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The must-see Hollywood Land at Disneys California Adventure

Tower of Terror thrill ride

Photo of theTwilight Zone Tower of Terror thrill ride at Disney's California seen behind a purple-flowering jacaranda tree in May Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure has several attractions that you WON'T want to miss!

First of all, we'll talk about the ultra-popular Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride. In fact, it's SO popular that the Tower of Terror is one of the rides around which you must plan your day.

The scenario of this ride is that there's an old hotel (called the Hollywood Tower Hotel) that's been abandonded----by all LIVING humans, that is! Once you dare to step inside, WHO KNOWS the strange encounters you might have.

You'll enter into the once-posh foyer of an Art Deco-era hotel...that's now covered in cobwebs and dust from the passage of time. Still, you're adventuresome and you press on.

You come to the old elevator. Is it working? Funny, but even after all these years, it APPEARS to run just fine. So, you board. The elevator problem at all! And to think---you were scared at first to enter this derelict building. Ha ha--those old "haunted hotel" stories you used to hear were just that---STORIES.

And can't shake your sense of apprehension as the creaky old elevator jerks towards the top. Too late now to turn back.

Oh no--what's happening? The lights flicker. Is something wrong? Indeed there is...for just as you reach the 13th floor, the elevator grinds to a halt. Then, it falls down, down, dooowwwnnn! AAAYYYYEEE!!!

Will you survive? You'd better believe it, because there's a whole gift shop full of goodies at the bottom that the Disney folks want you to pass through! Care to buy a skull, anyone?

I'll say this...the Tower of Terror gift shop has a wide range of souvenirs you won't find anywhere else in the park! Where else can you find a wide selection of skull keychains and other eerie merchandise?

The ride attendants are dressed in bell-hop uniforms of yore. They'll try to keep a somber face as they direct you where to go and load your party into the elevator. They're SUPPOSED to be somber---this is a HAUNTED hotel, after all. Who knows? Are these bell hops alive---or members of the netherworld beyond?

"Aladdin--A Musical Spectacular" show

Photo of the Hyperion Theater at Disney's California Adventure, home of the enchanting Aladdin, A Musical Spectacular show You really, really need to see "Aladdin--the Musical," which is playing at the Hyperion Theater in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure.

This is no "thrown-together," amateurish production. The budget for getting this Broadway-style musical off the ground was over a million dollars. A real Broadway director was brought in. Auditions for the most talented cast that could be found were held. No expense was spared in making beautiful costumes and detailed sets. This IS a miniature version of the same high-quality production as you'd see in the Broadway production of The Lion King.

The Hyperion Theater itself is large and elegantly appointed...reminiscent of Hollywood's Grande Dame theaters of the Golden Era. Plush seats, elaborate ceilings and golden touches will make you feel like you're anywhere BUT a theme park!

Photo of the Hyperion Theater in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure

The Aladdin production itself has great music, fine acting, and a few "I can't believe they can DO that!" surprises. (For example, the magic carpet ride scene REALLY has Aladdin and Jasmine take a magic carpet ride---right there inside the Hyperion!)

Understandingly so, this production is very popular with the crowd...not only a "must-see" production, but also a "must-see-AGAIN" type of show!

You'll want to plan ahead to attend. First, you'll need to pick a showtime that will fit into your schedule of the day. Second, you'll want to get to the queuing area AHEAD of MUCH ahead you go depends on how much you desire to be first into the theater. I would plan on being at the theater 20 minutes early...MORE if you want the best seat you can get, and LESS if you don't care where you sit as long as seeing the production doesn't take too much time out of your day.

FYI, the queuing line is out-of-doors and, for the most part, unshaded. There is no seating available to you while you're in line.

Photo of the stage in the Hyperion Theater in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure

Hollywood Pictures Backlot area: Other attractions

Animation Building Activities

Photo of the Animation Building, home of the new Turtle Talk with Crush attraction at Disneys California Adventure The Animation Building in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure has recently gone from featuring high-quality--but ho-hum---exhibits to housing one of the hottest attractions in the park. That hot new show is called "Turtle Talk with Crush," and its a top hit with all ages.

Crush is a sea turtle. He was a side character in the movie "Finding Nemo," but one that fans adored. He was a "cool, surf-slang talkin' dude," and a character people are glad to see starring in his own show.

