket attractions. If you have Lightning Lane, I suggest hitting up the Guardians of the Galaxy there, and going to Radiator Springs Racers if your stomach can handle it. Standby wait times for this attraction can reach up to two hours or more, so be sure to have your sunscreen and water on board before you get into line. (If you’re one person or a group that doesn’t mind being split up, try the single rider line.) The Lightning Lane for Radiator Springs Racers cost extra, so while it would be good for my Disney stock value for you to purchase it, finding a lower wait time is likely better for you and your budget. Do not expect wait times to get lower throughout the day; they remain pretty high.

The next attractions you want to look at are Toy Story Midway Mania, which had a Lightning Lane available, and WEB Slingers, which had a pay lane available. Grab the Midway Mania Lightning Lane when it’s available, and head over to WEB Slingers. The wait their can get to be pretty long, but while we were there, it was between 40 and 60 minutes.

Soarin’ is the last attraction where the wait times can get to be horrendous. It has a Lightning Lane, so you’ll be able to get on board at least once. Along with Goofy’s Sky School, which also has Lightning Lane, the standby lines were about 45 minutes. Monster’s, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue often have longer wait times of about 40 minutes.

After that, it’s really a matter of what you want to do and what’s available as far as attractions go. Finish off Cars Land with Mater’s Jamboree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Halloween, and take a stroll through Pixar Pier, and Paradise Gardens Park to catch up with Pix Pal-A-Round, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, and the Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. You could also squeeze in the barely themed Silly Symphony Swings and the unthemed, leftovers of Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Golden Zephyr. If getting wet is your thing, Grizzly River Run is usually less crowded during the cooler times of the day.

During our trip, attraction breakdowns were common. Radiator Springs Racers was shut down the first time we tried to go on it. The Incredicoaster was also closed when we decided to try to ride it. We ended up missing out on the Incredicoaster.

One more thing to include in your day is the World of Color. If you have the Disneyland app, you can join a virtual queue, but I always suggest heading over to Wine Country Trattoria and choosing something from their World of Color menu. You just need to make reservations ahead of time.

Midway Mania and WEB Slingers

Both Toy Story Midway Mania and WEB Slingers use your arms to make the attraction more enjoyable. They are far enough apart, that your first rides can be consecutive. However, after that, you may want to wait until your arms have recovered to go again. It’s an unexpected and fun workout. (Start getting those fast twitch arm muscles in shape before you go. I’d put a link here, but I don’t know anyone who is doing those types of workout routines, especially for Disney Park attractions. If you do, let me know.)

What to Do Day 2

We finished our first day with only the Incredicoaster and Radiator Springs Racers left to do, and we didn’t have a plan for our second day. However, there are a lot of things that we could have done to fill our day rather than wondering what we should do while wandering around.

Ride ‘Em Again

Obviously, a lot of the appeal of a second day is the ability to get on the E-ticket attractions again, especially if you have Lightning Lane access. WEB Slingers and Toy Story Midway Mania are big draws because of their playability. You can try to improve on your previous scores, you are part of the show, and there is something to be said for the endorphins that come from the extra fast twitch muscle use. Guardians of the Galaxy is geared to provide a different ride each time due to its randomness. During Halloween, you get the added bonus of having Monsters After Dark in addition to the BREAKOUT! Version. Radiator Springs Racers has two tracks: one you get a paint job, the other gives you new tires. Mater and Luigi offer different songs to ride to though you’re likely to hear all of them while waiting for your turn to experience the attraction. You won’t find this specific Ariel Undersea Adventure anywhere else in the U.S.; the Walt Disney World Version is slightly different. But what should you do while you’re on your way to riding these attractions again?

Pictures with Characters

Decide to make it a day with character(s). If you have Genie+, all of the photos you take with the Photopass people are yours! That makes standing in line for characters, so much the better. If you don’t have Genie+, cast members are usually happy to take photos with your camera. Or you can opt for selfies.

