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Last updated: July 10, 2023
WALKING The three Disneyland Resort hotels are walking distance from the parks. The Grand Californian includes an entrance that puts you in the Grizzly Peak section of the park. The Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel are also easy walks to the park.
DRIVING Disney California Adventure has four parking sections. The main parking areas are the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking garages, which you can get to directly from I-5, Disneyland Drive, or Ball Road.
The garages are connected to Downtown Disney and the theme parks by Disney trams.
If you'd prefer to walk from the garages, it's about a mile from the garages to the parks' gates. You can cut south to Downtown Disney and use the pedestrian bridge on the Pixar Pals garage's south side to cross over Magic Way and access the sidewalk past the parking lot.
The most convenient parking area is the Toy Story lot south of the corner of Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard, This lot also accommodates oversize vehicles like buses and RVs, with shuttles and walking paths to the parks.
All of the parking areas open about 60 minutes before the parks. But you should try to arrive around 75 minutes before opening to be near the front of the line of cars waiting to park.
No matter how or when you arrive, you'll go through Disney's metal detectors and baggage screening on the ground floor of the garage on the way to the parks.
THE ENTRANCE TO DCA faces the entrance to Disneyland Park across a brick-paved pedestrian plaza called the Esplanade. If you arrive by tram from one of the Disney parking lots, you'll get dropped off at the Esplanade.
Facing east toward Harbor Boulevard, Disneyland Park will be on your left and DCA will be on your right.
In the Esplanade are ticket booths, the group sales office, and resort information.
Seen from overhead, DCA is roughly arrayed in a fan shape around the park's central visual icon, Grizzly Peak.
Most guests will enter the park by walking through the main entrance at the end of the Esplanade. Once inside the park, you'll walk down Buena Vista Street, which is DCA's version of Main Street, U.S.A.
At the end of Buena Vista Street is a hub, which is the central point from which all of the park's lands radiate.
You'll find seven themed 'lands' at DCA. A left turn at the hub leads you to Hollywood Land, celebrating California's history as the film capital of the world. Grizzly Peak is reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest woods, while Pacific Wharf nods to Monterey's Cannery Row.
You'll get to Grizzly Peak by taking the first right as you approach the hub. Pacific Wharf is situated along a lake; get there by following the walkway from the hub's 7 o'clock position and walk around Grizzly Peak.
The fourth land, Pixar Pier, recalls a seaside amusement park of the Victorian era that's been invaded by computer-generated cartoons. It's in the southwest corner of the park, on the far side of the large lake.
Cars Land is the sixth land, with its primary entrance across from the Golden Vine Winery.
Finally, Avengers Campus, dedicated to Marvel's Super Heroes, is sandwiched between Cars Land and Hollywood Land.
IN THE MORNING, all off-site visitors and Disneyland Hotel guests must enter Disney California Adventure through the park's main entrance; only hotel guests from the Grand Californian and Paradise Pier are allowed through the Grand California's private DCA entrance into DCA before 11 a.m.
The Grand Californian entrance is often overwhelmed in early mornings, and guests using it reach the rope-drop area far behind those coming through the main entrance, so you may save time by walking to the front gate.
All guests will be allowed through the main entrance at least 30 minutes before official park opening. Guests who are not eligible for early-entry will be held on Buena Vista Street until after a brief rope drop musical fanfare at the official opening time.
If you want to ride Radiator Springs Racers or WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure first, head to the right of Carthay Circle. If you want to see Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: Breakout!, head to the left outside Hollywood Land.
Once the park opens, you and the rest of the crowd will be walked toward your destination to avoid a stampede.
As much as we also hate Disney's nickle-and-dime-ing, our honest advice is to bite the bullet and buy Genie+ anyway, especially if you plan on park hopping.
In terms of dollars and cents, the cost of Genie+ at Disney California Adventure is roughly $7 to $15 per hour saved - and lower if you park hop over to Disneyland.
If you are only visiting DCA during a slow time of year, or are spreading out your resort visit over four or more days, you can probably get away without Genie+.
Individual Lightning Lane, on the other hand, are more available but far less valuable. In particular, the two rides at DCA selling Individual Lightning Lane access also offer single-rider lines, providing a free option to waiting standby.
While we endorse buying Genie+, we don't recommend buying Individual Lightning Lane unless you're visiting on a busy day and have to ride Radiator Springs Racers.
SOME DCA ATTRACTIONS feature time-saving single-rider lines that can greatly reduce your wait in exchange for being briefly separated from your friends and family.
Better still, none of DCA’s single-rider queues bypass important preshow elements, so you aren’t missing out on anything by taking advantage of them.
A similar system called Buddy Pass, which can be used by small groups of up to two adults plus one lap-seated child, is occasionally available at Toy Story Midway Mania! and Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! Ask at the attraction entrance about how to access this shortcut.
See all Disney California Adventure single-rider lines.
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