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Disney California Adventure: 1 Day Plan

Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure Guide
Dani Ruben Headshot from Theme Park Lovers
Article By: Dani Ruben
Last Updated: March 10, 2024
Disney California Adventure may be the smallest Disney theme park, but it packs a punch with vibrant lands, thrilling rides, and a plethora of delicious dining establishments all over the park. For most visitors, one day is the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the park and enjoy its best highlights. Our 1 Day Plan for Disney California Adventure will help you make the most of your experience!

Although we recommend purchasing Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane if it's in your budget, you can absolutely still cover most of the park in one day without them. Having Disney Genie+ will allow you to spend less time waiting in line, giving you more time to explore, enjoy the shows, and take photos with your favorite Disney pals. Regardless, you're sure to have a grand time at this charming Southern California theme park!
Preplanning
Before you even step foot in Disney California Adventure, there are some steps you can take to make your day go much more smoothly:

1. Download the Disneyland App
The app has a map of the theme park, show times, access to the Disney Genie and Genie+ services, and gives you the option to Mobile Order your food at many restaurants.

2. Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance
Some restaurants at Disney California Adventure have reservations available in advance, as they get pretty busy. These are more formal sit-down restaurants like Wine Country Trattoria and the elegant Carthay Circle Restaurant.

3. Pack a Phone Charger or Power Bank
A full day at Disney California Adventure will drain your phone, especially if you're going to be taking pictures, videos, and using the Disney Genie app throughout the day. There are power banks available for purchase in the park, but they're expensive and not sold at every retailer.

Recommended Early Dining: For those of you who enjoy a bite to eat before heading into the park, GCH Craftsman Grill, located inside Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, opens early at 6am daily. You can even enter the park from the Grand Californian entrance, which puts you right in Grizzly Peak.

8am | Head to Radiator Springs Racers

Ride: Radiator Springs Racers (approx. 50 min)
Mobile Order: Lunch at Pym's Test Kitchen (do this while waiting in line)
Mobile Order: Drinks at Pym Tasting Lab (optional)
As arguably the most popular ride at Disney California Adventure, Radiator Springs Racers tends to have the highest wait times. It's best to get this amazing ride done first before the wait times get really out of hand. While you're in line, you can mobile order your lunch from Pym's Test Kitchen using the Disneyland App. Aim for a pickup time of around 10:45am. If you want to try the delicious concoctions from Pym's Tasting Lab, you can mobile order from there as well.

9am | Head to Avenger's Campus

Snack: Terran Treats (approx. 5 min)
Ride: Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! (approx. 40 min)
Ride: WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure (approx. 40 min)
Explore: Take photos with Marvel heroes, check out the gift shops, peek at the Ancient Sanctum (approx. 20 min)
The lines at Avenger's Campus also tend to bloat up during mid day, so morning is your best chance at more bearable wait times. You can grab a snack at Terran Treats to enjoy during your wait in line. After the rides, there's plenty of photo opportunities and little shows that occur around Avenger's Campus. Our 1 Day Plan for Disney California Adventure is flexible though, so feel free to stick around a little longer if you see a show starting (the Spider Man one is pretty cool).

10:35am | Lunch at Pym's Test Kitchen

Eat: Pick up your Mobile Order from Pym's Test Kitchen (approx. 25 min.)
Mobile Order: Clarabelle's Hand Scooped Ice Cream OR Trolley Treats (do this during lunch)
While you're enjoying a well-deserved lunch at Pym's Test Kitchen, order your next snack (or late dessert!) from Clarabelle's Hand Scooped Ice Cream or Trolley Treats for pickup at around 11:50pm

11:00am | Head to Hollywood Land

Ride: Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (approx. 35 min)
Watch: Mickey's Philharmagic (approx. 20 min)
Eat: Pick up your Mobile Order from either Clarabelle's Hand Scooped Ice Cream or Trolley Treats (approx. 15 min.)
Explore: Check out the gift shops, take pictures with the Fab 5, or ride the Trolley (approx. 15 min.)
Hollywood Land has mostly shows and shops available for your enjoyment. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue is the only ride in the land, aside from the Trolley. It's a nice, slow ride that's perfect to enjoy after a meal. For aspiring artists, don't miss out on the Animation Studio sessions, where you can get a quick lesson on how to draw one of your favorite Disney characters. You can take home your drawing as a wonderful memento of your time at Disney California Adventure!

