I grew up in southern California, and visited Disneyland lots of time, but I never went to California Adventure (because it didn’t exist). So, going with my kids, who were also there for the first time was awesome.
I used touringplans.com to make ride plans. I love that site. When we went to Walt Disney World I paid for a 6 month subscription to make plans and keep up to date with timing while there. This time I took advantage of the free options. I was able to make a plan and save it to my account to use with the app, for free!
We only had one meltdown in the late afternoon (from my 9 year-old), but dinner fixed that pretty well. The longest line we had to wait in was Toy Story Mania, but the others were are all fairly short. This is the main advantage of going in the middle of the week in the off-season.
We started off by getting fast passes for Radiator Springs Racers. Then we did the Bug’s Life area, followed by visiting Anna and Elsa. While there half the kids went to talk to Crush the turtle and then on to the Animation Academy, and the others went to the Sorcerers Workshop and outside for a walk. Then we rode the Monster’s Inc ride before heading off to Radiator Springs. After racing (my car totally won) we went to Grizzly River Run to cool off. The boys didn’t want to get wet, so I took them to climb around on the challenge course.
Having done all that we headed across to Paradise Pier. We did the rides over there for a while before breaking for dinner. My girls wanted to go on Goofy’s Sky School a couple times, so I sat with the boys to watch the parade. After it was over my parents, who were there with us, wanted to take the kids on Tower of Terror, so we crossed the park to go do that. I was surprised my 7 year old wanted to go, because she usually doesn’t like scary rides, but she loved it! Then we meandered back to the pier area to watch the World of Color, which was awesome.