Characters can be found on Buena Vista Street, at Avengers Campus, and in other areas of the park. Those who have a Disney Visa can take advantage of a special, time-limited photo opportunity. (Don’t have a Disney Visa? You can apply for one here where you can earn up to a $300 Statement Credit after qualifying purchases, and I can get a bonus.  Learn more. https://www.referyourchasecard.com/200a/N8NY3U2R9A!)

Animation Academy

Anyone who says Disney never gives anything away for free has never visited the Animation Academy. When you visit the Academy, you get to learn how to draw a Disney character from a Disney artist. It’s a hands-on experience, so you get to practice what you are learning, and you get to keep the paper you drew on. Sometimes, the Disney artist will also give away their drawing. It’s free, and it’s something that only the most knowledgeable Disney guests take advantage of. If you don’t have any money left for souvenirs, this drawing makes for a good take home memory. Even if you think you can’t draw, you should give this activity a try.

Other Attractions

Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Disney Junior Dance Party are two ongoing attractions where you can sit and enjoy something indoors. Coco has a party with his family in the Paradise Gardens Park. Spider-Man leaps through the air in his product testing show. Doctor Strange uses the mystic arts to protect the Avengers Campus from an other-dimensional threat. During other times of the year, parades may also be offered. These pleasant, and in the case of Spider-Man, amazing, shows provide a pleasant diversion that will help you appreciate Disney California Adventure all the more.

The World of Color

If you’re going to Disney California Adventure for two days, make sure you see World of Color both of them. The first time, you get a sense of where to stand for the performance. The second time, you can get there early enough to get where you want to stand. Jenya and I did World of Color twice, and the first time we stood behind a stroller. By the time the show started, we had two tall men in front of us on the left side, and a man who put his child on his shoulders on the right side. No one can be faulted for their height or for wanting to give their child a better view of the show.

When we went the second time, we were there early enough to get in front of our viewing section for preferred dining. Being ale to see the whole show without having to look through people made such a huge difference. There were even portions of the show that I didn’t see in the first performance because they were blocked by the taller people in front of us.

Disney California Adventure Faces Change in Light of Failure: A Prediction

In 2001 when Michael Eisner opened Disney’s California Adventure, people questioned the wisdom of building a park based on California in the state of California. Who would want to pay to see a fake Golden Gate Bridge or visit a fake beach side boardwalk when the real things were so close at hand? What was the point of having a mock-up of California when people could readily see the real thing? Park attendance was poor, and the project was chalked up as a failure. Still, Disney tinkered with the theme and the lands in an attempt to draw more guests over to Disneyland’s sister park. After all, part of the success of Florida’s Walt Disney World has to do with its ability to capture guests for long term stays, rather than just a couple of nights.

Marvel Takes Over

When Guardians of the Galaxy replaced the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disney was starting to retheme a part of the park that had been aimed at children – “a bug’s land.” At the time, the casual guest may not have thought of it as such, but the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, which was original placed in Hollywood Land, is now one of two attractions in Avenger’s Campus. The themed land appeals to fans of Marvel at any age.

But there’s more than a subtle switch from one land to another in this move. Hollywood Land is also being taken over by Marvel. Photo ops on the backlot feature Marvel character cutouts. Stores feature Marvel products. With no musical in the theater and the Art of Animation Building mostly closed (in September 2022), there’s every reason t believe that Disney will begin to retheme this space to something better. Currently, only the Animation Academy is worth visiting with Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue being only slightly entertaining. Mickey’s Philharmagic no longer draws people (if it ever did), and Disney Junior Dance Party is strictly for the little ones.

So as Hollywood Land, with no stunt shows, no backstage magic, and only a tenuous grasp on the term “Hollywood,” is slowly consumed by superheroes, other Disney California Adventure lands are facing their own park identity crisis.

