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Disneyland – Avoiding the Cars Land Crush

As I wrote about last week, my family recently took a trip to Disneyland with a fairly large group of adults and young children.  Since my daughter is a big fan of “Lightening A’Queen” (as she calls him), we were excited to explore the new Cars Land attractions in the California Adventure Park.  The only problem is that a lot of other visitors shared our interest!

Cars Land and parts of the California Adventure park in general was pretty packed for our whole visit, leading to a little bit of stress with little ones in tow.  Here are a few tips if you choose to visit this new attraction any time soon.

1) Visit in cooler weather: We happened to visit during a heat wave and we suffered a bit because of that.  The Cars Land area of the park is meant to look like Route 66 desert terrain and there is not a lot of cover or shade as a result.  Combined with the larger crowds, you can get hot quickly.  I think this area would be better in the fall or winter.

2) Single rider lines are a must!Radiator Springs Racers is the “thrill ride” of the new Cars Land and lines can get really bad.  One strategy for avoiding some of the 1-2+ hour waits in the regular line is to use the Single Rider line.  Waits were about 30-35 minutes in this line on a weekend in early September when we were there.  Of course, if you have younger kids who will want to sit next to you on the ride, this may not be a viable option.

3) Be prepared for Fastpasses to go quickly: Radiator Springs Racers also offers Fastpass, another way to avoid the longest lines as well as keep your party together.  The only problem is that Fastpasses are often long gone about an hour or two after park opening.  A good strategy is to send a runner in your group to get Fastpasses as soon as the park opens.  Be prepared for that person to be in line for 15-20 minutes or more just to get Fastpasses.

4) Arrive early: I know I must sound like a broken record on this one, but this is the single best piece of advice I can give you for any Disney park, California Adventure included.  The park is at it emptiest at opening time.  Arrive 15-30 minutes before gates open to take advantage of lighter crowds.  Bonus — if you are staying in a Disneyland resort, California Adventure opens 1 hour early for you!  Currently this “Extra Magic Hour” is being offered every day of the week, but later in the fall, it will only be available 4 days a week.  Take advantage!  (Note: Extra Magic Hour is different than the Magic Morning option, which provides early entry to anyone with a special multi-day park hopper ticket that can be purchased by non-Disney hotel guests).

5) Visit the rest of the park instead: Even though Cars Land could be stressful and crowded at times, the rest of the two Disneyland parks were easy because there were fewer people elsewhere.  They were all in Cars Land!  If your little one isn’t obsessed with Mater and company, I highly recommend that you explore the rest of the park and enjoy the light crowds.  One morning (a Saturday no less), my family and I hit Fantasyland in the Disneyland Park and were able to do 7 rides, plus meet a princess, in less than an hour.  Although we always visit on the off-season, we all commented that we’d never seen Disneyland so empty!

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Anne Hawkins

Thursday 6th of June 2013

We're planning a trip in September with all three little ones (post-San Diego wedding and exploring). Ben is currently obsessed with Cars and we figured this would be the only thing we'd really focus on, so this is all really helpful...I'll be trolling around your blog a bit more for Disneyland-related advice!

Dan

Thursday 27th of September 2012

These are great tips. Getting there early for a Fastpass is a must if you want to ride Radiator Springs Racers. We were fortunate enough to talk with a guest relations employee who told us to get there 30 min before park opening. You can get in past the turnstiles and then get in line for a Fastpass before the park officially opens. We took it a step further by splitting our group, so one person waited for Fastpass while the rest ran over to the ride and got in line at opening. When we reconnected in line, we had Fastpasses in hand and were near the front of the queue. We basically got to go on the ride twice in a row because of this trick. I'm not sure that we would have got on the ride even once without the Fastpasses.