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Disney California Adventure Park

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by Katie Thompson (subscribe)
University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel. Blog: twotwothompson.wordpress.com/ Published work can be seen at www.theyorker.co.uk and www.yorkvision.co.uk
Published October 20th 2012
Time for a grown-ups' day out
If Anaheim's Disneyland is a children's playground, then surely its next-door neighbor California Adventure is one for the grown-ups. At least, that's how it appears on paper, specifically on the park map, in which California Screamin' leaps out perilously at the viewer, promising a day out more thrilling than a ride on the teacups.

Having sampled the children's playground, I used my 2-day park ticket ($89 from discount retailers) to enter California Adventure. Somewhat foolishly, I began my own adventures on the Soarin' Over California, a 3D cinematic experience in which viewers are hoisted into the air and catapulted through peaks and falls, perusing the beautiful sights of California such as Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge. I'd entered expecting a relaxing viewing experience but instead left feeling a little giddy from the hydraulics, but it was a bonus however to get an up-close-and-personal look of the waterfalls cascading through Yosemite.

Up next was another schoolboy error in the form of the Grizzly River Run, which, while settling my partner and I's troubled stomachs with the shock of the cold water, left us a little too soggy a little too early, on a little too chilly day. Alas, despite the soaking it was every bit as fun for the kids as it was for the adults, and the ageing grandfather in our 8-berth tyre seemed to be enjoying himself as he gave us a running commentary.

Still early on and suitably saturated, we decided it was time to take a spin-dry in the form of California Screamin', an ominous-looking coaster towering over the other more child-oriented rides in the park, with all the speed and terror of Blackpool's Pepsi Max Big One, with an added launched lift hill and a vertical loop. You can imagine our disappointment then when we discovered it was shut due to breaking down while unfortunate riders sat at the top without a paddle.

Keeping positive we headed over to Hollywood Land and decided to sample the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The designers had clearly spared no expense in themeing this spooky ride, in which ghoulish bellboys watched us ominously as we 'checked in' and we were warned of the '13 minute queue time.' Before long we had entered an elevator and were being launched into the air, rising and falling as though the lift had gone completely bonkers. The ride peaked when we reached the top, and a window briefly opened to give us a sky-high view of the park, before the final perilous plunge. Given as we were expecting nothing more than a simple drop, we left the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror very satisfied customers indeed, and were disappointed not to find comment cards.

twilight zone tower of terror
Whoosh! The freefalling Tower of Terror


With the disappointment of California Screamin' still hanging over our heads we decided to try out a slightly more childlike ride, bypassing Cars Land and joining the queue on Paradise Pier for Toy Story Mania. Akin to the Buzz Lightyear Space Invaders game at Disneyland, this time round we were firing computerized foam balls at various cowboy-themed screens, aiming for increasingly difficult targets and trying tirelessly to achieve a high score. For all the queuing time, this was ten minutes of good clean fun, which could have been enjoyed by kids and adults alike, providing you don't take the competitive element too seriously.

Toy Story Mania
Mr Potato Head outside Toy Story Mania


After leaving Toy Story Mania it became obvious that the previously massive queues had suddenly dissipated. The reason? California Screamin' was back up and running, of course! After 2 minutes running like Mo Farrah and a further 2 of queuing, we were sat close to the front of arguably the best rollercoaster I've ever ridden. Kicking off with a countdown, we remained stationary, quivering with fear before being launched like a rocket into the air, flying through peaks and falls, reaching a climax in a vertical loop before another generous portion of speedy twists and turns. So impressed were we by the thrill and overall ride time, we proceeded to have two more consecutive rides, taking a little extra time to ride in the front seat, making it all the more scream-worthy.

California Screamin'
The perils of California Screamin'


By the time mid-afternoon came we were all screamed out and decided to end our California Adventure. In terms of queue times and ride choice, it didn't quite measure up to Disneyland, but California Adventure is the perfect place to spend a day if you're more into your Speedy Gonzales than Mickey Mouse.
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Why? To check out the adults' park!
Phone: (714) 781-4565
Where: California Adventure, Anaheim
Cost: $89
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