Directly across from Disneyland is the newest theme park, Disney’s California Adventure. You’ve probably seen the commercials and billboards with the views of the roller coaster in Mickey-shaped loops. Sure, it looks like a great new and "happy place on earth," but it’s more like a tourist attraction than a thrilling experience.
I must admit, the scenery is amazing (just as you’d expect from Disney) but to be honest, I wouldn’t spend $45 to see miniature replicas of popular attractions around California. I expected more exhilarating rides, like freaky coasters you wouldn’t want to stop riding.
There were about four attractions that teens would love: California Screamin’ (goes from 0-55 mph in less than 5 seconds), Grizzly River Run (a roller coaster through water that simulates white water rafting), Soarin’ Over California (an amazing hang-gliding experience) and the Maliboomer (which launches riders straight up).
The best was Soarin’ Over California. We sat in rows and were lifted 40 feet off the ground to be surrounded by a huge projection dome that featured a tour through various locations. The best part was the wind currents and actual scents of the places which made it even more realistic.
You’ll find the usual Disney characters roaming the park, only now they’re dressed cargo shorts, Hawaiian shirts and other California gear. There are street performers like drummers doing stomp routines, dancers doing unique moves and bands playing on cars rolling the streets. But overall, there wasn’t really much to see. My fellow L.A. Youth reporter Howard and I saw everything in less than half a day.
When it was time to get picked up, we couldn’t figure out which of the hundreds of new parking lots to wait in. We rode back and forth on the tram trying to find our ride. After several hours, we finally found my mom—maximum stress!
The best new offering from Disney is the lively (and FREE) Downtown Disney district. It resembles the Third Street Promenade or Universal CityWalk with all the stores, restaurants and dance floors. It’s a great place to go with a group of friends if you want to catch a movie at the AMC complex, or a date if you want to dine and dance. Stores include the House of Blues, ESPN Zone and Y Arriba! Y Arriba! where the live music will make you want to dance.
I definitely recommend Downtown Disney for a night of fun. Would I recommend California Adventure? Eh … if you want to pay $45 to see 55 acres of nice scenery, go right ahead. Personally I’d rather stick with Disneyland’s 85 acres of original Disney magic. But hey, whatever floats your boat, right?