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.