Disney California Adventure (DCA) is celebrating it’s 13th anniversary. If you have not been to DCA I recommend you go. I would not have said that ten years ago, or even five years ago, but one of the things I love about the Disney imagineers is that they tweak their ideas until they get them right, or at least better. DCA is proof of this.
When DCA first opened I admit I was confused. Why put a park featuring the state of California in the state of California? Would I go see a park about London inside London? Of course not. Now admittedly, California is a big place and DCA allowed Guests to experience the entire state inside a small space. But it just didn’t work. Let’s face it. California is okay (I lived there for twenty-one years) but it isn’t better than any other state. Why couldn’t they have done Disney’s American Adventure? Other people felt the same way because attendance to the new park was non-existent.
But Disney apparently got the message. Theming is important, but the wrong theme will not bring in Guests, no matter how cool you think it is. So instead of doing the “you’ve walked into a postcard of California” theme (did you know that was one of the themes?) they slowly changed to the “let’s celebrate the California that Walt found when he first arrived from Kansas City” theme. This was similar to the era they already portrayed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World so they were pretty sure it would work. And it did. I love the old-time feel of the Buena Vista Street and the entire park feels more connected.
By broadening their theme from modern California to Walt’s dream of California the imagineers could play more with the lands. Cars Land is wildly popular but it would have looked weird in a park featuring a realistic California. However, in a park about the dream of a new beginning it fits in fine.
So here is my only dilemma. I would like to explore DCA more but if I only have one day I am going to Disneyland. If I only have two days I might still only go to Disneyland because I don’t want to miss anything. So I have to have three days if I am going to hit DCA. I should just go to DCA without hitting Disneyland but that feels wrong. Someday I am going to visit for five days so that I have time do both parks and Downtown Disney and not feel like I am missing anything. Luckily, I know that DCA will be there for years to come now that it has transformed into the park it was always meant to be. Happiness squared.
Goofy Tip: When I go to Walt Disney World I always get a park hopper pass because it is easy to start the morning in one park and end in another. Even though Disneyland and DCA are just walking distances apart I have never bought a park hopper pass for those parks. One reason is the price. The other is that there is so much to do in each park that once I am there I have no desire to leave. So before you go figure out what your plans are and how much you want to spend on tickets. If you don’t plan to park hop then save your money for churros.