If it's thrill rides that make your day, this is the part of Disney's California Adventure where you will be spending a great deal of your time in the Disneyland Resort. Paradise Pier combines the latest crazes in thrill rides with a classic carnival midway atmosphere, with lots of attractions and games of skill. You'll be zooming into the wild blue yonder and soon be gaining a new respect for the force of gravity. Thankfully, there are several rides for the youngsters and vacation-worn parents, too!
The landmark attraction of Paradise Pier, California Screamin' is a roller coaster that will take you from 0 to 55mph in less than five seconds. The track runs nearly two miles, and features a unique 360 degree loop incorporated into an icon of the world's most famous mouse. And, apparently just for the teenagers Disney is hoping to lure back from the other parks, there are several "scream tunnels" over the track to accentuate the lung capacity of the shrill of voice riding with you. Definitely the first point of attack in Paradise Pier for the thrill seekers.
"The Golden Zephyr" is a Buck Rogers spaceship ride that takes you high in the sky for a trip in
outer space... Well, maybe not quite that high, but certainly higher than the clunky models used in those old Buck Rogers
movies ever got. This one is much less frightening than some of the other rides in the park, so you can enjoy it with your
"Jumpin' Jellyfish" is a fantasy underwater parachute ride. You'll be taken high in the sky and gently released to experience a simulated ride on those diaphynous sea creatures.
"King Triton's Carousel" is a merry-go-round right out of Fantasyland, only this time you're riding sea creatures. It's fun for the younger set and their parents.
"The Sun Wheel" is a giant Ferris wheel with it enormous sunburst in the center, only there is a twist to this one. Some of the cars swing back and forth as the wheel turns in some bit more thrilling than your run-of-the-mill Ferris wheel were sure to try next time we visit. It's even fun for onlookers. From across the lagoon, it looks for all the world like the cars on the wheel are plunged into the water when they reach the bottom of the circle. But for young people taking their dates out for a scream, the top of the 150-foot ride, which is even taller than Disneyland's "Matterhorn", is the place to be. You'll have up lots of fun there.
"The Orange Stinger" is another Disney thrill ride that will launch you into the stratosphere. This time you're flying under a domed structure in the shape of a giant half-peeled orange atop a giant bumble bee vehicle. Oranges are very California, of course, but I never would have thought to make a ride out of one.
The "Maliboomer" is the gravity-defying ride that launches you 180 feet straight up, pushing your entire blood supply down into your shoes. And then it drops you back to Earth in, assuming you haven't lost consciousness, several nerve-wracking stages. Three towers launch riders up like the slug on the old "Test Your Strength" sledge hammer carnival game. Veteran park-goers compared it to the "Tower of Terror" ride in Disney/MGM Studios Theme Park in Walt Disney World (which is now also in California Adventure!). I compare it to the Marquis de Sade. When you ride the "Tower of Terror", you're inside a building. On the "Maliboomer", you're suspended in air. Definitely not for those who have spent the day snacking on junk food.
The "S.S. Rustworthy" is a great place to let the under-12 set burn off some energy. Its a play-zone in the shape of a fire pumper tugboat. Big, blustery fun for kids and a weigh station for weary parents.
Last, but not least, we have Mulholland Madness. Named after Mulholland Drive, the imfamous twisty road high above Los Angeles, "Mulholland Madness" is a bone-jarring ride on a mad-mouse roller coaster themed to satirize driving the Calfornia freeway system. Its aimed at the youngsters who aren't quite ready for the big coasters.
As mentioned before, in addition to the rides, Paradise Pier takes you back to the traveling carnivals of days gone by. "Games of the Boardwalk" are classic carnival arcade games like ring toss, shooting arcades, and more. Prizes and bravado abound in this throw-back to a bygone era of circuses and county fairs.
All this excitement certainly makes you work up an appetite, and there are several restaurants and food stations in Paradise Pier. Most notable is the "Avalon Cove Restaurant", originally run by legendary California chef Wolfgang Puck (shown here serving Disneyland Resort President Cynthia Harris). The menu here explores the many seafood delicacies California is known for. The balance of the outlets are tributes to the teenager, such as the "Burger Invasion" food stand operated by McDonalds, "Pizza Oom Mow Mow", "Malibu-ritos", and "Strips, Dips, and Chips". (Sadly, Mr. Puck has withdrawn his sponsorship of this restaurant since this review was written.)