Paradise Pier: California Screamin


Like much of Disney California Adventure, Paradise Pier has undergone much renovation in an effort to create a more aligned Disney experience with its neighbor across the plaza. Attractions have been erected, attractions have been removed. Food stands have come and food stands have gone. Shops, midway games, and restaurants have all been modified and tweaked in order to create a more “Disney” experience.

The goal of the project was to change the California boardwalk feel to that of a Victorian-era seaside carnival. The current rides, food, midway games, and music all work well to create an authentic experience…except all taken to the next level that Disney achieves so effortlessly.

Approaching the pier from the East walkway, the anticipation builds as you begin to experience the sites and sounds of the pier. From the instrumental, California themed organ tunes (since replaced with 2010 loop), to the screams coming from the Mickey…er…sun loop of California Screamin, it is clear that there is some excitement dead ahead!

Let’s talk a bit more about that coaster, shall we?

California Screamin was my first real-deal coaster experience. I have always ridden the thrill rides in both parks but I am uncertain if those qualify as “true” coasters. This one goes upside down and therefore qualifies in my book 🙂

Cosmetically, the massive expansion project had some impact on Screamin…

You will notice the first image shows the original gold Mickey Ears silhouette with the coaster looping through Mickey’s face. Overall, the face looked much more dramatic when lit up in the evening, but was fairly drab and dull looking during the day. It was also decided that this look was far more modern than the theme called for, so changes were made during the massive park overhaul.

The Paradise Pier marquee is also located below the ride and actually right about where I ordered my lunch prior to boarding Screamin for the very first time. I don’t know whether enough people losing that lunch was ultimately the reason to replace the food court with Toy Story Midway Mania, but I think most would agree that the change was a positive one (although the food court had some killer fish and chips.)

Here is the current day version. You will notice that gold Mickey has now been replaced with an old-fashioned sun. The Marquee is now prominently displayed above the sun loop.

My beloved fish and chips stand was replaced with Midway Mania, which in turned replaced the seating area with throngs of 4-D gamers looking to top their high-score (and often waiting over an hour to do so).

Perhaps even more dramatic though, are the new victorian-style structures that line the boardwalk. Filled with shops and re-vamped midway games, these buildings are beautifully done and dramatically enhance the boardwalk experience.  I recommend really soaking in the view from across the pond, both during the day and definitely again at night.

So besides the surrounding structures and aesthetic changes to California Screamin. what makes this ride such a popular attraction among…well, practically anybody taller than 48″?  For starters (and thank goodness for this) the original launch sequence is still in place.  taking you and your fellow passengers down waterside, and allowing you to wave goodbye to family and friends as the countdown hits zero and you hit 55 mph in seconds to clear the first hill.  This is a stark contrast to traditional coasters that would chain-pull a car up the hill to begin the coaster experience.

Once you clear the first bump, the amazing sites of the park open up before you as you can see all the way across both parks.  It is quite spectacular and breathtaking and changes completely depending on the time of day.  I once rode right around sunset and it left an absolutely unforgettable image in my mind.

But no time for sightseeing as you are about to hit several more hills and sharp curves before hitting the ominous sun loop, and a couple for hairpins before ending the journey.  Don’t forget to smile on that last corner as big brother is watching!

California Screamin is an absolute scream.  I have grown very fond of many DCA attractions, but California Screamin won my heart and is a must-ride every time I visit.

No time to dally, as there is still much more adventure to discover on this magical walkway…

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Posted on August 27, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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