Armchair Imagineering: Disney California Adventure

Edited: February 20, 2023, 4:02 PM

Disney California Adventure could really use some TLC these days. I do think the San Fransokyo is actually a good concept. But the park really seems to be having an identity crisis so I have thoughts about integrating IP/ non-IP into the park:

1) A “Muppets” retheme of Monsters Inc- Muppets fit far better in Hollywoodland than Monsters Inc. And they have Muppet animatronics from the old Muppet Vision, parades, and the former Great moments in history show at Magic Kingdom. Sure there was MuppetVision to begin with, but a ride with Marc Davis style Muppet animatronics would be a delight! Complete with a Swedish Chef themed restaurant replacing the old Captain Marvel meet and greet.

2) A Country Bear retheme of the Grizzly River Run. Just like they did to Calico Rapids at Knotts Berry farm filled with animatronic bears. The ride could really use animatronics. Or perhaps, a Society of Explorers and Adventurers theme!

3) A Fantasia ride also in HollywoodLand, combining the current Philharmagic and former Millionaire buildings. Would be a trackless dark ride where you ride around Sorcerer Mickey’s Brooms, dance with Hippos, and encounter Chernabog.

4) A Mystic Manor style ride on Paradise Bay, replacing Goofy’s Sky School. Maybe even replacing Little Mermaid too. With a Society of Explorers and Adventurers theme. Night at the Museum perhaps?

5) A Coco themed Flight of Passage style dark ride where you fly on a Pepita. Maybe a future replacement for the Pixar Promenade area at Pixar Pier. Or possibly another replacement idea for Sky School/ Little Mermaid.

Let me know if you have any other/ different ideas for how to reimagine DCA!

Replies (6)

Edited: February 20, 2023, 9:49 PM

I love this topic. I always had a soft spot for California Adventure and am probably one of the few who doesn’t think it’s a bad park. Sure it has a bit of an identity crisis and they have made some questionable choices in the past couple of years, but it has some quality and unique E tickets as well as improved food and drink options from across the way. It just needs some more things to really round it out and get people to appreciate it more.

First, Hyperion needs a show back in there. I had always thought Hercules was a good fit, and it is a personal favorite of mine so I always dreamed it would be a good adaption, so I’m hoping those rumors are true. Fingers crossed for this summer for sure, because if they do this right, it could definitely lean towards an Aladdin classic fan favorite feel over the response to Frozen.

I also thought putting Runaway Railway in ToonTown was a huge mistake, and it would have been a much better fit in HollywoodLand. In fact, I think since it was first announced I wanted it in HollywoodLand. But now after seeing it in Toontown and just how perfectly it fits, Disney made the right call.

Since they didn’t put it in HollywoodLand though, I would put a Mystic Manor type ride or copy over here. To try to distinguish it even more from Haunted Mansion feel, I would make it Museum. Heck they can keep the MM name by calling it Mystic Museum. I know you mentioned a potential Night at the Museum theme but I really would love to keep it with the S.E.A theme.

I also agree with the Grizzly updates, giving it some Country Bears animatronics and heck even Country Bear music could do some wonders. I also think with the Splash Mountain retheme, Pooh is going to be on the outs soon. I would move Winnie the Pooh over here. To me Pooh didn’t work well at Disneyland because it was off the beaten path, in a park with many rides and many rides like Pooh already. I feel next to Grizzly River Run would be a way better location for it popularity wise and add another needed Fantasyland style dark ride to the park. It would probably have to go in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area. So to make up for this loss, I would install some climbing net trails and towers along the back Grizzly River Run path (can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s the path that runs along the back by the rapids queue. Some climbing nets and a tower right by that waterfall would be an impressive visual.

For Carsland, I’m shocked Disney hasn’t tried to install some version of the Mel’s Sci Fi Drive In Dine In restaurant over at Hollywood Studios. This could give the park another sit down restaurant and take some pressure off Lamplight and Carthway.

I love the Coco version of Flight of Passage for the Pier, as long as that’s not the Avatar experience Iger was talking about. I do sort of feel with Soarin, Toy Story, Webslingers, Guardians (to a small extent) and potentially the future Avengers E ticket there’s already a heavy screen presence in the park, but that ride system is too good not to use. I wouldn’t complain about a Coco boat dark ride either.

