I’ve already written an in-depth list of tips and information about visiting Disney’s California Adventure with a chronic illness, and you can read that here. Today, I’m going to instead focus on tackling this awesome park with a baby bump!
I’ve already covered some pregnancy travel basics and you can check out my Disneyland post for some more info on the Diamond Celebration and pregnancy/handicap accommodation. The Diamond Celebration was less present in the California Adventure park, but they still had the treats and souvenirs for the event along with some decoration. There was one new show as well that I’ll talk about later in the post in the entertainment section. There I will also address some points on California summer weather that were not covered in the last two articles – and you’ll see why when you get there.
So, let’s dive straight on in to talking about the rides! As I stated last time, I did not ride any rides with a pregnancy warning on them…..except one. JUST ONE, and it was one that I was very familiar with. I am not a doctor, and I do not advise ignoring any health warnings posted on any ride. Once I come to the ride in question on which I chose to take the risk and ignore the warnings, I will explain why I thought it was okay, and I’ll explain the dynamics of the ride in depth. But this is a serious disclaimer: The people writing ride warnings know better than me!
Also, like Disneyland, the list of unsafe rides is very short: California Screamin, Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, Cars Racers, Tuck and Roll’s Bumper Buggies, and the Tower of Terror.
Animation Academy: This is one of my favorite things to do in California Adventure. It’s a quick drawing class and they do tons of different characters every day. They make it so easy to follow that kids and artistically challenged adults alike will come away with a decent sketch, and it’s one of the few free souvenirs you can get in the Disney parks. If you’re a good artist, you probably like drawing anyway, and you get to draw with real animation paper with a real Disney artist.
The class is also pretty short, I’d say 15-20 minutes. So pregnant ladies, your butt won’t even start to hurt! Plus the chairs are cushy. I happened to walk up when they were doing an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit class – he’s got a simple design but he’s one of my FAVORITE characters ever.
The Golden Zephyr: This ride is just so cool. It has such a cool look and I’ve never seen another ride like it. It was a smooth spin that was fast but not too fast and high but not too high. It’s also cool because it gives you a stunning view of the boardwalk and it flies you out over the water.
The last time we were there this ride was closed, and I hear that it is closed very often. Apparently wind can be a big issue for this ride. If it’s open, give it a whirl!
King Triton’s Carousel: I am happy to say that motion sickness stayed at bay for this ride as well. This is just a fun spin on your typical carousel, substituting brightly colored sea creatures for horses. Who doesn’t love a carousel?
Ariel’s Undersea Adventure: This is Disney’s newest dark ride and I’ve already waxed poetic on how awesome it is. The anamatronic effects and advanced animated projections are a must SEA (oh, whipping out puns now). The line moves very quickly because the ride is non-stop, plus there are lots of places to sit your pregnant butt and rest. This time around, the ride got stuck very briefly but there was such an overwhelming amount of things to see that I didn’t mind at all. I appreciated a chance to get a better look at the amazing Under the Sea scene.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel: This is two rides in one. There are swinging gondolas and classic gondolas. Last time, hubs and I rode the swinging variety, and while there’s no pregnancy warning on them, I would seriously not advise riding those while pregnant. You can read about our non-pregnant ride here, and see that it’s a good bit more terrifying than you’d think a Ferris wheel could be.
This time, we stuck to a classic gondola. The wheel turns fast enough to give a little thrill without bringing on nausea. It also goes very high, giving you stunning views of the park and Anaheim. It also frightens me just a little – just enough to be fun and not so much that I’m going to faint or anything. Definitely check out this iconic ride.
Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue: This ride is a little off the beaten path so there’s never a line. Every time we’ve ridden it, we’ve been able to walk right on. It’s a classic dark ride, and I love it. I love the effects, I love the anamatronics, the huge room of doors is amazing, and I always tear up at the little goodbye to Boo at the end. Don’t miss this hidden gem!
The Cars Radiator Springs Racers: Here it is, the controversy. This ride has a pregnancy warning. It’s also the newest, most popular ride in California Adventure. Getting a fastpass is the only way to ride it, the line is always crazy long. In fact, even the fastpass wait felt a little excessive.
So, why did I ride it despite the warning? I mean it’s just a Cars ride, I don’t even like Cars that much. But this ride is super cool. Plus, I love going fast. I’m not a big adrenaline junkie, but I’m a sucker for speed rides. And having ridden this one before, I felt confident that I would be safe.
Let’s start with some ride specs. First, the ride warnings categorize this as a thrill ride. Warnings include “Dark, Loud, and Small Drops.” It’s got “race” in the title, but you’re only going to be going about 40 mph. Like most rides, the speed sounds low but feels fast. The cars themselves have seats and seat belts almost exactly like your car at home.
I’d ridden it before and knew how the ride played out. The entire first half is like a dark ride – you drive slowly through anamatronic scenes and cruise through some outdoor areas with waterfalls and cool things like that. There’s some swerving, but this ride is so new and so smooth that I can honestly say that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was much more jarring. This one never jerked me around or took rough turns.
