Disney California Adventure Park

The newest Disney park in the United States is Disney’s California Adventure (2001).  This park is currently made up of 5 main lands, Paradise Pier, Golden State, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, A Bugs Land and Sunshine Plaza.  Just imagine, theming and attractions from Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the classic themepark, all in one park.

Start out in Sunshine Plaza, home to the park entrance, dining and shopping. Paradise Pier is themed after a Victorian-era California boardwalk, based on popular coastal boardwalks such as the Santa Monica Pier and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The land’s attractions, such as California Screamin’ and the Maliboomer, resemble the classic amusement park rides found at many boardwalks. Toy Story Midway Mania! is an interactive 3D attraction inspired by classic midway games.  Mickey’s Fun Wheel (formerly the Sun Wheel) is a 160-foot-wide Ferris wheel overlooking Paradise Bay, a large body of water that dominates the Paradise Pier area. A new hydrotechnic show, Disney’s World of Color, is scheduled to premiere at Paradise Bay in late Spring or Summer of 2010.  Golden State allows guests to experience California’s natural settings. It is further divided into five sub-lands: Condor Flats, themed after the aviation industry, home to attraction including Soarin’ Over California, a ride that simulates a hang glider tour of California. Grizzly Peak Recreation Area is themed after California’s wilderness, such as Yosemite and Redwood national parks. Attractions include Grizzly River Run, a fast-paced river rapids ride around Grizzly Peak, the park’s icon. Nearby is the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail; an interactive playground area, which also includes a show featuring characters from Disney’s Brother Bear, The Magic of Brother Bear. A special entrance to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel is also located in this area. The Bay Area is themed after the California Bay Area. The main area is scheduled to be converted to The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Adventure (Voyage of The Little Mermaid), construction has started. When Voyage of the Little Mermaid opens, this area will then be included within Paradise Pier.  Golden Vine Winery is themed after Northern California’s Napa Valley and the winemaking industry. The former main attraction in this area, Seasons of the Vine, a film showcasing Napa Valley and the changes throughout the seasons, was housed in a wine cellar-like theatre. It closed on March 30, 2008 and was converted into the Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar, which opened in October 2008. The new attraction displays the upcoming changes to the park. The exhibits will be rotated every few months until 2012, when the major park improvement project is scheduled to be finished. Guests also have the opportunity to taste several wines for an additional price. Pacific Wharf is based on Monterey’s Cannery Row area, especially as depicted in John Steinbeck’s novels, and also resembles San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Attractions such as the Mission Tortilla Factory, which features a tour on how tortillas were once made, and showcases working corn and flour tortilla machines. Another attraction is the Boudin Bakery Tour, which is a tour of the sourdough bread making process with Rosie O’Donnell and Colin Mochrie as video tour guides.  Hollywood Pictures Backlot is an area styled to appear as Hollywood boulevards and movie backlots, with Hollywood, Television, and movie-themed attractions. A version of the Tower of Terror attraction from Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot in 2004. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! based on the characters from Monsters, Inc. opened in 2006. The 2000-seat Hyperion Theatre currently plays host to Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular.  Also featured since the park’s opening is Muppet Vision 3-D, a show that also originated at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Both the Tower of Terror and Muppet Vision 3-D benefited from the many advances and new technology made available to the imagineers since their original incarnations opened in Florida. This allowed the DCA versions to be technologically superior in certain aspects.  A Bug’s Land opened in 2004, seen from the point of view of a bug, and the character of “Flik” from A Bug’s Life.  This land features Flik’s Fun Fair, It’s Tough to be a Bug! and the Bountiful Valley Farm, based on the Disney-Pixar film “A Bug’s Life”. The land opened in 2003 and offers various kid-friendly attractions. Such attractions include Fliks Flyers, Francis’ Ladybug Boogie, Tuck & Rolls Drive em’ Buggies, Heimlichs Chew Chew Train, and Dots Puddle Park.

As mentioned above, this park is under going a major makeover, which began in 2008 and is to be completed in 2012.  This makeover is very important for the park because it’s attendance levels are lower than the 5 other Disney parks in the US, the park was built on the cheap at an estimated price tag of $600 million, lacking many rides and the level of theming


