Buena Vista Street
From the Esplanade, where huge block letters spelling CALIFORNIA originally stood, you now pass through a new Streamline Modern entrance facade, designed after Los Angeles’s fabled Pan Pacific Auditorium. (If it looks familiar, that’s because it can also be recognized as the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in Florida.)
Once past the turnstiles, you’ll find yourself on Buena Vista Street, a re-creation of 1920s Hollywood as Walt saw it when he first arrived.
Immediately upon entering, to your left you’ll find Oswald’s Filling Station (a souvenir shop with a snazzy antique car parked outside), and the Chamber of Commerce (concealing Guest Services and First Aid). To your right you’ll see lockers, restrooms, an ATM, and phones. The street leading to the central plaza is lined on both sides with a variety of shops and eateries with back stories referring to Disney’s early biography. Among the shops on the east side are Elias & Co. Department Store (the park’s largest shop, named after Walt’s father), Los Feliz Five and Dime (hats and shirts), and Big Top Toys. The west side of the street features an indoor shopping arcade that leads to Kingswell Camera Shop (a PhotoPass printing location), Julius Katz & Sons (kitchen items), Atwater Ink & Paint (collectibles), and the Trolley Treats candy shop (check out the Big Rock Candy Mountain model in the window). Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café and adjoining Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Parlor round out the street’s retail district.
The original hub area, called Sunshine Plaza, was dominated by an arresting metal sculpture of the sun. In its place now stands Carthay Circle, home to the Storytellers statue (depicting a young Walt Disney with an early version of Mickey Mouse) and a replica of the Carthay Circle Theatre, where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937; in this incarnation, it encloses a restaurant and bar.
Together, Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle don’t simply serve as a point of departure for the park’s other various themed areas. They bring much-needed charm and atmosphere to DCA’s “first act,” forming a fantastic improvement over the flat cartoon-postcard facades that framed the former entryway.
Tom Bricker says:
“Buena Vista Street is an excellent ‘opening act’ for Disney California Adventure. It looks like a more detail-rich version of Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.”
Buena Vista Street Entertainment
A gang of singing Red Car News Boys (and one newsgirl), loosely inspired by the cult film and Tony-winning Broadway musical Newsies, use the Red Car Trolleys as a roving stage for exuberant song-and-dance performances.
Tom Bricker says:
“Red Car News Boys is really well done, and not overly long. There is a little bit of a story, but the real draw is the talking Mickey Mouse (who appears in the show for a good period) and the singing and dancing.”
The Five & Dime musical sextet sing jazz standards of the 1930s in the style of Billie Holiday.
You may also bump into interactive improvisation actors portraying police officers, bicycle messengers, or other eccentric Citizens of Buena Vista, a troupe similar to the popular “Streetmosphere” characters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
All eyes in the theme park industry turn this week to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, where the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure is being celebrated in the high style befitting the finish line of a billion-dollar makeover marathon. Before this massive expansion officially opens to the public on June 15, invited media and paying sneak-preview participants will have already had an opportunity to experience the new attractions of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and naturally the TouringPlans.com team is there on the scene. Touring Plans’ official photographer Tom Bricker, Unofficial Guide to Disneyland co-author Seth Kubersky, and new Touring Plans researcher Guy Selga, Jr. will all be on-property this week, documenting every detail to your touring advantage. Over the next few days, please check back on the blog for our hot-off-the-press first reviews direct from DCA, edited versions of which will appear in the 2013 edition of the Unofficial Guide.
All photos by Tom Bricker.