Disney California Adventure

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Disney California Adventure Park
Disney California Adventure logo.png
GrizzlypeakLeft fxwb.jpg
Grizzly Peak, Disney California Adventure's iconic mountain peak
LocationDisneyland Resort, Anaheim, California, United States
Coordinates33°48′20″N 117°55′19″W / 33.805468°N 117.921946°W / 33.805468; -117.921946Coordinates: 33°48′20″N 117°55′19″W / 33.805468°N 117.921946°W / 33.805468; -117.921946
OwnerThe Walt Disney Company
Operated byWalt Disney Parks and Resorts
OpenedFebruary 8, 2001
Previous namesDisney's California Adventure Park
Operating seasonYear-round
WebsiteDisney California Adventure Park Homepage
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Disney California Adventure Park
Disney California Adventure logo.png
GrizzlypeakLeft fxwb.jpg
Grizzly Peak, Disney California Adventure's iconic mountain peak
LocationDisneyland Resort, Anaheim, California, United States
Coordinates33°48′20″N 117°55′19″W / 33.805468°N 117.921946°W / 33.805468; -117.921946Coordinates: 33°48′20″N 117°55′19″W / 33.805468°N 117.921946°W / 33.805468; -117.921946
OwnerThe Walt Disney Company
Operated byWalt Disney Parks and Resorts
OpenedFebruary 8, 2001
Previous namesDisney's California Adventure Park
Operating seasonYear-round
WebsiteDisney California Adventure Park Homepage

Disney California Adventure is a theme park located in Anaheim, California, it is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division. The 72-acre (29 ha) park is themed after the history and culture of the state of California. The park opened in 2001, and it is the second of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort complex, after Disneyland Park.

The concept of a theme park dedicated to California arose from a meeting of Disney executives in 1995, following the cancellation of the WestCOT project. Construction of the park began in 1998, and was completed by early 2001. Disney initially projected high attendance rates at the new park, but a series of preview openings held in January 2001 led to negative reviews, and after the park officially opened to the public on February 8, 2001, the company's attendance projections were never met. Disney spent the next several years incrementally adding new rides, shows, and attractions, and implementing other promotions aimed at boosting attendance. In 2007, Disney announced a major expansion of the park as well as a major overhaul of a significant portion of the park. Construction lasted for five years and was completed in stages, culminating with the opening of Cars Land in June 2012.

According to the Themed Entertainment Association, the park hosted approximately 7.78 million guests in 2012, making it the 11th-most visited theme park in the world that year.[1]


Original dedication[edit]

In front of the Sun Icon of the former Sunshine Plaza,

To all who believe in the power of dreams, welcome. Disney's California Adventure opens its golden gates to you. Here we pay tribute to the dreamers of the past: the native people, explorers, immigrants, aviators, entrepreneurs and entertainers who built the Golden State. And we salute a new generation of dreamers who are creating the wonders of tomorrow, from the silver screen to the computer screen, from the fertile farmlands to the far reaches of space. Disney's California Adventure celebrates the richness and the diversity of California... its land, its people, its spirit and, above all, the dreams that it continues to inspire.

Michael Eisner, February 8, 2001


On the plaque of the flagpole in Buena Vista Plaza on Buena Vista Street,

To all who come to this place of dreams, welcome. Disney California Adventure celebrates the spirit of optimism and the promise of endless opportunities, ignited by the imagination of daring dreamers such as Walt Disney and those like him who forever changed- and were forever changed by- The Golden State. This unique place embraces the richness and diversity of California... Its land, its people, its stories and, above all, the dreamers it continues to inspire.

Robert A. Iger, June 15, 2012
OpenStreetMap image of Disney California Adventure for Wikipedia article use.


Concept and creation[edit]

The present-day site of Disney California Adventure was acquired by Walt Disney in the 1950s, and functioned as the parking lot of Disneyland for over 40 years. After succeeding with the multi-park business model at Walt Disney World in Florida, the Disney company decided to turn Walt Disney's original theme park into a multi-park resort complex as well. In 1991, Disney announced plans to build WestCOT, a west coast version of what was then known as EPCOT Center, on the site of Disneyland's parking lot. The high price tag of the proposed park as well as the company's financial and public relations problems with the newly opened Euro Disneyland (now Disneyland Paris) led Disney to cancel WestCOT in 1995.[2]

In the summer of 1995, Michael Eisner, Disney's CEO at the time, gathered company executives in Aspen, Colorado to think of another idea for a second theme park in California. From those meetings, Disney decided it would instead build a park themed to the history and culture of the state of California. Construction of the park began in 1998; the park's construction was accompanied by Downtown Disney and Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, and renovations of the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland Pacific Hotel.[3]

Opening and initial criticism[edit]

