The Awesome Storytelling Of Disney California Adventure's New Buena Vista Street

As many of you know, I'm a big theme park fanatic. I'm not a huge fan of Pixar's Cars, but yet I've been eagerly awaiting (for the last few years) the addition of Cars Land to Disneyland's offerings. And while Cars Land is gearing up to open on June 15th, I'm equally as excited to see the launch of Buena Vista Street, Disney's new opening to California Adventure. Many people are looking at this combination as a complete relaunch of the theme park, California Adventure 2.0. There were a lot of problems with the initial offering, and Disney has spent $1.1 billion re-construction to right almost all the wrongs, and actually make the park feel like a Disney experience.

And what the Imagineers have done with Buena Vista Street is create a new story, an origin story for Walt Disney. They have created a street full of shops and restaurants (like Disneyland's Main Street) which tells the story of a man from Kansas who arrives in 1920's Los Angeles to become an animator. Who would have thought a street of stores could tell such a story?

Guests to Disneyland Resort this Summer probably won't leave DCA talking about Buena Vista Street. They'll more likely to be talking about Cars Land. But the experience will be felt. Remember, Walt Disney designed Main Street to serve as the opening credits to Disneyland (in face, the credits are on the windows of the stores you walk by as you head towards the castle). A movie's opening credit sequence can set the tone and make an otherwise good film great, and the Imagineers have created an incredible gateway experience for DCA theme park guests.

Disney has released a fact sheet which explains in detail all of the new offerings. But my favorite part is the many details that make up the storytelling of the new theming on Buena Vista Street.


When guests walk into a Disney theme park, they find themselves in a place apart from the everyday world they leave behind. At Disneyland Park, the adventure begins on turn-of-the-century Main Street, U.S.A. At the newly expanded Disney California Adventure Park, it now begins on Buena Vista Street, a nostalgic look at Los Angeles as it may have appeared to Walt Disney in the 1920s and '30s when he first arrived in California.

Buena Vista Street welcomes guests to a very specific "Disney California Adventure," the adventure of a young Walt Disney stepping off the train from Kansas City and into 1920s Los Angeles, the beginning of a wonderful, inspirational period of his life. The dynamic themed environment transports guests to another era, along this boulevard of dreams.

"One of the main things we're trying to do with Buena Vista Street is create an emotional connection for guests when they walk in," explained Lisa Girolami, senior show producer and director, Walt Disney Imagineering. "We want people to take in the architecture and the color and the ornamentation, to know where they are and what time it is. The whole street comes alive to put you right there in the steps of Walt when he first stepped off the train in California, with all the optimism and opportunity he felt was there for him at the time."

On Buena Vista Street, guests board the Red Car Trolley to take a tour and clang-clang-clang their way into Hollywood Land. The tour includes Carthay Circle Theatre, a striking, new Disney California Adventure landmark that stands at the hub of the park, with a beautiful fountain and avenues that lead to the eight themed lands of Disney California Adventure. It's also home to one of the premier dining locations at Disneyland Resort, the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge. Guests may stroll around a Buena Vista Street "downtown" featuring vintage architecture and a dozen shops and restaurants.

Buena Vista Street Landmarks

The new entry turnstiles of Disney California Adventure are inspired by the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. The Pan-Pacific was designed by architect Welton Becket. Disney is said to have consulted his friend Becket when he was planning Disneyland in the 1950s. Becket told Walt he already had all the talent he needed at the Disney Studios. That talent was the creative team that became Walt Disney Imagineering.

Entering the turnstiles, guests find themselves in Buena Vista Plaza, a town square with a flag pole, a stop for the Red Car Trolley, and Oswald's gas station. Passing through the town square, guests walk under Hyperion Bridge (the Disneyland Resort Monorail track), modeled on the concrete Glendale-Hyperion Avenue bridge near Walt Disney's early Hyperion Animation Studios.

Past Hyperion Bridge and into the central entry plaza, which leads into the eight themed lands of Disney California Adventure, guests will find Carthay Circle Theatre, inspired by the motion picture palace where "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" premiered in 1937. It's the home of the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge.

