On this day 17 year ago, the then-named Disney’s California Adventure officially opened to guests. Before that big day, the park was promoted in a number of ways, including a TV special starring Richard Kind and Barry Bostwick of ABC’s Spin City along with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from Whose Line is it Anyway? Of course, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner also makes an appearance alongside “the Big Cheese.” Thanks to the wonder of YouTube, you can watch this… interesting… special all these year’s later.
Given the numerous changes Disney California Adventure has seen over the year (with more to come), this TV special really does serve as a time capsule. Take, for example, the C A L I F O R N I A letters and Golden Gate Bridge that used to live at the park’s entryway. There’s also an extended bit set at the long-defunct ABC Soap Opera Bistro that many of today’s guests might not even know existed. Even Paradise Pier — now in the process of becoming Pixar Pier — is only partially recognizable considering the presence of the Maliboomer and Orange Stinger, while the sun icon on what’s now Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Mickey icon on what will be the Incredicoaster may throw younger viewers for a loop (no pun intended).
As we’ve discussed many times over the years, many of us who experienced DCA in its infancy still feel a certain sense of nostalgia for this version of the park. Although most of the changes over the years have certainly been for the better, it’s still nice to take a stroll down memory lane every now and then. So whether you remember Disney’s California Adventure’s opening days vividly or weren’t even born yet, it’s worth the 42 minutes to watch this special in honor of the park’s 17th birthday today.