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Kicking back at DCA's Cove Bar

Kicking back at DCA's Cove Bar

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Greetings, JHM readers!

It's David Michael again. And -- this time around -- I thought that I'd share a few stories & photos of my favorite places at DCA: The Cove Bar. Of course, this article won't just be about the bar. But will also reveal a few interesting stories & rumors about this side of California Adventure.


One of the original signs remains on the wall next to the bar.

Let's start with the bar. The Cove Bar was originally known as the Avalon Cove Bar, and was run by Wolfgang Puck for the first few months DCA was open. When Puck bailed out of the theme park, the Walt Disney Company took over the day-to-day running of this watering hole. Changing the downstairs restaurant to "Ariel's Grotto," a character based dining experience with a fixed price for a meal.

As for the upstairs bar ... It offers a full range of cocktails along with 12 different types of beer, including 7 different types of Karl Strauss beer. Karl Strauss (for those of you who don't know) is a San Diego brewery, and their normal locations have 10 beers on tap at a time. So DCA actually carries most of the brewery's line. (For more information on Karl Strauss' beers, please click on this link.

Okay. It's time for a story: Prior to Disney's California Adventure opening up, Disney had hoped to persuade one of the country's big 3 brewers (I.E. Budweiser, Miller or Coors) to pay big bucks to become that theme park's official beer. Well, all 3 told Disney: "Thanks, but -- at that price --NO thanks!

Which is why Disney really had to scramble in order to find an official beer company for DCA. And -- since the Big 3 had passed -- the Mouse was reportedly forced to cut a deal with Karl Strauss at the very last minute.

Now where this gets interesting is that Disney had promised to make the Golden Vineyard Winery (sponsored by Robert Mondavi) the primary focus of Disney's California Adventure grand opening in February 2001. But -- as soon as the press went home -- the Imagineers used a crane to lower a Karl Strauss beer truck into the theme park's Pacific Wharf area.

Speaking of Wolfgang Puck & Robert Mondavi ... None of the high priced eateries that these two operated at DCA caught on with theme park guests. Which is why Wolfgang & Robert both pulled out of DCA by October 2001.

And the bad news just kept coming. Shortly after he shut down Avalon Cove, Puck was told by his Mrs. to "Get the Puck out of here!" (AKA She asked him for a divorce). And -- just recently -- the Robert Mondavi Winery announced a major restructuring due to all the losses the corporation has incurred. Which is why the Mondavi family bailing out the company's board of directors, and the Winery is dropping its line of "luxury" wines to focus on the creation of cheaper lifestyle wines.

Anyway ... Getting back to the Cove Bar: This attractive DCA watering hole features a limited appetizer menu. Two of my favorites are the Lobster Nachos and the Spinach & Artichoke Dip. (FYI: The Dip makes use of Mission Tortillas, which are actually prepared on-site over at Pacific Pier). Currently (During California Adventure's off-season), the Cove Bar is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 to about 8 PM. During the theme park's peak operating times, this DCA watering hole is open 7 days a week.


Some park guests enjoy a cold beverage, and taking a load off their feet

Now DCA's Cove Bar is a fun place to relax and the bartenders & staff are friendly. But one of the nicest aspects of the place is its view. And -- speaking of the Cove Bar's view -- we have some interesting stories about that as well.

To explain: Some of you may already be familiar with the DCA-related discussions that have erupted over at other Disneyana websites. Two of these debates deal with that theme park's Paradise Pier area. One particular heated discussion deals with the question: "Would Walt have wanted to have a carnival-themed area in a Disney theme park?" Well, given that Walt is no longer with us, I doubt that we will ever have the definitive answer to that question.

As for the second heated debate, that one deals with Paradise Pier and how this section of California Adventure looks. Most folks on the boards seem to think that DCA's boardwalk looks its best at night. What do you folks think? Here's a few photos that I've taken of this side of the theme park"


California Screamin'


A group of friends enjoying the view


The lights make a difference


It's too bad that Luminaria Island is still in the middle of Paradise Bay

Now -- of course -- I saved the best story for last. And this DCA-related tale has to do with why the view over at Paradise Pier looks the way it does these days ... er ... nights.

You see -- back on the night of August 14th, 2003 after California Adventure closed for the evening -- a contractor was doing some work in the Paradise Pier area. Well, this guy was driving a rather arge pick-up truck. And -- by accident -- he ran into a lamp post near the entrance to California Screamin'.

No big deal, right? Things like that happen all the time. Alas, when this contractor accidentally knocked down that one lamp post, it caused a ripple effect. Which impacted the lights in three different parts of Paradise Pier. To be specific, the string of lights near Catch-a-Flave, the string that hangs between Catch-a-Flave and the Sun Wheel, and a third section of lights that hangs from from the Sun Wheel to the Maliboomer.


A crate now covers up the base of the lamppost that got knocked over by the truck.

Well, in order to keep the strings of lights up, DCA's maintenance team tried to weave a large steel cable into the string of lights. Unfortunately, that steel cable had no type of safety release. So -- after this jury-rigged support system was installed -- a second chain reaction happened. Which pulled the tops off of over 30 lamp posts in the Paradise Pier area. Each of these tops featuring two lamps & two speakers!

Which is why -- early on the morning of August 15th -- dozens of Disney senior staff gathered in this part of DCA to see the disaster. As well as trying to figure out what to do next.


What the lampposts originally looked like.

Of course DCA's maintenance staff had to clean up the mess. Take the jumble of speakers and cable backstage as well as clean up all the shards from the broken light bulbs & globes. They also had to come up with some sort of quick fix. Which involved hiring a group of electricians to quickly check the lamp post for damage, and then add just a replacement fixture to its top. Which -- in this case -- was one single simple white globe added to the top of the still standing lamp post. (If you look at the above picture, you can see where the tops broke off, just below the speaker base.)



What the middle section lampposts look like today.

Mind you, there were no speakers on Paradise Pier's lamp posts on the first day following this repair work. DCA's maintenance staff did eventually come back and add a simple speaker (smaller than the original set) to each lamp post a few weeks later. But -- as you can see -- this "temporary" fix remains in place, even though this unfortunate incident happened over a year ago. Some California Adventure staffers have suggested that the damages here (as result of that one contractor backing into that one light pole) could have totaled over $1 million.



A look at part of the middle section, and the missing string of lights.



The original design, from one of the sections still remaining.

Given that it had been over a year since the original accident occurred and that this temporary fix still remained in place, it was beginning to look like DCA's maintenance staff would never actually get around to really repairing this damage. But then -- thankfully -- October 1st roll around. Which is the start of the Disneyland Resort's fiscal year for 2005.

Check out these photos that I took this past Sunday.


No string of lights yet. But there should be soon.

Please note that DCA's maintenance staff have started to run that steel cable between the lamp posts.


Still needs to replace the one lamp post.

The lamp posts that need to be replaced are still backstage. But more than likely by the end of the month, Paradise Pier should once again look like as it did back in August of 2003.

Anyway, I hope you folks enjoyed today's photo essay. As always, if you'd like to see more of the photographs that I've taken at the Disneyland Resort, you can do so by following this link.

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