Ready 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, and while we were toadally ready for all of those things, we were even more hoppy to learn that so much is new and exciting! We're sharing all of the important information you need to know to prepare for your visit to Disney California Adventure Park, including the best time to arrive, how to manage without FASTPASS and where to find your favorite foods (plus a few new ones such as boozy Dole Whip floats)! Even better? Some fan favorites from A Touch of Disney are sticking around (such as the 1/2 Monte Cristo and brisket mac 'n cheese)! With the reopening of Wine Country Trattoria, more table-service restaurants return! Here's what to know when visiting Disney California Adventure.
We mentioned that there's currently no FASTPASS. Disney announced that free FASTPASS and MaxPass have officially ended. But there is a replacement that is similar to MaxPass coming out in fall 2021. Hop over to our Disney Genie post to learn all about the free Disney Genie planning assistant, 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.
Hopping good news! Disney California Adventure is now welcoming back out-of-state visitors! The Toy Story lot reopened with buses! Good-bye long walk from the parking structures (although we recently had to take that 20-minute walk back to the Toy Story lot after fireworks because the line to catch a bus was nearly an hour)! And the theme park reservation window opened up 120 days. More and more restaurants are opening every day. Got all that?
One more bit of good news: Single Rider lines are back! Single Rider 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).
Another thing to be aware of is that the new ride in Avengers Campus, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, utilizes a virtual queue. It's the only way to ride, actually. If you are familiar with how to join a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, this ride's queue works in a similar way. Hop down to Avengers Campus for the details.
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
Disneyland face covering policies are ever changing, so be sure to hop over to our mask policy post for the latest information.
This post is all about how to maximize your time, find the most characters, find the shortest lines and even scout out fluffernutter churros (see, we told you the food won't disappoint!). We also offer tips for spotting a character cavalcade. Even though we are moving closer to normal, it will take some time to fully bring back entertainment, all dining options 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.
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! Keep in mind that there is no scheduled entertainment yet, except for in Avengers Campus, plus Five & Dime in Carthay Circle. You can find show times 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
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 which 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: StartYourDisneylandExperience.com
A New Annual Pass
We have hoppy news for frequent visitors. A new annual pass is on sale, as of Aug. 25, 2021. It's called Magic Key and has several different options that vary in price and benefits. All passholders need to make advance theme park reservations.
Parking, Hours and Arrival Changes
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. through Aug. 12, 2021. (The park usually opens earlier than posted time to allow guests in before rope drop. Rope drop occurs at 8 a.m.) Definitely 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 that 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.
The parking structures were the only main place to park until the Toy Story Lot reopened with buses. In the morning, you can go through security 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 at 7 a.m. Harbor security opens about 7:15 a.m., 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. You can pay to upgrade to Preferred Parking at the toll booth if you want to park closer to the elevators and escalators. One party at a time can use the elevator, so expect to wait. 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!
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 through Dec. 31, 2021. You must text 949-532-8293. Text your parking ticket number and "AA" to get the rate. Payment is completed upon exit.
If you park in the structure, once you make your way to the bottom level of the Disneyland parking structures, you'll go through a security screening before walking down the path the parking trams usually take to get to the theme parks. It's about a 15- to 20-minute walk. There are benches for resting along the way. Lockers have reopened inside the theme parks. The lockers at Grizzly River Run are available for two-hour rentals.
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
The good news is that the Disability Access Service (DAS) is available. The bad news is that there are no parking trams or Mickey vans from the parking structure. It’s fine for many able-bodied people, but for people with mobility challenges or froglets with short legs, it’s a long way to go on top of all the theme park walking you'll be doing. There are benches for resting along the way. If you do not want to walk, park in the Toy Story lot. Watch those bus wait times after fireworks!
You can now rent manual wheelchairs, ECVs and strollers at the parking structure. Our post on using a wheelchair at Disneyland has more options, tips and advice on using it at Disneyland and renting off-site.
Joining a Boarding Group
If you are starting your day at Disney California Adventure, you can join the virtual queue for WEB SLINGERS at either 7 a.m. or 12 p.m. Hop over to our guide to joining virtual queues.
The Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride also utilizes a virtual queue. This ride is actually located in Disneyland Park, and it has a virtual queue, called a Boarding Group. However, recent changes are of interest to park hoppers. If you are park hopping and starting your day at Disney California Adventure, you are eligible to join the second Boarding Group of the day at 12 p.m. You must have entered the park that day. If the Force is with you and you do acquire a Boarding Group number, you can hop over to Disneyland Park after 1 p.m. to ride when your Boarding Group is called. We have a whole post on joining a Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance so that you can brush up on all of the details for your best shot at riding.
You cannot hold a virtual queue for both rides at the same time, but if you get one in the morning and ride before noon, you are eligible to try for the other at noon (if you have a park hopper ticket). You can only join a Boarding Group for each ride once per day. This gives the most park guests a chance to ride.
Disneyland Attractions, Wait Times, a New Virtual Queue and Touring Advice
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 at rope drop if you can or use Single Rider if available.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! — Pay attention to the ground out 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.
- Soarin’ Around the World — This is a good choice at park opening or later in the evening.
