In 2001, the Disney Empire opened a new park next to Disneyland in Anaheim, Disney’s California Adventure. It celebrates California and gives visitors a taste (albeit a small, caricature-like taste) of California life. Sunshine Plaza, at the park entrance, is built to make visitors feel as if they are stepping into a postcard and another world. I remember, when I went, that it was kind of like coming home.
The best roller coaster is California Screamin’, which has a Mickey silhouette on its side. This roller coaster is different from any I’ve ridden in my decidedly limited experience (I haven’t been to Cedar Point yet, back off!). What makes it so cool? Rather than the normal start of a roller coaster, the chug-chug-chug up the hill before tipping over the hill and gaining the momentum you need, this roller coaster stops at the base of the first hill and, using linear induction motors (thanks Wikipedia), catapults the train up the hill, going 0 to 55mph in four seconds. I wasn’t expecting that (“Hey, why are we stopping? Whoa! Holy-“). It was pretty freaking fabulous.
Competing against California Screamin’, though, and winning a place in my heart, is Soarin’ Over California (gee, do you think there’s a lack of G’s in California?). This is a much slower paced ride, one that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age or heart condition. It simulates a hang glider, gliding over different areas of California. Not only do you fly over orange groves in Ventura, you smell the orange blossoms. Not only do you soar over the beaches in Malibu, you smell (and, if I remember correctly, feel) the ocean breeze. I always tell people going to the area that they HAVE to ride this ride.
Another fun ride, built more for kids but fun as all get-out, is Mulholland Madness. It’s named after Mulholland Drive, famous for its many twists and turns and hills. I laughed my entire way through it, it was so much fun. Talk about being a kid again!!
Of course, California Adventure also has the well remembered (in my mind) Electrical Parade. It used to be at Disneyland, but they stopped doing it, and they started it back up again at California Adventure to help boost attendance. Hallelujah! I’m not kidding when I say I grew up on Disney’s “Electric” Parade (as I’ve always called it). Heck, my mother grew up on Disneyland Fireworks, which she and my uncle could see from their backyard when they were growing up. Disneyland is in my blood.
A Turtle at The Electrical Parade
Unfortunately, with the exception of California Screamin’, Soarin’ Over California, Mulholland Madness, and The Electrical Parade, California Adventure rates well below Disneyland as a destination. Here’s my advice – do both. If you can’t do both, and you’ve never been to Disneyland, go to Disneyland. If you’ve been to Disneyland, go to California Adventure. Once is all you need, but you need to go. After that, go to Disneyland. Again and again. It rates MUCH higher than Disneyworld, IMHO, fyi. Of course, like I said, it’s in my blood.