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Disney California Adventure
Grizzly peak dca
Disneyland Resort
Groundbreaking 1998
Opened February 8, 2001
Lands *Buena Vista Street
Attractions 35
Restaurants 30
Disney California Adventure logo



Concept

WESTCot

Originally, the idea was to bring Epcot to the West Coast. Imagineers dubbed the project "WESTCot". In 1991, Disney announced plans to build WESTCot, but Imagineers had to wait to build. Disney had spent a lot of money at the time building the newly-opened Disneyland Paris in 1992. Due to budget cuts, the project was dropped in 1995. 

In Summer 1995, Disney CEO Michael Eisner gathered several company workers together in Colorado to talk about a second theme park at the Disneyland Resort. At that meeting, they explained a second theme park dedicated directly to California's culture and history. Construction on the park began in 1998, as well as construction on Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel

Opening and criticism

Construction was completed by November 2000, with a planned February 8, 2001 opening. Disney expected a large crowd on the morning of February 8. To their surprise, rarely anybody bothered to show up. On January 14, the Los Angeles Times newspaper published an article entitled "The Most Jam-Packed Theme Park on Earth?" The article explained that Disney employees explained that there will be some days when California Adventure will fail and turn guests away, including opening, spring break, and the summer. As a result, the park received low reviews in the first few weeks of operation. Guests criticized the park for their lack of children's attractions, the lack of focus in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section (now Hollywoodland), and having a poor theme. The park received a low attendance that year. Also, guests criticized Disney for not having a barrier to exclude the park from the outside world. At Disneyland, the park is separated by trees and buildings. Meanwhile, guests can spot the Anaheim Convention Center, hotels, power lines, and radio towers at California Adventure, setting the theme low.

Early expansions

In the first few years of operation, the park continued to be criticized for their lack of theme and children's rides. A few months after the park opened, they added Disney's Electrical Parade and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It! to the park. Also, in 2002, Disney added "A Bug's Land" to the park, which gave kids more attractions to ride on. In May 2004, Disney opened their thriller and the second installation of the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Two years later, in January 2006, Disney opened Monsters Inc: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!, coincidentally also in Hollywood Pictures Backlot (now Hollywoodland), as a replacement to the failed Superstar Limo dark ride.

2007-2012 expansion

On October 17, 2007, Disney announced they were ultimately going to change Disney's California Adventure. They announced Disney was going to spend $1.1 billion expanding and remodeling California Adventure to attract more guests after several years of low attendance. Each section of the park was going to be rethemed and remodeled from a modern version of California to a more historic version. The project began two months later and was completed in several stages.

2008

One of the first expansion ideas was to bring more Toy Story to the park. On June 17, 2008, a 3-D shooting dark ride named Toy Story Midway Mania! opened in a building under the famous Mickey shape of California Screamin'. The space was formerly occupied by restaurants and shops. In 2008, the park's Sun Wheel ride closed to go into retheming.

2009-2010

In May 2009, the revamped and remodeled Sun Wheel opened under the name Mickey's Fun Wheel. The giant sun face on the attraction was replaced by a Mickey head. In October 2009, the park closed Orange Stinger. The California Screamin' Mickey head was removed and replaced by a popping sunburst. In May 2010, the Orange Stinger reopened as Silly Symphony Swings. In June 2010, the park opened their popular hydrotechnic night time spectacular, World of Color, in Paradise Bay (the entire Paradise Bay was drained in 2009 to start construction). In September 2010, the park closed their Maliboomer sling shot attraction and the Mulholland Madness wild mouse coaster. Also, Golden Dreams closed for its retheming. 

2011

In mid-June 2011, the park opened The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure in the former Golden Dreams theater. Guests board a clam shell and visit the undersea world of Princess Ariel, Sebastian, and Flounder. Around 25 days later, the Mulholland Madness reopened as Goofy's Sky School

2012

2012 was the final year of the expansion, ending on June 15, 2012. The park opened Buena Vista Street as their new entrance plaza, and Cars Land: a land based off the Pixar film series, Cars. The areas brought several new rides to the park, such as Radiator Springs RacersLuigi's Flying TiresMater's Junkyard Jamboree, and the Red Car Trolley. The expansion concluded with a re-dedication ceremony of the park and the burial of a time capsule that will be opened in 2027. Items in the capsule include park nametags/maps, a Blackberry phone, and park memorabilia from a holiday event.

Layout

The park is layed out in several themed lands all dedicated to California's cultural history. The lands are Paradise Pier, A Bug's Land, Grizzly Peak (formerly Golden State), Condor Flats, Buena Vista Street (formerly Sunshine Plaza), Cars Land, Pacific Wharf, and Hollywoodland (formerly Hollywood Pictures Backlot). 

Buena Vista Street

Buena Vista Street is the new and improved entrance plaza for the park. It reopened as the final phase of the mega-expansion of the park. The theme of this area of the park is Los Angeles in the 1920s (a.k.a. when Walt Disney moved to California). The entance plaza has a replica of the Carthay Circle Theater, where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937. The entrance is a replica of the former Pan-Pacific Theater that burned down in a fire in 1989.

