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Ready to ~Hop~ Back to Disney California Adventure Park? Here's What to Expect

by Mommy Frog on January 12, 2022 2 Los Angeles

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - PinterestReady to get your kicks on Route 66, pal around on Pixar Pier and hop into action with the Avengers? Disney California Adventure Park reopened on April 30. A lot has changed since that frogciting day. We're sharing all of the important information you need to know to prepare for your visit to Disney California Adventure Park. All the table-service restaurants have returned! You can find the latest details and face covering policies in our Disneyland reopening post. Here's what to know when visiting Disney California Adventure.

Disney announced that free FASTPASS and MaxPass have officially ended, but there is a replacement called Genie+. Hop over to our Disney Genie post to learn all about the paid Genie+ service that will allow guests to use the Disneyland app to select return times for attractions to use the Lightning Lane entrance (the new name for FASTPASS Return entrance) and more. Radiator Springs Racers and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure are not included on the new Genie+. Those rides are available for an optional individual Lightning Lane selection fee you can pay-per-ride if you want to skip that ride's line once per day. But the free, traditional standby line and Single Rider line remain for Radiator Springs Racers and the free standby line remains in place for WEB Slingers.

The parking structures get trams back Feb. 23, 2022. Yay! Most restaurants and rides are open.

One more bit of good news: Single Rider lines are back! Using the Single Rider Line is our favorite way to skip the line on Radiator Springs Racers, plus you can use it on Grizzly River Run or Incredicoaster (although we find that the standby line for Incredicoaster moves pretty quickly as well). Got all that?

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Incredibles Character Cavalcade makes its way through Paradise Gardens Park

Don't tell Disneyland Park, but California Adventure is always our favorite park to start our days when park hopping. And did we mention the food? Drool. We recently started our day at California Adventure before hopping over to Disneyland. It was amazing! We got there before rope drop to access our key rides (that have traditionally long waits) right away such as Radiator Springs Racers (using the Single Rider line), Toy Story Midway Mania! and Pixar Pal-A-Round before the lines formed. Then we visited our favorite Super Heroes in Avengers Campus and took a ride or two on Guardians of the Galaxy. Here’s what to know when visiting Disney California Adventure during this frogciting reopening period.

What to Know When Visiting Disney California Adventure Park During the Reopening Period

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Dopey and Snow White greet Guests at California Adventure

This post is all about how to maximize your time, find the most characters and find the shortest lines. Even though we are moving closer to "normal," it will take some time to fully bring back all entertainment and some of the tools we use to manage our time in the park. One of the biggest changes is that you still need to have a park reservation with your valid theme park ticket to enter. We've seen guests who did not know this get turned away.

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Chip and Dale dress as Thor and Loki in Hollywood Land

It was so good to be back and get a taste of the magic we missed so much. Except for the Red Car Trolley, all rides have returned, and Avengers Campus is open! More scheduled entertainment returned with Disney Junior Dance Party. You'll find small shows in Avengers Campus, plus Five & Dime in Carthay Circle and musical acts in Paradise Gardens Park. You can find showtimes in the Disneyland app. The rest of the park offers rides, characters and food. As we visit and get used to the new operations, we will continually update this post with our tips and advice to make the best of your journey when visiting Disneyland California Adventure.

Arriving and Planning for Visiting Disney California Adventure

Gone are the days when annual passholders could just hop into the park whenever they felt like it, or visitors could arrive, purchase tickets at the booth and visit whatever park they felt like hopping into. Disneyland is still limiting capacity through advance ticket sales and a reservation system.

Disneyland Tickets and Reservations

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Mom and Child DisneyBound as Up

You can find all the hopful details in our Disneyland park reservations post. But the key takeaway here is to plan ahead. There are extra steps you need to take before visiting right now. Make sure you have a ticket and acquire a reservation for the same day your ticket is valid. You will choose a theme park to visit when you make your reservation. If park hopping, you will choose the park you wish to visit first and then you may hop to the other park after 1 p.m. (subject to availability). You may purchase tickets in advance and reserve dates up to 120 days in advance.

Multi-day tickets are the easiest to deal with because they are good any day 13 days after first use and have no blackouts. They also save you money, especially if you purchase discount Disneyland Resort tickets through Undercover Tourist! Ribbit!

