“It was July 1923 … With that wonderful audacity of youth, I went to Hollywood, arriving there with just $40. It was a big day, the day I got on that Santa Fe California Limited. I was just free and happy.” That was Walt Disney looking back on the day he arrived in California, with a cardboard suitcase and an address for his older brother.
While Disneyland represents a detailed collection of times and places that existing as much in fantasy as they did in real life, Disney California Adventure’s recent makeover added that same level detail to a park much in need of some sparkle and shine. The crowning achievement of that makeover was Buena Vista Street. Not only the new opening scene for DCA, but it also tells the story of Walt Disney himself when he arrived in Los Angeles with only a few dollars to his name and dreams of opening a cartoon studio.
Disneyland has released a series of portraits for each land inside its two gates. Up first is Buena Vista Street. Join us below the jump and learn the inside details:
Buena Vista Street opened June 15, 2012, as part of a five-year expansion of Disney California Adventure Park. It depicts a typical Los Angeles neighborhood where a young Walt Disney lived and worked after arriving in Southern California in 1923. This idyllic version of the City of Angels is captured with quaint “mom-and-pop” shops and markets, a big city department store and corner cafe. The two Red Car Trolleys providing transportation up and down the boulevard are a nostalgic reminder of Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s. The architecture draws on Los Angeles Spanish/Mexican roots, inspired by actual buildings of greater Los Angeles.
The entrance to the park is a nod to the old Pan Pacific Auditorium, an L.A. landmark built in the 1930s. Carthay Circle Theatre, the iconic center of Disney California Adventure, honors the place where Walt premiered his first feature-length animation “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937. The Red Car Trolley, inspired by the “Big Red Cars” of the Pacific Electric Railway, provides service between Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land. On Cathay Circle guests often pose for photos at “Storytellers,” a bronze statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. It reflects the beginning of a great partnership between the two; a time of great hope and boundless optimism in the life of the up-and-coming filmmaker and his famous creation.
Attractions: Red Car Trolley
Entertainment: Buena Vista Street has two shows plus special entertainers. The Red Car Trolley News Boys roll into town singing “California, Here I Come!” and other fun tunes from the 1920s and ’30s. The News Boys also deliver the latest “headlines” in the Buena Vista Daily Bugle. The Citizens of Buena Vista Street, a cast of Hollywood “characters” from decades past, interact with guests for some laughs and memories. The musical group Five & Dime adds all that jazz to Carthay Circle, led by a vivacious singer named Dime who hopes to make it big in Hollywood. Like everyone who comes to Buena Vista Street, great things await them just around the corner.
Dining: From a relaxing meal to a quick bite, Buena Vista Street offers several options. Guests may enjoy an elegant meal at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge, with its 68-seat bar and wine lounge on the first level, and the 200-seat restaurant upstairs. Andrew Sutton, acclaimed executive chef at the Napa Rose, is also executive chef at Carthay Circle. Guests may also visit the following food locations on Buena Vista Street to satisfy their appetites:
- Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice
- Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café (serving Starbucks products)
- Mortimer’s Market
- Willie’s Churros
- Popcorn Wagon
Shopping: Guests will find an ideal souvenir or keepsake in the shops along Buena Vista Street. The largest store here is Elias & Co., which carries apparel, watches, handbags, accessories and more. Kingswell Camera Shop, the PhotoPass headquarters for Disney California Adventure, carries everything guests may need to capture images of their day at the resort. Guests may shop for seasonal merchandise and home décor at Julius Katz & Sons, and Oswald’s carries travel mugs, sunscreen, hats and more. Los Feliz Five and Dime offers T-shirts, fleece, hats, figurines and souvenirs. Younger guests will find interactive toys, plush and games inspired by Disney characters at Big Top Toys. Treats for the whole family are available at Atwater Ink & Paint and Trolley Treats, which specializes in handmade candy.
Imaginative landscaping: The street features roses, evergreen shrubs and perennial color, reflecting Los Angeles in the 1920s and ’30s.
Did you know?
- Buena Vista Street is named after Buena Vista Street in Burbank, where The Walt Disney Studios is located.
- Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge is the “castle,” or centerpiece, of Disney California Adventure.
- The two Red Car Trolley cars are the 623 car and the 717 car. The numbers are historical reminders of when Walt Disney first moved to California in June 1923 and when he opened Disneyland Park on July 17, 1955.
- The Candy Mountain featured at Trolley Treats was inspired by an early concept for a water flume attraction in Disneyland Park. The idea was to make the mountain look as if it were completely covered with candy. The project was never built.
- Radios in Oswald’s and Julius Katz & Sons are tuned to KBVS, the local radio station. Guests are treated to shows such “The Adventures of Hank and Wally,” the FF&P Classical Music Hour and Scary Symphony (inspired by Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds”).
Cast member tips:
- Visit the Carthay Circle Lounge (downstairs) and see how “mixologists” make ice spheres for some of the handcrafted cocktails.
- Arrive early to purchase a hand-twisted candy cane during the holiday season at Trolley Treats. Supplies are limited.
- Haberdashers are cast members specially trained in pin trading and they are found only on Buena Vista Street. Spot them by the tape measure lanyards around their necks.
- Peek inside the old Packard Coupe at Oswald’s to find some hidden treasures that connect to Disney history.
Have you been to Disney California Adventure after the makeover was complete? What did you think of Buena Vista Street?