July 1998 – present
Grizzly Peak – If you arrive in Grizzly Peak from Buena Vista Street or from the Grand Californian entrance, follow the main path toward Paradise Pier. You’ll see the River Run on your left, across from the entrance to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. If you head toward the River Run from Paradise Pier, veer left when you reach the watermill, and you’ll find the entrance on your right.
After the success of the Kali River Rapids ride in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Imagineers wanted to install a similar attraction in California Adventure. Unlike the Kali River Rapids, the Grizzly River Run was specifically designed to be more thrilling; it’s faster, longer, and adds spinning to the ride experience.
The Grizzly River Run also has its own back story. According to legend, a German emigrant discovered gold in the river by accident, and founded the Eureka Gold & Timber Company. After a century and a half of mining, the company sold the land to the government, thus creating the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. When the public saw the thundering rapids, they saw the chance for thrills, and the Grizzly River Rafting Company was born.
- Single Rider Line – yes
- Fast Pass – yes
- Height Requirement – 42″ (107 cm)
- Duration – 7:20
Once riders load into their boats, they are pulled up a large hill, and leaky pipes overhead spray the boats as they approach the top. At the peak, the boats begin their trip through Grizzly Peak by passing through a cave and narrowly avoiding a log jam. The ride twists, turns, and drops for seven minutes, before taking a final plunge into a geyser field. The ride ends with a scenic ride around the base of Grizzly Peak, and then riders disembark back at the loading dock.
MY RATING: ★★★★★
The Grizzly River Run is one of the best rides in California Adventure. The views are awesome, the track is pretty long, and the boats spin, so you never know what direction you’ll be facing when you fly down a drop. Whether you visit in broad daylight or in the glowing nighttime lanterns, you’re in for an adventure as you navigate Grizzly Peak.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: you will not get wet, you will get SOAKED. The River Run is not like Splash Mountain, where a lucky few escape with only their shoes or hair a little wet. Believe me when I say you will leave this ride drenched to the bone, and it can take a few hours to dry off again after finishing your ride. I say this only so you go in prepared; this ride is very, very fun, but don’t go in thinking you might get lucky and stay dry. You won’t.
Generally speaking, the line for the River Run is generally manageable. During the summer you’ll want to use the fast pass system, but in the colder months, lines tend to stay short. If you don’t want to use fast pass, I’d recommend going after dark; the lines hit their peak around 1-4 pm.
If you’re lucky enough to be staying at the Grand Californian, you’ll never have to worry about roaming the park while you’re dripping wet. The private entrance to the park from the hotel is right next to the River Run, so you can hop on and go change your clothes in a matter of minutes.
One final piece of advice – take advantage of the lockers beside the entrance to the River Run. Unless you have waterproof bags or wrap your belongings in plastic, they will get soaked if you carry them on the ride with you.
A sign in the waiting area tells the “Legend Of Grizzly Peak”: Long ago, Ah-Ha-Ee, the Coyote, met Oo-Soo-Ma-Te, the Grizzly Bear on top of the mountain. Seeing the Grizzly was a powerful being, Coyote asked him to watch over and protect the land. Then one day, people came and tried to chase Oo-Soo-Ma-Te from the Mountain. But Grizzly was strong and held his ground. When coyote saw the brave bear standing alone against so many, he turned Oo-Soo-Ma-Te into stone so he could never be driven away. To this day, people claim they can hear the great bear spirit in the wind that roars through the caverns and trees of Grizzly Peak.
Grizzly River Run is recognized as the tallest, longest, and fastest river rapids ride in the world.
The waiting area for the River Run pays tribute to California state parks, particularly the Sacramento River and Redwood Creek.
When the ride is shut down, Pacific Wharf holds the River Run’s water in its basin by the main bridge.