In terms of getting tickets and making reservations, here are three key links you need to know:

  • 1-Day Ticket Tier Calendar to find out which days that 1-Day tickets can be used. If you are going with multi-day tickets, you do not have to worry about this link. (This calendar does not show if the days are still available though, so you'll also need to hop over to the next link.)
  • Park Availability Calendar — On popular days, one or both parks may be full for reservations. Check this calendar before purchasing tickets.
  • Once you have tickets and are ready to reserve (or if you want to view your reservations), head to this link:

A New Annual Pass

We have hoppy news for frequent visitors. A new annual pass went on sale Aug. 25, 2021. It's called Magic Key and has several different options that vary in price and benefits. All Magic Key holders need to make advance theme park reservations. Those reservations fill up quickly. The upper-level Dream Key and Believe Key were sold out within months. Here's the Magic Key availability calendar.

Parking, Hours and Arrival Changes

Ready to ~Hop~ Back to Disney California Adventure Park? Here's What to Expect-Family in front of Disney California Adventure

You’ll want to arrive early to make the most of your day. Disney California Adventure Park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. many nights, but check the schedule as there are many early nights or days that open later. The park usually opens about 30 minutes earlier than the posted time to allow guests in before rope drop. Rope drop occurs at posted park opening. Linger before the park closes to enjoy beautiful and uncrowded views of the Pixar Pier area, Avengers Campus and Cars Land at dusk and early evening. This park is breathtaking at night. And did you see the arc reactor that powers Avengers Campus glowing at night? Toadally cool.

There is no Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning at this time, but the early frog gets the flies (the flies being the shortest wait times). Rope drop has returned, which means guests may be held in the Carthay Circle area of the park until the time the ropes are dropped and guests may access lands and rides. You can head straight to the most popular rides before lines get long. We recommend doing rides first and exploring Avengers Campus later. We actually prefer Avengers Campus in the early afternoon when there is more action and more characters, and we love it in the evening when it cools down. There is not a lot of shade in the afternoon, and it looks toadally cool lit up at night. But most of the shows coincide in the afternoon.

Many people run straight to WEB SLINGERS at park opening, but Guardians of the Galaxy is a better choice at park opening. We prefer to hit WEB SLINGERS at the end of the night when the line is shorter and not in the blazing sun.

You can park at the parking structures or the Toy Story Lot. The Toy Story Lot has buses, and parking trams return to the structures as of Feb. 23, 2022. In the morning, you can go through security at the Toy Story lot before you board the bus (before 11 a.m.) and hop right into the esplanade when you arrive! Beware of the bus lines in the evening, though.

The parking structures and Toy Story Lot are opening one hour before park opening. You can access the Bullseye lot off Katella and Clementine until 11 a.m. (We like this lot for an easier exit at night.) At the structures, you can access a shorter line to get into Pixar Pals up until 11 a.m. When we park at Pixar Pals, we like to take the pedestrian bridge at level 2 and walk to Downtown Disney and walk through Downtown Disney to get to the theme parks. It just feels faster because you are distracted by things to see. Downtown Disney and Harbor security open about 7:15 a.m. (or 45 minutes before park open), depending on crowds. The theme park turnstiles usually open early, so it pays to arrive early as you may enter the parks early. You can accomplish so much just after rope drop and before the crowds arrive!

You can now purchase parking in advance. Parking prices just went up. You can pay to upgrade to Preferred Parking at the toll booth if you want to park closer to the elevators and escalators. All parties should be prepared for a longer-than-usual wait to park, go through security and get to the theme parks.

It may be tempting to park at Downtown Disney, but that lot has a new daily maximum. All-day parking will cost you $66! Hotel parking rates also increased.

If you want to avoid parking, there are two guest drop-off areas: One outside Harbor Boulevard security and one by Downtown Disney. There are also hotels that may let you park near the Downtown Disney security entrance (such as the Best Western Plus Stovall's Inn). You can hop in the least crowded entrance to save time. If you are staying at or parking at one of the hotels near Disneyland, on the Harbor Boulevard side, you can avoid the parking structures and walk to the Harbor security area.

Some hotels on Harbor have extra parking, so you may be able to park there, but they do fill up early. Anaheim Hotel is worth checking out. Anaheim GardenWalk has a new Anaheim attractions flat rate of half-price parking for $12.50 per day. You must text 949-532-8293 as soon as you park. Text your parking ticket number and "AA" to get the rate. Payment is completed upon exit.

If you are staying on-site at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, you can access the special entrance to Disney California Adventure Park. Hotel guests are able to get in line at all theme park entrances before other security checkpoints are open.

