Wrapped around the southern shore of the kidney-shaped lake, Paradise Pier opened as Disney's version of a seaside amusement park from the 1920s. It covers about one-third of Disney California Adventure and contains almost one-third of the attractions.

Paradise Pier was the focal point during the early phases of the refurbishment activity recently completed at DCA. The biggest addition was Disney's World of Color Nighttime Spectacular, an evening show complete with more than a thousand water fountains shooting water hundreds of feet into the sky, synchronized to music and Disney film clips. A recent Little Mermaid-themed dark ride, as well as the removal or retheming of several existing attractions and restaurants, rounded out the rehabilitation of an area that was once widely considered an eyesore.

Paradise Pier's original, tacky, mid-20th-century theme at DCA was ironic, and in a perverse way it brought the story of Walt Disney and Disneyland full circle. Walt, you see, created Disneyland Park as an alternative to parks such as this; parks with a carnival atmosphere, simple midway rides, carny games, and amply available wine, beer, and liquor. Amazingly, corporate Disney has made just such a place the centerpiece of Disneyland's sister park, slaughtering in effect one of the last of Walt's sacred cows. The foregoing notwithstanding, however, Paradise Pier is spotlessly clean, exciting during the day, and eye-popping in the evening with all its colorful lights.

Note: Most of the attractions (except Toy Story Midway Mania!) in Paradise Pier will close early for World of Color performances.