5 Disney California Adventure Gems Long Gone
In celebrating Disney California Adventure’s 20th Anniversary, we thought we would pay homage to what I think are 5 great things about the park that were there on opening day, but are no longer had among us. Disney California Adventure did not start off well. Some attractions, like Soarin’, were fantastic when it opened and they are still around. Still other things that added to the experience and even to the park’s soul is no longer here. We explore five of those things and what came in their wake. We look at some of the most beautiful pieces of workmanship, some fun and wonderful attractions, and a special look at phenomenal music that no longer fills the air of Disney California Adventure.
5. Wall of Fame
Okay, it’s not an attraction per se. But it was the attraction that led you into the park. The original intent was to create a sort of postcard that you would walk into as you entered the park. Many of the components of that postcard were poorly done (Golden Gate monorail bridge I’m looking at you). But some were truly iconic. Included in this were the letters for the word California each individually showcased in the front. They were done with tiles in each letter. I love tiles, so all this is working for me. The letters stood 11 feet, 8 inches tall and weigh between 5,000 to 13,000 pounds each.
But the real masterpiece in my mind was what was referred to as the Wall of Fame. A massive pair of tiled murals flanking both sides of the entrance.
Each outlined with California mountains, the mural came to 10,600 square feet. Each mural was 210 feet long and were conceived and painted by Imagineer Tim Delaney. It depicted snowcapped peaks, Pacific waves, national forests, and key California landmarks like Catalina Island and LAX.
With the change to Buena Vista Street all of this was removed.
The California letters were donated eventually to the California State Fair facility in Sacramento, where they stand at the entrance there. Unfortunately the mural seems to have suffered a more unfortunate fate.
4. Golden Zephyr
During the years following World War II, millions of travelers arrived in the Golden State from Chicago aboard the Western Pacific California Zephyr. The park found the actual locomotive, a real Zephyr, and had it transported by flatbed truck out to the park. The train with its created cabins greeted guests as they entered the Sunshine Plaza. It sat at the right of the entrance leading out to Condor Flats. Individual cars served as foyers to Engine-Ears Toys, Baker’s Field Bakery & Coffee Roaster and Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream.
3. King Triton’s Carousel
I always wondered why this carousel was named after King Triton and not Arial herself. I realize that the nod to King Triton is a point by point match to the carousel at Disneyland, named after King Arthur. Though much smaller than King Arthur Carousel, it featured two undersea chariots and 56 sea creatures native to the Pacific Ocean and California coast such as seahorses, flying fish, whales, dolphins, sea lions, otters, and garibaldis. Purists will point out that it was misnamed, as any carousel that features animals other than horses is called a merry-go-round.
Here is a list of piers acknowledged in the attraction:
- Venice of America, Venice, 1904
- Abbot Kinney Pier, Venice, 1905
- The Pike, Long Beach, 1905
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, 1907
- Looff’s Pier, Santa Monica, 1908
- Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, 1909
- Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier, Ocean Park, 1912
- Pickering Pleasure Pier, Ocean Park, 1920
- Lick Pier, Ocean Park, 1923
- Belmont Park, San Diego, 1925
- Venice Pier, Venice, 1925
- Playland At The Beach, San Francisco, 1928
- Ocean Park Pier, Ocean Park, 1929
- Virginia Park, Long Beach, 1939
- Nu-Pike, Long Beach, 1950
- Pacific Ocean Park, Santa Monica, 1958
2. Golden Dream
Technically, this is no American Adventure. Still, this presentation was intended to honor California in the same way The American Adventure honors the United States. Woopi Goldberg was your host for this experience (though she also showed up at Super Star Limo). She didn’t have any animatronic, she was just a projection. Still, the movie had substance and was impressive in its own right.
The 22-minute film is shown in a 350 seat, art deco-style theater. It explored the pioneering lives of people who made California a reality, from Chumash Indians, to forty-niners, Chinese railroad builders, farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl, Woman working during World War II, Hollywood moguls and even Steve Jobs. Woopi Goldber narrates the show as Calfia, a legendary queen from a 1510 Spanish novel that first described California.
The exterior replica of Bernard Maybeck’s Palace of Fine Arts from San Francisco still stands, but it now is the entrance to The Little Mermaid: Arial’s Undersea Adventure. That too is a terrific attraction, but in my opinion the film is still timeless, and could be shown at the Blue Sky Cellar during the park’s 20th anniversary. The song at the end, “Just One Dream”, was performed by Heather Headley, an actress probably best known for originating the parts of Nala in the Broadway version of The Lion King and of the title character in Aida
That brings me to my favorite part of the original Disney’s California Adventure–Music.
Here are the selections of this album, and what is still there today is highlighted. I cover many of these on our podcast.
- On the Edge
- Feels Alright
- Superstar Limo
- Steps in Time Finale
- Chase and Finale
- Beauty and the Bees
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug
- Seasons of the Vine Medley
- Just One Dream
- The Bakery Theme
- California Screamin’
- Eureka!–A California Parade
We love Disney California Adventure of today, but any celebration of its anniversary would be incomplete without acknowledging some of the gems that are no longer with us today.
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