Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Theme Parking: Being Wrong About Disney California Adventure

  • My mental construction of Disneyland takes a few forms. There is the black-and-white 1955 Disneyland based on all of the books and shows I've consumed about the early days of the park. There is the 1980's Disneyland that I remember from my childhood. And there is the 2005 Disneyland, the last time my wife and I took a trip to the park, until recently. That trip was our one experience with Disney's California Adventure (as it was called at the time). It was then that my expectations of DCA were set for the next decade.
  • At the time we visited DCA, it was still in the weird middle phase of the park. The anticipation of a new park adjoining Disneyland has already passed, leaving a crater where all of our hopes had been. Disney Parks and Resorts was already looking for ways to improve DCA, with additions like A Bug's Land and the Tower Of Terror, but had not yet committed to the massive makeover that made the park what it is today. Thus, although DCA would start its turnaround within a couple of years, the last impression the park left in my mind was of a poor substitute for the Magic Kingdom sitting just a few yards away. Even as we returned to the resort in the last couple of years, that prejudice kept us from entering California Adventure again, fearing it would be a waste of money.

  • But then I bought Poster Art Of The Disney Parks (review coming soon), the last chapter of which was dedicated to the posters of Disney California Adventure. I told my wife, upon reading the chapter, that the posters seemed to be a lot better than the park deserved. I didn't realize, at the time, that the posters were actually a sign that DCA had improved so much.

  • This year, in possession of annual passes for the first time in fifteen years, we trekked across the esplanade and I fell in love all over again.

  • In the nearly ten years between visits, California Adventure had transformed from a cynical and insincere counterfeit of the state into an idealized, nostalgic version of Walt Disney's California. It finally feels like a match to its sister park. Passing through the gates to Buena Vista Street has a different, but complimentary magic to crossing under the berm onto Main Street. It is a magic that says "This is a world full of possibilities." And I fully expect that the Disneyland Resort will fulfill that promise for years to come.

  • There is so much more to say, but I feel that there is so much more to discover as well. But first and foremost, I'm glad that I have been proven wrong about Disney California Adventure.
Even Princesses get tired sometimes
  • Theme Parking is a new category for posts related to my lifelong obsession with Disneyland.

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