you would expect to find at a Disney park, especially in the Paradise Pier area.  But the park’s disappointing past is all about to change.  On October 17, 2007, The Walt Disney Company announced a multi-year, $1.1 billion expansion plan for this park. In this expansion The Sunshine Plaza will be renamed Buena Vista Street, which takes its name from the Burbank street on which the Walt Disney Studios are located, it’s meant to represent Los Angeles in the 1920s when Walt Disney first arrived there.  Buena Vista Street will feature mission-style buildings. The Golden Gate Bridge replica will actually be removed and replaced by some arches, the sunburst structure will be replaced with a recreation of the Carthay Circle Theater, which showcased the world premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, The building will serve as the new visual centerpiece of Disney’s California Adventure’s reincarnation and its main icon.  Red Car trolleys will travel from the plaza towards the Tower of Terror. This redisigned area will open December 2011.  Hollywood Pictures Backlot will be renamed to Hollywoodland representing the Hollywood glitz and glamour of the early 1930s. Playhouse Disney Live on Stage will be updated with new shows.  Paradise Pier was the first area of the park to go under construction in this 1.1 billion dollar park makeover. Paradise Pier is being re-themed as a romantic Victorian style boardwalk. The changes began with the opening of Toy Story Midway Mania! on June 17, 2008.  The Sun Wheel was closed to be rethemed into Mickey’s Fun Wheel, as the wheel was repainted and the sun face was removed. The new face of the 1930s era “pie-eyed” Mickey Mouse was placed on the wheel on April 14, 2009. The ride reopened on May 8, 2009. The Mickey Mouse face on California Screamin’ was replaced with a sunburst and Paradise Pier logo.  The Orange Stinger closed on July 14, 2009, and will be rethemed as Silly Symphony Swings, based on Walt Disney’s classic cartoon, “The Band Concert.” Conductor Mickey Mouse will be on top of the tower moving around with the music. Silly Symphony Swings will open on April 29, 2010. Mulholland Madness was supposed to close in January 2010 for its transformation into “Goofy’s Sky School” based on Walt Disney’s short film “Goofy’s Glider”, but construction has yet to begin on the attraction. The ride was scheduled to reopen in December 2010. Paradise Bay will become home to the new nighttime spectacular Walt Disney’s World of Color. A new, bayfront, 9,000-person standing room only viewing area is being added to accommodate viewers, and is scheduled to start shows in late Spring or Summer of 2010.  Also included in this re-theming was the re-imagined midway games, which opened on April 7, 2009, and a new beer garden-themed eatery.  Golden Dreams has been closed and will be replaced with an attraction named The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Adventure. The Maliboomer ride is scheduled to be removed in 2011. Paradise Pier will be completed by Summer or Fall of 2011, coinciding with the 10th Anniversary of Disney’s California Adventure.  The Golden State will see the addition of several new restaurants based on California’s farmland and heritage. Last to come, and far from least, will be an entire new land, Carsland, containing three attractions and spanning 12 acres.  The first, Radiator Springs Racers, will be an E-Ticket attraction using the technology of Epcot’s Test Track. It will be among the most expensive rides ever built at an estimated US$200 million! It will be a detailed dark ride that ends with an outdoor side by side dueling racing finale. The ride will begin with a race briefing from Lightning McQueen and end at the Wheel Well Motel from the movie. Some elements said to be featured as road details in the attraction


are switchbacks, tunnels, bridges, waterfalls and banked turns.  The other two attractions are going to be smaller family attractions with smaller height requirements featuring Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, a tea-cup like attraction, and Luigi’s Roamin’ Tires, which looks like 1960s Tomorrowland “Flying Saucers” ride. Cars Land will also feature a life size model of Radiator Springs.  It will take the place of the existing Timon parking lot behind the Tower of Terror and is supposed to open in 2012, after the park celebrates its 10th anniversary. Cars Land will also serve as a connection between the Golden State and Hollywood Pictures Backlot lands, to eliminate the awkward dead end at the foot of the Tower of Terror attraction. Construction began in July 2009.  You can visit the Blue Sky Cellar website or the Blue Sky Cellar attraction in California Adventure to learn more.  Disneyland California Screamin’ opened at Disney’s California Adventure on February 8, 2001.  This steel roller coaster is the only Disney outdoor looping roller coaster in North America.  This coaster is the 2nd longest steel coaster in the United States.  Go from zero to 59 miles per hour in four seconds.

Disney’s World of Color
A brand new night time show is set to open June 11, 2010 at Disney’s California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Disney’s World of Color is part of the $1 billion expansion that was first announced back in fall of 2007 and will be fully complete in 2012 when Cars land opens, an entire new land that’s themed to the movie Cars. The opening of Toy Story Mania in 2008 was the first attraction to open. We look forward to the opening of Silly Symphony Swings, a retheme to the classic swing ride known as former Orange Stinger in Paradise Pier, later this year. This nighttime extravaganza will be similar to Fantasmic, a popular nighttime show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Disneyworld resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The lagoon was drained on November 2008 and the water was refilled in November of 2009. The Paradise Pier lake will light up like never before. Over 1,200 that can shoot water up to 200 ft. in the air, a 380 ft. long mist screen that will project images, fountains, lasers, lights, fire nozzles that can shoot flames up to 50 ft. in the air, and a water spray backdrop. Up to 9,000 people can view this show at once. The concept art look phenomenal, the practice videos are stunning, and I know that Fantasmic! has been a major hit at the Disney parks, so I can only imagine how cool this show will be when in opens up in a few weeks.

