I have a niece and nephew visiting from Michigan. We went out whale watching today from Dana Point (saw at least two blue whales and a mother and calf fin whale, and hundreds of common long-nose dolphin). Then Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Tomorrow, it’s California Adventure in Anaheim (where I’ve never been).
It was a long day, but we had a good time. Advice in the comments about getting there early for the Cars Racers is right — they were sold out of Fast Pass, and the wait was in the two-hour range for the bulk of the day. But we saw everything else (that we wanted to Bugs — the insects, not the Bunny, which is a different cartoon franchise– World was worth a miss unless you had little kids), and toward the end of the day, we went in the singles line, and only waited twenty-five minutes. Since the car seating is three and three, it’s not that big a deal to split up the party anyway, and it actually gave the kids an opportunity to race each other instead of being in the same car.
My overall verdict: like an alternate-universe Disneyland, with more California flavor (the restaurant we ate at had vineyards leading up to it), and with more modern, as opposed to classic characters. Disneyland has Cinderella’s Castle, CA has the Mermaid. Disneyland has Thunder Mountain, CA has Grizzly Rapids. Disneyland has Frontierland and Tom Sawyer’s Island, CA has the Redwood hiking/rope trail. I’m not a roller coaster connoisseur, but California Screamin’ seemed to pull some good gees, particularly backward at the launch. And I have to say that the World of Color light/water/flaming-gas-jets show was pretty spectacular. I was impressed by the power of the pumps that could generate eighty feet of head, and the precision and control over the valves. I’d never seen lasers painting on mist before. No one, including Disney, could have done this twenty years ago, I think, without modern computer technology. And we got a bonus of watching the early fireworks display across the way at Disneyland. So definitely worth a do once.