Cars Land and Pixar Pier

Cars Land is the easiest of the lands to show that it doesn’t belong in California. The fabled Route 66 did go from Chicago to Los Angeles, but Radiator Springs is located in a version of Monument Valley – a place in Arizona. It is clearly lacking in California character.

Pixar Pier has completely taken over Paradise Pier. All of its attractions, including the rethemed Flik’s Flyers, now called Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, are themed to various Pixar movies.

Remaining California Lands

Grizzly Peak maintains its California feel, largely due to the Redwood Creek Challenge and Grizzly River Run. The idea of a California adventure has suffered here through the loss of Soarin’ over California. Now, simply called Soarin’ the attraction takes guests hang gliding through famous places of the world. The queue still features a history of California aviation.

Pacific Wharf is still largely California in flavor. The dining area features Ghirardelli, Boudin, and the Wine Country Trattoria.

Buena Vista Street is trying hard to hold onto its 1920 – 1930s vibe. The Red Car Trolley, still rolls down the street. The Carthay Circle Restaurant still serves food, and Walt and Mickey are still on hand with their suitcase and a dream.

Paradise Gardens Park

The last land is the most problematic. It’s a mishmash of characters and experiences that have no unifying theme. Paradise Gardens Park features Coco as a show attraction. “Coco” is based in Mexico, and while the roots of California are undeniably linked to Mexico; the state is no longer located in Mexico.

The Silly Symphony Swings are a somewhat clever retheme of a giant swing ride more fitting for a cheap thrill than a Disney style attraction; it’s a good example of Disney imagineers doing the most they can with the least amount of work possible. California averages about 11 tornadoes a year, so it’s possible that this Silly Symphony could take place in the state. Goofy’s Sky School is a mouse-style rollercoaster that is fun and cheaply rethemed, though brilliantly done assuming the budget for the attraction was small. The rollercoaster is a nod to California’s aviation history, in case you missed it at Soarin’.

Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Golden Zephyr were lifted straight from a seaside boardwalk or a carnival with no retheming. These two rides, they certainly don’t embody the term “attraction,” have nothing to do with anything Disney. It’s possible the Zephyr tips its hat to the Rocketeer, which takes place in California, but the mention is so haphazard, that it seems more like a coincidence than something intentional.

The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure was out of place when it opened in 2011. At the time, it had nothing to do with the theme of the park or the area. Within the first few months of its opening, lines were as short as five minutes. It’s not that the attraction is bad; it’s just not good enough to anchor an entire section of the park. This area’s lack of cohesive theme is something Darth Vader would find disturbing, and Disney should, too.

What’s in a Name?

The original theme park name was Disney’s California Adventure. The apostrophe gave ownership to Walt as the park did its best to create the atmosphere of California when Walt arrived with $40 in his packet and an Alice reel under his arm. Hollywood Land, Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier were all set in Hollywood’s heydays.

Simply by losing an apostrophe and an ‘s,’ Disney California Adventure has become generic. When guests come to the park, they’ll have a Disney California Adventure. The park is in California. It’s run by the Disney company and has a lot of Disney intellectual property, and it’s an adventure. Still, there is likely a plan hidden somewhere deep in the Disney offices with a new name. Something that will create a better sense of identity for the park and what it offers. What do you think it will be called?

An In-Depth Look at the Biggest Problem of Disney California Adventure

As a Penguinator, does it make sense to be critical of Disney California Adventure (DCA)? No one at the Disney Company is likely to read this post and think, “Oh, yeah, we did forget that,” or “Schnikey! We need to fix that ASAP,” especially if I were to leave this post private and for Penguinators only instead of giving you an advanced viewing opportunity. I don’t have any Disney employees on my Patreon list that I’m aware of, and I’m decently certain there aren’t any that visit my blog. Even if there were, the company is notorious for not accepting unsolicited ideas from outside.

