Looking Forward to Disney California Adventure 20th Anniversary

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16Disney California Adventure has come a long way since its debut in 2001.

Many, including Disney insiders thought that Disney had truly thought Disney California Adventure was a flop. The original design and vision brought about a lot of critisism and the world started to fear that Disney had lost their touch.

Now, Disney California Adventure is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021 and it’s fun to look back on the evolution of the park and also to look forward to what is in store for the future of Disney California Adventure.

When the park first opened, it was highlighted by a giant C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A sign spelled out in 12-foot-tall letters at the entrance. Guests entered the park under a foreshortened Golden Gate Bridge. There were no characters by design and the land boasted few rides. People were not impressed. Where was the Disney? Where was the magic?

19“I look at this park almost like a person,” Disney California Adventure vice president Patrick Finnegan said of the park and its evolution. “It was born and it had its growing pains. It had its awkward teenage years. It’s really both figuratively and literally reaching adulthood.”

A crucial point in the park’s history came in 2007 when Disney announced a $1.1 billion multi-year plan to change the look and vibe of Disney California Adventure. The park changed the entire look and feel of the park to create more Disney, more entertainment, take advantage of more Intellectual Property but clearly define it as a different entitity than Disneyland, just across the walkway.

18Changes have included Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure dark ride, World of Color nighttime spectacular and the everpopular Cars Land. Changes since have included the risky Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, a retheme of Soarin’ Around California to Soarin’ Around the World and Paradise Pier reimagined to Pixar Pier.

The retheme of Tower of Terror to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout was indeed a risky move. It was one of the most popular attractions in the park and to retheme a classic is always met with resistance. According to Finnegan, “We got a lot of letters about, ‘How dare you take down a classic. I understood that. It was a great ride. We didn’t make the change because it was rating poorly or because it was not pulling its weight. It was a pure creative choice and a way to anchor what would later be Avengers Campus. We knew that that was coming.”

Speaking of Avengers Campus, it is one of the most anticipated changes coming to the park.

The Marvel themed land coming to Disney California Adventure and also to Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disney was given an official name at D23 as Disney announced Avengers Campus would open in two phases.


At Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Avengers Campus will come to what used to be the space occupied by A Bug’s Life.

There will also be an Avengers Campus at Disneyland Paris. According to Disney,  “A brand-new E ticket attraction is headed to Disney California Adventure, where Guests will fly along with the Avengers and adventure to Wakanda!”


The very first Disney ride to feature a superhero with be the new Spider-Man attraction within the land. Guests will be interacting with their favorite Marvel characters such as Ant-Man, Black Widow, The Wasp, Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the crews from both Wakanda and Asgard. Oh, and Iron Man will be there as well… of course.

You can read more about what is coming to Avengers Campus HERE!

But, there’s still room for change because as Walt Disney said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

17As the Avengers move into Avengers Campus and those meet and greets move away from the studio back lot in Hollywood Land that leaves the door open for more evolution to come to that area. We expect Disney to capitalize on their intellectual property and retheme the area into something utilizing one of the popular films or characters of late. Finnegan left this open ended but we know that Disney puts years of imaingeering behind the scenes before announcing any projects publicly. It could be some time before we know exactly what Disney has up its sleeve for this area.

Until then, we look forward to the changes coming to Disney California Adventure and are excited to look back on the last 20 years of the park and what the next 20 years has in store.

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.


(Source: OC Register)




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