Disney California Adventure is divided into seven themed areas called “districts”. While our first day at California Adventure was spent primarily exploring Cars Land, our second day was spent exploring the rest of the park.
California Adventure was my favorite of the two Disneyland Resort parks. I enjoyed the fact that it was unfamiliar and didn’t resemble a park we had visited before. This park had an old Hollywood feel and celebrated all things California, from its seaside amusement parks to its National Parks.
Buena Vista Street
Buena Vista Street is the first “themed district” inside the main entrance of California Adventure Park, taking its name from the street on which the Walt Disney Studios are located. 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. 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.
A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, titled Storytellers, is located near the Carthay Circle.
The Red Car Trolley travels from the entry, up Buena Vista Street toward the Carthay Circle, then down Hollywood Boulevard towards the Tower of Terror.
It was here on Buena Vista Street that we found the Newsies performing. Molly was thrilled to stumble across this impromptu performance, being a huge fan of this Disney musical.
Paradise Pier spans 15 acres and is the largest themed “land” in the Disneyland Resort. Paradise Pier is themed as an idealized version of popular coastal boardwalk. 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.
This became a favorite ride for Toby, Grace, Molly, Tyler and I. Ozzie and Rusty opted to stick with some of the tamer carnival rides.
This is a favorite ride at Hollywood Studios, Florida, so it was fun to ride it again. The Paradise Pier landscape was a perfect fit for this ride that takes you through Andy’s new Midway Mania toy game.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel is a 160-foot tall Ferris wheel overlooking Paradise Bay, a large body of water that dominates the Paradise Pier area.
In the evening we returned to Paradise Pier for Disney’s big nighttime show. All I can say is…WOW!!
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.
What an incredible show!
Much like the Disney World show that uses the castle as a backdrop for projections, this 30 minute show uses a wall of sprayed water as the “screen” for various Disney movie clips as they tell a story through music, lights, and fire.
Grizzly Peak Airfield is themed to an airfield in California’s High Sierras in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The featured attraction is Soarin’ Around the World, a ride that simulates a hang glider tour of locations, landscapes, and landmarks across six continents of the world.
We were excited to see the new “Soarin’ around the World” ride, after so enjoying the original “Soarin'” ride that highlighted sites in California. Our reviews of the new version are mixed. Some preferred the new Soarin’ while others felt the original was better. My thoughts… I prefer the sites and video clips on the new ride, but miss the smells and experiences of the original ride.
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 Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, and the Boudin Bakery‘s Bakery Tour, touring the sourdough bread-making process, featuring a video of Rosie O’Donnell and Colin Mochrie explaining the history of the bread.
Here the majority of our time was spent buying homemade sourdough bread. After trying our first sample of this amazing sourdough bread while on the bakery tour, we found ourselves returning to buy a $5.00 loaf a couple times a day to snack on while we walked around the park…a cheap and delicious Disney treat!
Hollywood Land, 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 variation of 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 Disney·Pixar‘s Monsters, Inc..
Grace was excited for this particular ride and she dressed accordingly for the experience.
At Disneyland costumes are restricted for guests older than 14 years old. This rule has resulted in a Disney fan tradition called “Disney bounding,” in which guests dress in street clothes that are reflective of a certain Disney movie or character. It is a more subtle nod to their Disney favorites.
Grace had planned Disney-bound outfits for the week we were at Disneyland with Wednesday’s outfit being a nod to the Monsters Inc. movies. She made a Monsters University hat to wear by dying a white ball cap blue, distressing the edges. and sewing on patches. She also wore a sock pinned to her back.
Her “2319” may have been too subtle a nod however, because she spent the day explaining the sock to well meaning adults that would stop her and whisper, “Honey, you have a sock stuck to your back.”
The joke wasn’t lost of the Monsters Inc. cast members though. As soon as she approached the ride they began shouting, ” 2319…We have a 2319!”
One of the coolest experiences of our time at California Adventure was the Frozen show.
This is a new show, replacing the live Aladdin show that used to call this theatre home. Having watched clips of this live musical on YouTube, I was SO EXCITED to see it in person.
It exceeded my expectations.
It was a Broadway worthy production of a favorite Disney movie.
I think the live version may have been even better than the original cartoon with its charming puppet portrayals of Olaf, Sven and the trolls.
It was a magical way to end another magical day!