You’d think that temperatures hitting 115 degrees this month in Anaheim would deter people from visiting Disney’s California Adventure theme park. Perhaps they’d want to wait until the December holiday season when the weather is much cooler. But with the recent opening of Pixar Pier and the Incredicoaster, plus kids on summer vacation, nothing can keep people (myself included) away! The heat can be brutal. That leads to epic meltdowns amongst kids and adults alike. But you can have a fun time without feeling like a melted snowman the whole day. Here are 5 hot ways to stay cool at Disney’s California Adventure:
#1: Get there early before the sun is at its peak
This is my number one piece of advice to anyone visiting a Disney theme park in general. But it especially applies here. The first few hours tend to be the least crowded of the day. So you can really get a lot done in that time. Check the Disney California Adventure website for park hours and be sure to arrive at least a half hour before opening time. You’ll need time to get through parking, security, and the main gate entrance.
Check off your must-do attractions while the lines are at their shortest in the morning. Then, once the sun is peaking around noon, you can take it easy and enjoy the AC indoors.
#2: Use FASTPASS or MaxPass
Disney now offers two ways to avoid standing in long lines. FASTPASS is free to all park guests, while MaxPass is a premium paid service ($10 per person per day). Both offer the same basic benefit of avoiding the stand-by line. Basically, you’re assigned a specific return time when you can typically walk on to the ride with little wait.
However, MaxPass has the added convenience of allowing you to request your FASTPASS (FP) through your mobile device from anywhere within the park. Without it, you’d have to go to the physical location of the attraction to get your FP. When the concrete is hot enough to fry eggs on, not having to criss cross the park to get your FPs can seem well worth the extra expense. Either way, be sure to use one of these services so that you can avoid standing in long lines at peak sun times.
If you HAVE to wait in a stand-by line for a popular “e-ticket” ride, my vote is for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Half the queue for that ride is indoors. So even if the wait is over an hour, you’ll find yourself enjoying the strong AC for a good part of that time. There’s also lots of entertainment along the way. Soarin’ Around The World’s queue is also partly indoors. However, it doesn’t have as much to keep you entertained, aside from the safety video right before you board. Contrarily, the entire queue for Radiator Springs Racers is un-airconditioned. That said, it does have water misters and some shaded areas to keep people from getting heat stroke.
#3: Do the indoor attractions mid-day when it’s hottest outside
When visiting any theme park during hot weather, I like to do the big ticket and outdoor rides first if possible. That way, once the sun reaches its peak around noon, we can take it easy and do the attractions that generally have shorter lines or are entirely indoors. This is a super helpful way to stay cool at Disney’s California Adventure (DCA). Indoor attractions that tend to have relatively shorter wait times are The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Disney Junior Dance Party!, and Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! Or if you really want to sit a while to rest, there’s the Frozen – Live at the Hyperion show and Pixar Shorts Film Festival at Sunset Showcase Theater.
My personal favorite place to cool down during mid-day is The Disney Animation Building in Hollywood Land. This indoor oasis contains several attractions, all heavily air-conditioned, and great for kids. They can learn to draw a character in Animation Academy, explore the Sorcerer’s Workshop, meet Anna & Elsa, and enjoy the totally awesome interactive show at Turtle Talk with Crush. You can also just sit in the main lobby area and watch scenes from animated Disney classics projected onto the walls. It’s not lost on me that “In Summer” from FROZEN is one of the scenes playing on repeat here for all the guests trying to escape the heat!
Die hard Disney fans can also enjoy the frigid air inside the Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar which houses exhibits on recent and upcoming additions to the park. You can find it in a small stand alone building next to Mendocino Terrace.
I’m not a huge fan of getting wet while wearing regular clothes, but if you want to be completely soaked in water, then Grizzly River Run is the thrill ride for you. Sadly, the only splash pad for kids in the entire Disneyland Resort, Princess Dot Puddle Park, will be closing with a bug’s land in September.
#4: Bring an insulated water bottle
I once saw a family of five in Disneyland that had completely filled the entire lower basket of their stroller with plastic water bottles for their visit. First of all, that must’ve been a super heavy stroller to push around. Secondly, who wants to drink water from a plastic bottle that’s been sitting in the sun all day. And lastly, what a waste of money and plastic!
You can get free water and ice at every dining location in the resort, not to mention the water fountains outside every public restroom location. We always bring our own insulated metal water bottles from home. Fill them once with ice and water, and because they’re insulated (unlike a regular plastic bottle) the ice stays cold for up to 12 hours or more!
My kids have Foogo by Thermos bottles that we got from Target. I have a super tall Hydracentials bottle that is sold at Walmart and Amazon. I care so strongly about being eco-friendly that I started a personal blog about my green family lifestyle, as our regular readers may recall. But having reusable bottles has helped more than the environment. They’ve helped our wallets too! One plastic bottle of water inside the park costs around $3. We’ve had our reusable bottles for YEARS so I can’t even begin to calculate the cost savings.
Of course you can refill a regular plastic water bottle too. That is better than buying a new one every time you get thirsty. And one step better for the planet as well. So no judgements here if that’s the way you choose to go.
#5: Eat a meal in an air-conditioned restaurant
After a long morning of ride-hopping, I’m usually starving by lunchtime and ready to take a load off my feet. For counter service dining with indoor seating, there’s Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe, Flo’s V8 Cafe, and Smokejumpers Grill (my son loves the self-serve fixin’s bar there!). If you feel like splurging on a really excellent table service meal, go for Carthay Circle. This is one of the best restaurants in the entire Disneyland resort property. My husband loves the burger there, which also happens to be one of the best-priced items on their menu. If you can’t get a reservation, or the prices are outside your budget, consider the walk-in-only Carthay Circle Lounge. We actually prefer eating here to upstairs when we’ve got our kids, because it’s casual enough for them to walk around during the meal, but snazzy enough to use cloth napkins.
Wine Country Trattoria and the newly opened Lamplight Lounge both have some indoor (as well as outdoor) seating and are table service restaurants. If you don’t have a reservation, you may be able to get a walk-in table, but the wait will be longer for indoors on a hot day!
***Bonus tip to stay cool at Disney’s California Adventure***
Whether you eat indoors or outside, don’t forget to enjoy a frozen treat! The most popular one right now is the yellow ice slushie from
Abominable Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats at Pixar Pier. That line is regularly 30+ minutes at peak time though, so consider the alternatives: Clarabelle’s Hand-scooped Ice Cream, Cozy Cone Motel, or one of the many pre-packaged ice cream carts scattered around the park. My personal favorite frozen treat spot remains the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, where you get a free chocolate sample just for walking in!