Disney California Adventure (then known as Disney's California Adventure) opened February 8, 2001 - 14 years ago. I was there, covering it for LaughingPlace.com, and I remember it fondly. After watching the park grow from a parking lot to dirt to a grand opening, the excitement of seeing it officially open (via a unique, Stephen Davison created ceremony, no less) was immeasurable. And unlike many, I was actually a fan of the original park. Soon I hope to do a look back on my favorite aspects of the original park that are gone, but that's for another time.

Right now, let's go back to February 7, 2008. The park is opening tomorrow morning. Eager Disney fans are waiting in the Mickey and Friends parking structure for Disneyland Park to close so they can be led over to spend the night inside Disneyland and ultimately be among the first to experience...

Disney's California Adventure

A couple of guests wait in the parking lot the evening prior to opening. Actually that's John Frost of The Disney Blog and his future wife Stacey.
Queueing up in the parking lot
Finally a move to Disneyland for the sleepover
Passing the time
Here's a switch, standing inside Disneyland waiting to be let out
The opening of a new Disney park is a big deal. There was a lot of media present.
There's Sidney Poitier who was on the Disney Board of Directors at the time.
The ceremony begins
California was the theme, represented by lots of sun symbolism
The Golden State makes an appearance
The sun rises on DCA
Roy E. Disney spoke first
In happier times ... Disney and then-CEO Michael Eisner shake hands. Two years later Disney would try to oust Eisner with his "Save Disney" campaign.
CEO Michael Eisner speaks
What's a Disney opening without fireworks?
Eisner and Art Linkletter. Linkletter was one of the hosts for Disneyland's opening in 1955.
Imagineer and now Disney Legend Marty Sklar
Disney and then-Disney Parks and Resorts chief Paul Pressler
Then-Disney President Bob Iger and on the left (In profile), then-CFO Tom Staggs who just today was named to be COO and #2 in the company.
Disneyland Resort President Cynthia Harriss.
Disney Legend Dick Nunis (right) talks to DCA head Imagineer Barry Braverman (left). In the back, holding the child, architect of the Resort expansion Timur Galen.
Original Mouseketeers on-hand for the Grand Opening
Barry Braverman posing with an opening day map
Looks like Maynard made his way over for the opening, too.
Cynthia Harriss picture taken at just the right time
I couldn't resist getting a picture taken with Cynthia. Wish we'd gotten her with her eyes open, though.
Opening Day - Disney California Adventure

 

Of course, things did not go as Disney planned. The DCA crowds never materialized and the original park is now generally considered, at best, a disappointment. Many of the executives and original Imagineers (Michael Eisner, Paul Pressler, Cynthia Harriss, Barry Braverman, Timur Galen) are now gone - though not necessarily due to DCA. Several years later DCA had an extensive makeover - and a slight name change - and is now consider by most a worthy companion to Disneyland Park. But me ... I always felt that way!

Note: If you'd like to view the Grand Opening ceremony, we've just uploaded our original digital footage to YouTube. But this is digital circa 2001, so the quality is, to be kind, very bad.