Once again, Crush is strictly an ANIMATED turtle...but what tricks animation can do these days! Crush actually listens to audience questions---and then replies! Yes, his answers are specific to the current audience at each showing! (And so, of course, you can attend as many times as you can get in & never see the same performance twice!)

How do they do it? Who knows? Go see Crush---and get ready to leave the theater amazed!

Muppet 3D Show

Picture of Muppet Vision 3D Theater sign at Disney's California Adventure Park The Mupper Vision Theater in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure shows a really cute 3D movie starring Jim Henson's Muppets. You'll see all your favorite Muppets characters in the movie---such as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

This show is FULL of unusual surprises---your family will be intrigued! But, what if you don't have kids in your group? Most adults visiting a Disney park would probably enjoy the Muppet 3D show...even without small fry accompanying them

Photo of a cute decorative touch on the Muppet Theater building; Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure

You'll enter the Mupper Vision Theater through an outside queuing area that never has any people in it! In a way, that's a shame, for this outdoor area is full of whimsical Muppet-themed decorations that one hasn't time to fully appreciate walking by quickly on the way into the theater.

The 3D Muppet movie runs continuously throughout the day at 20 minute intervals, so the longest you'll have to wait for this attraction is around 19 minutes---if you're unlucky. You'll wait for the next performance indoors in a large foyer, which is also decorated in Muppet-themed decor. Most likely, though, you won't have long to wait.

When the doors to the theater open, you'll file into your seats as the last group of viewers is filing out on the other side---in typical, efficient Disney style.

Disney Junior live show for preschoolers

Your toddlers will love seeing a live performance geared to them at Disney Junior in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure.

Personally, I'm not familiar with the Disney Channel's morning line-up of shows, nor the characters which star in them. But...I have grandchildren who know and enjoy these characters and were quite happy to see them.

The show itself features live costumed characters up on stage, and encourages wiggly action by the kids in the audience as they watch.

Showtimes are not continuous, but are scheduled conveniently six times per day throughout the morning and afternoon.

Monsters, Inc. Ride

Picture of Mickey in front of the Monsters, Inc Ride in Disney's California Adventure park

Here's the last time you may see a photo of the "Superstar Limo" ride that was in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure. This ill-fated attraction closed last year...but for a good reason. A new ride has taken its place

This delightful ride is based on those lovable monster characters, Sully and Mike, from the Disney/Pixar hit, "Monsters, Inc." Of course, your other favorite characters from the movie---including the darling little human girl, "Boo," are featured here, as well. A whole NEW scenario will take place...starring your favorite OLD characters from the movie!

Restaurants and stores

Photo of the Award Wieners hot dog stand; Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure

The "Award Wieners" snack shop in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure has a comically appropos name to this section of the park. "Award Wieners" alludes, of course, to the Hollywood actors who become award WINNERS.

The name of this shop is cute...but the prices aren't quite as adorable. The food staple here is hot prices running $5--6 for just ONE! To be honest, better, more filling meals can be found elsewhere in the park.

Photo: Grab a fruit smoothie drink at Schmoozies, in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of Disney's California Adventure
"Schmoozies" is another snack stop named with whimsy. In Hollywood, folks have to "schmooze" (mix, mingle, and kiss butts) to get ahead. This shop sells fruit juice "smoothies." Mix the two names together and you've got...SCHMOOZIES!

The fruit smoothies here run around $5 per drink. That's high-priced for a drink, true...but, on the other hand, fruit smoothies are rather expensive EVERYWHERE, so the Disney price doesn't seem outrageous by comparison.

If you've never tried a California fruit smoothie drink--try one. They're delicious!

Want "Disney Princess" merchandise? The shops in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure are where to head.

You'll find costumes so that your daughter or granddaughter may dress up as Princess Belle (from "Beauty and the Beast"), Tinker Bell (from "Peter Pan") or Princess Aurora (from "Sleeping Beauty.") You can buy the beautiful dresses, tiaras, purses, play shoes, jewelry, etc. that will make your little one beam with happiness.

Also available are Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel-the-Little-Mermaid costumes, as well.
You'll find BOTH the store selling Disney Junior merchandise and the shop where you can find the wide variety of Disney Princess items right across the street from the Playhouse Disney theater in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disneys California Adventure.



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