Those record-breaking crowds flocking to Cars Land this summer are discovering something extra as a bonus: Disney California Adventure -- as a whole -- is becoming an incredibly beautiful theme park. The potential's always been there; Grizzly Peak is stunning and California Screamin's classic coaster profile looks great against the Southern California sky. The rest of the park is finally catching up to the promise.
Disney's spent the money to truly turn DCA into a magical, full-day park and rework original 2001 elements that never quite met guests' expectations. We've seen the removal of bland, cheap shopfronts and jarring, out-of-place structures like the Maliboomer tower and the giant peeling orange. We've witnessed the arrival of classic architecture, shade trees, a healthy dose of great Disney-quality rides and detailed, story-driven theming. After exploring the amazing Cars Land in the morning, guests are wandering out to discover a renewed DCA that's blossoming like a butterfly spreading its wings. Corny, but true.
Some areas still have minor problems; the Wharfside end of Paradise Pier needs more shade. Goofy's Sky School isn't fooling anyone, but a lot of folks enjoy it (including me -- I love Wild Mouse coasters). When you take all the improvements, however, then add in the comforting joys of Buena Vista Street and the mind-blowing wonders of Cars Land, you've suddenly got an outstanding park that's unlike anything else in the Disney lineup.
Disney California Adventure finally has an identity to be proud of. Across the way, Disneyland finally has a worthy companion to share the crowds with.