Ask Us a Disney Question: Must-Do Attractions at Disneyland/California Adventure?

This question comes from WDW-goer Melissa:

I’m a WDW veteran who will have the chance to make a two-day side trip to Disneyland this summer. I would explore from park open to close, but my husband (who is more than tolerant of my Disney-hobby) will run out of steam before I do. So I’m trying to make my must-do list! Since your site seems to be the Disney global clearing house, I’m hoping y’all can help me. What does the WDWphile have to do when given a chance to visit DL and DCA?

You have come to the right place! (And I finally get to answer one of these things!)

For Disneyland, I recommend getting there as early as possible — rope drop, if you can. You have a choice: either go to Indiana Jones and get a FastPass, then run over to Space Mountain, OR run to Space and get a FP, then run to Indy. Those two are easily the most popular attractions in the park. If you’re coming after the end of May and it’s hot out, wait a couple hours and get a Splash Mountain FP.

Maybe I’ll go through this land by land.

Frontierland: Do Thunder Mountain! End of story. And if you get a chance, get food at the Golden Horseshoe. Their chili cheese fries are not only cheap, they’re delicious!

New Orleans Square: I think you have to do Pirates AND Haunted Mansion. HM isn’t all snazzy like the one at WDW is now, but it’s the original. Fantasmic! at night.

Adventureland: Indy. For sure.

Fantasyland: it’s a small world if you’re into that. I can only handle the song so much. Matterhorn Bobsleds! Our Peter Pan isn’t as awesome as WDW’s, I’m sure, but it’s still nice. The line gets long, so that’s something to do earlier in the day.

Tomorrowland: Space Mountain! Nemo is okay if you’re not claustrophobic. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters can be fun. And even though I have yet to experience it, Star Tours 2.0 if you’re coming after June 3. Just be aware that the lines will be long and you’ll want a FP!

And lastly, fireworks at night from Main Street.

Moving on to California Adventure. In my honest opinion, there’s not TOO much to do. I spend most of my time at Disneyland.

Hollywoodland (AKA Hollywood Pictures Backlot): Tower of Terror. I’ve been told many times that our ToT isn’t nearly as good as WDW’s, so be warned! But it’s still a fun attraction to go to. A FP may or may not be necessary. Depends on the crowd level. If it’s happening that day and you’ve got time, see Aladdin at the Hyperion Theater. Not only is it a great show, it’s a nice break.

Condor Flats: Soarin’ Over California. I highly recommend getting a FP for this.

Paradise Pier: Be sure to pick up your pass to view World of Color from the Grizzly River Run FP machine! These are not counted as a FP, so you’ll be able to get FP’s for a different attraction. Best idea: Pick up a FP for Soarin’, go around the bend, and get a viewing pass for WoC. Go to the Mission Tortilla Factory for a free tortilla! Nice free snack. Also some free sourdough bread pieces at the Boudin sourdough bread factory. Ride California Screamin’. A FP may or may not be necessary. Also ride Toy Story Midway Mania! Unfortunately, that does not have a FP queue, so your best bet is to visit this one early in the day. Little Mermaid is opening June 3, so of course I recommend that. Visit that FIRST, right after picking up a Soarin’ FP.

Hope this gives you some guidance, Melissa! Feel free to email me at for any other Disneyland Resort questions. I just might know the answer.

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8 thoughts on “Ask Us a Disney Question: Must-Do Attractions at Disneyland/California Adventure?

  1. This is just my opinion, since I’ve been going to the park since it opened. I’ve watched the park grown and change over the years, and I can say that it’s definitely getting better; however, compared to Disneyland, I find that California Adventure just lacks….something. The Little Mermaid dark ride is a fantastic addition to the park, as is WoC, but I’m waiting for Cars Land to debut and blow me away. This is just how I feel about the park, as it sits right across from the original House of Mouse.

  2. “California Adventure. In my honest opinion, there’s not TOO much to do.” Are you kidding?
    It’s Tough to be a Bug & Jim Henson’s Muppet Vision 3D are both great 3d shows. Turtle Talk with Crush is great. For thrill rides: California Screamin’, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Mickey’s Fun Wheel (moving carts). Toy Story Mania and Soarin may be the best 2 all around family rides you can find at any amusement park anywhere! The New Goofy’s Sky School and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure both look great. The Aladdin show is good and finally, The World of Color is unbelievable!

    Having lived in Orlando for 7 years I am very aware that most of these are also at DW and the DW versions are generally better but to say there’s not too much to do is just false. I didnt even touch on the Silly Symphony Swings, Grizzly River Run, or Cars Land that will open next year.

  3. Thank you very much! I’m working hard to try to get to where I want to be 🙂 I see some other college students and how they write, and I’m usually left confused because it’s so terrible! What in the world were their teachers doing for 12 years?

  4. Thanks, Jessica — this is so very helpful. And, speaking as a college professor who teaches, among other things, professional writing, I think you have a bright career in PR ahead of you! — Melissa

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