The Carthay Circle Theatre stands 89 feet 6 inches to the top of the cupola spire. It is approximately a ¾ scale to the original Carthay Circle Theatre building. In comparison, Sleeping Beauty Castle stands 77-feet high, with a design that makes it appear taller through forced perspective.

The central plaza is also home to "Storytellers," a statue of Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse. Placed at street level and less monumental than the "Partners" statue in Disneyland, "Storytellers" depicts Walt Disney as a humble, optimistic young man, dreaming of achievements to come, standing alongside Mickey Mouse.

A New Attraction – Red Car Trolley

Inspired by, and lovingly modeled on the historic Pacific Electric Railway system which operated in Southern California from 1901 through 1961, the Red Car Trolley runs through Buena Vista Street and into Hollywood Land, making multiple stops until it arrives at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, aka The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror.

The red cars of the Red Car Trolley are modeled on two Pacific Electric Railway designs, representing different eras of the system's history.

The attraction evokes the original Red Car line with large windows all the way around the cars, a distinctive single headlight in the center of the front panel, and even overhead "catenary" electrical lines (all part of the show).

The Red Car Trolley makes four stops. Trolley car conductors, in uniforms evoking the '20s time period, call the stops, toot the trolley whistle and entertain guests with historical tales of Buena Vista Street.

Shopping On Buena Vista Street

  • Oswald's stands in Buena Vista Plaza, just inside the Disney California Adventure turnstiles. The name might have prompted a young Walt Disney to name his early cartoon success, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald's is actually a shop selling sundry "road trip" vacation necessities: travel mugs, sunscreen, hats and more.
  • On the east side of the central plaza is Los Feliz Five & Dime, themed to a vintage five-and-dime or variety store. The Los Feliz area of Los Angeles is near the site where Walt Disney's Hyperion studios were built. Los Feliz Five & Dime offers t-shirts, fleece, hats, figurines, souvenirs and more.
  • Big Top Toys features innovative and interactive toys, games and plush inspired by such Disney characters as Tinker Bell, Disney Princesses, Phineas & Ferb and Duffy the Bear. The shop is a nod to the Disney animated film "Dumbo," which provides much of the inspiration and the background music.
  • Elias & Co. is the largest shopping location on Buena Vista Street and pays tribute to the opulent art deco style department stores of yesteryear, selling apparel, watches, handbags, accessories and more. The Canadian-born Elias Disney was Walt Disney's father, and Elias was Walt Disney's middle name.
  • Kingswell Camera Shop, on the west side of Buena Vista Plaza, is headquarters for Disney's PhotoPass, where guests can pick up their photos taken by Disney's roving photographers. The shop also sells memory cards, cameras, film, batteries, frames and photo albums. Kingswell Avenue was the site of an early Disney animation studio.
  • Julius Katz & Sons carries a variety of home décor and seasonal merchandise including kitchen gadgets, dinnerware, hand towels and aprons. "Julius Katz" was inspired by Julius the Cat, an animated cat who joined the live-action Alice in Disney's silent "Alice in Cartoonland" shorts of the 1920s.
  • Atwater Ink & Paint is a Hollywood-style market house selling coffee, tea and other delectable treats to enjoy or take home. The name refers to the Atwater Village district of Los Angeles, a regular haunt of animators in the early days of the Disney Studio.
  • Trolley Treats offers packaged candy as well as signature items from the Disney candy kitchen: hand-pulled taffy, gourmet marshmallows, caramel apples, toffee, dipped strawberries and more. Some are made on the spot by Disney candy makers. Another treat is in the window – a display of Rock Candy Mountain, an attraction designed for Disneyland park but never built.
  • Dining Along Buena Vista Street