12:25pm | Head to Cars Land

Ride: Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (approx. 20 min)
Ride: Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters (approx. 25 min)
Mobile Order: Cozy Cone Motel 1-5 (do this while waiting in line for a ride)
Explore: Take some amazing photos, Meet Mater or Lightning McQueen, or use the restrooms (approx. 15 min.)
Eat: Pick up your Mobile Order from Cozy Cone Motel 1-5 (approx. 10 min)
Cars Land will be significantly busier in the early afternoon than in the morning when you swing by for Radiator Springs Racers, but the extra crowds really help the land come more alive. The Cozy Cone Motel has 5 different "cones" to order from, and it's perfect for an afternoon snack while waiting in line at either Mater's Junkyard Jamboree or Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters. The Meet and Greets with the Cars cast is also really cool, with the cars driving out through the crowd for photos.

1:35pm | Head to Pixar Pier

Prepare: Join the Walk-Up List at Lamplight Lounge (available on the Disneyland app)
Ride: Incredicoaster (approx. 45 min.)
Eat: Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums (approx. 5 min.)
Ride: Toy Story Midway Mania (approx. 60 min.)
Ride: Pixar Pal-A-Round (approx. 25 min.)
Explore: Meet your favorite Pixar Pals, check out the gift shops, or play some of the carnival games (approx. 15 min.)
Eat: Lamplight Lounge (approx. 40 min.)
Pixar Pier on a sunny California afternoon is hard to beat! With plenty of rides, games, and dining locations to indulge in, this land will take up the bulk of the second half of your day. As the most thrilling ride in the park, the Incredicoaster is a MUST DO. Remarkably, the lines can sometimes fluctuate to be extremely low (20 minutes or less) on occasion in the afternoons. Toy Story Midway Mania, on the other hand, generally has consistently long wait times. Don't miss out on the deliciously soft cookies at Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums, located right next to the entrance of Incredicoaster. It's easy to miss!

4:45pm | Head to Paradise Gardens

Ride: Goofy's Sky School (approx. 30 min)
Ride: The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure (approx. 40 min)
Mobile Order: Port of San Fransokyo Cerveceria OR Cocina Cucamonga Grill OR Aunt Cass Cafe (do this while in line for a ride)
Paradise Gardens has a handful of classic rides and a colorful bandstand area with entertainment available throughout the day. It's charming but really doesn't require more than just an hour or so to cover the two most popular rides in the land and maybe take a quick breather while you enjoy the entertainment. Since this is just a 1 Day Plan for Disney California Adventure, we recommend saving your time for more adventurous parts of the park. While you're waiting in line, you can start your Mobile Order for dinner at any of the San Franksokyo restaurants. We recommend setting a pickup time of around 8pm.

6:00pm | Head to Grizzly Peak

Ride: Grizzly River Run (approx. 35 min)
Ride: Soarin' Over California (approx. 60 min)
Explore: Check out the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, take a rest break underneath the trees, or check out the gift shops (approx. 15 min)
Grizzly Park's heavy nature theming will have you wondering if you're still in a theme park at all! It's a great escape from the more popular lands as you move toward the evening hours. Grizzly River Run is also great for cooling down on a hot Southern California day.

7:45pm | Head to San Fransokyo

Explore: Check out the Bakery Tour, take a rest break, or use the restrooms (approx. 15 min)
Eat: Pick up your Mobile Order from Port of San Fransokyo Cerveceria OR Cocina Cucamonga Grill OR Aunt Cass Cafe (approx. 40 min)
San Fransokyo is all about the dining, so it's the perfect land to head to for dinner just before the evening water show. It'll also be less busier during this later time, since many people will have left the park already or have eaten dinner earlier. You can't really go wrong with any of the restaurants in San Fransokyo, but we recommend the Port of San Fransokyo Cerveceria or Aunt Cass Cafe to try some of the amazing sourdough bread! If you don't mind transporting your food a little while away, you can even head to Paradise Gardens Park early to save yourself a better spot to watch World of Color.

8:40pm | Watch World of Color

Watch: World of Color (approx. 25 min)
World of Color is arguably one of the best shows in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. If you can make to the 9pm show time in the park, this is a MUST WATCH! Just be sure to try to get a viewing spot early, and keep in mind that viewing locations right next to the water are in danger of getting a little wet.

9:25pm | Head Toward Park Exit

Explore: Make any final purchases in the gift shops or pick up orders (approx. 35 min)
As the crowds start to exit the park, this is a great time to get any last minute shopping done. It's likely that the parking garages, ride share pickup locations, and busses will be very busy at this time. You can avoid that by spending an extra half hour or so browsing through all the neat merchandise at the shops toward the entrance.

10:00pm | Leave Disney California Adventure

If you've made it through the entirety of our 1 Day Plan for Disney California Adventure, pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to some rest and relaxation! We know running around to try to get the most of a theme park day can be exhausting, but hopefully you'll be able to make some wonderful memories along the way.
Contact: dani@eattravelunravel.com
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