To Disney or Not to Disney, That is the Question
By: Valentina Mallari Santiago ’21, and Sarah Metz ’21 (Guest Writers)
This year, at the D23 Expo in Japan on February 10, 11, and 12, Disney announced that they would be transforming California Adventure’s Paradise Pier into Pixar Pier, set to open June 23. This project will change the classic ride California Screamin’ into the Incredicoaster, themed around the movie The Incredibles, which happens to open just over a week after the release of Incredibles 2, coming to theaters June 15. The opening of Pixar Pier also brings a rebranded Toy Story themed carousel, a brand new Inside Out ride, and a fresh set of gondolas on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, each dedicated to a different Pixar character. While some people are excited about the change and find it as a beneficial addition to the park, others find the raised ticket prices and longer wait times as a detriment to the enjoyment of park guests. Here are two opposing views on the change, who will you side with?
While some people may be against California Adventure’s famous Paradise Pier transforming into Pixar Pier this summer, this change actually reaps many benefits and is a necessary and much needed change. In order to make this point more clear, we have to look back into the history of this park. Opening in 2001, Disney’s California Adventure looked very different then it does today. Rather than keeping a Disney theme coordinating with its sister park, Disneyland, DCA began with a theme that no other theme park had yet seen; California.
This park devoted to the Golden State contained attractions like Golden Dreams, an educational film about California’s history starring Whoopi Goldberg; Orange Stinger, a swing ride inside a giant orange; and Superstar Limo, a slower ride starring poorly made animatronics that will haunt your dreams forever, once again starring Whoopi Goldberg (an obvious staple of California). To make a long story short, all of the attractions in the original California Adventure were missing one thing, Disney magic. Why go to a Disney park if it’s not going to be strictly a Disney park? Disney soon found many park guests asking similar questions, craving for a more feel.
So, in 2002, Disney opened A Bug’s Land, themed around the Pixar movie A Bug’s Life. With guests still complaining about the lack of “disneyness”, Disney started the second phase of renovation, and 2012 marked the arrival of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street, World of Color, and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Although it’s sad to see such a beloved area like Paradise Pier close down (RIP California Screamin’), this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Disney shut down older rides and attractions in California Adventure. If you ask me, it’s about time that Pixar gets some large-scale representation at the Disneyland Resort, because after all, California Adventure is a Disney park, and Pixar is the perfect way to spread the much needed Disney magic.
With any change comes the potential for a brilliant outcome, however this potential is lacking in the upcoming Pixar Pier. While people go to Disney for Disney themed parks, the theme of Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) remains in the title, California. While Grizzly Peak, a subdivision of California Adventure modeled to look like a typical California National Park in the 1950s, is still going to remain after the renovation, DCA is losing one of its most popular California themed rides, California Screamin’. Grizzly Peak only has three attractions, one of which is Soarin Over the World, which used to be Soarin Over California.
Unlike previous DCA renovations, the rides that they are renovating now were loved and brought in a lot of visitors. California Adventure is slowly losing its California essence, however the charming aspect of this park isn’t the only thing that park visitors will be losing. Taking away what makes California Adventure California themed is like replacing the flowers in a flower shop with candy. While both are great, it the content just doesn’t match up to the title/ Paradise Pier, an idealized version of Santa Monica Pier, may not have been completely Disney themed, however it had rides like Midway Mania and the Ariel Carousel to makeup for the one or two unthemed rides.
On top of that, Paradise Pier had two qualities that made it Disney themed, at least in my eyes, Disney magic and charm. As Disney slowly sucks away the rides that made California Adventure unique and “California”, they’re also snatching money and time from park visitors. This renovation has created a lot of buzz, which will attract more visitors. However, more visitors means higher prices and longer lines for everyone. The increase in price applies to all ticket types, including Annual Passes. While price increases are a great source of income for the park itself, it isn’t really visitor friendly. While I know that I am going to continue visiting California Adventure, I will never stop longing for Paradise Pier, and all of the rides that made it so special, just like California.