I do think the park needs a coaster that is: indoors, themed, and family oriented. So I would propose Crush’s Coaster. However I would make this an updated, better capacity and longer version than the Paris one. With the Subs potentially on their way out too, they can just reuse the props to save some money. But I would want slower and more dark scenes than Paris, climaxing into a thrilling coaster. Maybe like a smaller version of Cosmic Rewind. I could see this fitting behind Incredicoaster and maybe using the Incredicoaster to cover the show building.

February 20, 2023, 11:44 PM

Thank you @jwrattler! I completely agree. I especially love the overhaul they did in 2012, adding Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. I was really hoping the park would go more in that direction after. Radiator Springs Racers and Guardians are fantastic rides. And Pym Kitchen and Cozy Cone in particular are great restaurants. I know the Lamplight Lounge and 1901 Lounge are also very popular.

Yes! It does sound like Hyperion will be getting another show soon which is good! Would be cool to see a dark ride experience go in there.

Funny, I thought the same thing too. I was wondering why they put Runaway Railway in Toontown instead of Hollywoodland, since it takes place in a theater. But it was great to see Toontown get its first E-Ticket attraction and some much needed TLC.

Oh a Mystic Manor style ride for sure would be better with an original SEA theme. I like your idea of an old Hollywood theme for it too. It could really fit anywhere in the park, and even could fit in Grizzly Peak. Either way, I'd be delighted to see SEA also come to CA Adventure.

Absolutely. I really think Critter Country will be a "Bayou" part of New Orleans Square. Clearly what's currently Splash Mountain will be annexed into New Orleans Square. Funny, I started a discussion here on TPI about this topic! I could see Pooh fitting into Grizzly Peak, except that it is a British bear as opposed to a California bear. Oh yes, a dark ride in the Redwood Creek challenge trail would be awesome! Hopefully they could move Villain's Lair to that path you were mentioning.

Interesting, the imagineers did plan a "Drive In" restaurant just like the Sci Fi Dine in for Cars Land and its too bad they never got it. Would've been an awesome idea! I think Flo's v8 cafe replaced it?

Yes! We'll see what happens regarding the AVATAR experience announcement. California Adventure does for sure have more screen based rides than Disneyland Park. It's in dire need of more animatronic dark rides. It would be nice to see more rides like Radiator Springs Racers in the park. I also really like your idea of a Coco Dark Ride- maybe like the Gran Fiesta Tour or Na'Vi River Journey? But I also wouldn't mind some drops!

Oh totally- an indoor coaster is also needed at DCA. We are supposed to be getting an Avengers Multiverse themed Dark Ride in the not too distant future, but who knows now since Bob Chapek has been fired. That would be another good idea for the Hollywoodland. Maybe Muppet themed? But if that ride that Chapek announced doesn't come to fruition, that would be a good opportunity for an Iron Man/ Captain America coaster that is more like Cosmic Rewind and not the Avengers Flight Force in Paris.

Edited: February 21, 2023, 1:26 AM

Alright, let's dust off my TPA hat...

I'm going to go around the park, area by area, and give a list of changes I'd do for each. For this, I'll assume that IP is required, more recent IP is favored, and nothing is sacred. I'm also going to stick to the requirement that it needs to fit within the current park. Ok, here we go!

First off, Buena Vista Street is fine as is. I don't see anything here that needs to change, and I don't think there's anything that would be beneficial to add here.

Next is Hollywood Land. For our purposes, this theme is a thing of the past, as the entire land will be replaced by ZOOTOPIA. For now, Disney Junior is going dark and Stage 17 is being reserved for the future, but everything else is getting overhauled. Replacing Mickey's PhilharMagic will be a live musical performance featuring original compositions by Gazelle. On the right, the Disney Animation building will be transformed into the natural history museum, featuring a variety of small scale interactive exhibits from the world of Zootopia, plus some meet and greet opportunities with ambassadors. A new full service restaurant would be constructed in the center of the area, and Monsters, Inc. would be rethemed as a tour of the city in Mr. Big's limo. Finally, the Hyperion Theater and Stage 12 would both go away for the land's new E-ticket, an interactive motion-base dark ride in which guests join the ZPD as backup for Officers Hopps and Wilde on their largest case yet.