Besides, anything I say has already been said by someone else and probably thought of by the imagineers. Still, as a mental exercise to improve creativity, looking at DCA provides the opportunity to unleash the judge, find what’s wrong with the current park, and figure out how to make it better. Imagineers can talk about the idea of Blue Sky thinking where everything goes and there are no rules, but in the end, they are constrained by the park’s current footprint and the bean counter’s budget, which would include the opportunity cost of any major renovation that would significantly change the park. We have no similar constraints if we choose to offer up possible solutions to the DCA problem. We can truly engage in Blue Sky thinking without reference to financial consequences, thinking only about what’s wrong with DCA and what would make the park better.

Where’s the Theme, Park?

Disneyland changed the amusement park industry by, among other things, theming itself and its lands. Walt Disney established early on that spacemen and cars don’t go into Frontierland, and the cowboys stay out of Tomorrowland. The sightlines were created so that people viewing a building on Main Street, U.S.A. would see a different roof than they would see when viewing the same building from Adventureland.

The berm with its train and trees was devised to keep the rest of the world from interfering with the guests’ ability to suspend disbelief. When coupled with the negotiated rules that Anaheim passed for buildings outside the park, guest don’t see anything that Disney doesn’t want them to see (beyond the occasional plane or helicopter flying overhead). Even with Tomorrowland’s current shortcomings (there are plenty of them) and the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, Disneyland is all about theming – right down to the dolls making the popcorn in the popcorn carts.

As ill-conceived as it may have been to put a theme park about California in California when a majority of Disneyland visitors are from California, DCA was themed appropriately when it opened. The Sunshine Plaza was upbeat and California themed through and through. Hollywood Backlot Studios had the glamour of the 1930s. Golden State celebrated the architecture of the Bay Area, and Paradise Pier took its cue from the Beach and Boardwalk parks. Condor Flats took on California’s aviation history, and Grizzly River Peak with the neighboring Redwood Trail were a tribute to California’s north. The park may not have been good when it opened, but it was themed.

Unfortunately, the theme wasn’t the right one, and the Disney Company had to come up with ways to get people to spend their money to go over to their second gate. Bug’s Land was added to appeal to youngsters. Not really California themed, but it didn’t intrude on the rest of the park, and there were bug’s in California. “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” was built in the backlot; the perfect place for it. As a hotel from Hollywood’s glamor days of the late 1930’s, the Tower of Terror fit in with the rest of the theme.

When “Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue” opened in 2006, it signaled the beginning of the end for DCA’s theming. Placed in Hollywood in the same area as the defunct Superstar Limo ride that lasted less than a year; Mike and Sulley weren’t (and still aren’t) Hollywood themed. Still the monsters occupy a prominent place in Hollywoodland as one of the two rides in the area – the other one being the Tower of Terror.

In 2008, Paradise Pier saw the opening of the beloved Toy Story Midway Mania. Set within the games of the pier, Midway Mania could be forgiven its intrusion; even if its story, guests being shrunk down to the size of toys so they could play the game, didn’t fit with the theme, the game element of the attraction worked. With Mr. Potato Head playing the Midway Mania Barker, the Toy Story characters didn’t do much to detract from the theme though no self-respecting boardwalk would have such a sophisticated game during the time that Paradise Pier was supposed to reflect. (And let’s face it, Midway Mania is one of the best attractions in either park.)

Other rides on Paradise Pier were rethemed over the next three years to include Disney characters. Mickey’s Fun Wheel received a new paint job and a giant Mickey Head. The Orange Stinger became the Silly Symphonies Swings and Mullholland Madness became Goofy’s Sky School. Within the singular concept of the ride, the retheming of the last two was brilliant. The Silly Symphony Swingers opens up to reveal a painting of Mickey Mouse conducting the band from “the Band Concert,” which isn’t from the Silly Symphony series (highlighting the theming problem again). Still, the use of the whirlwind cartoon on the swings support pole is a great idea. Goofy’s Sky School is just “plane” fun. The problem is that none of the changes align with the area’s theming at the time, and these rides are exactly that – rides – not attractions. These are off-the-shelf, experience-them-at-your-local-carnival rides.

