Disney California Adventure, which officially opened to the public 22 years ago today, on February 8, 2001.Happy birthday to
Today, Disney California Adventure ranks among the top 10 theme parks in the United States and top 15 in the world in annual attendance, driven by popular attractions such as Radiator Springs Racers, which ranks in our Top 10 attractions worldwide. But for years, California Adventure's story might have been more interesting that the park itself, which opened to a collective yawn from fans when it debuted.
Disney officials had been working for years on creating a second gate for what is now the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. When Disney obtained the lease for the Queen Mary in Long Beach as part of the deal which gave it control of the Disneyland Hotel, Imagineers designed a park around the Queen Mary that eventually became Tokyo DisneySea. Disney also kicked the tires on a deal to buy Knott's Berry Farm, before the Knott family sold the park to Cedar Fair.
When Disney settled on building in Anaheim, it floated the idea of a west coast version of Walt Disney World's Epcot, to be called Westcot. But then-CEO Michael Eisner and Disney executives settled on the idea of creating a park that allowed Disneyland visitors to experience popular sites around California without leaving Anaheim - Disney's California Adventure.
While Soarin' Over California hit immediately with fans, much of the rest of the park failed to connect, as punny names for stores, food windows, and carnival rides could not match the appeal of all the enduring classics across the esplanade at the original Disneyland. So in 2012, Disney unveiled DCA 2.0, with Disney California Adventure (losing the possessive "s") opening its new Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. A Pixar Pier makeover of the old Paradise Pier followed in 2018.
The new DCA is more about story than sights, which has made it a hit with fans, even as the park became less strictly about celebrating California. But a place as big and as filled with people from all over the world as the Golden State can accommodate a wide range of stories, all of which can find a home in DCA.
The latest addition to the park has been Avengers Campus, with the next being the San Fransokyo makeover of the current Pacific Wharf, which Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock recently told me will be complete by the end of this year.
For more about the park, including our most recent reader rankings and advice for visiting, please visit our Disney California Adventure page.
And for discounted multi-day tickets to California Adventure and Disneyland, please visit our partner's Disneyland Resort tickets page.
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