So I tried to hit every attraction in Disney’s California Adventure on Sunday….
If I haven’t pinned you down and explained the intricate details of the most recent meta-Disney habit of mine, I’ll do it quickly here: I’ve started to do “extreme theme park touring.” That is, trying to hit as many possible open attractions in one day, with a pre-established set of rules all the while being a normal, unassuming guest of the park with no special privileges or accomplices. I’ve done three of them so far, all successful: two in the Magic Kingdom, one in Disneyland. To do an Ultimate Touring Plan (or as I like to say, “hack the mouse” [I've also heard it referred to as "the Disney death march"]), you need at least 10 hours, a very solid working knowledge of every attraction in the park, stamina, and the grit to handle minimal food and bathroom breaks. For me, it’s a latest step in my obsession with these theme parks, and considering my job, it’s been really useful to gain more complete insight into park operation.
Anyways, so DCA. Here’s how we did:
The times listed are: time in, time on, time out for each attraction. We were also holding FASTPASSs for Tower of Terror, California Screamin’, and Soarin’ when we decided to call it quits due to some mistakes, the size of the crowds, and finally succumbing to the reality that we needed to drive home to the Bay Area (we made it!). Plus, we decided to attempt the plan a whole 30 minutes before DCA opened this morning, so we weren’t exactly fully committed.
We definitely learned a lot and quickly, though. As you can see from the order, we started with TSM–the first to ride it, actually, which was pretty cool. Knowing that the Fun Wheel can be quite the wait as well, we decided to hit that next, starting with the “Swinging” side, which is the more popular version, and then hit the “Non-Swinging” side. On both rides we asked to join the group ahead of us, which saved us a few minutes, and was more fun to boot. It took us 30 minutes to do both.
We then gambled, going clear across the park to grab a ToT FP, then hit Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. The theory was that this would be worse than anything else in the park that we couldn’t FP (this ended up being wrong). I also realized then that with DCA, walking distance needs to be considered more closely: from the Pier to Monsters Inc. through the new Bug’s Land walkway was at least 8 minutes in solid stride. Monsters Inc was super short, at least.
We then hit Grizzly River Run, and had some bad luck in that they decided to increase capacity by adding more rafts just when we were right at the front of the queue. Always fun trying to take a picture on the ride but before the water comes. Another mistake after this put us on Golden Zephyr (short wait) instead of Jumpin’ Jellyfish (which was only running one tower), and the line for JJ only grew. We then ran to get a Screamin’ FP, and hit Triton’s Carousel while we were there. As we came around the pier again, Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Mulholland Madness were wicked busy (25 minute standby for each), so we headed to a bug’s land.
After some perfect timing with the It’s Tough to be a Bug! show, we then had to hit all four carnival style attraction in a bug’s land. I’d never been on these until today, and I must say, they are pretty well done for what they are. Unfortunately, with the park being quite busy, and the new pathway connecting Bug’s Land to Hollywood Lot drawing in more guests, we waited 10+ minutes for each attraction, managing to do all four in just over an hour. The crowds and the need to hit the road made us decide to call it quits.
- DCA nearly always opens at 10am. With this late opening time, pretty much everyone can make it there by park opening, thus negating any real jump you get on the crowds. In Disneyland, the park might open at 7am for “Morning Magic,” and the park is all yours.
- Capacity matters. Screamin’ was down until 11:15ish. This distributed more crowds around the Pier. Maliboomer only had 1 of 3 towers operating, Jumpin’ Jellyfish 1 of 2 towers, Grizzly River Run very few boats, Tower of Terror only one elevator shaft out of three. Nothing you can really do about capacity, but you need to weigh any wait times with your own sense, and maybe postpone attractions with temporary capacity reductions.
- Don’t worry about the shows? We didn’t make it to the show section, but it seemed like it’s entirely possible that you can get most of the attractions done before doing any shows. With the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom plans, you cannot do this, so you have to constantly be thinking “should I be doing a show right now?” as you tour. Will work on the feasibility of this theory more next time.
- Don’t pick a day when the park is open until 10pm. It’ll be more crowded.
And finally, here’s what I’ll try next time: arrive at 9:30am, grab Soarin’ FP, be first on TSM, then do Swinging Fun Wheel and Jumpin’ Jellyfish. Then cross the park and grab FP for ToT and plow through all the Bug’s Land attractions, before Monsters Inc. Then head back to the Pier and cleanup, using FP for Screamin’ and Mulholland Madness if needed.