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Parky in California


California Adventure

On Friday the 16th March I drove into Anaheim, with great excitement, for after waiting for two years and reading all about it on MousePlanet I was finally going to visit Disney’s California Adventure.

I thought it would be interesting to write my views about the new park. I have not seen the park being built and have no links with California and the USA so hopefully it should be an unbiased opinion.

Rather than write a full trip report, detailing what happened on each of the 4 days I visited the new park, I thought I would write about each section and attraction separately.

Sunshine Plaza

California Adventure

This is the large open space that welcomes you as you enter the park, on either side are useful guest services and stores and facing you is the magnificent Sun Sculpture. I have to say that I found the sculpture with its every changing wave of water very pretty and dazzling in the reflected sun. 

The stores and shops in the plaza offer general DCA merchandise from all around the park, and provide a great spot to do last minute shopping. There are no attractions in this area of the park, but now and again you get to meet Mickey and his friends in front of the Sun sculpture.

Hollywood Pictures Backlot

California Adventure

This part of the park feels like pure Disney, you have the feel to Main Street delivered with flair and skill. The store front are pretty and fun, and the mural painted on the side of the Hyperion Theatre produces a stunning view. This area of the park is the smallest of the three ‘lands’ and as such it also has the lowest number of attractions.

Disney Animation

California Adventure

California Adventure

This is for me is the headline attraction in the Hollywood area. The outside of the building should give you a clue to the amazing sites you will find inside.

As you wind your way around the entry corridor and into the main room, you are hit in the face by a huge space filled with over 20 screens presenting images and film for Disney classic movies. The film look in here is over 20 minutes long, I know because I enjoyed watching it twice. The other 4 areas include :-

  • The Robin Williams film about animation that is shown at WDW, this is starting to show it’s age.
  • A very busy room full of original artwork from the animated classics.
  • A fun show with a live ‘animator’ who interacts with a film of Mushu.
  • And the best part of the attraction the Sorcerers Workshop; here you can experience some of the newest technology presented in a simple way to allow you to take part in animation.

Hyperion Theatre – Disney’s Steps in Time

California Adventure

This is going to be a difficult subject, so I will cover it in 3 parts, the building, the cast and the show. (By the way, the photo above was taken during the preparations for the Spy Kids movie premiere.)

The building is a mixed bag, it has obviously been the target of budget cuts, hence the outside stairs and minimal decoration and finish. Having said that it looks as though they have not been mean when it comes to providing the technical facilities to stage shows here. It is a large auditorium with excellent sightlines for the whole audience.

The cast work very hard in what is a most energetic show, when they are not on stage dancing the are offstage changing into yet another costume. I went too two performances and I saw different leads in each. I have to say that in my opinion they did not seem to be good singers, at times the harmonies were missed and the voices seemed strained.

California Adventure

As for the content of the show I can think of no redeeming features, it has to be one of the worst stage shows I have ever seen, thankfully it is only 30 minutes long.

I have seen every major stage show in London and many on Broadway, lots of these shows have delivered a full 2-3 hour show on less budget than Steps in Time. The scenery of which there is very little and the costumes have no originality at all.

The story is forced, trite and at time nauseating. They seem to have tried as hard as possible to change every Disney song to make them unrecognizable and frankly unpleasant. The show starts badly, improves little and sinks to what you would imagine is an impossible low. Go and see it just to witness how bad it is.

Jim Henson’s Muppet-Vision 3D

California Adventure

This is a direct copy of the WDW attraction; from the pre-show right through to the main show theatre. Once upon a time this was a headline attraction at Disney / MGM studios, but it now seems slow and lacks the pace of more recent 3D film based shows.

It is a quality show and is always worth a visit, for the wit of Stadler and Waldorf alone.

Superstar Limo

California Adventure

I had read various reports about this ride before I visited the park, and to be honest I really was expecting the worst. What I actually got was poor but not as bad as I had been led to believe. The ride is very slow, very short and already looks dated and cheap. There are a number of clever tricks if you look for them, but you need to look very hard.

I would be very disappointed if I had to wait more than 5 minutes to get on this ride, as any longer is just not worth it. It will amuse the kids and it is something for them to do in an otherwise child unfriendly park, but don’t expect too much.

The Hollywood Backlot Stage

I was unlucky and missed the Lights, Action, Chaos show that is presented here. The one time I planned to see it the show had been cancelled. So no views from me, sorry.

Shopping and Eating

Again you have a large selection of stores and food outlets here. There are 4 stores and 6 places to eat and drink, including the full service ABC Soap Opera Bistro.

Condor Flats - Soarin’ Over California

California Adventure

Maybe I had to high an expectation for this film / ride, because it failed to deliver the WOW I thought it would. The ride itself is minimally themed inside with bare corridors in most of the waiting areas. The ride system is impressive, especially the moment when you are launched forwards towards the huge screen.

The problem is that the film just does not have enough ‘moments’ and the movement of the seats in time with the film is minimal. I’m sure with more development of the ride system this can be a stunning and thrilling attraction, at the moment it is simply a nice film with a strange seating arrangement. I did ride this three times just to make sure I had not missed the point, and it is enjoyable, but not yet a ‘star’.


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