While hyped tremendously as a new attraction for the park, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure quickly became DCA’s version of Snow White’s Scary Adventure. At seemingly twice the size and half the fun, this show-stopping, audio-animatronic disappointingly doesn’t carry the story far enough or strongly enough. Still, it’s routinely 5-minute wait time makes it a nice place to take a break from the heat, and it features some interesting advances – the descent into the sea and the Ursula figure. It’s still in the wrong place. The Little Mermaid has nothing to do with California or Paradise Pier.

In 2012, DCA attempted to keep with the California theming and connect to its mythical beginnings. Missing a golden opportunity to capitalize on its largest changes, the park turned the Sunshine Plaza into Buena Vista Street of 1923, the time when Walt Disney arrived in California with a suitcase and a dream. The Carthay Circle Theater was opened and fit in with the Tower of Terror in the background, but Cars Land with its decidedly Arizona feel debuted at the same time. Arizona isn’t California. How is Cars Land a part of the California Adventure? It’s not, thematically speaking.

In 2016, the popular Soarin’ Over California was replace with Soarin’ Around the World. California is not the world, and the world is not California. In 2017, the Guardians of the Galaxy took over the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and, in one fell swoop destroyed the themes of Hollywoodland, Grizzly Peak Airfield and Buena Vista Street. These are both popular and fun attractions, but popular and fun aren’t a theme, and the original versions were just as popular and fun.

Pixar Pier
Pixar Pier

In 2018, Paradise Pier became Pixar Pier. Pixar isn’t a theme. It’s a collection of (if the Internet is to believed) vaguely related films with different settings. Even if Pixar properties were relegated to Pixar Pier, the them wouldn’t work. Mixing the superheroes of “The Incredibles,” the shrinking you down to toy size of Midway Mania and Jessie’s Critter Carousel, and the Inside/Out characters of the mind isn’t a theme; it’s a cacophony. Add to it that Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Flik’s Flyers just received paint jobs, with no significant changes otherwise, to go along with the Pixar theme and it looks like Disney has just decided to throw in the towel. They probably could’ve left Flik’s Flyers alone since it was a Pixar film and the theming would’ve worked with Midway Mania, but “A Bug’s Life” has other problems when it comes to theme parks.

Leftovers from Paradise Pier, the Golden Zephyr and Jumpin’ Jellyfish make no sense in terms of theming. They aren’t related to Pixar or Disney characters and only represent the former California Beachside aesthetic. With all of the incohesive changes, Disney California Adventure doesn’t really celebrate Disney or California. Instead, it focuses on providing Pixar a place to put its movie franchises. Things won’t be much better when Marvel joins the scene with its own land. Marvel Land will be able to adopt Guardians of the Galaxy, but this will leave the Red Car Trolley out in the cold and gut the main attractions of Hollywoodland – the Marvel Meet and Greets.

This mishmash of rides and attractions keeps DCA from achieving greatness through theming. Instead it’s a great example of what Disneyland never wanted to be – an amusement park (except DCA is clean and the cast members are friendly).

Why Bug’s Land Had to Change

While the new Marvel Land may not fix DCA’s theming, it does address another relatively small problem: the relevancy of A Bug’s Land. Based on the 1998 Pixar film “a bug’s life,” the land opened in 2002. The land itself was made to be attractive to the younger set, except the 4D film experience “It’s Tough to Be a Bug,’ which was terrifying for some adults. It’s environmental and educational feel was a welcome respite from some of the larger areas of the park, but there was no way these bugs could survive.

The film itself was not one of Pixar’s best. It earned $363 million at the box office, but without a sequel, TV shows, or a cuddly, iconic character, the film has no relevance to today’s children. How many people even remember the film without confusing it for “Antz”? Disney’s classic animation fare has been able to remain relevant through marketing (specifically, the creation of the Princess line, which keeps all of the princesses in the public light as long as new princesses are added every couple of years or so) rereleases and remakes. These movies hold up even through the changing times, and the theming of the lands act as a crutch.

