When we visited California this summer and made plans to go to Disneyland, we hadn't really thought much about going to Disney's California Adventure.  Long story short, we ended up purchasing our tickets directly from a friend of our friends who live in the Los Angeles area that happens to work at Disney... And, he totally hooked us up!  When we got them we realized they were actually park hopper tickets and we would have the opportunity to check out Disney's California Adventure too.  Thank you, Dustin!

After spending time at both parks, we would highly recommend going the park hopper route.  Disney's California Adventure is literally right across from Disneyland... as in less than 100 feet right across.  

It is totally worth buying park hopper tickets to be able to go from one park to the other throughout the day.  The difference in price is around $50 per ticket.  Plus, with purchasing the MaxPass (which can be used at each park) we were able to ride everything we wanted to and some things more than once! 

We spent the morning and early afternoon at Disneyland which you can read all about HERE.  Then, we walked on over to Disney's California Adventure for the remainder of the afternoon and most of the evening before wrapping up the night at Disneyland to see the fireworks show and ride a few more things.

First things first once we were in the park...

... coffee for me!  It is one of our favorite things that Disney now has Starbucks on property.

More map studying for him... Dave loves looking at the printed map to get his bearings of the parks. 

Our first ride was The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

Then we headed towards Soarin' Around the World, our first fastpass at California Adventure.

Next up, we walked through Hollywood Land which is really neat.  

We loved how every area in the park really made you feel like you were somewhere else.  

California Adventure has much more of a Pixar feel versus the traditional Disney feel.

After that, we ventured to "a bug's land" which has a fun little fair area for kiddos.  The only thing we ended up riding in this area was It's Tough to be a Bug.  There were a few other rides in the area, but all of them are pretty geared towards littles.  We still wanted to check it out, though!

We really wanted to ride Radiator Springs Racers which we ended up snagging a fastpass for between 7 and 8 PM.  We clearly had some time to kill before then so we walked around and got a snack.

First we walked through Cars Land which was super cute.  If you've seen the movie Cars, you will really appreciate this area. It's this area that really makes you appreciate the Pixar feel of the park.

Also, in true Disney fashion everything seems so real and larger than life.  This was especially true for this area of the park... I mean we literally felt like we were out west somewhere.

There were so many cool things to stop in and look at as we walked around like the Wine Tasting Terrace with the real live grapes included.

There was also an area where you could go to see interactive designs of the California Adventure Park including the development.  How neat is this!  It's crazy to think it all started with a mouse.

Next up, we headed to Pixar Pier to check out the Lamplight Lounge.  We had heard lots of great things about this place, including that it is the best place in the park to grab a cocktail.  

Yes, you read that correctly.  Disneyland does not serve alcohol, but Disney's California Adventure does which made it the perfect place to be on our schedule for late afternoon/early evening.

This is a pretty popular place and because of that, there was already a wait.  We opted to sit upstairs/outside in the upper lounge at the bar.  Although we enjoyed sitting outside and had a great view of this area of the park, the sun was beating behind us which made it not the most comfortable. 

Not only were the cocktails really tasty, but they were also really unique and fun.  It was the perfect stop to sit down and enjoy the slower pace Disney theme we were working this day.  We hardly ever (in fact I don't think have ever) really sit down to relax at Disney... relax and Disney just aren't in the same category. 

We were thankful we noted and listened to this recommendation, because it was the perfect little "us" time during a day of Disney.  For a snack we shared a tuna roll that was absolutely delicious.  

I (unfortunately) suffer from an avocado allergy.  The staff was great about accommodating our request to split the roll and substitute cucumber for the avocado on my half.  They were almost extreme when we mentioned it and even though it's not extremely serious, it was refreshing how attentive they were.  Disney does everything top notch and their attentiveness to this minor detail was no exception.  

After our snack we had some more time to kill before our next fastpass so we headed over to Grizzly Park for the Grizzly River Run.  We anticipated getting wet on this and thought it would probably be best to fit it in earlier in the evening before it got dark so the chance of drying out faster was in our favor.

