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Disney’s California Adventure

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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.

Mater & Lightning McQueen photo shoot Cars Land

The world of Pixar’s Cars will open at Disney California Adventure on June 15th and Disney is ready to flood the airwaves with enticements to stop by. A new TV spot follows the characters from the movie as they explore the land. Sally and Lighting McQueen race through Ornament Valley and Radiator Springs. Luigi, Guido and Fillmore float on air on Luigi’s Flying Tires. Mater teaches little tractors to whip, whirl and dance on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.

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).

We’re just a few short days away from the grand unveiling of the (mostly) remade Disney California Adventure. On June 15 two highly anticipated themed lands, Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, will open completing a five-year expansion of the Disneyland Resort. Add new attractions, merchandise locations, entertainment and food offerings, plus opportunities for families to have fun together, and guests will find an immersive experience full of memory-making opportunities for the whole family.

Here’s a closer look at Disney California Adventure, by the numbers.

280,000 – Square feet of rockwork in Cars Land, making Ornament Valley mountain range the largest rockwork created in a domestic Disney theme park; built to an unusual level of complexity with very few 90-degree angles

125 – Height in feet at the tallest peak of Ornament Valley range in Cars Land