Disney California Adventure
Redwood Creak Challenge Trail
If you have kids who get antsy waiting in long lines, go psycho after eating too much theme-park food, or just have too damned much extra energy (and who, with kids, doesn't), then you would do well to send them to the Redwood Creak Challenge Trail for a few hours of maniacal calorie burning.
The Challenge Trail is a well-conceived family play area. All of the three-story-high climbing towers are accessible via (and interlinked by) pathways of thick knotted rope large enough for parents to struggle up as they watch their kids disappear in the distance. There's no place a child can go that a parent can't, in theory, follow, and paramedics with a cardiac-arrest crash cart are always close at hand.
In addition to slides, tunnels, and various other expected play elements, the forest-themed trail has many other features worth looking out for.
Wilderness path: To your right as you enter the play area is the actual trail itself, winding through simulated wilderness. Along the trail, children can learn a bit about wildlife by keeping an eye out for "animal tracks" (bear, cougar, muskrat, beaver, salmon, snake, pirate, etc.) permanently embedded in the cleverly textured concrete pathway. They can also learn about preserving the environment through such object lessons as a gigantic, thousand-year-old redwood with a tunnel cut through the middle so that people can avoid the inconvenience of having to go around it.
"Smoke Jumpers" zip line: A simple but entertaining ride, guests are allowed to hang from a rope attached to a zip line as it speeds down a low hill, and then hold on for dear life when it comes to a sudden, chiropractor-pleasing stop. When this ride first opened, any guest could partake of its pleasures. But its addictive thrills led to long lines, forcing Disney to impose height and age restrictions in an effort to cut down on traffic. Because the ride continued to be over-attractive, these restrictions have had to be refined to the point that, at the time of this writing, it can only be used by 36" tall, eight-year-old girls. An interesting bit of trivia, there are two spots where it is mathematically impossible to get a good picture of someone using this attraction, and Imagineers have outlined them in white boxes.
"Bail jumpers" climbing wall: A horizontal climbing wall recreates the experience of an escaped convict fleeing pursuers across dangerous wilderness terrain. Great fun for the whole family!
Ranger station: The central tower in the Challenge Trail is a multi-floored ranger station. Kids will find lots to look at here, such as real mineral samples, authentic wanted posters, detailed forest maps, survival gear, and a manual on extreme-condition survival (including detailed instructions for cannibalizing equipment and fallen comrades). There is a radio that actually works -- press the button and yell something annoying into it and you will likely get a reply. If not, keep trying. At the uppermost point of the tower is a device used by real California Adventure cast members to pinpoint the location of out-of-control fires in the park.
Brother Bear spirit cave: Within this small rune-graffitied cave are two hand-shaped impressions in the wall. A guest who places a hand within one of the impressions is treated to a magically appearing animated picture of their own, personal, individually chosen, "spirit animal" (bear, cougar, muskrat, beaver, salmon, snake, pirate, etc.) And if you don't like your animal, you can touch the thing again and get a new one.
Brother Bear show: Cast members in costume reenact a traditional bear-baiting show.
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