Which ended up being a great idea because we both got pretty wet.  To the people that wear their ponchos on a ride like this... while it might be a pretty brilliant idea, are you really getting the full experience?  HA!

After that we headed back to Cars Land for our fastpass at Radiator Springs Racers.  Out of all the rides, this is the one that I was probably most excited for.  Sure enough, it lived up to and even exceeded my expectations.  It was my favorite ride in the park and bonus... we won!

We had one more fastpass secured for California Adventure, but it couldn't be used until between 9 and 10 PM.  Our plan was to hang out at the park until then and ride it as close to 9 as possible so that afterwards we could head back over to Disneyland for the fireworks and wrap up the night there. 

We headed back over to Pixar Pier to check out the wait time for California Screamin'.  This is a roller coaster and was really the only ride either of us was interested in riding in this area of the park.  The other rides were semi carnival like and included a ferris wheel and swings.  The coaster has a single rider option which was perfect because Dave was the only one of us that actually wanted to ride. 
Unfortunately, the coaster was having some issues and they didn't have as many carts running as usual so the wait time was going to be longer than Dave wanted to wait.  Usually with the single rider option, you're on the ride in no more than 15-20 minutes at most.  Dave opted not to wait, so this really ended up being the only ride that we he had interest in riding that we weren't able to get to.

After that we decided to grab dinner in the Pacific Wharf area right across from the Pier.  They have a great selection of food and restaurants in this area.  We grabbed a plate from Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill and a drink from Pacific Wharf Distribution Co... a food beer truck that had a great handcraft selection.

Next we went back over to Hollywood Land to be in the correct area for our fastpass since a light parade was scheduled to start soon.  We still had a little bit of time before we were able to use our fastpass so we rode Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!  This was the perfect little ride to fill the gap in time.

After that, we made our way over to our last ride in California Adventure for the day...
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Here's the thing - we reserved two fastpasses (one for each of us), but pretty much the entire time I knew there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to end up riding it.  I waited in line with Dave until right before you board the ride... to which I quickly bailed.  HA!  Just ask him about it!  Apparently he got a lot of grief about it from some guys waiting in line.  And, in case you are wondering the six year old did cry.

When Dave got off the ride, we were greeted immediately by the light parade.  Light parades at Disney are so great.  Heck, who are we kidding?  All parades at Disney are awesome!

We were literally right at the end of the parade and followed behind it towards the exit of the park.  We practically felt part of the parade and it really was so fun!  #futureDisneyemployees

Once we got to the exit we made a mad dash across to Disneyland to catch the fireworks.  If you missed it and want to read all about our time at Disneyland, you can see that HERE.

Disney's California Adventure was great!  You should definitely visit both parks if you're in Anaheim.  We had such a fun time and were thankful we had the opportunity to check this park off our Disney list.

We've been to MAGIC KINGDOM multiple times.

We checked out EPCOT last year for the first time as adults. 

We visited (and loved) ANIMAL KINGDOM this spring.

We only have one more Disney park to visit together (at least in the United States).  Now that Toy Story Land is officially open at Hollywood Studios in Orlando, it might be the encouragement we need as it fell at the bottom of our initial list.  Don't worry, Disneyland Resort in Paris, I've got my eye on you too!
Always try to get to your fastpass rides closest to the beginning time so that you can request another one as soon as you scan the one you're using.  This makes it possible to get more uses out of the day.

Definitely plan to get a park hopper ticket so you can go from California Adventure to Disneyland throughout the day... they are so close not to do this and you really can do both in one day.

Purchase the MaxPass to use with the Disneyland app to schedule fastpasses throughout the park.

Take advantage of having some downtime to grab a fun cocktail and/or try some of the great food available throughout the park.  You might even want to check into making a reservation!

With parades at night, it's important to plan where you need to be if you have any fastpasses to use during that time.  It can be hard to cut through a parade route if you don't think ahead.

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