Disneyland opened originally in 1955 to a staggering crowd of arounf 50,000 guests. Years later after much success and growth, executives decided the Disneyland Resort needed to expand. In 1995, the idea of a Disney park devoted to the themes surrounding California was proposed. In 2001 Disney's California Adventure opened to little more than a fizzle. In 2007 a major overhaul was announced and by 2012, Disney California Adventure, as we know it today, was complete.
Enough with the history, let me share with you my favorite parts of this expansive park.
Most of DCA was designed after specific, yet sometimes vague, parts of California. San Francisco is one of those special areas. If you try to ignore the hot dog carts and Little Mermaid signage, you'll see the Painted Ladies and Palace of Fine Arts. The attention to detail and architectural accuracy is incredible, yet it is done in such a way that if you didn’t know it was San Francisco landmark, you would pass right by.
Speaking of the San Francisco Bay Area, Pacific Pier is styled to look like Monterey Bay while including truly San Francisco favorites. I’ve been told Boudin in California Adventure is the only place in Southern California to actually get real sourdough bread. Maybe that’s partly because Boudin and American sourdough bread originated in San Francisco in 1849.
Paradise Pier with its midway games and iconic rollercoaster pay homage to victorian boardwalks along the California coast, but mostly to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and the Santa Monica Pier. If you look beyond Jumpin’ Jellyfish, there’s even a small stretch of beach.
Carthay Circle Theatre is a very similar replica to the real life theatre in of the same name in Hollywood, built here because of the importance to Disney as the premiere location of Snow White in 1937 and installation of Fantasound for Fantasia’s release in 1940. This building elegantly contains a downstairs lounge and fancy upstairs dining room. The detail inside and out are a feat to behold down to the smallest details of light fixtures and drink selections. As you ascend the staircase, there are photographs of Walt with stars like Shirley Temple and the accompaniment of a piano player.
The Wine Country, originally sponsored by Robert Mondavi, with real to life vineyards and a wine tasting bar in honor of Napa, California.
The Grand Californian Hotel is a masterpiece unto itself, “inspired by the famed Arts and Crafts movement in California.”
As California Adventure evolves and Disney tries to make it equally profitable and desirable as Disneyland, it is slowly losing its feel of California. In 2018, Pixar Pier is becoming the new overlay for Paradise Pier and almost nothing Hollywood-y is left in the backlot.