Attractions at Disneyland also remain relevant through the sheer size and scope. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are iconic, beloved attractions that create their own atmosphere and fans. Flik’s Flyers? Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies (which were not bumper cars)? Francis Ladybug Boogie… Does anyone even remember this ride? These were all rides with no real creation to them and without a Dumbo to keep them aloft. Only Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train seemed to make an effort to provide something akin to a new place to visit.

With nothing new on the bug front, DCA needed to come up with something new. Marvel provided the answer. As long as they stay away from the now deceased Iron Man, the land will remain relevant for the next few decades.

World of Color’s and Incredicoaster’s Footprints

The World of Color, which debuted in 2013, is arguably the best show in DCA. The fountains are spectacular, the water screens are amazing, the pyrotechnics are amazing, and the show is flexible enough to be changed almost on the fly to advertise new movies subtly and include new animated sequences. One Christmas show featured the magic of snowflakes a foot in diameter that floated up into the sky. Even the dining options and the viewing areas that go with them are incredible.

The investment in the equipment that Disney made and the popularity of the show make changing the venue area around the show basically impossible. Imagineers are constrained by the World of Color’s space needs.

Just as constraining is the space required for a lesser attraction, the now-called Incredicoaster. Wait times for this attraction hover around 25 minutes, but it is still large enough and technically advanced to warrant protection by the bean counters. It’s change over from California Screamin’ is also an advance in storytelling, especially when it comes to roller coasters.

By Any Other Name

When it first opened, the park was called Disney’s California Adventure. Ironically, it didn’t include Buena Vista street, but was more the company’s interpretation of what California was. Wine country, the Bay Area, the Redwoods, these were all represented. Yes, critics wondered why people would want to see the Disney version of the Golden Gate Bridge when it was just a seven-hour drive up north or a 2-hour flight. Still, that’s what Michael Eisner and his team came up with.

It changed its name to Disney California Adventure in 2010. Linguistically, this could mean that this park is an adventure in California Disney-style. Something along the lines of “have yourself a Disney California Adventure.” It doesn’t have to have the California theming in order to work, except it’s already associated with its first incarnation, and the California parts haven’t been drummed out of it. Choosing another name might work better as far as managing expectations, but it doesn’t change the fact that the park has no cohesive theming.

People come to Disneyland and its related theme parks for the cleanliness, the wonderful cast members and the theming. In its effort to cash in on its acquired IP, the Disney Company has forgotten about the theming at least as far as Disney California Adventure is concerned. Maybe they’ll get it fixed sometime in the future, but for now DCA will suffer from its continued lack of relevance and inability to inspire people to come for more than a day.

It’s our turn for Blue Sky thinking! What could Disney do to make California Adventure better?

If you would like more of this type of discussion, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” Join our email list and Patreon!

One Image that Explains the Problem with Disney California Adventure

The second gate at the Disneyland Resort continues to perform poorly and disappoint guests. With three-day, single park passes costing around $100 per day, it makes sense for most guests to skip Disney California Adventure (DCA) altogether – especially if they are on a budget.

While there are several problems with DCA, the most glaring is the problem of theming, and the problem is easily illustrated with one photo. Taking the photo from Grizzly Peak Airfield toward the Carthay Circle Theater, the Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout towers in the background and creates a dissonant sight line that doesn’t make sense in the theme park context.

Walt Disney thought that controlling sightlines was important enough that he built a berm and planted trees on top of it to keep people from seeing what was outside the park. The Walt Disney Company has repeatedly lobbied the Anaheim City Council to keep other hotels from rising above certain heights, so that they can’t see in and they can’t be seen from the park. The Jolly Holiday Café was built with two styles of roofs – one to fit the aesthetic of Main Street, U.S.A. and one to fit the theming of Adventureland.

