California's Disneyland offer new thrills and comfy classics

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The biggest problem you may have when visiting Walt Disney’s original theme park in Anaheim, Calif., is how to divide your time between the classic Disneyland Park and the newly revamped Disney California Adventure.

It’s a good problem to have in "the world’s happiest place" as you bounce between these two fun-filled parks, trying to decide which thrilling adventure or mystical experience to soak up next.

On a recent trip, we had just under three days at Disney as part of our family’s California trip. And while the entire trip could have been a few days longer, we packed as much entertainment punch as humanly possible into our seven-day whirlwind tour.

And Disney was no exception, where the side-by-side parks blend the classic feel of Walt Disney’s earliest characters and stories such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with the newer California Adventure.

You probably won’t have the luxury of seeing everything in both parks in just two or three days. But the recent Cars Land in California Adventure is a must-see.

Inspired by Cars, Pixar’s computer-generated film, Cars Land opened in 2012 as the centrepiece of the reconstructed park. It includes the fictitious town of Radiator Springs — which recreates stretches of America’s legendary Route 66 through Arizona and Oklahoma — and offers three new rides for classic car and motor vehicle enthusiasts.

Radiator Springs Racers is by far the top ride in Cars Land. In true Disney fashion, this ride brings the film characters and storyline from Cars to life as you drive through indoor and outdoor scenery in a six-passenger convertible race car. You experience a near-crash with Mack the big-rig truck and pass through either Ramone’s for a paint job or Luigi’s for a tire change.

Eventually you reach the highlight of the ride — a one-on-one race with your closest competitor that speeds around hair-pin turns, over hills and through desert mountains. It’s pretty thrilling. Even the randomly selected winners have an unavoidable urge to celebrate victory.

California Adventure is a wonder to behold as you enter through its replica version of Buena Vista Street, Los Angeles circa 1920, where the budding artist Walt Disney first arrived in California.

Once you’re in, I highly recommend Toy Story Midway Mania, a delightfully fun 4D interactive ride inspired by Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story film. The sophisticated ride allows riders to shoot targets and rack up points in a friendly competition with others.

To get in on Grizzly Peak, too, a wet-and-wild white-water rapids ride that’s great on a hot day. For the roller coaster enthusiasts — I’m not one, but my kids are — there’s California Screamin’ — a state-of-the art, heart-pounding thriller that plunges you from a peak of almost 40-metres.

When you’ve had enough of that side of the resort, you can jump back to Disneyland Park where there’s an endless number of classic

Disney rides and attractions, including my favourite: Indiana Jones Adventure.

I’m not a ride guy, but this fast-paced journey on a 12-person vehicle through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, where you encounter a giant venomous snake, survive a collapsing bridge and narrowly avoid molten lava was so much fun I had to go a second time.

In the evenings, don’t miss the World of Colour, an outdoor 25-minute water show with lights, fire, dramatic music and a mist screen used to project clips from classic Disney movies.

And while fireworks may seem run-of-the-mill, you’ve never seen fireworks until you’ve seen Disney fireworks, a popular evening activity in Disneyland Park where thousands gather along Main Street USA to enjoy the breathtaking show.

This is a magical place. And you just can’t go wrong visiting.


— Disneyland:

— Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. There’s no comparison to staying on resort if you visit Disneyland. Early, easy and exclusive walking access to both parks is the primary reason. The Grand Californian, where we stayed, is an extension of the Disney fun, filled with Disney themes and live Disney characters throughout the hotel and its restaurants. Try to get a room overlooking the parks: