When you think you’ve made all the memories you can at one of Disney’s theme parks – be it in Anaheim, Orlando or Tokyo- you’d be wrong. Very wrong. Walt Disney once famously stated, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” The brains at Disney are named imagineers for a reason, and they have the budget and brawn to “imagineer” perfectly.
Their newest task was to create and build the recently opened Cars Land in California Adventure and the new “downtown” aka Buena Vista Street. The imagineers along with their builders, chefs, show directors, gardeners and a cast of – yes – thousands, created brand new places to make memories in.
Eat at the Carthay Theater 1 of 14The Carthay Theater once was a premiere movie house in Hollywood back in the day and just happens to play a big role in Disney lore. Walt's very first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — the movie that launched an empire opened at the original Carthay Theater back in 1937. There are two restaurants at this iconic movie house and a bar inspired by the 1930's. The downstairs features small bites for those just wanting a quickie. Upstairs is a dining Mecca headed up by the Executive Chef Andrew Sutto the chef who oversees the Michelin rated Napa Rose at the Grand Californian. Here, in glamorous surroundings you can dig into highfalutin options like Colorado rack of lamb or grilled Jamaican jerked kingfish. Bonus points for the old school bar serving up not just Manhattans and Side Cars but a variety of local small production brews.
My memory: Sitting in the lounge area with a group of great people enjoying an amazing chicken wrap that was fresh and delicious, not at all like the corn dogs I usually chow down on at Disneyland.
Hang Out With Walt & Mickey 2 of 14One of the most iconic items in Disneyland - across the way from California Adventure - is the "Partners Statue" that majestically stands at the end of Main Street. A new addition at the park is their own tribute named "Storytellers," a more down-to-earth statue of Walt and Mickey Mouse. It represents the era when Walt first arrived in Los Angeles back in 1923 with just $40 in his pocket. It's a reminder that when Walt came to the West to follow his dreams, he was just a regular guy, a guy who had the gift of thinking big.
My memory: Posing with the statue with my daughter while she giggled over the clothing sticking out of Mickey Mouse's suitcase.
Admire the View of Ornament Valley 3 of 14The lines that snake through the rocks, cactus and gasoline related memorabilia to get to the E-Ticket ride that is Radiator Springs Racers may still be long, but you will have plenty of prettiness to look at while you wait. The faux rock work that creates the Ornament Valley is absolutely stunning. Especially when you realize that you aren't in the middle of the Grand Canyon but that these vistas were all man made.
My memory: Standing there, hand-in-hand with my daughter as we watched the Racers speed by. We could stand there all day staring at that view.
Try Everything at the Cozy Cone 4 of 14Sally's Cozy Cone Motel isn't someplace to sleep but to eat. Each of the bright orange pylon shaped buildings doles out a different kind of deliciousness. And the details of this area are not to be missed from the pylon shaped planters to the pictures hung on the walls of the "office."
My Memory: Peering in the "office" windows and giggling at the images of other famous cone shaped places like cone shaped Easter Island Heads to a cone shaped Eiffel Tower.
Eat at Cozy Cone Cone-coctions 5 of 14In the last slide I mentioned the "deliciousness," the offerings include interesting items like pickle flavored popcorn, Red's Apple Freeze (an elixir of frozen apple juice with toasted marshmallow syrup and mango foam), and the Cozy Cone cone-coction above the Chili Cone Queso (and yes, those are Fritos on top).
My Memory: Buying a Red's Apple Freeze for my daughter, having one sip and having to rush back to order my own. Yes, it is that good.
Eat at Flo’s V-8 Cafe 6 of 14This may just look like a plate of food to you, but it's more than that. It's an example of Disneyland's shift in dining with healthier, fresher and more balanced meals being offered up. Above is an entrÃ©e option that includes turkey breast with gravy and raspberry relish, roasted corn medley, peas & carrots and a biscuit. Again, it's putting the previously mentioned corn dog to shame. And make sure to keep room for an "ugly" pie like their apple with cheddar cheese on top.
My memory: Splitting the Chocolate Mud pie with my family and all trying not to take the last bite even though we all wanted it.
Go at Night Too 7 of 14If you have kids, odds are that you will be at Cars Land during the day. But the area is stunning at night when the neon is all turned on and glows in all its' gorgeous glory.
My memory: Being at the grand opening of Cars Land when John Lasseter and Tom Staggs (the Disney Parks and Resort Chairman) attached jumper cables to a large battery in front of a pitch dark Cars Land. Sparks began to fly, fireworks went off, and the neon triumphantly went on - an epic introduction.
Mingle with the Locals 8 of 14Throughout Buena Vista there is a cast of characters just meandering about, you've got a cop named Officer Blue who issues faux tickets for silly things, Molly the Messenger who rides around on an old school bike and Donna and her dog Fifi pictured above.
My Memory: Engaging is a silly conversation with Donna, who is a queen of adlib and improv, never once breaking character.
Admire The Threads 9 of 14Classic Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie and Goofy (pictured above) all received new wardrobes for the opening of Buena Vista Street. Here Goofy show off his stunning green zoot suit.
My memory: That's it above! I was very excited to hang out with Goofy.
Take the Trolley 10 of 14Traversing the crowds of Buena Vista Street is the Red Car Trolley. And this mode of transportation serves double duty. Throughout the day the Red Car News Boys use the trolley as their stage as they hang out the windows and serenade the guests with some ditties.
My memory: Seeing my daughter's face when she spotted Mickey hanging out with the Red Car News Boys on the train as it cruised down the street.
Get a Cup of Coffee 11 of 14Whether or not you are a regular Starbucks patron doesn't matter. What matters is that you can get a decent cup of coffee, a mocha or a double soy decaf Chai latte. Disneyland and California Adventure are amazing but also exhausting (in a good way). This is the first Starbucks to open in a Disney park and it is already a huge success with parents raising their coffee cups in salute to this new addition.
My memory: This Starbucks isn't like any other Starbucks and is housed in what is called the "Fiddler, Fifer and Practical CafÃ©." The baristas here wear 30's inspired outfits, there is wood and stained glass and a whole fascinating narrative on the walls about the Silver Lake Sisters a fictitious singing trio loosely based on the three little pigs. My family spent far more time than we intended checking out all the unique posters for sister's gigs and souvenirs from their travels. It really is the coolest Starbucks ever.
Hang Out with the Fly Girls 12 of 14Minnie's Fly Girls steal the show across the way from the epically cool Soaring Over California ride. It includes old Disney songs and standards in a catchy and entertaining performance.
My memory: Stopping for what I thought was going to be just a moment but not being able to get my daughter to budge, she liked them as much as the rides.
The Details 13 of 14On Buena Vista Street, old school Disney is honored in a variety of ways from Oswald's Gas Station, to a shop named for Walt's dad Elias, to a model of Big Rock Candy Mountain a ride which was never built - in the window of a candy store.
My Memory: Going to every shop on Buena Vista with my daughter to try to find Oswald the Lucky Rabbit ears, a product that they don't yet sell, but she hoped would find. In the process we picked up a lollipop, princess Mickey Mouse ears, a Mickey Mouse T-shirt for me, and a Disneyland commuter cup. Buying a variety of material memories.
Dance in the Streets 14 of 14The Five and Dime band will roll onto Buena Vista in their jalopy and entertain the masses with vintage tunes while interacting with the audience.
My Memory: Watching my daughter dance in the streets to one of their old school ditties declaring loudly, "I love jazz!"
Photos: Sunny Chanel & Disneyland/California Adventure
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