Moving over to Avengers Campus, this area is pretty much going to remain as is other than the addition of a new E-ticket. Instead of the proposed simulator ride, the new attraction will be an indoor roller coaster similar to Cosmic Rewind and themed to the MCU Multiverse. Guests will become honorary Avengers and assist the team against a partnership of both Kang and Thanos to stop events that could end all of time and space.

Cars Land, like Buena Vista Street, would remain untouched. Nothing here is in need of adjustment.

Moving to the other side of the park, Grizzly Peak is a goner. Disney has been taking the California out of the park, so we're going to continue that by making this into the west coast version of PANDORA. The front section of this area will be themed to the base camp for Alpha Centuri Expeditions, with Smokejumpers turning into the Satu'li Canteen and Soarin' becoming Flight of Passage. As guests wander further back into the land, they enter the wilder parts of Pandora's rainforests, completely shrouded from the outside world. Grizzly River Run would be heavily modified, removing the rapids (but not the drops) and enclosing a majority of the flume to convert the ride into Na'vi River Journey, though this time with mostly animatronics rather than screens. Redwood Creek would be redeveloped as a new walkthrough/playground area full of bioluminescent foliage and alien fauna. The Grizzly Pass Trail would also receive enhancements to make it more of an attraction than simply an alternate pathway.

Pacific Wharf is the third of four areas in the park to get a complete overhaul. Gone is San Francisco/sokyo, and in its place is ENCANTO. Much of this section would be demolished for a Mystic Manor-esque dark ride inside Casita, with the rest being rethemed as a village. Across the way, the Wine Country Trattoria would become Abuela's, a full service restaurant run by Julieta and designed by Isabela and Luisa. The Blue Sky Cellar would become the Madrigal meet and greet location.

Moving on to Pixar Pier, this area would be refocused into Toy Story Pier. Incredicoaster would ditch the Incredibles theme and instead be redecorated as a Tinker Toy creation, and both Pixar Pal-A-Round and Emotional Whirlwind would receive Toy Story rethemes. A new flat ride would be installed in the coaster's other helix as well. As for the Lamplight lounge, that can's sort of it's own thing anyway.

Last up is Paradise Gardens, which is honestly the section I find hardest to rework. For now, though, we're going with PORTOROSSO, from the film Luca. For this area, Goofy's Sky School would be rethemed to riding a Vespa (or possibly replaced entirely by a more kid-friendly junior coaster), Golden Zephyr would turn into Alberto's tower, the restaurants would be redone, and both Jumpin' Jellyfish and Silly Symphony Swings would be removed to create a beach area used for relaxing as well as meet and greets. As for Little Mermaid, while it doesn't exactly fit, it can stay, or Disney can retheme it to one of their other aquatic properties (Nemo, Moana, etc.).

So essentially, 50% of the park is new or completely overhauled, 25% is updated, 25% is basically unchanged, and nearly 100% of the California is gone. This calls for a name change, but with DCA so ingrained we're going to keep the initials. However, to fit with the new themes present, the park will now be known by a more fitting name...DISNEY'S CINEMATIC ADVENTURE.

February 24, 2023, 4:32 PM

Just wanted to endorse Disney's Cinematic Adventure as a theme park name. Excellent!

February 26, 2023, 10:16 AM

Completely agree. California Adventure is really having an identity crisis, especially since Chapek was running the parks. To be fair, the imagineers have been trying to tie everything into the California theme, but "Cinematic Adventure" feels like a more than appropriate name for the park at this point. Hollywood Land and Pixar Pier particularly really need to be reworked. CA Adventure also has more room for AVATAR than Disneyland Park, so it would be a delight to see Pandora in the land, if the park gets renamed. Although I can imagine all the fans wouldn't be too happy if they took out Soarin' for Flight of Passage lol.

Edited: February 26, 2023, 10:18 AM

This would also be a good chance for Disney to own Universal once again :)

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