Wheelchairs and Strollers and Disabilities

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Wheelchair and stroller rental at the parking structure

The Disability Access Service (DAS) is available with new changes. You can register in advance of your visit and use the Disneyland app to book return times. Our post on using a wheelchair at Disneyland has more options, tips and advice on using it at Disneyland and renting off-site.

Disneyland Attractions, Wait Times, a New Virtual Queue and Touring Advice

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Radiator Springs Racer race through the desert

We are developing new touring plans for visiting during this reopening period. Keep in mind that a few popular rides may be on everyone’s must-do list. They are:

  • Radiator Springs Racers — Ride this one about an hour after rope drop if you can or use Single Rider if available. You can pay for individual Lightning Lane to skip the line for a fee.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! — Pay attention to the ground in front of this ride. It appears some multicolored liquid trail surrounds the building. Tanaleer Tivan moved his collection to be near Avengers Headquarters and dropping this alien property here caused this substance to ooze forth. Ride this at park opening for the shortest wait of the day.
  • Soarin’ Around the World — This is a good choice at park opening or later in the evening before the park closes.
  • The Incredicoaster — This line always moves faster than you'd expect.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania! — This is another great ride to hit in the morning.
  • WEB-SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure is the hot ticket. We like to ride just before the park closes or just before park hoppers enter the park. You can pay for individual Lightning Lane to skip the line for a fee.

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - A strange and colorful liquid has appeared on the Ground in front of GuardiansYou'll need to keep an eye on ride wait times in the Disneyland app and follow the shortest wait times. If you see long waits at one ride, find another with a shorter wait and hop back to the ride with the longer wait later. Use Single Rider lines (when available) if your party members are at least 7 years old and don't mind being split up. We have found the wait times to be a little shorter than posted in the app.

We have found Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane to be most helpful in maximizing time at Disney California Adventure Park or when park hopping. Our Genie+ FAQ will answer your questions about this optional paid service.

Wait times fluctuate, though we usually find that lines move quickly and usually faster than posted wait times. You can find our updated list of rides that are open or closed at Disney California Adventure in our post on what's open at Disneyland. If you have small tadpoles who do not meet the height requirements or are too scared to ride, you can use Rider Switch.

You'll need new strategies for finding the shortest lines after capacity goes up. Will you use a touring plan? Be one of the first in line when the park opens? Plan to ride at the end of the day? Watch the ride times in the app and look for the shortest waits of the day? These are all methods we use to scout out the shortest wait times. So far, wait times have not been a problem.

If you arrive after park opening, you might be able to hop on several other rides with very short waits. Usually, the last hour of park operation also has very short lines. Remember that if you are in line as the park closes, you can stay in line until you ride.

We do not recommend spending your early morning in Avengers Campus (except to ride Guardians of the Galaxy). Wait until there is more entertainment scheduled in the late morning and early afternoon.

Character Experiences at Disney California Adventure Park

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Woman Poses with Lightning McQueen

Disneyland theme parks always keep us on our toes with character experiences. Look for Goofy and Max fishing in Pacific Wharf. Keep your eyes open because you never know where characters might pop up. We have even caught some characters in new spots on Buena Vista Street!

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Toy Story Cavalcade travels the parade route in Paradise Gardens Park

Small character cavalcades have arrived where there is not a festival happening. You can spot them on the hour mid-day. They make their way from the Silly Symphony Swings area to the entrance to the pier and back. We caught a green army man trailed by Toy Story Characters or some of the Incredibles. What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Mrs. Incredible strikes a pose on Pixar PierHere's who you can find at Disney California Adventure:

  • Look for Mickey and other Disney pals (as well as characters such as Anna and Elsa or even rarely seen characters such as Dopey with Snow White, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Clarabelle Cow or Horace Horsecollar) at Carthay Circle.
  • See Pixar friends at the Pixar Pier Bandshell.
  • We got to see the Incredibles give the Incredicoaster a proper send-off (toadally cool, BTW!)
  • In Cars Land, make a pit stop to rev your engines with Lightning McQueen, Mater and Red along Route 66.
  • Meet Super Heroes such as Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Thor, Loki, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Ant-Man, The Wasp, Iron Man, and others in Avengers Campus. Watch them spring into action and train with the Dora Milaje.
  • In Hollywood Land, catch Disney characters such as Mikey or Chip 'n' Dale on the stage with their Super Hero clothes on!
  • Hop through Paradise Gardens Park to meet characters.
  • Operation: Playtime! is back!

