First visit to Disney's California Adventure (DCA) - February 3, 2001 trip report

My overall impression is that Disney did a great job with what they set out to do. If you're expecting another Disneyland, then you'll be sorely disappointed. But then, what's the point of building another Disneyland across the plaza from the original Disneyland?

DCA reminds me of a combination between Disney/MGM Studios and Epcot.  There are a few attractions themed to Disney properties, but mostly, it's just other fun stuff along with Disney's version of various locations in California. When one visits the various locations at Epcot's World Showcase, one does not really think they're in England, or France, or Japan. You're in Disney's cleaner, safer version of those countries. Similarly, when you're in New Orleans Square in DL, you do not think you're actually experiencing New Orleans, but rather Disney's version of New Orleans. In the same way, when you're in DCA, you're in Disney's version of various places. As I sat on the ground almost under California Screamin' while waiting for the parade, I just listened and looked around for a bit. I could hear the roar of the coaster cars as they went by and the screams of the aassengers on board. I could hear the sounds of other attractions and the people enjoying those as well.  It was warm out - a nice California day. I could easily believe that I was at a seaside amusement park enjoying the day with friends. Granted, it's Disney's cleaner, safer version of such a place, but isn't that what the experience is about?

When I was in the Hollywood section, I could easily believe that I was walking on the backlot of a motion picture studio that depicted the Hollywood area. The best little touch was that on one corner, they had a wooden fold-out sign that said "maps to the stars homes" or something like that, and they had a CM in one of those loud Hawaiian t-shirts calling to passersby asking if they had their maps. He actually had the park map to DCA. It was a nice touch that had a useful purpose, and the CM seemed to be having a blast.

I've heard some people say that DCA is not themed at all, and I have to totally disagree. It's not themed to Disney, but it's themed to each individual area. In the Condor Flats area, which is supposed to be the test pilot/airplane area, the pictograms on the restrooms had "aviator" and "aviatrix" on the stick figures of pilots. The stroller parking area in front of Soarin' said something about parking for future aviators with a stick figure of a child riding in a futuristic stroller. In the Pacific Wharf section, the bathroom pictogram for women had a stick figure of a woman holding a really big fish while the pictogram of the man showed him holding a little tiny fish. In the bathrooms by the Carousel, some of the tiling at the very top matched some of the animals that were on the carousel. (No, I wasn't doing a bathroom tour, but it just happened that a lot of the little touches were in those areas.)

When I first heard that Disney was building Disney's California Adventure in CALIFORNIA, it really made no sense to me. Why not build this somewhere else? But, I was ready to see what Disney would do.  I didn't pay attention to any of the discussion while they were building, and I know nothing about what they had wanted to do, and frankly, I don't care. It doesn't matter to me what they thought up. It's much easier to just come up with ideas, but it's much harder to come up with ideas that can be turned into reality. I wanted to see the finished product and would decide how I felt based on that.

Well, I very much like the finished product. California is a very diverse and expansive state, and DCA is kind of a Cliff's Notes overview. You get the highlights, which is by no means the actual thing, but it might whet your appetite to seek out the real thing.

I think DCA accomplishes exactly what they set out to do. Not to say there aren't problems (yes, they need more shade, which should be alleviated somewhat when the trees grow up, but they will need a faster fix than that; and they do need a few more high-capacity [but not necessarily E-ticket] attractions, but I'm figuring that will come. I'm disappointed that I can't upgrade to a 2-park pass, but until they do, I will be perfectly happy to go once or twice a year, pay the day price, and have a great time.


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