The park was expected to draw large crowds when it opened on February 8, 2001. On January 14, a Los Angeles Times article titled "The most Jam-Packed Theme Park on Earth?" stated, "Senior Disney officials acknowledge that there will be days when California Adventure will have to turn patrons away, particularly in the first weeks after the park opens, during spring break and again in the summer." However, the actual attendance that year was substantially less than expected.[4] This is suggested to have happened due to poor reviews from early visitors,[5] the lack of focus in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, lack of attractions for children, large amount of off-the-shelf attractions (with Soarin' Over California being the sole exception) and having a redundant theme, given the park is located in California. The park also lacks a park berm to separate it from surrounding neighborhoods. The berm in Disneyland Park uses trees and earthen mounds to build a physical barrier around the park so that structures external to the park cannot be seen, thus encompassing guests in the setting. At Disney California Adventure Park, nearby hotels, power lines, radio towers, and the Anaheim Convention Center are visible, reducing the immersion in the park.

Early changes and expansions[edit]

Disney spent the park's first several years of operation bringing several rides, shows, and attractions from other Disney theme parks to California Adventure with the goal of boosting its low attendance. Within the first year of operation, Disney's Electrical Parade and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – Play It! were brought to the park, and several of its original rides and attractions were closed, including Superstar Limo and Disney's Steps in Time. Over the next several years, other rides and attractions were added, including A Bug's Land in October 2002, which added rides geared towards children, as well as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in May 2004. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! opened in the former Superstar Limo building in January 2006.

2007–2012 redesign and expansion[edit]

Victorian style architecture in Paradise Pier

On October 17, 2007, The Walt Disney Company announced a multi-year, $1.1 billion redesign and expansion plan for Disney's California Adventure Park (against its initial $600 million price to build).[6][7] Each district was reimagined to transform the park from a veritable spoof of modern California culture to a romanticized, idealized version of the state, exploring specific time periods and historic settings. The project began in December 2007 and was completed in stages. Toy Story Midway Mania! opened on Paradise Pier in June 2008, in space formerly occupied by a store and restaurants. World of Color, a nighttime water and lights show on Paradise Bay, opened in June 2010. The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure opened on the site formerly occupied by the Golden Dreams theater in June 2011.

The most drastic changes to the park included a complete overhaul of the main entrance, Sunshine Plaza, and Paradise Pier, as well as an expansion into the last of the parking area originally designated as future growth space for the park. The main entrance and Sunshine Plaza were turned from a "giant postcard" spoof of California into Buena Vista Street, a representation of Los Angeles as it appeared when Walt Disney moved there in the 1920s. The "CALIFORNIA" sign in front was removed and donated to Cal Expo in Sacramento. Paradise Pier was turned from a comical representation of California boardwalks into a representation of Victorian seaside amusement parks of the 1920s, and some of the area's off-the-shelf rides were either removed outright (Maliboomer) or re-themed to have more of a focus on Disney characters (Mickey's Fun Wheel, Goofy's Sky School, Silly Symphony Swings). Cars Land, an area that simulates Radiator Springs from the Cars film franchise, was added to the southeast portion of the park, and includes three new rides including the E ticket Radiator Springs Racers. Construction was completed in 2012 and the park was "re-dedicated" on June 14, 2012.[8] The park received a modified name, Disney California Adventure, and a new logo, first put into use on June 11, 2010 and promoted in a commercial promoting World of Color a few days prior.[9]


The Carthay Circle Theater


Disney California Adventure is divided into eight themed areas called "districts".

Buena Vista Street[edit]

Buena Vista Street

Buena Vista Street is the first "themed district" inside the main entrance of California Adventure Park, taking its name from the Burbank street on which the Walt Disney Studios are located. Guests enter through the main entrance gate, which resembles the landmark Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Buena Vista Street includes an immersive recreation of early 1920s Los Angeles when Walt Disney first arrived with Mission and Art Deco facades housing shops and restaurants.[8] A recreation of Carthay Circle Theater, which showcased the world premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 sits at the end of the street, serving as the visual anchor for the district. Red Car Trolleys travel from the entry, up Buena Vista Street to Carthay Circle, then down Hollywood Boulevard towards the Tower of Terror. Buena Vista Street was opened to the public on June 15, 2012.[15]

Paradise Pier[edit]

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier spans 15 acres (61,000 m2) and is the largest themed "land" in the Disneyland Resort. Paradise Pier is themed as an idealized version of popular coastal boardwalks, such as the Santa Monica Pier and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The Paradise Garden Grille and the Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta are two restaurants in the district that are connected by an outdoor, shaded seating area built around a gazebo in which bands play daily. The district's attractions, such as California Screamin’ (a launched steel roller coaster built to appear as a classic wooden coaster) resemble the timeless amusement park rides found at many boardwalks. Toy Story Midway Mania! is an interactive 3D attraction inspired by classic midway games.[16] Mickey's Fun Wheel is a 160-foot (49 m)-tall Ferris wheel overlooking Paradise Bay, a large body of water that dominates the Paradise Pier area. A hydrotechnic show, World of Color is performed nightly on the waters of Paradise Bay (using fountains, projection, and flame effects) and showcases a series of vignettes from numerous Disney and Pixar films. It also features Goofy's Sky School, a typical Wild Mouse roller coaster based on the 1940 animated Disney Short Goofy's Glider. King Triton's Carousel of the Sea is a merry-go-round surrounded by fan fountains that features sea creatures (sea lions, sea horses, dolphins, and whales) in place of traditional horses.