- 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 (it is accessible only via a virtual queue that distributes in seconds at 7 a.m. and 12 p.m.).
You'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.
Wait times definitely fluctuate. We usually find that lines move quickly and usually faster than posted wait times. Standby lines move a lot faster without FASTPASS in action. Priority rides are Radiator Springs racers and Toy Story Midway Mania! Ride wait times tend to go down before closing.
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. If someone in your party has disabilities that make waiting in a standard queue very difficult, talk to guest relations about Disability Access Service (DAS).
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 morning waiting to get into Avengers Campus. Definitely try to get a Boarding Group at 7 a.m. If you get one, arrive at the campus when your Boarding Group is called. If you do not get one at 7 a.m., try at noon. We picked up a noon Boarding Group much easier. If you do not get one at noon, then just visit Avengers Campus in the afternoon. There have been times that WEB SLINGERS has opened a standby line at the very end of the night, but that may not always be the case.
Character Experiences at Disney California Adventure Park
Disneyland theme parks always keep us on our toes with character experiences. Look for Goofy and Max fishing in Pacific Wharf. Chip 'n' Dale may enjoy a picnic (or a game of acorn baseball) in the bushes in Grizzly Peak. 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!
Small character cavalcades have arrived. 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.
Here'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 or 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. We caught up with the Miguel puppet! You might catch Lilo or Stitch on the stage.
- Keep an eye out for hourly character cavalcades on the parade route in Paradise Gardens Park area.
Our Disneyland characters post will continue to have all of the updated details.
Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure Park
This newest Super Hero-themed land opened June 4. It is definitely going to remain the most crowded part of the park for some time. You no longer need to wait in line to enter. You can get the full scoop with all the details on the land from Tad’s post on Avengers Campus.
You can look forward to:
- A new ride — WEB-SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
- 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
- A new store — WEB suppliers
- Access to Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout!
How to Ride WEB-SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
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
Sorry, 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). Great food takes a while, I guess.
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):
- You'll want to plan a few hours 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 (opens Aug. 25 for Magic Key holders and their guests — walk-up only but reservations available Sept. 2.)
- Check out the new menu items at Cocina Cucamonga (QuesaBirria braised beef tacos)
- Studio Catering Co. now has Mobile Order.
- You can still get the popular 1/2 Monte Cristo, brisket mac ‘n cheese and s’mores shake at Smokejumpers Grill (holdovers from A Touch of Disney)!
- Only the first three and fifth cones are open at Cozy Cone Motel (Mobile Order only).
- Corn Dog Castle reopened July 1, and that means Award Wieners went back to a more normal limited menu.
- You can find regular hotdogs (and turkey legs) at the cart across from The Little Mermaid entrance at other locations (including some mobile order beverage locations).
- 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!
- Find a Mickey pretzel and cheese at Pacific Wharf Distribution Co.
- Looking for a pickle? We love those crunchy dills. You can find them at smaller carts across from Soarin' and outside Cars Land.
- Table-service restaurants include Lamplight Lounge (including brunch Friday through Sunday), Carthay Circle, Carthay Circle Lounge — Alfresco Dining, Magic Key Terrace (opens Aug. 25 for Magic Key holders and their guests — walk-up only) and Wine Country Trattoria.
- 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.
- Paradise Garden Grill reopened with some festival fan favorites (such as pepperoni pizza egg rolls).
- 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 Cappucchino 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.
- The churro and popcorn stands switched places in the Carthay Circle area.
- Fluffernutter churro — Willy's Churro Cart
- S’mores churro — Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
- Strawberry cheesecake churro — Hollywood Land
- Milk & cookies churro — Cozy Cone 1
- Original cinnamon sugar churros are at various churro carts in both parks!
Here is our advice for Mobile Order in a time of limited food options: Do not wait until you are hungry to order food!
While 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.)
Shopping at Disney California Adventure Park
Contactless 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!
Here’s a list of all of the open Disney California Adventure shops:
- Balloons and glow carts
- Bing Bong's Sweet Stuff
- Collector's Warehouse
- Disneyland Backlot Premiere Shop
- Elias & Co.
- Julius Katz & Sons
- Kaman's Art Shoppe
- Kingswell Camera Shop
- Knick's Knacks
- Midway Mercantile
- Off the Page
- Paradise Pier Sunglass Cart
- Ramone's House of Body Art
- Rushin' River Outfitters
- Sarge's Surplus Hut
- Seaside Souvenirs
- Stage 17
- Studio Store
- Trolley Treats
- WEB Suppliers (new!)
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
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).
- Download the latest update of the Disneyland app.
- Wear good walking shoes — you will be on your feet a lot more than usual (plus that walk to and from the parking structure really adds to your steps).
- Take advantage of PhotoPass photographers, and ask for Magic Shots!
- You can purchase PhotoPass+ in the app by tapping the plus sign (+) and Buy Disney PhotoPass+. It's $19.99 per day.
- Play games at Pixar Pier (safety measures in place).
- Read up on Mobile Order.
- Read up on how to join a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and WEB Slingers.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Legacy Passholders can enjoy drinks and appetizers at Alfresco Tasting Terrace.
- 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 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 60 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.