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Anna and Elsa greet girls in Carthay Circle

Our Disneyland characters post will continue to have all of the updated details.

Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure Park

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Spider-Man

This newest Super Hero-themed land opened June 4. You can get the full scoop with all the details about the land from Tad’s post on Avengers Campus.

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - The Arc Reactor glows at Avengers Campus at night

You can look forward to:

  • A new ride — WEB-SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure (now with standby wait)
  • A new restaurant — Pym Test Kitchen (hop over to our Foodie Guide to Avengers Campus)
  • A new lounge — Pym Tasting Lab (Mobile Order only)
  • Food carts — Round churros, Terran Treats and Shawarma
  • Dr. Strange's Sanctum
  • Super Hero characters
  • Spider-Man leaping and swinging through the skies and over the rooftops!
  • Rooftop Stunt Show
  • Avengers Headquarters with the Quinjet parked on top
  • Dora Milaje training sessions
  • New characters emerging all the time such as Shang-Chi, the Eternals, Hawkeye and Kate Bishop
  • A new store — WEB suppliers
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout!
  • Disney Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane

How to Ride WEB-SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Peter Parker demonstrates Spider Bots

When you attend a WEB open house, Peter Parker demonstrates Spider Bots. Uh, oh! They get caught in replication mode and it looks like Spider-Man needs your help to save the day. Hop in a WEB SLINGER vehicle, don your 3-D glasses and start slinging webs from your own wrists to destroy the bots who are running amok.

As mentioned, WEB-SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure utilizes a virtual queue that you can join only through the Disneyland app. No standby lines are available. The queue opens at 7 a.m. and 12 p.m. You'll need to make sure you link the tickets for each member of your party to the app in advance. At the join time, you'll need to act quickly by clicking the Join button the second the queue opens. You do not have to be in the park to join the first queue. But you have to have entered Disney California Adventure Park (or Disneyland Park with a park hopper) for the 12 p.m. eligibility period. Each guest may enter the virtual queue no more than once per day. Joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to experience WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.

A guest may not hold a boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure at the same time. That means that even if you got one of those rides in the morning but did not ride before noon, you will not be able to get the other.

Dining at Disney California Adventure Park

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Food at Lamplight LoungeSorry, Disneyland Park, but Disney California Adventure has the BEST food! And it just got even better with more choices now that Avengers Campus is open. More and more restaurants are opening every day. Hop over to our post on what's open at Disneyland to see what's open (and what's coming soon) as well as our guide to Avengers Campus food for all the super details. Alas, you can expect a more limited selection of restaurants at Disney California Adventure than normal with limited hours, as well as more limited menus. Look up the menus ahead of time online or through the Disneyland app. If you cannot get a reservation at Lamplight Lounge, you can now enjoy walk-up dining at Lamplight Lounge  — with Boardwalk Dining upstairs! Keep in mind the menus vary slightly.

You’ll see an expanded number of Mobile Order locations to help you limit contact and maximize time. Make sure you have downloaded the latest version of the Disneyland app and order ahead for meals. Mobile Order is the primary way to get food. Just tap I'm here, prepare my order before you arrive because some locations can take a while to prepare the food (and yes, we mean Smokejumper's Grill when we say that).

Here are a few highlights, changes, tips and items that are not usually in those locations (so you can spot some favorites that may be found in new spots):

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Mobile Check-in sign

  • You'll want to plan an hour ahead and Mobile Order before you are hungry for Avengers Campus dining locations.
  • New Mobile Dine Walk-Up List available for table-service restaurants in the Disneyland app.
  • New Mobile Check-In for dining.
  • New Mobile Order locations such as the Cappuccino Cart — Gourmet Coffee and Sonoma Terrace.
  • Magic Key Terrace (for Magic Key holders and their guests)
  • Check out the new menu items at Cocina Cucamonga (QuesaBirria braised beef tacos)
  • Studio Catering Co. and Cozy Cone Motel are Mobile Order only.

