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Buena Vista Street adds some much-needed charm & heart to Disney California Adventure Park

Buena Vista Street adds some much-needed charm & heart to Disney California Adventure Park

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By now, you've no doubt seen some of the photos which came out of this past weekend's preview events at Disney California Adventure Park.


Photo by Noe Valladolid

If you look around the Web, 90% of the images that have been posted focus on Cars Land ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... which is understandable. Given that Cars Land features that spectacular new attraction, Radiator Springs Racers ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... not to mention all of that terrific-looking neon which comes on every night when the sun goes down.


Photo by Noe Valladolid

But as amazing as Cars Land might have been, you know what really impressed me about this $1.1 billion redo of Disney California? Buena Vista Street.


Photo By Noe Valladolid

Noe and I had spent much of the past week exploring the noise and the flash of E3 (That's actually where we scored these super-cool Oswald-the-Lucky-Rabbit ears) ...


Photo by Alice Hill

So to now to be able to transition from that event (which was held inside of  the sleek, modern Los Angeles Convention Center) to this extremely romanticized version of 1920s LA, where the buildings were all as beautiful on the inside ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... as they were on the outside.


Photo by Noe Valladolid

Look, the Disneyana fans out there will tell you about all the great Disney Company history that's hidden in and around Buena Vista Street. The tributes to Walt's Dad ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... the nods to the Nine Old Men ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... not to mention placing Walt's first break-through character right there in the front window.


Photo by Noe Valladolid

But you wanna know what, me personally, I liked best about Buena Vista Street? It wasn't the Red Car (Though -- as a train buff -- I have to admit that it was pretty cool to see this recreation of Southern California history go rolling through that theme park) ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... or the exquisite period detail that the Imagineers managed to cram into ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... virtually every corner of this theme park's radically revamped entrance area.


Photo by Noe Valladolid

You wanna know what I like best about Buena Vista Street? That this redo adds some much-needed heart & charm to Disney California Adventure Park. Which means that -- rather than hurrying through this part of that theme park so that I could then experience The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or Toy Story Mania! -- I now seem myself lingering in this area. Having a leisurely meal at the Fiddler Fifer & Practical Cafe ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... or spend a half hour or shopping at the Elias and Company Department Store. Which is just what the Imagineers were hoping for when they "reimagined" DCA's old Sunshine Plaza into a 1920s Los Angeles version of Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A.

So while people will be talking about Cars Land and its 12 acres of stunning rockwork (not to mention its ridiculous level of detail) ...


Photo by Noe Valladolid

... it's Buena Vista Street that does the really tough part. It's the piece of this theme park just like the Oasis at Disney's Animal Kingdom which then tells you  to slow down. Take your time now while visiting DCA. Because there are charms galore to be found in this radically revamped theme park if you just know where to look.

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  • I went to the preview day and while Radiator Springs Racer was worth the extra cost for admission, everything else is charming but forgettable. Radiator Springs is so highly detailed that they don't even have shade so the area temps feel 10degrees hotter than the rest of the park due to the giant mountain blocking airflow, lack of trees and hot hot concrete. And the whole Buena Vista street does have a great statue but it feels too similar to MGM or another main street which is pretty uninspired.

    This stuff is nice because its "new" but once the shine fades then DCA still has the same problem it had before. Its just not as interesting as it couldve been if they picked more interesting themes. Ive always been a fan of DCA but unfortunately this is not the renovation that will rescue DCA and get "regular folks" to stay for more than a few hours.

  • I'm going to have to disagree with Kitty.

    This MAY be a redo that the Disney fans are going to dislike (just like everything else that Disney does), BUT it's a redo that "regular folks" are going to LOVE.

    Disneyana fans may not like Cars, but millions of kids DO.

    Disneyana fans may freak out about the removal of the rainforest in Small World, but my kids LOVE the Disney characters that they put there.

    Disneyana fans may freak out about the "destruction" of Tom Sawyer's Island, but my kids had a lot of fun exploring the new island

    Disneyana fans nit-pick EVERYTHING that Disney does, they generally DON'T have young children and they usually don't represent the "regular folks".

    And trust me (I heard it straight from an Imagineer), Disney doesn't care that much about what you think anyway.

  • Jedited, I *sniff* think I love you.

  • I think that fans have generally been impressed with BVS and Carsland.  BVS is a huge improvement as the Sunshine Plaza was just . . . an outdoor mall!  Everybody rushed through to Disneyland, so, yes, like the article said, guests will slow down and partake of dining, shopping, soaking it up.  

