Finding Magic in a Crowded Disney California Adventure

Don't be frustrated by crowds and long wait times at Disney California Adventure. Experience Disney California Adventure through a different lens by finding Disney magic in its less visited—but still amazing—attractions. Here is what we discovered on a busy spring visit when our family stepped away from the crowds of the most popular attractions:

The Little Mermaid–Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Journey “under the sea” in a clamshell carriage with Ariel and her friends. This is one of our favorite rides!

Ride King Triton’s Carousel of fantastic sea creatures. It’s never crowded and kids will beg to ride again!

World of Color is a must-see nighttime spectacular, though you will need a ticket for good viewing. During busy times the ticket lines can be long or tickets limited. Another option is to make a reservation for a World of Color lunch or dinner at the Wine Country Trattoria or Carthay Circle Restaurant, which will provide a premier viewing spot for the show. Arrive at your assigned section as early as possible.

Hosted by Flik from A Bug’s Life, 3-D show “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” features audio-animatronics and unexpected special effects guaranteed to “move” the audience.

Bugs Land rides are perfect for kids of any height. Choose a spin on Flik’s Flyers, a ride on Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train or have fun on Tuck & Roll Drive ‘Em Buddies (bumper cars).

Don’t miss Disney’s Aladdin, A Musical Spectacular. Based on the Disney movie, this amazing 45-minute musical show will entertain all ages (even adults). Lines will look long, but fear not; the Hyperion Theatre holds 2,000 people. You’ll get a seat!

Join your favorite “Frozen” friends in song in For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.

Hop on the Monsters, Inc. ride. Board a taxi-type vehicle and join Mike, Sully and Boo on a fun-filled, mad-cap journey through the streets of Monstropolis.

Toddlers and preschoolers will love Disney Junior Live on Stage! A live Disney show featuring Sofia the First and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

People tend to pass right by the Disney Animation Building without realizing what’s inside. Visit the Sorcerer’s Workshop then head around the corner for a drawing session with a Disney animator. You can take your creative Disney artwork home as a souvenir!

Turtle Talk with Crush. Spend some fun time with Crush, the animated sea turtle character from “Finding Nemo.” He converses with audience members and is a huge hit with the kids. Cool, dude!

Take the Boudin Bakery Tour to learn how sourdough bread is made from the San Francisco company that put sourdough bread on the map.

Kids can run off energy through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail—an impressive obstacle course—while adults take a much-needed break.

When Disney California Adventure gets crowded and the wait lines long, don’t fret and don’t give up. Remember what Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Get off the beaten path and make your day a unique, unforgettable adventure!

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Noreen L. Kompanik is an independent travel writer, photographer and San Diego resident. She has a passion for travel, cooking and especially her family.

Published: June 2015

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