Disney California Adventure turns fifteen on February 8th and, to celebrate, I took a tour of the park with the Disney Imagineers who built it. Well, in book form. I recently finished reading The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney California Adventure and loved the behind the scenes knowledge I gained from this pocket-sized tour guide.
The book starts off with a brief history of what Imagineering is. You get all the details about the different departments within Imagineering like architecture, sound design, show writing and others, as well as how to recognize an Imagineer at the Disney Parks. If you see a Sorcerer Mickey on the Cast Member nametag, you have found an Imagineer.
Before the book takes you inside Disney California Adventure, readers get to learn about why the second theme park at Disneyland Resort is based around California. Disney California Adventure pays homage to the amazing state that has so much history in the life of Walt Disney and the Walt Disney Company.
Composed of eight lands, the Imagineers start us off at the entrance and take us up Buena Vista Street. Here you can find the Storytellers statue, a young version of Walt and Mickey about to make their mark on the Hollywood community. You are meant to see and enter California like Walt did in 1923.
Grizzly Peak celebrates the gold rush days and the great outdoors that makes up a unique part of California. The thrilling Grizzly River Run is located here and the scenery is decorated with signs that give that feeling of the National Parks.
Paradise Pier is the idealized version of the seaside amusement piers that dominated much of California in the early part of the 20th Century. California Screamin’ which dominates the landscape of the area is one of the main attractions for Paradise Pier. The Imagineer’s spent much time in planning the look of this steel track rollercoaster to blend in with the 1930’s timeline.
Pacific Wharf focuses on the Northern Coast of California, the fine foods, and the world famous wines. Everywhere you look, you feel like you are in the San Francisco area with Mission Style architecture easily found here.
Cars Land, which was the last edition to the park makeover which started in 2008 seems to blend well with the California theme. Though you could be distracted by Lightning McQueen and Mater, it’s the story connection to Route 66 that helps make this cartoon world an excellent addition to the California themed theme park.
A Bug’s Land doesn’t seem to belong. Every other land has some connection to California, whether through what Walt experienced as a young man, or to the history of the state itself. A Bug’s Land is well planned and helps transport visitors to the world of the bugs, but how does this connect to California? There is no provided answer. (This might make a great area to build a Marvel Land though.)
Hollywood Land is your last stop in visiting Disney California Adventure. Hollywood is why Walt came to the state. Home to wildly popular Tower of Terror, the former Hollywood Pictures Backlot use to focus on modern day Hollywood. Now after the remake, Hollywood Land is all about the past.
I really enjoyed this book and I think any Disney Parks fan should pick up a copy and learn about how Disney California Adventure was built. The book is short at 125 pages, but the stories and concept artwork will entertain and inform anyone.