Rides

Dining

  • Carthay Circle Restaurant
  • Carthay Circle Lounge
  • Fiddler, Fifler, and Practical Cafe and Bakery
  • Mortimer's Market
  • Clarabelle's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Parlor
  • Trolley Treats
  • Club 1901 (similar to Club 33 at Disneyland)

Shops

  • Julius Katz & Son Appliances and More
  • Julius Katz Shoe and Watch Repair
  • Big Top Toys
  • Horace's Pawn Shop
  • Oswald's Gas and Oil
  • Los Feliz Five and Dime
  • Elias and Co. Department Store
  • Kingswell Camera Shop
  • Atwater Ink and Paint Art Supply 
    220px-Carthay Circle Restaurant - California Adventure

    The replica of the Carthay Circle Theater.

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier is one of the main lands of the park. The area is themed off of the classic Disney characters, authentic California boardwalks, and California piers (specifically Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Santa Monica Pier). The area has its own man-made lake (Paradise Bay) and the area has changed in the past few years because the area was affected hugely as part of the expansion.

Rides

Dining

  • Ariel's Grotto
  • Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company
  • Out Door Vending Company
  • Don Tomas
  • Hot Dog Hut
  • Corn Dog Castle
  • Paradise Garden Grill
  • Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta
  • Bayside Brews
  • Cove Bar

Shops

  • California Scream Cam
  • Boardwalk Bazaar
  • Midway Mercantile
  • Point Mugu Tattoo
  • Sideshow Shirts
  • Treasures in Paradise
  • Seaside Souvenirs
  • Embarcadero Gifts

Entertainment

  • World of Color - Guests can experience a hydrotechnic spectacular that projects scenes from the most classic Disney movies of all time.
  • Duffy the Disney Bear 
    Images (35)

    The entrance to Toy Story Midway Mania!, an attraction on the boardwalk.

Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak, formerly Golden State, is the center of the park. It is themed off of California's history and state parks. In the center is Grizzly Peak, a mountain shaped like a bear, which is the park icon. Originally, Golden State was three areas combined: Grizzly Peak, Condor Flats, and Pacific Wharf. For expansion, they broke off into separate areas. Now, Grizzly Peak remains a single land, home to exciting thrills and adventures for guests to challenge.

Rides

  • Grizzly River Run - Guests board a raft and take and a wet wild adventure in the Grizzly Peak.
  • Redwood Peak Challenge - Formerly themed to Brother Bear, guests join the Wilderness Explorers with Dug and Russell and get badges by doing challenges. 

Dining

  • Napa Rose

Shopping

  • Rushin' River Outfitters 
    Download (36)

Condor Flats

Back around in the 1930's, California was popular in aircraft. Condor Flats pays tributes to the planes and pilots that flew from 1940-1960. 

Rides

  • Soarin' Over California - One of the park's star attractions, guests board a hanglider and fly over various sights of California (Yosemite, Camarillo, San Diego, Anza Borrego, etc.)

Dining

  • Taste Pilots' Grill

Shopping

  • Fly N' Buy Souvenir Shop

Entertainment

  • Minnie's Fly Charter Girls Airline 
    220px-Soarin' Over California

Pacific Wharf

Originally Golden State, Pacific Wharf was one of the three areas broken off for the expansion. Pacific Wharf pays tribute to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf and Monterey's Cannery Row. 

Rides

Dining

  • Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill
  • Pacific Wharf Cafe
  • The Lucky Fortune Cookery
  • Wine Country Trattoria
  • Mendocino Wine Bar
  • Sonoma Terrace
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory 
    Pacific Wharf DCA

Hollywoodland

Hollywoodland, formerly Hollywood Pictures Backlot, is themed off of Hollywood present-day and in the 1930's. It has a sub-section called Hollywood Studios, which has a backlot that is home to several of the area's attractions and rides. 

Rides

Dining

  • Award Weiners
  • Fairfax Market
  • Schmoozies
  • Studio Catering Service

Shopping

A Bug's Land

Themed directly on the 1998 film A Bug's Life, guests enter Flik's Fun Fair, where Flik the ant has set up rides and attractions for his fellow ant friends to enjoy. For the expansion, all the restaurants and shops closed in the area.

Rides

  • It's Tough to Be a Bug!
  • Flik's Flyers
  • Heimlich's Chew Chew Train
  • Francis' Ladybug Boogie
  • Tuck and Roll's Drive Em' Buggies
  • Princess Dot Puddle Park 
    250px-Flik's Flyers

    The entrance to Flik's Flyers.

Cars Land

As part of the final phase of the expansion, Cars Land opened on the old Timon parking lot. The theme of this area is Radiator Springs, California, the fictional town featured in the 2006 film Cars, and the 2011 film, Cars 2. 

Rides

  • Radiator Springs Racers - Guests board a car and cruise through Radiator Springs. Shortly after, they race through the buttes and canyons of the town.
  • Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - Riders board a baby tractor and join Mater in a jamboree while he tells riders corny jokes and sing junkyard songs.
  • Luigi's Flying Tires - Guests board a tire and fly around in Luigi's Casa Della Tires.

Restaurants

  • Flo's V8 Cafe
  • Cozy Cone Motel
  • Fillmore's Taste-In

Shopping

Gallery

Trivia

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