For the amusement park enthusiast, it was the ultimate fantasy. On the eve of the new attraction’s grand opening to the public, Disney’s California Adventure treated the media to a guided tour. Waiting time for the marquee rides: zero minutes.
The park itself is modeled after all the various attractions that characterize historic and contemporary California: Hollywood, the wine country, the San Joaquin Valley, the natural parks, etc. A replica of the Golden Gate Bridge straddles the entrance, with a large sun symbol shining its refracted light on visitors as they enter. The park’s Paradise Pier area is a kind of sanitized version of the seaside fun zones that used to dot the Southern California coast, like the Pike or Pacific Ocean Park, replete with monster roller coaster.
The most popular ride may well prove to be “Soarin’ Over California,” which takes the Imax experience to a new level while giving the sensation of hang gliding over such sites as Big Sur, Yosemite, the Golden Gate bridge and, finally, Disneyland at night during its climactic fireworks display.
In the continuing Disney storytelling tradition, many of the attractions are educational, such as the “Golden Dreams” film, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg as Califia, queen of California, and featuring such disparate characters as William Mulholland, Louis B. Mayer and Cesar Chavez.
Be a toon
Located in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area is the Disney Animation building, where in the Beast’s Library you can identify your inner Disney animated character. Nearby, the Superstar Limo ride — a kind of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride that puts you in the passenger seat as a big-time celeb — features characters Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas.
The difference here is a more-adult-friendly environment, with eateries run by Robert Mondavi wineries and Wolfgang Puck serving alcohol (not allowed at the Magic Kingdom next door).
The price of admission is the same as at Disneyland: $43 for adults, $33 for kids ages 2-9.
Paul Pressler, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said the company projects attendance of 7 million during California Adventure’s first year.