Even on a crowded day at Disney California Adventure there are so many magical things to experience. Use these tips to plan your day! It’s no surprise that both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks can get very crowded. The weekends are always crowded. When kids have breaks from school (summer, spring breaks, fall breaks, Christmas break etc.) you know that the parks are going to be busy. To give you a better idea of when the parks are typically busy you can check out my crowd calendar here.
Over 20 things to do on a crowded day!
Even though the parks can get crowded I’ve complied a list of over 20 things, in no certain order, you can do even on a busy day.
1 – One of the best places to go when it’s crowded or you just need a break is inside the Animation Building in Hollywood Land. There are soft, padded benches to rest on, you can watch Disney animated movie clips on giant screens and more. While inside the Animation Building you can draw, visit characters, see a show and more.
2 – While inside the Animation Building you can learn how to draw at the Animation Academy. Disney offers fun classes every half hour with different characters to draw. The classes and characters change daily. Just outside of the room you can view a schedule for the day.
3 – Turtle Talk with Crush is also located inside the Animation Building. This is an interactive show where Crush talks to the audience. It’s very entertaining plus you get a nice cushion seat and time to rest! Kids especially love chatting with Crush!
4 – Also look for the Socerer’s Workshop sign which is inside the Animation Building too. This is a walk through area of the building with interactive activities plus the Beast’s Library, one of my favorite hidden gems. Inside the Beast’s library you can watch the rose petals fall and watch the room transform from night to day. I just love to visit the library and explore this area because not many people know about it, plus you’re in the cool air!
5 – Also inside the Animation Building is a Character Close-up which is a meet and greet with Anna, Elsa and Olaf! Visit the Animation Building in Hollywood land there are so many things to do inside this one place.
Ideas involving food
6 – Take a Bakery Tour (3-5- minutes) hosted by Boudin Bakery on the Pacific Wharf. Plus get a sample of sourdough bread.
7 – Go watch them making candy apples or chocolate dipped treats at Trolley Treats! And pick up your own treat to snack on.
8 – Visit Ghirardelli at the Pacific Wharf for your free sample of chocolate. They used to hand it out at the front entry way, but now you need to go inside and ask for one at a register.
9 – Go relax at Lamplight Lounge. Ask for a seat out on the water so you can eat and or drink while you enjoy the views. They do take walk up appointments or try the Join Walk up List early in the day. Tips for dining here can be found in this post.
10 – Grab a seat on the sofa or cushioned chairs at Sonoma Terrace. This is a great place to grab a snack and relax for a bit.
11 – Redwood Creek Challenge is a large play area where parents can rest and kids get out their wiggles. You can explore the ropes play area, zip line, go down the slide and more. This is a great area away from the crowds!
12 – UPDATE – sadly this show has closed. Head over to the Hyperion Theatre and watch the Frozen broadway style musical in a cool comfy seat. This show is not available everyday, Sunday through Thursday normally. Check the entertainment schedule in the app or check the entertainment guide you can get at the front gates.
13 – Head over to the Sunset Showcase Theater and watch the cute Mickey’s Philharmagic show inside the air conditioned building with comfy seats.
14 – There are other park entertainment options too like the Disney Junior Dance Party, Guardians of the Galaxy Dance Off and more depending on the time of year. Check the official Disneyland app under entertainment on the day you’re in the park. Or grab an entertainment guide when you walk in the gates. Inside Avengers Campus there are more shows you can read about here.
15 – I love the single rider option. The following attractions have a single rider line in Disney’s California Adventure.
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Grizzly River Run
- Radiator Racers
- Silly Symphony Swings (new)
The single rider line entrance is at the same entrance as the ride you just tell them you want the single rider line. The line saves you time and is a great alternative on a busy day at the parks!
16 – Skip the long line for the Monsters Inc. ride if you have a group of 2 or less. This attraction offers a Buddy Pass. Just ask the cast member at the attraction entrance for a Buddy Pass. This option is for 2 people or they will also allow an adult and 2 small kids. You take the Buddy Pass and walk through the exit. You hand the cast member your Buddy Pass and you are one of the next guests on the ride. It’s that easy! The only other ride that offers this option is Toy Story Midway Mania.
17 – Similar to Monsters Inc. they sometimes offer a moving buddy pass for Toy Story Midway Mania. Just ask the cast member at the attraction entrance if they are offering the Moving Buddy Pass. This is not always an option. It depends on the crowd level that day at the park. You can use the Moving Buddy Pass for parties of 1, 2 or small party of 3 that can fit in one row only.
Just a tip about this option, on my last trip this was available in the afternoon but there were about 20 people in the Toy Story moving buddy line already. We decided it wasn’t worth the wait because the line only moves when there is an available row they need to fill in one of the attraction cars. So while this is a great option when there are only a few people in the moving buddy line, keep in mind that there’s no way to know how long you will wait. If there’s only a few people in the line then definitely take advantage of this option!
18 – Visit the Cozy Cone motel over in Carsland and look inside the window, find the hidden Buzz Lightyear! And while you’re there you can grab a bite to eat at one for the cones. Each cone serves different snacks and drinks!
19 – Explore in Carsland, go inside Sarge’s to see the Mini Carsland model. Pay attention to the details of the land model. Plus if you watch long enough you can see the neon signs light up all along Route 66. Or plan to be in Carsland at sunset and see it in person.
20 – Meet characters all over the park. I have a list of who you can currently meet and where over on this post.
21 – Locate Penny Press machines and make 51¢ souvenirs. To find the locations of the machines use the Disney app. Look in the app under Shops ➡️ choose the show list option ➡️ scroll down and find Pressed Coin Machines ➡️ Find on Map! There are SO many locations!
22 – On Buena Vista St. look for Molly the Messenger on her bicycle. She rides around with a mail pouch. If you see her ask her if she has any mail for you? Then wait for a fun surprise, a postcard signed from one of the characters. She’s one of several Citizens of Buena Vista Street that you can meet.
23 – Disney’s California Adventure Park is connected to The Grand Californian Hotel. You can access the hotel near the Grizzly River Run attraction. Inside explore the lobby, enjoy the A/C or grab a bite to eat at GCH Craftsman Grill previously known as White Water Snacks. Anyone can go in the hotel it’s not just for guests.
I have added a map below to show just how close the hotel is to the park. So next time you’re looking to escape the crowds go check out The Grand Californian Hotel, grab a bite to eat and cool off!
24 – Go to Downtown Disney for a bite to eat or shopping. Exit the park through the Grand Californian for a different path with A/C! Use the exit from the park near the Grizzly River Run attraction. Anyone can use the hotel entrance it’s not just for hotel guests.
See there’s plenty to do even on crowded days. Take advantage of the early morning hours to go on rides with minimal wait times. Then as the day progresses check off some or all of the items above and have a magical trip. For an idea of how to do this rides in what order at Disney California Adventure head to this post.
For tips on saving time use mobile ordering. And more crowd tips coming for Disneyland soon.
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