    I like Mater's, Luigi's Flying Tires and RSR, they all are solid rides, and RSR is fantastic.  I think shade will improve once the trees grow . . . but this place is going to be packed solid in the mornings and evenings, and probably in the middle of the day too for the next three years.

  • Thank you for giving BVS some love! I'll admit, out of this and Carsland, it's BVS that has my heart. Though it was brilliance to package the two together. Recently a friend here in Texas, who cannot tell Donald from Daffy and still thinks "Harry Potter Land" is somewhere in Walt Disney World, cornered me and asked what I knew about the new Carsland (he got the name right!) in Disneyland. Ok, so he didn't realize CA existed, but he was seriously excited about this new land and wants to go visit. That's huge. When Disney can do something that gets a middle-age childless man in the middle of the country excited about visiting, well, that can only be good. If they can, at the same time, get a full-on Disney dork like me dying to go as well then that's nothing short of amazing.

    It really doesn't bother me that there's some superficial similarities between BVS and DHS or really any park in the world with a straight alley way entrance flocked with shops and ending in a weenie. After all, there's only so many ways to pull off that sort of layout but it remains as brilliant of an entrance as when Disney first came up with it.

  • It's so hard to believe those pictures are in the same place I remember that out-of-proportion golden gate bridge and that stupid hubcap sun. Now it's simply lovely and inviting. The original entrance felt sterile and cheap. This has heart. I cannot wait to see it in person! Thank you for the excellent photos!

  • Quote

    "This stuff is nice because its "new" but once the shine fades then DCA still has the same problem it had before."

    I think over time BVS, Carsland and the rest of DCA will continue to be improved upon. The grand re-opening to me as a DLR fan is simply a big milestone, the beginning of better things to come, not the end of improvements or as Walt would call em "plussing".

  • I remember reading that WDI was going to include a statue of a young Walt with the revamped Buena Vista st, was that present? Or is it still in the works?

  • @jedited Disney fans don't nitpick everything Disney does just for the sake of nitpicking. As a dedicated Disney fan, here's my take on some of the issues you brought up, hopefully it will shed some light on the subject for you as to why fans have gripes with these projects:

    1. I like Cars just fine (except when Disney uses it as a ploy to move merchandise), although I'm hesitant to buy into the idea of an entire land based around a single franchise, my primary concern being whether or not people will care about this land in the long run. How popular will the Cars franchise be twenty years from now and to what extent will this affect attendance for Cars Land? The project is a grand investment on Disney's part and I want reassurance that it will continue to enjoy success for years to come.

    2. Disney characters in Small World is the result of this prevailing idea circulating around Disney that every theme park attraction needs to have Disney characters in it in order for it to be relatable to guests, ignoring the fact that some of Disney's most successful attractions are completely unique to the parks (Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Matterhorn, etc.). They pulled the same nonsense when they slapped Jack Sparrow into Pirates.

    3. Speaking of Pirates, the "revamp" of Tom Sawyer Island was little more than a gimmick to go along with this Pirates movie craze (which will be dead within coming years, I can assure you). On top of that, Tom Sawyer Island is located in Frontierland, so what do pirates have to do with the old west? They can't simply claim it as part of New Orleans Square because the two areas are separated by the watery Frontierland territory that is Rivers of America. After the Pirates craze is said and done, guests will be left wondering why pirates have invaded the rustic Frontierland.

    4. While I have come across whiny fans who would prefer that the parks never evolved past 1975 in my online ventures, most Disney fans don't nitpick EVERYTHING Disney does, just the things that deserve nitpicking. And representing the "regular folks" as opposed to who, the "irregular folks?" And since when do you need to have young children to be able to enjoy Disneyland? Sorry to break it to you, but the "regular folks" are generally pretty easy to please, it's the dedicated fans are typically the ones calling for the level of "Disney quality" that we all enjoy.

    One of the biggest gripes many fans have with Disney right now is that they fail to look at the big picture when going forward with these projects. And if Disney isn't going to implement a little quality control and do it themselves, then somebody has to, hence we have "nitpicking" Disney fans. And this alleged Imagineer who supposedly told you that Disney doesn't care about their dedicated fan bases can go screw off for all I care. No freaking duh Disney doesn't care what its fans think, that's why their fans are complaining.

    @ShellyV If you truly love jedited so much because of an opinion he posted on the internet, I urge you to track him down, propose marriage and enjoy a happy life together. Or go see a therapist, whichever comes first.

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