California Adventure - Grand Opening Report (long)

JC Butterfly

DIS Veteran
Oct 8, 1999
Hello All!

I've been lurking through these boards for so long, I thought it was about time I shared some of MY Disney excitement!

It almost seems like forever ago now, but I have to share what it was like to be at Disneyland for the opening of the new park, California Adventure.

I worked at the Disney Store for five years as I was putting myself through college. I don't think I actually made any money there since I usually just turned my paycheck (and then some) back over to the company. I made some incredible friends there and when I mentioned that I *really* wanted to be in California for the grand opening, two of them quickly jumped at the chance!

We were planning this trip on less than a month's notice and wanted to keep costs down. We booked accomodations at the Best Western Park Place. I had visited Disneyland for the first time in June 2000 and I remembered that this was a convienient location.

As it got closer to the time, one of my friends had to cancel, but we were *so* excited. We arrived on Tuesday night (park opened Thursday). We asked every CM we could about what they thought of the new park and wht their favorites were. "Soaring Over California" was almost a unanimous favorite. We kept asking everyone if it was going to be difficult to get in to the new park and how early should we line up.

Disneyland has some of the most WONDERFUL cast members. There was an awful lot of confusion during that time. We were told they were going to be letting people sleep overnight in Frontierland on Wednesday and they will be allowed special entrance into the park. The only other way to be guaranteed admission was to be staying on property.

My friend and I quickly looked into staying at an on property hotel. The Grand Californian was sold out and PP and DLH were over $200 a night! We explained our fears to Paul at City Hall. We had traveled all the way from Wisconsin just to see the new park and we were leaving on Friday. He called the Paradise Pier, talked to the manager and got us a rate of $89 per night!

We quickly left the BW and checked into our new digs. The room we had been given was on the 10th floor and overlooking the new park. We could see right in and it was so exciting. They were having a celebrity sneak preview and we could see all kinds of people enjoying themselves.

As excited as we were, we returned to DL. MY friend had never been there before. We are both WDW veterans and she didn't like the "smallness" of the park . . . until she saw It's a Small World. We walked over there just as it turned 1:00 and we saw the procession of "dolls" announce the time. That is her favorite ride in the whole world and it just brought tears to her eyes.

A nearby CM could see that she was in awe. He led us to the front of the line, got on the boat with us, and told us about some of the artists/history of the ride. This was truly a *magical* moment for her.

We ate at the Blue Bayou for lunch and were right on the water watching the "Pirates of the Carribbean" float by. The jambalya and Monte Crisco were exceptional!

:jester: For dinner that night, we went over to Goofy's Kitchen. I am the biggest kid at heart (I'm 25) and she wasn't sure what to think (she's over 40 and that's as close as I go!) But Captain Hook came over and led her to the buffet line. Everytime she would put something on her plate, he would try to "steal" it with his hook. Soon, Goofy came over to her rescue. Captain Hook and Goofy were battling for the food. Goofy took her plate and went off running. She was laughing so hard we had to go sit down. Of couse, Goofy returned her plate. And the whole meal was like this!

I love how Disney understands that childhood is a state of being and not just a chronological age.

On Thursday morning, we woke up early and were escorted to a special entrance to California Adventure. Loacated hidden among bushes right accross the street from the hotel. We were one of the first people to enter the park from that entrance (into Paradise Pier). My friend is deathly afraid of roller coasters but I told her there was no way she wasn't going on California Screaming.

We were allowed to sit in the front car. You start out really low and the water is at your level (feels almost like you are in the water) It takes off like a shot to the top of the first hill -- she didn't have time to scream. It was so fast and smooth. Suddenly she realized we were going to go upside down and she started *screaming* After the ride, I expected that she would be traumatized. Instead she couldn't stop talking about how much FUN it was. We went on it five more times throughout the day.

I'm sure you've all read about how park attendance was low that day. Most people were standing in line for opening day souvenirs. We enjoyed the opportunity to go on rides and wait less than five or ten minutes for most of them.

Grizzly Rapids was another favorite. Unfortunately, it was pretty cool out that day, so freezing water wasn't the most welcoming, but I imagine on a hot day this ride is fabulous! And the CM were right that "Soaring Over California" was quite an experience. The most amazing part is how they encorporate the sense of smell to give you a "you're really there" sensation.

Well I could go on and on (I already have). Please feel free to email me with any additional questions
JC Butterfly:
Thanks for posting your report. We are heading off on our first trip to Disneyland the end of May. We are also WDW veterans. I can't wait to experience the difference. We are staying in the Grand California Hotel. I am so excited, you would think it was my first vacation ever. Sounds like you had a great time. And alot of the places you ate are places we have reservations for. Thanks for the insite.:bounce: :bounce:
Thanks for posting! It sounds like you had an awesome trip.:)
I love the outside of the Small World Building. Thanks for posting!


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