Then there’s the “thrill” half. You race. The cars don’t rocket off either. The start to the race is a smooth acceleration, it’s not like fast start rides such as the Rockin Roller Coaster, California Screamin, or Six Flag’s Mr. Freeze. If it had a rocket start like that, I would not have ridden it.
The race is 40 mph and takes you around wide bends and up and down some small hills. The drops are very mild and never lift you from your seat or make you get “butterflies,” it just feels like some rolling ups and downs. The ride slows to a short dark ride section at the end with more scenes and anamatronics before coming to a peaceful stop.
I chose to ride it because I didn’t feel it was any more unsafe than driving my car at home. In fact, it felt much safer. I never went highway speeds and these cars never wreck, so I judged the risk to be minimal. Again, I’m not a doctor or a physicist or a ride expert. I did read a lot of reviews online from pregnant women who either risked it or rode it without knowing there was a restriction, and they all had similar accounts.
I do want to make clear that I was in my second trimester, and the reviews I read were moms in their first and second trimesters. A few said that they would not have ridden it in their third trimester. But these are also unprofessional opinions and it’s always better to talk to your doctor or just not take the risk.
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: I’m going to be honest. We only came here for the character meet and greet. But strolling around the trails was actually really nice, and this area is huge. There are playgrounds, ziplines, rock walls, tunnels, and way more that we didn’t even get to see. Not a great area when you’re pregnant, but keep it in mind if you ever need to take your kids’ energy levels down a peg.
Silly Symphony Swings: This is the only ride with no pregnancy restrictions that I would advise skipping. I love this ride, I love the concept of it, and I’ve ridden swing rides all my life and never gotten sick. But for some reason, this time around it made me super queasy. It’s hard to bounce back from nausea, too, so I definitely wished I had skipped it.
I was surprised, especially because other round-about rides hadn’t made me feel ill at all. Dumbo, the carousel, the Ferris Wheel, I never felt sick once. My smarty-brains sister explained that it was probably the centrifugal force felt because you are on ropes instead of a bar, which means you’re being pushed out from the center, and that’s much more likely to make you hurl than riding in a circle with no outward-pushing force. She’s wise, that one.
Soarin’ Over California: This is probably the biggest thrill ride with no pregnancy warning in the park. It’s great fun and really gives you the sensation of flying over fields and the ocean and stuff. It does use artificial scents. I heard that in the past, the scents tended to come a bit late – so you’d fly over an orange grove but you wouldn’t get the scent until the next scene. That’s all fixed and updated now!
It is essentially a virtual reality ride. There’s no 3D, but you are on moving seats in front of a very large screen. It didn’t give me any kind of motion sickness, but if you’re prone to that you might avoid it. It’s much gentler than other virtual reality rides (like Star Tours, which does have a pregnancy warning), and all the motions are sweeping and smooth. This is one of my favorites.
Toy Story Midway Mania: Like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the thrill from this ride comes from the interactivity and competition aspect. Unlike Buzz’s version, this one is 100% animated and projected on screens, rather than using anamatronics. It is in 3D, so if 3D glasses bother you you might skip it. The line is also outside in the hot, so try to do this one early or late in the day. When we were leaving, they were handing out etch-a-sketches for the wait, and that looked like fun. I’m sad we missed that.
The ride itself is awesome, the games are challenging and every time you ride, it’s different. Everything reacts to your actions, and it’s extremely fast-paced. It does jerk you around a little, but it never hurt my stomach. Just a little jolting sometimes. If you can stomach 3D, definitely give it a go.
Like my Disneyland post, this list of rides is shorter than my last visit. Again, peak season is tough and waits are much longer. If you can give yourself more than one day in the parks and you’re going during the peak season, do it!
Now, lets talk about the entertainment!
Meet Anna and Elsa: This was our first stop of the day because we just knew the line would be insane. But first thing in the morning, our wait was maybe 15 minutes. They’re in the animation building, and you get to go into a room with Ana and Elsa all to yourself for pictures and talking. I was surprised at how much time they devoted to us! They were very excited by our gender-guessing game and spent a lot of time thinking it over. They asked about our family history, what I’d been craving, and they were the only characters to ask what other characters had thought.
Anna surmised that since most of my cravings have been for ice cream and snow cones and cold food, our baby might very well have ice powers. I’m hoping so. In Texas they can make a good living that way.
Aladdin – The Musical Spectacular: This show closed for a while, so I was really excited to see it had reopened! We had seen it once before, but I’m so glad we went again. They’ve added a lot of new stuff, including some AMAZING magic carpet flight over the audience! We were sitting close to the stage, but it might be worth checking out the balcony to get a good view of that amazing carpet flying.
The wait was not the funnest, but since no one moves until the doors open you can sit down. Once inside, the seats are very comfy. The show is a little long (45 minutes) so you might need to shift around a little, but it’s not too bad.
The Frozen Sing Along: Ugh. You know, this is one of those things that Disney really didn’t need to put much effort in to. Just get Anna and Elsa up there with a screen and go through the songs. It would be pretty difficult to mess this up.