  • Upstairs at Carthay Circle Theatre is the Carthay Circle Restaurant, one of the premiere dining locations at the Disneyland Resort, with a menu of hors d'oeuvres, salads, soups, California specialty entrees and desserts. Downstairs is the Carthay Circle Lounge, which serves appetizers, wine, craft beer and specialty drinks.
  • Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café is a diner-style, quick-service restaurant serving soups, salads, sandwiches and beverages, including Starbucks coffee. Guests enjoy a pleasant view of Carthay Circle from the picture window. The café name references the names of the Three Little Pigs in the award-winning Silly Symphonies cartoon.
  • Clarabelle's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream is a soda fountain and ice cream shop whose name might have inspired the name of one of Mickey Mouse's friends, Clarabelle Cow.
  • Mortimer's Market offers whole and cut fruits, bottled water, juices and soft drinks. (Mortimer is the name Walt Disney originally gave his new creation in 1928; he later changed it to Mickey.)
  • Entertainment on Buena Vista Street

    "The Red Car News Boys" roll into town on shiny Red Car Trolleys, singing "California, Here I Come!" and other fun tunes from the 1920s and '30s. The News Boys also deliver the latest "headlines," in the Buena Vista Daily Bugle.

    The citizens of Buena Vista Street – a cast of L.A./Hollywood "characters" out of the 1920s and '30s – interact with guests, creating impromptu laughs, smiles and memories.

    The musical group Five & Dime adds all that jazz to Carthay Circle "On the Sunny Side of the Street." This ensemble of friends and relations, led by a vivacious singer named Dime, has travelled Route 66 all the way from Chicago in hopes of making it big. Like everyone who comes to Buena Vista Street, great things await them just around the corner.


    It's like stepping right into the "Cars" movie! Route 66 leads guests at Disney California Adventure Park into Cars Land, a fully detailed, immersive re-creation of Radiator Springs, the setting for the hit Disney?Pixar animated film "Cars." Guests will be awed by the panoramic vistas of Ornament Valley, experience the thrills of three new attractions and even get to interact with some of their favorite fuel-driven friends.

    The debut of Cars Land marks the completion of a five-year expansion at Disney California Adventure, bringing more characters, more adventures and more Disney magic into the park, both day and night.

    Get your kicks in Radiator Springs

  • The re-creation of Radiator Springs captures the authentic feel of Route 66 with three-dimensional versions of familiar landmarks from the film, including Cadillac Mountain Range in Ornament Valley, Luigi's Casa Della Tires and Flo's V8 Café.
  • Only in Radiator Springs do guests learn dance moves like the Overdrive, the Reverse and the Hairpin Turn, all part of the fun at "DJ's Dance and Drive," one element of the Route 66 entertainment. DJ spins auto favorites such as "Life in the Fast Lane" and "Car Wash."
  • When night falls in Radiator Springs, 16 neon signs in bright, luminous colors light the way along Route 66.
  • Signs help tell the story in Radiator Springs, adding humor and life to the town's four-wheeled residents.

  • The "car-acters" of Cars Land welcome guests at three new attractions: Radiator Springs Racers, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Flying Tires.
  • The historic Route 66 runs 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. Route 66 in Cars Land is approximately 525 feet long and 23 feet wide, rich with inspiration from the actual American highway.
  • Cars Land also treats guests to food and merchandise locations inspired by the Radiator Springs landmarks in the film: Flo's V8 Café, Fillmore's Taste-In, Cozy Cone Motel, Radiator Springs Curios, Sarge's Surplus Hut and Ramone's House of Body Art.
  • The fun of the "Cars" theme extends even to the menus of the Radiator Springs roadside restaurants. Flo's V8 Café serves old-fashioned, breakfast dishes and home-style rotisserie classics for lunch and dinner, including such specialties as a breakfast chicken tamale with scrambled eggs, entrees such as the Veggie-Tater Bake and house-made Pie-O-Rama pies including strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry-peach and apple-cheddar. At Cozy Cone Motel, each food item is a different "cone-coction," such as "Pop-cone" and "Chile Cone Queso."
  • Revving through Cars Land and Ornament Valley

