Description And Comments
Whitewater raft rides have been a hotweather favorite of theme park patrons for decades. The ride consists of an unguided trip down a manmade river in a circular rubber raft, with a platform mounted on top seating six to eight people. The raft essentially floats free in the current and is washed downstream through rapids and waves. Because the river is fairly wide with numerous currents, eddies, and obstacles, there is no telling exactly where the raft will go. Thus, each trip is different and unpredictable. The rafts are circular and a little smaller than those used on most rides of the genre. Because the current can buffet the smaller rafts more effectively, the ride is wilder and wetter.
What distinguishes Grizzly River Run from other theme park raft rides is Disney’s trademark attention to visual detail. Where many raft rides essentially plunge down a concrete ditch, Grizzly River Run winds around and through Grizzly Peak, the park’s foremost visual icon, with the great rock bear at the summit. Featuring a 50-foot climb and two drops—including a 22-footer where the raft spins as it descends—the ride flows into dark caverns and along the mountain’s precipitous side before looping over itself just before the final plunge. Period-appropriate props support the mid-century national parks theme.
When Disney opened the Kali River Rapids raft ride at the Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World, it was roundly criticized (and rightly so) for being a wimpy ride. Well, we’re here to tell you that Disney learned its lesson. Grizzly River Run is a heart thumper, one of the best of its genre anywhere. And at 5½ minutes from load to unload, it’s also one of the longest. The visuals are outstanding, and the ride is about as good as it gets on a man-made river. While it’s true that theme park raft rides have been around a long time, Grizzly River Run has set a new standard, one we don’t expect to be equaled for some time.
- This attraction offers FASTPASS.
- This attraction has a Single Rider line.
This attraction is hugely popular, especially on hot summer days. Ride the first hour the park is open, after 4:30 p.m., or use FastPass or the single-rider line. Make no mistake—you will certainly get wet on this ride. Our recommendation is to wear shorts to the park and bring along a jumbo-size trash bag, as well as a smaller plastic bag. Before boarding the raft, take off your socks and punch a hole in your jumbo bag for your head. Though you can also cut holes for your arms, you will probably stay drier with your arms inside the bag. Use the smaller plastic bag to wrap around your shoes. If you are worried about mussing your hairdo, bring a third bag for your head.
A Shaker Heights, Ohio, family who adopted our garbage-bag attire, however, discovered that staying dry on a similar attraction at Walt Disney World is not without social consequences:
I must tell you that the Disney cast members and the other people in our raft looked at us like we had just beamed down from Mars. Plus, we didn't cut arm holes in our trash bags because we thought we'd stay drier. Only problem was once we sat down we couldn't fasten our seat belts. The Disney person was quite put out and asked sarcastically whether we needed wet suits and snorkels. After a lot of wiggling and adjusting and helping each other we finally got belted in and off we went looking like sacks of fertilizer with little heads perched on top. It was very embarrassing, but I must admit that we stayed nice and dry.
If you forget your plastic bag, ponchos are available at the adjacent Rushin' River Outfitters.
FASTPASS NOTE: Since the summer of 2010, the Grizzly River Run FASTPASS booths have been partially taken over by World of Color fastpass distribution. Depending on the day, all or half of the FASTPASS booths are taken up by World of Color, which then slowly return to becoming Grizzly River Run booths as the World of Color FASTPASSes have been fully distributed.
The effect of World of Color has generally made Grizzly River Run more popular of an attraction, as well as getting a FASTPASS a generally harder position, especially earlier in the day.
This chart shows you roughly how long you'll wait for Grizzly River Run when you visit on a day with a given Disney California Adventure Crowd Level. The blue bars represent the average "peak" wait time (that is, how long the line will be at its busiest). The bottom and top black lines represent the range of peak wait times to expect (for you fellow nerds out there: it's the 5th percentile and 95th percentile of peak wait times). Please note that these are estimates, and for a better forecast for your travel dates, see Grizzly River Run Wait Times.
- We rate this attraction as Not To Be Missed.
- This attraction has a minimum-height requirement of 42 inches.
- This attraction offers rider swap.
Not to be missed; you are guaranteed to get wet, and possibly soaked; 42" minimum-height requirement
Disney Dish with Jim Hill
For more than a decade, guests floating through Grizzly River Run have heard those bruins a-growlin'. But they haven't actually seen any bears. All that changes in 2014 when the Imagineers take advantage of the development work they did for the Big Grizzly Mountain roller coaster, which opened in 2012 at Hong Kong Disneyland as part of its new Grizzly Gulch area. The Imagineers are looking to "borrow" some of the gags and audioanimatronic figures initially created for Hong Kong's thrill ride, so the bears can begin appearing along the shoreline of DCA's white-water raft ride. Which means that you're finally going to see some grizzlies when you ride Grizzly River Run.
Other Attractions in Grizzly Peak
Touring Plans with Grizzly River Run
- Disney California Adventure One-Day Plan for Adults
- One-Day, Two-Parks Plan: Part 1 of 2
- One Day Plan for the Whole Family