Disney's California Adventure Park

Disney's California Adventure Park is a theme park in Anaheim, California, adjacent to Disneyland Park and part of the larger Disneyland Resort. It opened on February 8, 2001. The park is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company.

This 55-acre (220,000 m2) theme park was constructed as part of a major expansion that transformed the Disneyland area and its hotels into the Disneyland Resort and consists of five areas: Sunshine Plaza, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, The Golden State, A Bug's Land and Paradise Pier. Each area is meant to resemble various aspects of California, its culture, landmarks and history.


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

Concept and construction

See also: Disneyland Park: Park becomes Resort, Disneyland Resort: Planning an expansion, and List of never built Disney attractions

In 1991, Disney announced the plan to build a second gate in Anaheim, WestCOT, a west coast iteration of Epcot, in place of the existing Disneyland main parking lot, but due to various reasons the project was canceled in 1995, which led to the idea of Disney's California Adventure (DCA), a park to celebrate and pay tribute to California, providing a similar experience to stepping inside a California postcard. DCA was part of the plan to expand the one park property and convert it into a greater, multi-day vacation resort destination which would be able to appeal to a greater audience - similar to Walt Disney World resort.

The construction of DCA began in 1998, as part of the Disneyland Resort expansion project which included the new theme park, the Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, Downtown Disney, and the renovation of the Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel, and was completed in 2001. DCA occupies the site of the former parking lot for 5,000 vehicles, and parking is now provided in the multi-level "Mickey and Friends" parking structure, giving space for more than 10,000 vehicles.

Park layout

Sunshine Plaza

Main article: Buena Vista Street

Sunshine Plaza serves as the main entrance into the park. It is designed to evoke the sensation of stepping into a California postcard. After guests pass the giant letters spelling out CALIFORNIA, they walk under a mock-up of San Francisco Bay's Golden Gate Bridge, which serves to disguise a portion of the resort's monorail track. Flanking both ends of the faux Golden Gate Bridge are two massive murals depicting various landmarks of and the vast mountain ranges in California. After passing under the bridge, guests reach the main area of Sunshine Plaza that serves as an access hub to the park's Hollywood Picture Backlot and Golden State. Rising over Sunshine Plaza, a large metal sunburst and surrounding fountain reflect solar rays into the surrounding area. Sunshine Plaza is also home to a replica of the California Zephyr, which houses the plaza's two counter service restaurants: Baker's Field Bakery and Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream. The plaza is also home to two of the park's biggest souvenir shops, Greetings from California and Engine Ears Toys.

Paradise Pier

Main article: Paradise Pier

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. (No official date has been announced yet.)

A section of Paradise Pier was themed after the Historic U.S. Route 66, a desert road area that starts with Paradise Pier's crashed fireboat, the S.S. rustworthy. Notable attractions are the Jumpin' Jellyfish, Golden Zephyr, and Mulholland Madness. This area is being re-themed as Route 66 will be given its own land, Cars Land, opening in a new area of the park in 2012.

Golden State

Main article: Golden State (Disney's California Adventure)

This land allows guests to experience California's natural settings. It is further divided into five sub-lands:

Condor Flats

This sub-land is themed after the aviation industry. The featured attraction here is Soarin’ Over California, a ride that simulates a hang glider tour of California. Also in this area is the Taste Pilot's Grill counter service restaurant.

Grizzly Peak Recreation Area

This sub-land 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

This sub-land is themed after the California Bay Area. It used to feature Golden Dreams, a film about the history of California, starring Whoopi Goldberg housed in a theatre. Its last showing was on September 7, 2008. Outside of the theatre is a mural and a replica of the Palace of Fine Arts. The Bay Area also includes an avenue of houses similar to the Victorian architecture of many townhouses found in San Francisco. The main area is scheduled to be converted to (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

This sub-land is themed after Northern California's Napa Valley and the winemaking industry. Included in this area is Wine Country Trattoria, a casual table service-dining restaurant which features wines and Italian foods. 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

sub-land 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. This area includes the Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Pacific Wharf Cafe, along with a Karl Strauss beer truck and a margarita stand. This sub-land also features 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

Main article: Hollywood Pictures Backlot

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. Recently, a new attraction, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! based on the characters from Monsters, Inc. opened in the attraction building that housed Superstar Limo. The 2000-seat Hyperion Theater currently plays host to '.

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.

The entrance to the area with the sign Hollywood Pictures Backlot featuring two ceramic elephants sculptures atop columns is a homage to a huge set constructed for the epic 1916 Hollywood film Intolerance directed by D.W. Griffith. This homage is echoed at the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex in Los Angeles, which currently houses the Academy Awards ceremonies at Kodak Theatre (which opened the same year, 2001) which also has elephant sculptures atop columns.

As you enter, there are bathrooms on the right. They are in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis house located in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. The stamped concrete structure is typical of Wright's pioneering design.

"A Bug's Land"

Main article: A Bug's Land

"A Bug's Land" is seen from the point of view of a bug, and the character of "Flik" from A Bug's Life. Oversized human items and foodstuffs are scattered around the land. 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.

Performance Corridor

The Performance Corridor is the primary parade route through the park, currently from the Sunshine Plaza area to the Route 66 area near the Orange Stinger. This route is subject to change due to scheduled changes in the park's offerings and construction.

Disney's Electrical Parade is presented during peak periods; this traditionally consists of the Easter/Spring Break period, summer months, and the last few weeks leading up to New Years. Disney has announced that the Electrical Parade will be moving to Walt Disney World in the Summer of 2010. One final set of performances are scheduled to be performed at California Adventure in March and April of 2010.

