September 8, 2014

California Adventure from Afar

This is the Disney park I want to be at right now. Surprised? So am I. Very, actually.

I love Epcot and Disneyland Paris, but there's something about the new Disney California Adventure that draws me to it. I have been itching to spend a day just exploring all the detail of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land

The image above is a bit deceptive, as I do not quite care for Paradise Pier. It needs so much more, but I will admit that the revamping of the area has increased its appeal compared to the mess it was in 2001. Although it is totally without theme, needs some painting and a new musical score, California Screamin' continues to be of the most enjoyable Disney coasters. A nighttime ride is smooth as glass and provides views and a thrill that is hard to beat.

The new sister park to Disneyland still has gaping holes in quality. The backside of Hollywoodland is mostly an ugly mess.  The backlot area and the half finished theater which houses the truly magical Aladdin show are the worst offenders of any Disney park aside from the horrible Studios park in Paris. Conversely, Grizzly Peak fits perfectly up against the Grand Californian Hotel. The general area leaves much to be desired when it contains just one incomplete raft ride and a children's play area, and it could be so much more with another attraction and a few enhancements to the trails which surround it. Just around the bend, Soarin' Over California really fits at this park, as opposed to its out of theme placement at Epcot. The aviation styled Condor Flats is much too small to be totally immersive. You're barely in the land before you're out of it but a delicious  Bleu Cheese Burger at Taste Pilot's Grill takes the edge off nicely.

I am a Californian at heart and always will be, even though I have lived in Colorado for 25 years. I love the Golden State, both north and south, the lifestyle, its mission inspired architecture, and the weather. This park plays to the strengths of the famous California sunshine. In the Fall season, there is something very relaxing about the quitter pace. It's a great time to enjoy some decent food at the Pacific Wharf area while listening to the Mariachi Divas. For a landlocked Denverite, sitting under an umbrella with a waterside view is pretty rare, making this is as much a pleasure as finding myself at the farthest waterside table at Disneyland's Hungry Bear Restaurant. Knowing Cars Land and Radiator Springs Racers are just around the corner via a magnificent back entrance is only a plus. 

Count me in as one who really enjoys Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Granted, it is not the E Ticket adventure it should have been, but the larger than life Ursula animatronic makes the journey worth the effort. And who doesn't love the music from this classic film?
Hopefully, there are at least one or two classic Disney attractions of this type on the way. Ending the day with World of Color is pretty special. Blasphemy to some, but I prefer it to Fantasmic! Really. 

Disney's California Adventure isn't Disneyland. Not even close. It has a long way to go to be truly as rich in experiences and depth. Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and many other attractions place the original Kingdom above its younger sister, but without any new adventures, its just feeling a bit boring these days. There's lots of space to keep improving California Adventure. I just hope the suits will brush off those plans for "Phase Two" now that the remake is a proven success.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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