Grizzly Peak[edit]

Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak is themed around California's wilderness and national parks with particular references to Yosemite and Redwood national parks. Its main attraction is Grizzly River Run, a Gold Rush-esque river rapids ride around the summit of Grizzly Peak. Nearby is the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail; a playground area that includes a show featuring characters from Disney·Pixar's Up. A special entrance exclusive to guests of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is located in this area. There are also several restaurants in the Grizzly Peak district that are themed to California's farmland and heritage. California-themed food and wine festivals are hosted in this area as well.

Condor Flats[edit]

Condor Flats

Condor Flats is themed around an airfield in tribute to California's pilots and engineers from the 1940s to the mid-1960s and the era's aeronautical achievements. Its retaining walls are made up of old railroad ties, and World War II runways. The featured attraction is Soarin' Over California, a ride that simulates a hang glider tour of California. The district also contains the Taste Pilot's Grill counter service restaurant, a shop, a water play area, and Minnie's Fly Girls Show, featuring Minnie Mouse. The number 47 is hidden in various places as a reference to 1947, the year the sound barrier was broken. The clock on the Fly 'N Buy Souvenir Shop is stopped at the exact time the sound barrier was broken on October 14, 1947 by Chuck Yeager.

Pacific Wharf[edit]

Pacific Wharf

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. It includes the Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Pacific Wharf Cafe, The Lucky Fortune Cookery Chinese restaurant, Wine Country Trattoria restaurant, Mendocino Wine Bar, Sonoma Terrace, a Karl Strauss beer truck, and a margarita stand. The district also features the Ghirardelli chocolate factory built to resemble the iconic San Francisco chocolate factory, and the Boudin Bakery Tour, touring the sourdough bread-making process with Rosie O'Donnell and Colin Mochrie as video tour guides. The area is home to the Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar, which opened in October 2008. Blue Sky Cellar is an attraction that displays construction projects being worked on within the resort. The attraction currently displays the construction of the Princess Fantasy Faire in Disneyland Park.

Hollywood Land[edit]

Hollywood Land

Hollywood Land,[17] is an area inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s. It includes attractions based on film, television, theater and a subsection called Hollywood Studios which is designed to appear as an active studio back-lot. A version of the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction from Disney's Hollywood Studios opened in 2004. The Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! attraction is also featured in the district, based on the characters from Monsters, Inc.;. The 2000-seat Hyperion Theater located in the center of Hollywood Land currently plays host to Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular. Disney Junior: Live on Stage is held in Hollywood Land, featuring "Jake and the Never Land Pirates", opened on March 25, 2011.

Featured since the park's opening is Muppet Vision 3-D, a show that originated at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Both the Muppet Vision 3-D and Tower of Terror benefited from the many advances and new technology made available to the Imagineers since their original incarnations opened in Florida, allowing the California versions to be technologically superior in certain aspects. The restroom facilities in the district are designed in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright's Storer House, located in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles. The stamped concrete structure is typical of Wright's pioneering design.

A Bug's Land[edit]

A Bug's Land

A Bug's Land is seen from the point of view of Flik, a bug from A Bug's Life, where over-sized human items are scattered throughout. It features Flik's Fun Fair (a collection of themed, family and child-friendly attractions such as Fliks Flyers, Francis' Ladybug Boogie, Tuck & Roll's Drive 'em Buggies, Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, and Dot's Puddle Park) and It's Tough to be a Bug!, a 3D film based on the Disney·Pixar film A Bug's Life. It opened as the park's first expansion in 2002 to expand the park's family-friendly attractions.

Cars Land[edit]

Cars Land

Cars Land spans 12 acres (49,000 m2) and contains three attractions. The largest attraction, Radiator Springs Racers, is a dark ride that utilizes the technology of Epcot's Test Track. Based on Pixar's Cars films, the ride begins with a race briefing from Lightning McQueen and ends with an outdoor side-by-side dueling race to the Wheel Well Motel. With a budget at an estimated US$200 million, it is the most expensive theme park ride ever built.[18]

The other two attractions at Cars Land are family attractions with smaller height requirements: Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, a tea-cup-like attraction; and Luigi's Flying Tires, which is similar to the 1960s Tomorrowland Flying Saucers attraction. Cars Land also features a life-size model of Radiator Springs and several dining and shopping venues. The district serves as a connection between Pacific Wharf and Hollywood Land, eliminating the dead end at the foot of the Tower of Terror attraction. Construction began in July 2009 and opened to the public on June 15, 2012.[15]

Live entertainment[edit]

Many Disney characters are found throughout the park, greeting visitors and posing for photos. Some have specific areas where they are scheduled to appear, but can be found wandering as well.

