(note: this is one section of a much longer California TPS Report. Click here to start from the beginning)
Disney California Adventure is one of those parks that defied the odds. When it opened back in 2001, it was very poorly received. Pictures and video I’ve seen indicates that the concept really missed the mark – the place looked like a bad airport postcard representation of California, and no one bought into it. Business was tepid, with attendance struggling to make it half-capacity on the busiest of weekend days.
In 2007, Disney began a $1.1 billion, five year renovation of the park to turn it around. Considering the original price tag was only about $600 million, that’s pretty ballsy.
The entrance to the park is modeled after the historic Pan-Pacific Auditorium (similar to the entrance to Disney Hollywood Studios). The original Pan-Pacific Auditorium was lost to a fire in 1989, but if you really want to see it, you can go watch Xanadu. Or don’t.
The entrance plaza is a representation of Buena Vista Street. It’s meant to evoke the atmosphere of 1920’s Los Angeles when Walt Disney first arrived in town.
Before the park officially opens, guests are allowed into this area.
In that section you’ll find the Storytellers statue.
Hey, that would be like 500 bucks in 2015 dollars. Of course, he forgot to mention the part where he also brought his brilliant imagination with him.
The man had his faults, but I think Disney’s pros outweighed his cons by a large margin.
The Carthay Circle Theater was the location of the world premiere of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The façade here houses a restaurant and lounge (sorry, we exhausted our “expensive meal” allowance over at Disneyland’s Blue Bayou).
Here’s a panoramic shot showing two of the possible starting points when the park opens. Over on the far left is Condor Flats (home to Soarin’ and Grizzly River Run), while the far right leads to Hollywood Land (home of Muppetvision and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror). Instead of those, we’re queuing up for the longest line in the park.
In 2012, California Adventure opened up Cars Land, the final phase of that previously mentioned five year expansion. It is home to Radiator Springs Racers, which is supposedly the most expensive attraction ($200 million) at the Disneyland Resort.
Just to be clear, this is the back of the line. You can’t even see the ride from here.
Before getting into that line, however, you need to get into the line for the FASTpass tickets. Yes, this is the kind of ride you get a FASTpass for on your way to the standby line. In fact, they’ve positioned the FASTpass dispensers to make it easier to get one before you get into the line. And you really, really need to. We got to the machine 15 minutes after the park opened and got a return window for 2:00.
The good news is that you can spend your time in line marveling at the incredible job the Imagineers have done in bringing the world of Radiator Springs to life.
Even if you aren’t a fan of the movie, there are visual treats throughout the land.
The Cozy Cone Motel sells snacks – each cone sells a different item. It’s a cute concept, but it’s probably a pain in the butt if you’re dealing with a few needy children with different demands…
Ramones is a retail shop with clothes and shiny things. Its visual inspiration is a restored Art Deco gas station in Shamrock, Texas called the U-Drop Inn.
The Radiator Springs Curios shop is filled with Route 66-type souvenirs.
Flo’s V8 Café is a counter service restaurant that seems to specialize in comfort food. They have breakfast as well, which could be handy while you’re waiting for your Radiator Springs Racers FASTpass return window (though I would really recommend eating breakfast before you get to the park).
When you reach the memorial to Radiator Springs’ founder, it means you’ve almost reached the entrance of the ride. That’s right, we’re not even in the actual line yet!