dca history tour

DCA History Tour: Paradise Pier…The Finale!

Can you believe it! This is the last DCA History Lesson! More importantly, the week we have been waiting for since it was announced in 2007, DCA’s 1.1 billion dollar expansion will finally be completed. Time has flown. To celebrate, I thought the only way to cap off an incredible expansion of this size, would be to go to the most iconic part of DCA…Paradise Pier. Strap in screamers, we have 4 topics to cover. Sit back, face forward, and hang on!

The focal point of Paradise Pier was (and still is) the Ferris wheel. Being 160 ft. in diameter, it is hard to miss. WDI decided that the essence of California could be represented by the sun (hence the Sunshine Sculpture at the front of the park), so they stuck it on the side of the wheel. Based on Mexican folk-art, one of the main “defining features” of the park also featured a very fun, and sometimes thrilling, ride. With 16 swinging gondolas, it brought Ferris wheels to a whole new level. Once the expansion was announced and the direction Paradise Pier was taking was different than what the sun represented, they announced that the Sun Wheel would now becomes Mickey’s Fun Wheel. The attraction closed in Oct. of 2008 and reopened in May 2009 with the Mickey head.

Read More »DCA History Tour: Paradise Pier…The Finale!

DCA History Lesson: Tortillas, Wine, and Heavy Machinery

We are almost a week away from the piece de resistance for a Disney Parks fan, the unveiling of “DCA 2.0” after its major 5-year overhaul. As you know, I have been writing these history lessons leading up to June 15th, reminding you what would have happened if DCA stayed the same from day one. Today we are looking at a mish-mash of topics: Mission Tortilla Factory, Golden Vine Winery, and the Bountiful Valley Farm, with which we will start with.

Bountiful Valley Farm was one of the opening day attractions featured in the “Golden State” portion of the park. This area was a walk-through/garden/construction site that showed you how agriculture is such a large part of California’s culture (Thanks to Caterpillar farming equipment the area’s sponsor). This mini-land featured multiple crops that are prominent in California in addition to statues and signs describing California agriculture. The area also featured a new take on a kid’s water play area, using stationary yellow poles spurting water in different directions. A neat, inventive component was the unique store called “Santa Rosa Seed and Supply” that featured the usually t-shirts and toys (Caterpillars, no less), but also having gardening essentials. An odd choice for a theme park, but a cool ideas none the less. The highlight of the area? The ability to sit in tractor seats…duh! The area was one of the first to be gutted for the redo, closing on Sept. 7th, 2010. This area has now been covered with Carsland (BREAKING NEWS…it opens June 15th).

Read More »DCA History Lesson: Tortillas, Wine, and Heavy Machinery

DCA History Lesson: Parades

I don’t know about you, but if I lived in California, I would be jumping for those D23 tickets to go do a Carsland and Buena Vista Street walk-through before the official opening on, everyone together now, JUNE 15th! But, alas, I am in Florida, recapping the past ten years of DCA for you to enjoy before that lovely June day. Today, we will talk about the 2 now deceased (maybe not the best word choice…) parades that ran up and down the Performance Corridor for years. No, I’m not kidding, it was called the Performance Corridor instead of a Parade Route…oh DCA.

First up, we have the infamous “Eureka”. Named after the state motto, it was also the name of the deity that was represented on each of the floats, dressed as to reflect certain regions of California. She was in the sun logo, Hispanic California, an angel from “The City of Angels,” Beach-Loving Beauty, Chinese woman of Chinatown, and the Golden Goddess representing the Golden State. With each float came its respectable share of interesting costumes (A man dressed as the Hollywood Bowl, two men on stilts as the Golden Gate Bridge, etc.). In addition to the odd costume choices, the float performers were really cool, with the beach/surfing float containing a skateboarding half-pipe being used and the City of Angels section having drummers hanging off the side of float.

Though it did gain a small cult following among some Disney fans, it ultimately was not successful (Shocking!) at DCA. The problem? It had no Disney Characters. Not even Mickey. Though “Tapestry of Nations” at Epcot had no characters and was very popular, this parade had a very hectic and discombobulated feel to it that off put some, unlike “Tapestry”. It opened with the park in Feb. 2001, closed for the off-season, returned for the Summer of 2002, and never ran again.

After the park became such a folly for Disney and the crowd numbers weren’t what they were expecting, they needed something to pull the people in and fast. The solution? “Disney’s Electrical Parade”.

Read More »DCA History Lesson: Parades

DCA History Tour – Dining

Can you believe it! We are just a little over 5 weeks away from the moment every Disney fan has been waiting for since 2008…the redo of Disney California Adventure will finally be completed! So, the OBVIOUS thing to do is move on to Part 4 of my DCA History Lesson! We have covered, so far, Sunshine Plaza, Golden Dreams, and Superstar Limo. This entry will be a lengthy one, since we are covering ALL of the past restaurants that have graced the face of the park. From quick service to sit-down, expensive to cheap, we are covering them all! Let’s get started then! Grab a tray, place an order, and let’s travel back in time!

Let’s start off with the Quick Service locations around the park. They all tried to be unique and themed, though they were just QS places, but sometimes…the theme just didn’t work. “Pizza Oom Mow Mow” and “Burger Invasion” were 2 of those locations. The former was a a mish mash of two connected beach cottages (with a variety of pizza choices). You ate in, what seemed to be, outside of a garage door adorned with airbrush art that they put on shirts when you go to the beach. One of the problems facing this was that there was NO BACKSTORY! With such an awkwardly designed place and no story of how it got there, it was just known as “That ugly restaurant by the Orange Stinger”. It opened in Feb. of 2001 and closed in Sept. of 2010.

Right beside the glory that is “Pizza Oom Mow Mow” (btw, what a terrible pun!) was “Burger Invasion”. This spaceship/hamburger crossover was one of the many McDonald’s locations across the domestic Disney theme parks. This one, though, had no inside seating and no coverings…which is a deal breaker for most people. The McDonald’s contract expired in 2007, but the Mickey D’s fast food joint stayed around until Sept. of 2008. After it closed, it stayed closed…for 2 years. Eventually this, “Pizza Oom Mow Mow” and the S.S. Rustworthy (look for that in an upcoming blog!) were demolished and were replaced by the beautiful and delicious “Paradise Garden Grill” and “Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta”

Read More »DCA History Tour – Dining

DCA History Tour – Golden Dreams

It is part three of my DCA History Lesson! Every week I will be bringing you a look back at something from DCA’s past, leading up to the June 15th grand re-opening of the park. So come along as we take a stroll through the past and remembering how great it was!
Today, we are heading over to the “San Francisco” area of the park (if you could call that an area) and reliving “Golden Dreams.” The exterior of the theater was a replica of Bernard Maybeck’s Palace of Fine Arts located in the real San Francisco. This 25 minute film took you through the history of California and the dreams the land created. Led by Califia, the Queen of California, played by Unofficial DCA Mascot Whoopi Goldberg, we traveled through the years and realized all the dreams that could stem from one state.

This opening day attraction was highly regarded…for what it was, a movie. It never got Soarin’ style ratings, but it was still very good. Disney tried to add their trademark emotion into the film, which they did with great success. Whoopi playing Califia was a great choice as a narrator and shed some nice humor into the film. Favorite line? When the MGM namesake is looking at ‘The Wizard of Oz” costume designers choice of silver slippers, Califia walks quickly behind Mr.MGM and says “Silver is nice, Ruby is better.” While it showed a huge span of time, it never came off as dull history lesson. They brought life into a film that had the chance to be extremely bland.

Read More »DCA History Tour – Golden Dreams