Downtown Disney District (2001) provides wonderful dining, shopping, and entertainment options for area residents, hotel guests, and park visitors.  A wonderful selection of dining options include Catal, Compass Books and Café, ESPN Zone, Häagen-Dazs, House of Blues, Jamba Juice, La Brea Bakery Cafe, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, Napolini, Rainforest Cafe, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Tortilla Jo’s, Uva Bar, and Wetzel’s Pretzels.  Shop til’ you drop at Anne Geddes, Basin, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Compass Books, Disney’s Pin Traders, Disney Vault 28, Fossil, Kitson Kids, Island Charters, Marceline’s Confectionery, Quiksilver Boardriders Club Store, Rainforest Retail Shopping Village, Sephora, Something Silver, Sunglass Icon, The LEGO Imagination Center, Travelex, and World of Disney.   Catch the latest movies at AMC Theatres Downtown Disney 12 as well.

“When I started on Disneyland, my wife used to say, ‘But why do you want to build an amusement park? They’re so dirty.’ I told her that was just the point–mine wouldn’t be.”                                                                                           -Walt Disney

Interesting Facts & Review- Disney World Vs. Disneyland-  So what’s the difference?  Why would I want to visit Disneyland if Disney World is so much larger?  Are there any popular attractions at Disneyland that aren’t at Disney World?  There is so much to learn about the Disney parks, especially for those of you who are unfimiliar with them.  The Disneyland resort is super small, 300 acres only allows so much room for expansion.  This resort consists of 3 hotels, 2 theme parks and a the Downtown Disney District.  Walt Disney World on the other hand consists of over 30,000 acres, 4 theme parks, 2 waterparks, a larger Downtown Disney, and dozens of hotels.  So why would anyone, especially people in the southern region of the US, who are closer to Walt Disney World, want to visit Disneyland?  First of all, there are many popular themeparks, in Southern California, like Knott’s Berry Farm, the oldest themepark in the country, Legoland California, which is not yet in Florida, but is scheduled to open in Florida in Fall of 2011, as well as another Universal and SeaWorld park, each offering attractions that can’t be found in Florida, or attractions that have the same name and theme but a different layout.  SoCal (Los Angeles & San Diego) offers the unique Hollywood attractions that are one of a kind to one of the best zoos in the country, the San Diego Zoo.  We live in the south and decided to try to visit Vegas and Disneyland in the same trip, but realized that SoCal offers more than enough to do.  Everyone in the US should visit California at one point in their life and now is better than ever.  But I might want to recommend that you visit Disney’s Califonia Adventure in 2012 when the park makeover is complete.

Disney Parks began in Anaheim, California with Disneyland (1955) (located in between LA and San Diego).  One of the differences that I found to be intriguing was the New Orleans Square themed area of the park.  While it didn’t offer any exciting, new, different attractions, it did have the ambiance and dining options that you could find in New Orleans.  The layout of the park is also a little different.  You will find some attractions in different areas of the park, than in the Magic Kingdom. Here is a list comparing what you can only see at Magic Kingdom to what you can only see at Disneyland Park.  Magic Kingdom ONLY:  Carousel of Progress, Cinderella Castle, Country Bear Jamboree, Goofy’s Barnstormer,  The Hall of Presidents, The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management, SpectroMagic, Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (similiar to Disneylands Tarzan’s Treehouse), Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Stitch’s Great Escape, and the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor.  Disneyland Park ONLY: Alice in Wonderland, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, Soarn’ Over California, Fantasmic (Similar to the show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Gadget’s Go Coaster (similiar to Goofy’s Barnstormer), Honey I Shrunk the Audience (located in Epcot at WDW), Indiana Jones Adventure, Innoventions (located at EPCOT at WDW), Jolly Trolley, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Original Enchanted Tiki Room, Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure, Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin, Sailing Ship Columbia, Sleeping Beauty, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Star Tours (located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Storybookland Canal Boats, Tarzan Treehouse, and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.  I’ve visited Disney World more often, so there are a few attractions that I surprised me because they can only be found at Disneyland.  Mainly the Matterhorn Bobsleds, it’s a milder ride than Expedition Everest, but shows how a similiar concept can evolve when built many years earlier.  People of all ages love this ride, it’s fun, unlike a terrifying journey through Everest with a Yeti encounter, which takes you backwards.  The Indiana Jones Adventure was pretty fun as well, it reminded me of the Dinosoar ride at Epcot.  Another example of Disney doing what they do best, providing great medium thrill rides that are not too scary and not to light. See the original version of the Tiki room versus The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management.  The Small World ride at Disneyland has been remodeled to include a variety of Disney characters, mixed through the ride, something you won’t find at the Magic Kingdom.  A lot more rides were indoor and outdoor than just mainly indoor at WDW.  By the way, more attractions are only located at Disneyland, making a greater impact on people who normally visit WDW.  You will find so many differences, from versions of rides to new rides, park layout, to different themed areas.  Definitely worth the long drive (or flight)!

“I’ve always said that there will never be another Disneyland, and I think it’s going to work out that way. But it will be the equivalent of Disneyland. We know the basic things that have family appeal. There are many ways that you can use those certain basic things and give them a new decor, a new treatment. This concept here will have to be something that is unique, so there is a distinction between Disneyland in California and whatever Disney does in Florida.”   -Walt Disney 


Taylor Goldblatt

After years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.

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