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Celebrating 15 Years of Magical Moments at Disney California Adventure Park

Shannon Swanson

by , Public Relations Manager, Disneyland Resort

On this day 15 years ago, Disney California Adventure park opened its gates for the first time. To celebrate, I’ve highlighted some the most magical moments we captured on video. I have been fortunate enough to participate in of most of these moments, from the Grand Opening in 2001 to the opening of Cars Land in 2012, and more. If I had to pick a favorite, I really enjoyed the opening ceremony for Toy Story Midway Mania! Seeing the Green Army Men parachuting through the sky was really spectacular!

What is your favorite Disney California Adventure park memory?


  • Congrats on 15 years! I remember when I found out that Disneyland’s 2nd park would have a California theme. The Imagineers/Disney Team have done a great job in creating something entirely original. My one hope still is for some kind of art installation (similar to the Mary Blair mural at the Contemporary) inspired by the art of Tyrus Wong. The Great Californian would be an appropriate host. I think he is over 100 years old. That alone is incredible. His contribution to the development of Disney Animation is incredible.

  • Seeing Groove 66, D.U.H. and other Atmosphere entertainment throughout the years. Would love to see something like D.U.H. come back.

  • I love California Adventure!!! Disneyland is special to us because I grew up there. But we really LOVE California Adventure! Turtle Talk with Crush, Soarin’ Over California and of course, World of Color are our favorites!

  • I was there on opening day! There were about 1000 of us that camped out in front of the castle in Disneyland to be one of the first to enter California Adventure. It was a very cold evening, but the cast members kept us entertained throughout the night. It was very exciting to finally enter the new park!

  • Although Disneyland is ‘home’ to me, DCA will always hold a special place in my heart. Both my son and daughter-in-law were part of the opening cast. He in Paradise Pier and she in Soarin’ over California. My son was also a part of the crew for Mermaid and also one of our very favorite attractions, Radiator Springs Racers. However of all the wonderful DCA memories, it’s got to be the very first time we rode Soarin’ with our family. Imagine our surprise when the cameras zoomed over Main Street USA, and there in the street, right next to Santa, was my husband. To be an actual part of Disney history – truly Magical.

  • I do miss the CALIFORNIA letters at the front gates, where there were great photo opportunities, especially with the Christmas and other overlays.

  • The only opening I was present for was Cars Land. I didn’t appreciate it fully until I actually saw the movie – Great!!

  • Seeing the neon lights come on standing on Route 66 right in the middle of Radiator Springs for the very first time.

  • Brad; if it makes you feel any better, the video didn’t cover “Steps in Time” or “Power of Blast” either.

  • Being a former East Coaster, I had only visited California Adventure once in the first few years after it opened. When I returned in 2012 to see the transformed Buena Vista Street, it was pretty amazing. Seeing the Red Car coming down the street and being immersed in the period architecture gave me warm fuzzy feelings.

  • you forgot about Aladdin :(

  • So many great moments. Thanks to an opportunity from Disney Parks blog, I was able to attend the premiere of World of Color. It was awesome!

  • The opening of World of Color in 2010!

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