AND SOMEHOW THEY MESSED IT UP.
Anna and Elsa don’t come out until the very end for a reprise of Let it Go. What goes on for the entire rest of the show? Historians from Arendelle. Boring historians telling the story of Frozen. I laughed maybe once. They did show clips from the movie, but most of the time they had a power point of movie stills. WTF.
They do have some snowfall and the projections on the walls that change the scenery were pretty creative, but other than that it was completely underwhelming.
The seats were comfy and it wasn’t crowded. Honestly the best part was watching the very dramatic little girls around us do their version of the songs. Overall? I’d say skip it. The more I think about it, the more I want to rant and rave. IT WAS SO EASY, DISNEY. HOW. HOW DID YOU DO THIS.
Ugh. We need to move on.
The Pixar Play Parade: Last time we were in the parks we saw this from the top of the Fun Wheel. Boy, did we miss out. This is not just any normal parade. The whole thing is built around water guns. Every float squirts and sprays and splashes, and it’s just crazy how creative they got with it. You WILL get wet, they won’t miss you.
We sat on a curb outside of the Aladdin theater in the shade, which is right at the beginning of the parade route. We got our spots maybe ten minutes before the parade start and it really didn’t get too crowded. I was able to stay sitting for the whole thing, which is awesome. Check it out, it’s very unique.
World of Color: California Adventure’s nighttime show has gotten a special re-writing for the Diamond celebration. Usually, the show goes through a lot of Disney movies and songs, projecting scenes onto sprayed fans of water and shooting huge water jets and laser lights everywhere. The concept is basically the same, but instead of Disney classics they take a more historical route. Neil Patrick Harris hosts the new show and talks about Walt Disney, how his studio began, and then still goes through many movies and songs like the show did before.
I liked the additions, but a lot of people don’t. I can honestly understand why they prefer the original World of Color. The idea of telling the true story of the Walt Disney Studios is very cool, but the execution ends up feeling a little scatterbrained and unorganized. I still really enjoyed it though, and it’s a limited time show that you won’t be able to see once the Diamond Celebration ends, so definitely check it out.
Like Fantasmic, it will behoove you to get a Fastpass to see this show. All a fastpass does is guarantee you a spot in a viewing area. Without one, you’ll be watching the show from very far back, and it may be difficult to see over the crowd. I’m short, so even being close to the front I had some trouble seeing.
Now, you may remember that the last time we saw World of Color we were there in December. And with a show that is entirely based on water spraying around in the air, walls of mist ensured that we were soaked. I was so cold afterwards that we had to stop in every shop on the way to the door trying to warm up. Why am I telling you all this?
Because even in the summer, California gets weirdly cold at night. I was wearing a little sundress and I was cold before I got wet. This was actually WORSE than it was in December, though, because all the shops were blasting AC. There was NO PLACE to warm up. Nowhere. And we still had to get dinner.
So I bought a very expensive sweatshirt. Again, good on you California for at least selling warm clothes. But would it kill you to turn on a heater at night?
Ah well. The shirt is cute. And speaking of dinner, let’s see some PREGNANT LADY FOOD. Yum yum yum.
Breakfast of Champions: Churros and Vitamin Water
Lunch at the Cozy Cone in Cars Land – the twisty bagel was way too big, so I shared with the birds. Hubs got the Chili Cone Queso. We waited too long to eat lunch, so we really dug in and forgot to take pictures. Enjoy this photo I stole from google search:
PS: A lot of these photos are stolen from google. I didn’t take as many pics as usual because I was pregnant and on vacation, so I cut myself some slack.
I want ice cream now break: Mickey Ice Cream Bar and Olaf Frozen Fruity Popsicle thing for hubs. When the lady gave them to us she warned us to be careful not to get our tongues stuck. They keep these babies VERY cold, which is good. They’re hard as a rock at first, but we got through eating them with no meltage.
Dinner: Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney. Again, we waited too long to eat and took no photos, but this place is awesome because they have a lot of hot sandwich options. I’m surprised at how much I miss my cold cuts. This was a nice way to indulge that sandwich craving. You can see a bit of my sandwich in the “I’m cold so I bought a sweatshirt” pic.
We also bought vinylmation while we were in Downtown Disney, and we DID take a picture of them. So here you go.
And that’s it! A full, successful Disney trip, baby bump and all. All in all, I’d say it was just as much fun as going sans pregnancy. Sure, I missed some of the bigger rides, but with the crowds of the peak summer season, I don’t think I’d have made it to all of them anyway without staying longer. My one regret is not wearing better shoes.
So there you have it. You can travel and even do an amusement park like Disney when you’re pregnant with no trouble. Plan ahead and you’ll have a great time! The second trimester is the sweet spot for pregnancy travel for sure. I felt too sick in my first trimester, and even though I’m not quite to my third yet, I’m already feeling much bigger and more sluggish. Plus, you don’t want baby to make a surprise appearance at a disney park!
…Okay, maybe you kind of secretly do. I mean that would make an awesome story. But it’s better to have a baby at home with doctors and no roller coasters involved. Probably.