5 things to do on California Adventure’s new Buena Vista Street with kids

In much the same way that Disneyland’s Main Street ushers visitors into the park with an ambiance of small town America, California Adventure’s new Buena Vista Street welcomes visitors into the California to which Walt Disney arrived in the 1920s with nothing but a cardboard suitcase. Executive Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering Bob Weis says he’s even more excited about Buena Vista Street than the recently revealed Cars Land, knowing it will educate guests about Walt’s journey and create that important physical connection to place and time guests expect in a Disney theme park.

carthay theater buena vista street

All this sounds well and good for Disney’s adult guests, but what things to do on Buena Vista Street will attract kids? Plenty, but you need to know where to look.

1. Ride a Red Car Trolley.

If you’re headed for Hollywood (Hollywood Land, that is), catch a Red Car Trolley at the entrance to the park. Two trolleys, inspired by the Pacific Electric Railway system which ran in Los Angeles during the era) run continuously through Buena Vista Street and down Hollywood Blvd to the Twilight Tower of Terror. Conductors will give an overview of the street, including brief history of the Carthay Circle Theater at the central hub of the park. The trolleys are a fun way to get from Point A to Point B without fighting crowds.

red car trolley

2. Peek into Buena Vista Street shops.

Kids will be drawn to Big Top Toys, but the true treasures are in Oswald’s, where, if families look past the typical souvenir offerings and listen closely, they can hear period voice personalities on the radio. Kids may not recognize all of them, but it’s fun to experience a feature most guests don’t realize exists.

five and dime street show, california adventure

3. Watch a street show.

Throughout the day, the Red Car News Boys roll down the street singing tunes from the 1920s and 30s and delivering the latest “headlines” in the Buena Vista Daily Bugle. The jazz group Five & Dime brings with it a backstory: lead singer Dime has brought her group all the way down Route 66 from Chicago to ‘make it big’. Both groups interact with kids, elicit lots of laughs, and add the the ambiance of the street.

4. Take a break in the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge.

Located in the flagship landmark of the Carthay Theater (modeled after the historic theater which premiered Walt Disney’s first success, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves), the Carthay Circle Restaurant is a signature dining experience (reserve it in advance and use the Disney Dining Plan for best value). However, for a more impromtu stop, the ground floor Carthay Circle Lounge is very family friendly, and offers “Bites, Rolls, Snacks, Small Plates, and Finger Desserts” in a family-style table service. The food is contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on local, seasonal ingredients, and the family-style presentation helps encourage kids to try new, healthy food options. Parents can grab a cocktail or glass of wine, and everyone will welcome the quiet, sophisticated atmosphere that feels worlds apart from the busy theme park outside.

buena vista street

5. Grab breakfast or an afternoon snack at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe.

This diner-style quick service restaurant has cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing to die for, making it a great pre-park opening option for coffee and a treat. (Like Disneyland’s Main Street, guests will often be able to access Buena Vista Street prior to accessing the interior ‘lands’ of California Adventure.) In the afternoon, desserts are tempting, as are the ice cream and soda fountain creations at adjacent Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream.

Have you explored the newly opened Buena Vista Street? What do you recommend?

As I disclose whenever applicable, I experienced Buena Vista Street using park tickets provided to me by Disneyland Resort. While generous, these tickets came with no expectation of a positive review.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. I’m surprised that meeting the citizens of Buena Vista Street isn’t on this list! The zany characters like Donna the Dog Lady and Officer Calvin Blue are really fun additions to the land. 🙂

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