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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.

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).

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.

Editor, this is the second post in a series on DCA History as it prepares to re-make itself effective June 15th.

This article is going to be BIG! Bigger than Madonna! Bigger than Leonardo…well maybe not that big. Yes, you guessed it, we are heading back to LAX to relive what is regarded by some as the worst Disney theme park attraction of all time…I know, harsh. So let us look back, grab a map to Drew Carey’s house, and climb aboard as we head to our own premiere as we remember…”Superstar Limo.”

The premise was relatively simple. You were the “Latest and Greatest” thing to come to California and your premiere of your new movie was showing at the Chinese Theater that day. To get there, you had to travel in your “Superstar Limo” through all of California’s celeb hotspots and see some of “Hollywood’s Best” on your journey. Your Hollywood Agent would repeatedly check up on you via a small screen in the limo with you. When he wasn’t there, an invisible announcer became your tour guide through Rodeo Drive, Bel-Air, Malibu and beyond. After encountering Regis Philbin, an awkwardly placed Madame Leota reference and multiple “directors and screenwriters” you finally make it to your premiere and meet the Unofficial Star of DCA, “Hollywood Favorite,” Whoopi Goldberg.