Disneyland and its progeny have all been about theming when they work. The current regime seems to have forgotten its company history and the innovations that it brought to amusement parks. Theming is Disney’s strongest characteristic. They use it to keep stories cohesive, and they should be using it to keep the stories of their parks understandable.

With Pixar all over DCA and not just on the pier and the Little Mermaid’s huge fin- or footprint (depending on the part of the story you’d like to reference) on the opposite side of the pier, Disney California Adventure has a theme problem. Its name no longer matches its content, and it’s been caught in a no man’s land of California references that don’t fit in the Cars landscape, the impending arrival of Tony Stark’s Marvel land, which will likely incorporate the now poorly placed Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at least in name and zone, or many of its other attractions.

It’s time for the Disney Company to let it go and speed up the retheming of the park, which will necessarily include getting rid of Buena Vista Street and Hollywoodland, which is currently the default play place for Marvel superheroes, Monsters, Inc, and Mickey’s Philharmagic – none of which actually represent the heyday of Hollywood and together they present a dissonance that does the park more harm than good.

Even with a 90-minute wait at Radiator Springs Racers and not using any FASTPASSes, my wife and finished the park between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm. We didn’t ride the Incredicoaster (She doesn’t like loops) or Goofy’s Sky School. We also skipped all of the rides, we could find almost everywhere else – Ferris wheel, giant swings, the Zephyr…

Our 6 pm departure was facilitated by the lack of good, moderately priced food choices in the park. Corn dogs, hot dogs, and hamburgers get old. The Pacific Wharf Café and the nearby Mexican and Chinese restaurants weren’t appealing, and the pasta at the end of the pier just hasn’t ever been that great.

You can still find spectacular shows like “Frozen” and “the World of Color.” When you’re not on a budget and you’ve made reservations, the Carthay Circle and Wine Country Trattoria are still two of the best restaurants in the parks. For those of us that are on a budget, Disney California Adventure isn’t worth the price of admission. I keep hoping, but it looks like it’ll be another two decades before the park finds its footing – if it ever does.

Disneyland Resort Photos at the Penguinate Table (A1) Lilac City Comicon 2019

Do you miss the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or Bug’s Land at Disney California Adventure? If so, stop by the Penguinate table (A1) at Lilac City Comicon and see what photos we have to take you back to the great memories you formed while visiting the Disneyland Resort. Our photos focus on details of the park, are very limited and cost only $3.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was based on Rod Serling’s classic TV show. With its 1930’s design, it was the right fit for DCA’s Hollywoodland theme. When the Guardians of the Galaxy moved in, fans of the original were upset. While the new attraction doesn’t fit the Hollywoodland theme, it is arguably better than the TZ version.

To fix the theming problem, DCA is retheming Bug’s Land to feature Marvel characters. While few details on the new land have been released, it makes more sense for the Walt Disney Company to focus on their Marvel division. Marvel movies will continue to provide advertising for the land, and DCA will not be providing advertising for CBS Twilight Zone reboot.

With every theming change, details are removed or rethemed. Our small collection of photos has captured some of those items. Stop by our table (A1) and ask to see our Disneyland Resort photos. We look forward to seeing you at Lilac City Comicon!

Disney Crowd Survival Guide: Quick Tips

For those who don’t want to read the long version, here are the quick tips for dealing with crowds at Disneyland:

  • Put down the phone!
  • Step to the side.
  • Don’t spread out.
  • Find the empty areas:
    • Sneak peeks at Tomorrowland
    • Movie theater on Main Street, U.S.A.
    • Critter Country
    • Tomorrowland Skyline Terrace
    • Former boat dock near the Matterhorn
  • Say “Excuse me.”
  • Say “I’m sorry.”
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eat something.
  • Be patient.

Click if you want the longer version. Click for more on Disneyland.