  • Cars Land construction began in July 2009.
  • The impressive Cadillac Mountain Range in Ornament Valley stands approximately 125 feet tall at its highest peak, the Pinnacle.
  • The peaks of the mountain range, from left to right, represent Cadillac tail fins from 1957, 1958, 1959 (the Pinnacle), 1960, 1961 and 1962.
  • At nearly 300,000 square feet, the mountain range is the largest rockwork construction in any domestic Disney theme park.
  • More than 4,000 tons of steel were used to erect the mountain range and Radiator Springs Racers attraction.
  • The team of Walt Disney Imagineers devoted more than 28,000 hours to designing the structural system for the rockwork and Radiator Springs Racers show building.
  • The Attractions of Cars LandRadiator Springs Racers: A leisurely, scenic tour of Ornament Valley turns into an all-out race for the Piston Cup as guests race side-by-side through the mountain range, around Willy's Butte and past the plunging waterfall, Radiator Falls – all familiar sights to fans of the movie.

  • The ride vehicles come in eight colors, each with its own personality.
  • Each six-passenger convertible features a male or female face, with different details in the eyes and lips. The gender of a car is determined by color.
  • Guests board cars for a scenic road trip, meandering through the countryside and the town of Radiator Springs. After a stop at Luigi's Casa Della Tires or Ramone's House of Body Art, guests and their cars get some final racing tips from Doc Hudson.
  • When the race begins, racers split onto parallel tracks, zooming nose-to-nose through the desert landscape. Part of the thrills: Guests will never know who is going to win.
  • New to Radiator Springs is Taillight Caverns, which Disney Imagineers conceived as a stunning finish to the dramatic race.
  • The attraction covers nearly six acres – the largest attraction by acreage at the Disneyland Resort.
  • The "Cars" movie composer, Jonathan Sacks, composed the attraction score.
  • Each vehicle will travel approximately 36,000 miles per year.
  • This is a Disney FASTPASS attraction.
  • Minimum height requirement: 40 inches
  • Mater's Junkyard Jamboree: Everyone's favorite tow truck, Mater, has corralled a herd of runaway baby tractors in his junkyard. Guests are invited to an old-fashioned "tow-si-do" in Mater's salvage yard as they ride trailers hitched to the baby tractors.

  • Larry the Cable Guy (the voice of Mater from "Cars") recorded seven original songs for the attraction, backed by favorite Disneyland park performers Billy Hill & the Hillbillies.
  • Mater's songs are played on his own special jukebox, made of rusty oil drums, hubcaps, car hoods, horns, mufflers and other auto parts he has collected along the road.
  • None of the 22 tractors in Mater's Junkyard Jamboree are the same. Like the individual cows in a herd, the tractors all have different markings, mouths and eye colors. They have one thing in common: They all love to dance.
  • The baby tractors are new characters inspired by the movie and created especially for Cars Land.
  • License plates on the baby tractors have letters that represent initials and birthdays of key contributors to the Cars Land project from Walt Disney Imagineering and Pixar Animation Studios.
  • Minimum height requirement: 32 inches
  • Luigi's Flying Tires: At Luigi's Casa Della Tires, "Cars" characters Luigi and Guido play host to a "Festival of the Flying Tires." When the music starts, tires float and dance in the grand tradition of a celebration that first started in Luigi's hometown of Carsoli, Italy.

  • Guests board vehicles that look like oversized Fettuccini-brand tires, accommodating up to two adults and one child, or one adult and two children.
  • Luigi gives a countdown "Uno for the money, due for the show, tre to get ready and quattro to go!" and drops the flag for the "Festival of the Flying Tires."
  • Gliding along, guests shift their body weight to guide the direction of the vehicle, bumping into other tires as they float across Luigi's 8,000-square-foot Italian garden and tire storage yard.
  • Guests may work as a team to guide their tire and, for extra fun, try to catch one of the inflatable balls scattered throughout the attraction.
  • It takes 6,714 air vents to keep the tires floating ever so slightly above the ground – approximately two inches.
  • The voice of award-winning actor Tony Shalhoub, who voiced Luigi in the movie, is heard throughout the attraction.
  • Nostalgic Disneyland fans will recognize the attraction as a descendant of the Flying Saucers attraction, which operated in Tomorrowland from 1961 to 1966.
  • Minimum height requirement: 32 inches
  • Meet the Residents of Radiator Springs
  • Lightning McQueen and Mater, residents of Radiator Springs andbest friends always, settle in at the Cozy Cone Motel to meet guests and pose for photos. Other "car-acters" are featured in the shops, restaurants and attractions.

