Disney Imagineers have said that Buena Vista Street is meant to represent the Los Angeles that Walt Disney first encountered when he moved from Kansas City in 1923 to start his animation business.
The street recreates storefronts from 1920s LA in sumptuous detail, with a "Main Street"-style collection of retail, services and dining behind the facades. But look down just as you pass through the gates to the new park entrance, you might already see the park's rededication plaque awaiting you.
The only attraction on Buena Vista Street is the Red Car Trolley, a faithful visual recreation of the Pacific Electric Red Cars that once provided transportation across the Los Angeles metro area. (See Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit? for a somewhat accurate portrayal of what happened to the Red Cars.)
With construction walls still blocking the Red Car tracks at the end of Buena Vista Street, the ride was not operating during the recent annual passholder previews. But you don't need to have a preview ticket to see the outside of the new centerpiece of Disney California Adventure: the Carthay Circle Restaurant.
The Carthay Circle recreates the movie palace where Walt Disney premiered his first animated feature film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." DCA's Carthay Circle will house a bar, a lounge for Club 33 members, and a new table-service restaurant, on its second floor. It's not yet open to the public, so if you want a bite to eat during the preview days, you'll have to head back across the circle to the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe.
The FF&P is Disney's first in-park Starbucks location, but the Cafe serves much more than just Starbucks drinks, in a large Arts & Crafts-inspired dining room.
And you can't help looking more closely at that pastry case, can you?
The new Buena Vista Street mirrors Disneyland's Main Street USA, across the esplanade, with multiple such cozy places to sit and hang out. It's a far more inviting and true cityscape than the sterile, cartoon-inspired entry plaza that California Adventure offered before. (If you're interested in a discussion on why Main Street USA provides such a great example of urban architecture, read my interview with author and urban planner Sam Gennawey from last year.)
But to get a feel for the quality of design and materials used on Buena Vista Street, let's step across the street to the flagship Elias & Co. merchandise location. It features a couple of just stunning Art Deco-inspired entrances.
High-quality finishes and an art deco style allow Elias & Co. to evoke classic Los Angeles department stores such as the Bullocks Wilshire.
Look up to see this imported Italian chandelier inside the "jewelry" room at Elias & Co.
A 'Storytellers' T-shirt and a Walt Disney fedora are available at Elias & Co.
Looking for a more traditional souvenir? Keep walking down through the Buena Vista Street stores, where you'll find a selection of plush toys - in both color and 1920's black & white.
I'll have more to write about Buena Vista Street, Cars Land and the rest of Disney California Adventure during its official media preview day this Thursday. Buena Vista Street officially opens to the public on Friday, June 15, 2012.Tweet
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