World of Color is a nighttime show, designed by Walt Disney Creative Entertainment. It has more than 1200 fountains and includes lasers, lights, and fire with high-definition projections on mist screens similar to the ones used in Fantasmic! at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

Mad T Party is an interactive nighttime dance party based on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland film and is located in the Hollywood Land district. It is considered a similar experience to Glow Fest, which was staged in the same area in summer 2010, and ElecTRONica, a similar event themed to Disney's Tron franchise that ended on April 15, 2012.[17] Mad T Party features lights, music, projections, and merchandise kiosk stands, a lounge and an interactive game area. The event started on June 15, 2012.

Pixar Play Parade is a parade featuring floats and characters based on the Disney·Pixar films Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life, Toy Story and Cars. The parade originally had an additional section featuring characters from Ratatouille but was removed. The floats feature small water jets that shoot water into the crowd of spectators. The music used in the parade is derived from Hong Kong Disneyland's Mickey's WaterWorks Parade, sharing the same tunes. Due to the massive construction in the park, the parade was on hiatus since January 2011 and returned in June 2012.

The Red Car News Boys musical group is found at Carthay Circle. They appear via Red Car Trolley and inform guests about local news happenings in-song. A Hollywood newcomer, Mickey Mouse, arrives and is motivated by the newsgroup to pursue his dream of seeking a career in Los Angeles.[19] The performance is partly inspired by the 1992 film, Newsies.

The Five & Dime swing band consists of five male musicians and one female singer. They perform in the cross-hairs of Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land.

Former entertainment[edit]


20082009201020112012Worldwide rank


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2012 attendance report". Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ Tony Baxter. "Tony Baxter... on WestCOT". Retrieved August 21, 2006. 
  3. ^ Jim Hill Media. "California Misadventure: Part 3". Retrieved August 21, 2006. 
  4. ^ Reckard, E. Scott (January 14, 2001). "The Most Jam-Packed Theme Park on Earth?". LA Times. 
  5. ^ "Archived D-I-G Update: 6/25". 
  6. ^ Richard Verrier and Dave Mckibben (October 17, 2007). "Disney to fix a major misstep". LA Times. 
  7. ^ Los Angeles Times Staff Writers (October 18, 2007). "Disney looks home for renewal". LA Times. "The company moves to transform Anaheim's resort district in the image of the popular Walt Disney World. But critics remain skeptical." 
  8. ^ a b http://ocresort.ocregister.com/2010/12/20/big-changes-coming-to-disney-california-adventure/64914/
  9. ^ Heather Hurst Rivera (May 28, 2010). "First Look: New ‘World of Color’ TV Spot". Disney Parks Blog. 
  10. ^ Sanchez, Betsy (August 9, 2011). "Disneyland Resort Donates California Zephyr to Western Pacific Railroad Museum". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  11. ^ Glover, Ern (August 26, 2011). "Buena Vista Street Ready to Take Shape at Disney California Adventure Park". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  12. ^ MacDonald, Brady (June 13, 2012). "Review: Buena Vista Street lets visitors walk in Walt Disney's shoes". Los Angeles Times. 
  13. ^ http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-carsland-open-20120616,0,3669975.story?track=rss.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  14. ^ Krantz, Matt (June 14, 2012). "Disney revs its motor with revamped California Adventure". USA Today. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Staggs, Tom (March 7, 2012). "Taking a Tour of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle Theatre – Opening June 15 at Disney California Adventure Park". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  16. ^ "Toy Story Midway Mania! (Disney's California Adventure)". Parkz. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Tully, Sarah (May 27, 2012). "Disney park begins new, edgy night-time party". The Orange County Register. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  18. ^ Reynolds, Christopher. "Disney Cars ride: thrills, sticker shock.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 21, 2007. 
  19. ^ Glover, Erin. "Mickey Mouse, the Red Car News Boys and ‘A Suitcase and a Dream’ at Disney California Adventure Park". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Eureka! at Yesterland". Yesterland. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  21. ^ "Electrical Parade" unplugged, sent back East as DCA preps for "Disney’s World of Color"". Jim Hill Media. February 11, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  22. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2008 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  23. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2009 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2009. Archived from the original on June 2, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  24. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2010 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2010. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  25. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2011 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 

External links[edit]