    Red the Fire Truck enlists young guests to help him water the flowers and clean up the town of Radiator Springs. Red makes sure that everything – and everybody – gets wet in some fun, interactive water play.

    DJ's Dance Party, as seen in "Cars," features DJ the rolling boom box with a mischievous personality and built-in CD changer. He and his team of dancers coast down the boulevard, creating a rollicking dance party wherever they go.


  • 280,000 – Square feet of rockwork in Cars Land, making Ornament Valley mountain range the largest rockwork created in a domestic Disney theme park; built to an unusual level of complexity with very few 90-degree angles
  • 125 – Height in feet at the tallest peak of Ornament Valley range in Cars Land
  • 6 – Distinct car tail fins represented in the Ornament Valley range, inspired by classic car models from 1957 to 1962; hood ornaments, wheel wells and radiator caps also represented in the rockwork
  • 4,000 – Tons of steel used to construct the Ornament Valley range and Radiator Springs Racers attraction in Cars Land
  • 45 – The steepest degree of banking on the track of the thrilling Radiator Springs Racers attraction in Cars Land
  • 36,000 – Approximate number of miles per year each Radiator Springs Racers vehicle will travel, equivalent to more than 14 trips down the original Route 66
  • 6,714 – Air vents keeping the tires flying at Luigi's Flying Tires attraction in Cars Land
  • 7 – Songs sung by Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree attraction in Cars Land
  • 525 – Approximate length, in feet, of the Route 66 that runs through Cars Land
  • 70 – Species of native plants in Cars Land (450+ specimens of trees and cactus)
  • 16 – Neon signs in Cars Land, with the Flo's V8 Café sign standing tallest at 27 feet
  • 89.5 – Height in feet of the Carthay Circle Theatre on Buena Vista Street – 12.5 feet taller than Sleeping Beauty Castle at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland Park
  • 1937 – Year "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" premiered at the original Carthay Circle Theatre, lending inspiration to the Carthay Circle Theatre icon now on Buena Vista Street
  • 200 – Number of seats in the Carthay Circle Restaurant dining room, in addition to a 56-seat terrace and the 68-seat Carthay Circle Lounge
  • 235 – Approximate number of different wines offered at Carthay Circle Restaurant, including 35 by the glass; also 16 craft beers
  • 20 – Number of passenger seats on each Red Car Trolley, with additional space for a wheelchair
  • 623 – Number on one of the Red Car Trolleys, representative of the 600 series of trolley cars built for the Pacific Electric Railway; also reflects 1923, the year Walt Disney first arrived in California
  • 717 – Number on the second Red Car Trolley, representative of the 700-750 series of trolley cars built for the Pacific Electric Railway; also reflects July 17, the month and day Disneyland opened in 1955
  • 1.1 – Miles of LED ribbon lighting at Mad T Party, fantastic, new nighttime fun in Hollywood Land
  • 715 – State-of-the-art lighting fixtures illuminating Mad T Party
  • 1923 – Year listed on embedded plaque at Storytellers statue at Disney California Adventure, reflecting the date when Walt Disney left Kansas City to embark on his new adventure in California and the year he founded his world-famous company
  • 779 – Trees planted in Disney California Adventure during the five-year expansion
  • 3,000 – Number of jobs Disneyland Resort added from 2010-2012
  • 23,000 – Number of cast members employed at Disneyland Resort, making it the largest single-site employer in Orange County