History of Disney California Adventure

Paradise Pier:

You Spin Me Right Round

The photos that follow are a general look at the Midway area of Paradise Pier from across the water. I probably could have included a few photos to illustrate how this area looked before the Disney California Adventure overhaul construction began, but I found this area to be the most photogenic of the original Disney California Adventure, so I decided to include a number of photos. Sorry for the redundancy.

Paradise Pier at dusk

Paradise Pier - Disneyland "California" at Sunset

paradise pier

Paradise Pier at Night

Nighttime reflections

California Adventure from Paradise Pier

paradise pier in motion

Paradise Pier01


Paradise Pier

Toy Story Midway Mania:

Toy Story Midway Mania was the first substantial project in the “expansion” (the term Disney always uses in its literature, presumably, to avoid reminding people of that the original Disney California Adventure needed an overhaul) of Disney California Adventure. It replaced Malibu-Ritos, a quick service restaurant that opened with the park in 2001, but basically closed after a couple months of operation. Despite Malibu-Ritos existing in that location until 2006, when construction began on Toy Story Midway Mania, I could find no photos on Flickr of it. If you want to learn more about Malibu-Ritos, I suggest reading this Yesterland article.

Toy Story Mania 03

Toy Story Mania 04

Finally, a video slideshow of the construction progress:

I think few people will challenge the assertion that Toy Story Midway Mania was an excellent replacement for a quick service restaurant that was never open.

California Screamin’:

The change to California Screamin’ was purely aesthetic, made in conjunction with a change to the Sun Wheel. The theming behind the inversion loop was changed from a Mickey Mouse head to a sun with the words Paradise Pier above it.

As part of Disney California Adventure’s “Project Sparkle,” the queue of California Screamin’ has been cleaned up and had shade canopies installed, as well, but more work is needed on this queue.

Disney - California Screamin'

A View of the Past

Where's the loop?

California Dreamin'

As you can see, there’s a visual difference here, but was it worth the cost?

Sun Wheel:

The real purpose of the changes to the Sun Wheel and California Screamin’ were to add a non-redundant Pie-eyed Mickey Mouse to the Sun Wheel, which would then become the Fun Wheel. Adding Pie-eyed Mickey Mouse would serve the purpose of making Disney California Adventure a distinctly Disney theme park (as some guests had complained that it didn’t seem “Disney” enough) while retaining the classic Boardwalk atmosphere (thanks to the pie eyed-ness of Mickey Mouse).

Sun Wheel Two

Disneyland "California" Boardwalk at Sunset


Sun Wheel & California Screamin'

Sun Wheel and a 75th Mickey

Sun Wheel Reflection

This is another change I don’t view as substantial either way, and in fact, I prefer the sun face on the Wheel, rather than Mickey Mouse. I think it was a charming character. That said, it doesn’t make a huge difference to me either way, and I can see them desire to make Disney California Adventure more of a Disney experience.

Orange Stinger:

Orange Stinger was another opening day Disney California Adventure attraction on Paradise Pier, and it was a new take on the standard amusement park ‘swings’ attraction with the added orange theming and the citrus smell. Given its cheap and tacky appearance, it was an immediate candidate for a conversion to a more Disney-themed attraction.

Orange Stinger closed in 2009 to begin re-theming to Silly Symphony Swings, a swing attraction that would star Mickey Mouse as he conducted an orchestra, based on the 1935 Mickey Mouse cartoon The Band Concert.

Orange Stinger

Swinging on the Stinger

Orange Stinger

The Orange Stinger

All the Vitamin C you could ever want

Silly Symphony Swings: Blowing Your Way in 2010

It’s still an amusement park-style swing attraction, but the music and Disney theming have dramatically improved this attraction. Definitely better than a huge orange eyesore sitting at the edge of the water.


Now we’re getting into Paradise Pier’s biggest offenders, and Maliboomer might take the cake there. Maliboomer was an off-the-shelf S&S Power “Space Shot” attraction. You can find this same style of attraction, with the same level of theming, at just about any amusement park in the world.

To me, Maliboomer represents everything wrong with the original Disney California Adventure. No effort was made to distinguish it from a Space Shot you’d find at Six Flags.

Maliboomer, DCA

Maliboomer at Night (Explored)

Maliboomer At Sunset


Entrance to the Maliboomer

Man Hat N Beach

Someone in Disney management must agree with me, as initial plans to re-theme Maliboomer were scrapped in favor of simply removing the attraction altogether.

Quite literally, “nothing” was better than Maliboomer, as removal of it without a replacement has made Disney California Adventure stronger overall. A poorly themed park now exists in this spot. Many believe this is the site of future expansion at Disney California Adventure, and management didn’t want to waste money on more complex retheming only to rip it up in a few years.

Explore the rest of Disney California Adventure on the next page! You can navigate to specific lands and changes via the links below, or take the full tour by simply clicking the numbers below!

Park Entrance
Sunshine Plaza
Paradise Pier – Part 1
Paradise Pier – Part 2
Golden State
Hollywood Pictures Backlot
Parades & Events
Cars Land Construction

42 Responses to “History of Disney California Adventure”
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