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Dole Whips

  • Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats has a new menu featuring the It's Lemon and It's Mango Dole Whips. The new floats with alcohol are toadally refreshing and yummy. We tried It's Chile-Lime Mango Margarita and Pixar Pier Frosty Parfait with Blue Curaço. Yum!
  • Table-service restaurants include Lamplight Lounge (including brunch Friday through Sunday), Carthay Circle (limited days and times), Carthay Circle Lounge — Alfresco Dining, Magic Key Terrace (for Magic Key holders and their guests) and Wine Country Trattoria (limited hours).
  • Note the two different menus for Lamplight Lounge — Boardwalk Dining has a slightly different menu. You can only get those barbacoa Spotlight Nachos upstairs. Don't worry — The lobster nachos are on both menus.
  • You can make dining reservations up to 60 days in advance. If you do not see your restaurant choice listed, try typing the name in. More times may pop up. If you do not see a lunch or dinner time, try checking hour by hour. You might see a reservation become available. Some restaurants drop times less than 60 days, so keep checking.
  • Eat breakfast before you arrive. Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café has breakfast sandwiches (and also stays open a half hour after park closing at night). The Cappuccino Cart at the Pixar Pier entrance is open for coffee and snacks. Mobile Order for Pym Test Kitchen in Avengers Campus opens when the land opens each morning. The Shawarma Palace carts offer a breakfast Sha-warm-up.
  • You can find the complete list of open and closed restaurants in our post on what is open at Disneyland.
  • Cappuccino Cart now sells Joffrey's Coffee and a breakfast burrito in the morning and a citrus pollo asado burrito during the day.

Here is our advice for Mobile Order in a time of limited food options: Do not wait until you are hungry to order food!

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Pixar Pier ParfaitWhile access to food is much improved, some popular locations may have return windows that are up to a few hours away. Plan ahead what you would like to eat. Order it. Choose a return window that works for you. If you need to cancel or modify the timing, you can, but at least you will have a guaranteed meal or snack at the time you set. Do not wait until you arrive to tap, “I’m here. Prepare my order.” It takes some time to prepare food. Tap it before you walk over. This will cut down on any wait times (though you may still encounter lines to pick up food). Practice patience as guests and cast members get used to being back in the park and operating in this new world we are living in.

You no longer need to dine in designated dining zones. We tried the new QuesaBirria tacos at Cocina Cucamonga. (Very tasty, BTW.)

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Quesa Birria Tacos

Shopping at Disney California Adventure Park

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Nonalcoholic A Bug's Drink at Alfresco Tasting TerraceContactless payment methods such as credit, debit, gift cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay are preferred, but shops will accept cash.

You may want to delay shopping on Buena Vista Street until the park is closing. The larger shops and Trolley Treats are open for an hour after the park closes. You can look up store hours online. That way you do not have to carry your purchases around and can make better use of your time while the park is open. Consider it a bonus hour!

If you buy something you do not want to carry around with you, you can check it. Take it to the stroller shop in the esplanade, and they will hold it for you until the end of the day.

Disney California Adventure Park Reopening Tips and Tidbits

What to Know About Visiting Disney California Adventure - Child poses at Black Panther Photo Op in Hollywood Land

Here are a few tips for visiting Disney California Adventure during this transitional period:

  • Get your park ticket and park reservation in advance.
  • Bring a face covering (and a backup) if unvaccinated or if you plan to use park shuttles.
  • Download the latest update of the Disneyland app.
  • Wear good walking shoes.
  • Take advantage of PhotoPass photographers, and ask for Magic Shots!
  • Genie+ includes unlimited PhotoPass.
  • Read up on Mobile Order.
  • Bring cashless forms of payment (Apple Pay, dining cards, gift cards and credit or debit cards), although cash is accepted.
  • Use the Disneyland app to check wait times.
  • Eat breakfast before you arrive as choices are very limited in the morning. (You can get a full breakfast at Pym Test Kitchen or a breakfast burrito from Cappuccino Cart.)
  • Mobile Order food before you get hungry.
  • Wear sunscreen and hats. You will be spending more time outside in the sunshine than usual.
  • Hop into Hollywood Land for Super Hero photo ops.
  • Visit Know Before You Go for the latest Disneyland Resort news.

Are you as excited as us that Disneyland theme parks are open? Hopfully, you have a better idea of what to know when visiting Disney California Adventure during this time. Remember to purchase your Disneyland Resort tickets in advance and also make a theme park reservation. With limited capacity, many days are already filling up. You can book up to 120 days in advance. Keep hopping back as we visit, learn more and share hopful tips and what to know about visiting Disney California Adventure at this time.

Related: Planning a Visit to Disneyland? Here's What It's Like After Reopening

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Jun 18, 2021 at 8:51 p.m. Kyle Mullenix Says...

When will you have a 1 day COVID California Adventure park plan like you do for Disneyland?

Jun 18, 2021 at 3:58 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kyle!

It's coming soon! :) We're currently updating it to include Avengers Campus.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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