From Screen to Park: Disney California Adventure

by | Mar 17, 2021

As one of the newer Disney Parks, you would think movies related to attractions at Disney’s California Adventure to be recent. Well, you would be right…and wrong. DCA has gone through quite the change from its original opening concept to what we experience today. Now attractions reflect both the brand new Disney films all the way back to the earliest animation and beyond. There are a lot of great films to see before your trip to Disney’s California Adventure so let’s get right into it!

Buena Vista Street

Upon entering DCA we are greeted with art deco façades similar to those of the 1920s and ’30s Los Angeles where a replica of the Carthay Circle Theater sits at the end of DCA’s “main street.” The original Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles is where full-length animated film premiered with 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Hollywood Land

Head into Hollywood Land and at the backlot area you will find the Monsters Inc. attraction. Mike and Sully to the rescue. A perfect ride for little ones and the perfect way to get your little monster ready and excited is to watch Disney and Pixar’s Monsters Inc. Watch The prequel Monsters University if you can and spot roaming monsters from each film in the area.
At the end of Hollywood BLVD is the 2000 seat Hyperion theater. Currently, this is where you will find Frozen – live at the Hyperion. Watch Frozen before you come and enjoy this action-packed live version Disney does so well.

Just next to the Hyperion Theater is The Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Break Out where the ominous tower lures you in to see the Collector’s Pieces. The films Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 and Volume 2 are must-sees to fully enjoy this attraction as the story and humor take you on a side adventure to help the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Cars Land

Get ready to visit the real-life Radiator Springs by watching Disney and Pixar’s Cars, possibly the sequels, and some of the delightful shorts set in Radiator Springs including Spinning and Hiccups. After watching you will be able to easily spot places in the film that have come to life! For a thrilling adventure through the world of Cars ride Radiator Springs Racers where you will take a joyride through scenic landscapes, run into some trouble with Mater and finish pedal to the medal with a race around the Cadillac mountain range.

Pixar Pier

If you are a Pixar fan, this is your happy place. Pixar has taken over this seaside Amusement area and everything from the music to the attractions to the food is distinctly Pixar. Hold on tight and get ready for the Incredicoaster by watching the Incredibles. The Incredicoaster is a rare rollercoaster that has a story to tell. Help the Incredibles catch Jack-Jack while

launching, looping and plunging down 120 feet! Watch The Incredibles and Incredibles 2 before you ride. The 2 Jack-Jack shorts Jack-Jack Attacks and Auntie Edna are essential if you want to understand why the Parr family has such a hard time keeping track of the baby.

If you have not seen Toy Story or any of the sequels, be sure to watch at least one before visiting the attraction Toy Story Midway Mania. This attraction is part ride and part midway game. See how you stack up against your family and other guests as you make your way through the 3D games with the Toy Story crew.

Paradise Gardens Park

In this area of Disney California Adventure, you can find an homage to early Disney Cartoon Animation with attractions such as Silly Symphony Swings themed to The Band Concert and Goofy’s Sky School Roller Coaster based on Goofy’s Glider. Be sure to watch a few Silly Symphonies on Disney+ before your visit. You’ll find these on Disney+ under “Shorts” and there are subsections for Silly Symphonies, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and more.

Avengers Campus

No opening date has been announced for Avengers Campus We are very eager to experience the Marvel Cinematic Universe and have movie suggestions for you to get ready. The opening phase of this land will feature Web Slingers – a Spider-Man Adventure, a ride based on Spider-Man as he appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You’ll also be able to visit the Sanctum, a Dr. Strange experience. In phase two of the land, an as-yet-unannounced E ticket attraction will probably be Avengers-themed and involve

the already installed quinjet. Make sure to get up to speed on your Marvel Cinematic Universe movies before this area opens by watching the Avengers, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming and more.

Grizzley Peak

Although The towering Grizzley peak home to Grizzley river run does not have a film connectionits next-door Redwood Creek Challenge Trail play area does. It’s a perfect place to let little ones rest or run off extra energy with subtle overlays of Disney’s Brother Bear and Wilderness Explorer activities from the movie Up. You may even see Carl, Russell, and Dug . Look for animal tracks and facts here while enjoying a surprisingly natural feeling environment in the middle of DCA.

These movies are a good foundation for a visit to Disney California Adventure. There are many more references around the park. To dig deeper, spend more time in the older Disney shorts and the Pixar catalog. If you don’t have a trip planned, I can help you out now that we have a timeline for the Disneyland Resort’s reopening. Email me at broloff@conciears.com to get started.
Editors’ note: ConciEARS’ blog series Screen to Park is a guide to the essential movies to watch to understand or enjoy Disney Parks attractions. The series is not a comprehensive discussion of all movie references in every attraction. The next blog in the series, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, will be published next Thursday. You can read the previous entry now: From Screen to Park: Magic Kingdom.

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