A High School Musical 3 production—dubbed a "traveling rock concert" by show director Randy Wojcik—typically travels along the parade route 5 days a week.

The current performances are:

  • Pixar Play Parade
  • High School Musical 3: Right Here! Right Now!
  • Disney's Electrical Parade

Initial lack of success

Disney’s California Adventure was expected to draw large crowds when opened in 2001. A January 14, 2001 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." The actual attendance was not close to the size that Disney expected for the park back in 2001.

The reasons for this has been speculated as:

  • Bad word-of-mouth from early visitors discouraged future visitors, stating the park was lacking in Disney-quality attractions.
  • Hollywood Pictures Backlot had lack of focus on the restaurants, shops and attractions.
  • Lack of rides for young children.
  • The park's Californian theme was criticized as being redundant, seeing as the park itself was located in the same state it represented. Various tourist attractions and landmarks such as the Hollywood Sign and the beaches were located less than an hour away from the park.
  • Fans criticized the Paradise Pier area of the park because many of the attractions in this area were generic rides that guests do not expect to find at a Disney park. This was ironic because Walt Disney originally created the neighboring Disneyland to provide a theme park experience unlike boardwalk piers and amusement parks of the era, and instead wanted to create a park where the entire family could enjoy themselves.
  • With an estimated price tag of $600 million, the park was criticized for being built "on the cheap," with a small number of attractions and minimal theming.
  • Many guests complained that a single day admission ticket to Disney's California Adventure cost the same as a single day admission ticket to Disneyland Park, yet contained fewer attractions, shows & entertainment.

Disney's chief executive officer, Robert Iger went on record during the company's annual stockholder meeting on March 10, 2006, when someone asked about a potential third park being built in Anaheim. "We're still working to assure the second gate is successful", Iger said, referring to California Adventure. "In the spirit of candor, we have been challenged."

Re-Imagineering and Expansion Plan

On October 17, 2007, The Walt Disney Company announced a multi-year, $1.1 billion expansion plan for Disney's California Adventure Park. Current plans for the renovation and expansion are on display for park visitors inside the Blue Sky Cellar at the Golden Vine Winery. Disney listened to the public and several of the attractions which drew criticism from the public will be removed in the multi-year, multi-billion dollar redesign and expansion of Disney's California Adventure. Other rides will be redesigned or replaced with a larger focus on Disney characters and stories.

Buena Vista Street

The Sunshine Plaza will undergo major retheming and be renamed Buena Vista Street (formerly known as "Walt Disney Plaza"). The street, which takes its name from the Burbank street on which the Walt Disney Studios are located, is 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 be removed and replaced by some arches. The sunburst structure will be removed too and 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. There will be a version of the bronze "Partners" statue installed similar to the one next door at Disneyland Park, but featuring a younger Walt Disney arriving at Los Angeles in the late 1920s.[]

Most of the stores in the current Sunshine Plaza (including Engine Ears Toys) will be no longer available to be replaced by stores with distinctive California architecture.[]

Sidewalks and curbs will be added to make the entrance feel more like a real street.[]

The park's main gate will be extended outward to where the postcard letters presently stand. Red Car trolleys (similar to those in Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit), will travel from the plaza towards the Tower of Terror. Construction of Buena Vista Street will begin in January 2010 and is planned to open December 2011.[]


Hollywood Pictures Backlot will be renamed to Hollywoodland representing the Hollywood glitz and glamour of the early 1930s. The land will house several ticketed events in the future. Disney film directors, writers and animators will occasionally be in the area to inform guests about their careers. The popular kids and family stage show "Playhouse Disney Live on Stage" will be updated with new shows and Red Car trolleys from Buena Vista Street will go through the land.[]

Cars Land

Main article: Cars Land

The new Cars Land will contain three attractions and will span 12 acres (49,000 m2). 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 and several dining and shopping venues to satisfy guests.

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.

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier will be 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. in late April 2010.]] 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 (to replace Pizza Oom Mow Mow and Burger Invasion). Golden Dreams has been closed and will be replaced with an attraction named . The Maliboomer ride is scheduled to be remodeled in 2011. Paradise Pier will be completed by summer or fall of 2011, coinciding with the 10th Anniversary of Disney's California Adventure.

Golden State

The Golden State will see the addition of several new restaurants based on California's farmland and heritage. California-themed Food and Wine Festivals will take place in this area of the park. The Seasons of the Vine attraction was replaced (closed in March 2008) by Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar. The new attraction opened in late October 2008 and showcases future additions to the park.


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22 August 2014
The main show is not worth waiting for. We were in a perfect spot & I still think they could've done better. Tip: stand by the white fence on the top next to the restaurant to get a good view.
Lindsay Hillegas
15 July 2012
They changed the entire entrance, and in my opinion, it is WAY BETTER! Sooooo cute now. Although I will miss the big California letters out front. Oh and definitely make a trip to cars land, unreal!
Anja Harris
11 July 2013
In Cars Land, stop by the cone shaped snack stand for a vodka lemonade with whipped berry sherbet on top! And even if you don't love the movie, the Cars ride is incredibly high quality. Do it.
Vanessa Leuterio
29 May 2015
Definitely the happiest place on earth for the whole family! I suggest you to go here if you absolutely love extreme rides! ????❤️
14 April 2017
Love Soaring Over the World and California Screaming. Love drinks at Carthay Circle and the Cove Bar. Soft Serve over near the boardwalk is also sooo good. Apple Freeze from Cars Land is a must.
Noah Schrader
9 July 2013
If you're planning on seeing World of Color (which you should. It's magical) make sure you get a pass for it as soon as the park opens over by grizzly river run! They can run out fast!
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Carthay Circle, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA Get directions
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