California is, of course, famous for many things. And you simply can't talk about California without
mentioning food. The agriculture industry ranges from the vinyards of Napa Valley to the citrus fields down south,
with the Central Valley providing vegetables and other crops in abundance. And once the harvest is in, the creative
talents of world-famous chefs bring us the many different cuisines California is famous for - Mexican, many varieties
of Asian cuisine, and our own native California Cuisine. This area of Disney's California Adventure theme park
is where entertainment and education combine for a memorable vacation experience for your whole family. With plenty of
opportunites for you to enjoy some excellent examples of California cuisine. Our journey begins with the walk-around
attractions and ends with some of the most exciting rides in any theme park in the world.
We begin our journey through The Golden State at Bountiful Valley Farm - a small display of farm equipment made by Caterpillar highlights this tribute to the California farm community. You'll find real crops being grown here - with helpful Cast Members waiting to tell you all about it. You'll learn how farmers match their methods with the different growing environments that are found in California. It's all right in front of you to watch as they tend to and occasionally harvest the crops grown right there in Disneyland! And some of those crops are served to guests at the nearby restaurants.
The first attraction we visit here is the "Its Tough To Be A Bug" 3D theater where our friend Flik from Disney-Pixar's "A Bug's Life" takes us down into the world of the creepy-crawly things that help make things grow and why humans need to appreciate insects. Much like the "MuppetVision 3D" show, this one combines a 3D movie with animatronic figures to entertain you. But this show has a special surprise waiting for you at the end - something like "Honey, I Shrunk The Audience" but different enough to entertain even hardened Disneyland veterans. Everybody loves the Pixar movies, so you can see this attraction with your kids and not feel like you're making a sacrifice.
Up at the "top" of this area are two attractions that teach you about two popular
varieties of food from the California culinary experience. The first is the "Mission Tortilla Factory". That's right,
it's a small factory that actually makes some of those fabulous Mission Tortillas right before your eyes. Everyone's into sandwich
wraps and the like these days, so I think you'll enjoy seeing this attraction more than you might expect. The walk-through attraction
begins with a bank of small video displays that show how Hispanic families traditionally made tortillas (neat 3-D effect here - don't
miss it!). Then you follow a corridor walking by the machines that turn the dough into the flat round delicacies that are then baked
and ready to be served... which they do, just outside.
The second walk-through attraction is a guided tour of the "Boudin Bakery" where they bake luscious
loaves of the world-famous San Francisco sourdough bread. Above the walkways are TV screens that show a film starring comedians
Rosie O'Donnell and Colin ("Whose Line Is It Anyway?") Mochrie who explain how the early pioneers made sourdough bread
and how its made today in modern mechanized bakeries like the one in front of you. Once again, you'll have an opportunity to
taste their wares in one of the outdoor restaurants. The picture here shows the large ovens with glass doors that let you see
the myriad loaves of bread baking as they turn on the carousels inside. It was more interesting to see how those wonderful sourdough
treats were made than I expected. The tour was long enough to let you see all you wanted, and short enough so that the youngsters
wouldn't get bored silly.
There are many other places to eat in Golden State, places such as the "Cucina Cucamonga Mexican Grill",
"Earborn Popcorn", "The Pacific Wharf Cafe", "Sam Andreas Shakes", the "Taste Pilots Grill",
"The Golden Vine Terrace", and "The Lucky Fortune Cookery". The center of the park will certainly be your center
of attention when it comes to mealtime when you're visiting Disney's California Adventure there in Disneyland.
And now we come to the rides!
Our next stop takes you on an exciting adventure that lets you fly over California. It's called "Soarin'
Over California", and it's like you're riding in a powered hang glider. You're belted into one of three tiers of about 8
seats that lift you up to 40 feet off the ground in front of a parabolic screen that shows you a bird's eye view of the spleandor
of California's land and seascapes. You zoom along at tree-top level past skiers and mountain tops. You feel the wind in your
face, and the pull of the G-forces as you accelerate up and down. You can even smell the pine trees as you fly past the forrests
and the cool damp San Francisco fog as you carom over the Golden Gate bridge. It's a thrilling ride, but not so thrilling that
your older kids couldn't share it with you. This is bound to be one of the most popular rides in the park. For the most realistic
ride, try to get in row A or B. If you're with younger kids, stick with row C for a ride a bit closer to Terra Firma. If you or
your kids liked the feel of a flight simulator like "Star Tours" in Disneyland, you'll like this ride, too!
The centerpiece attraction of The Golden State area is the water raft ride "Grizzly River Run". It's the longest, tallest, and fastest white-water river rafting ride in any Disney park and takes you on a giant inner-tube ride down the river rapids that flow from the top of the 150-foot high Grizzly Peak mountain. Definitely not for the youngest or the faint of heart, the ride includes a 22-foot drop. And, yes, you're going to get wet. Really wet! Seriously Soaked! But it's a ton of fun and sure to be one of the highlights of your vacation!
The film "Golden Dreams" is shown in a theater next door to the replica of the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda. The film is based on a Portugese novel and stars Whoopi Goldberg as Califa, for whom the state was named. It tells the story of the history of California, and the people who have made it what it is today.
"The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail" is "an interactive obstacle course" that combines cable slides, rope bridges, rock climbing and more. A map posted at the entry will guide you through the different sections, including Tunnel Treet Crawl-Thru, the Hoot-N-Holler Logs, Pine Peril Bridge, Cliff Hanger, Hibernation Hollow, and the Sequoia Smokejumpers Training Tower.
"In the center of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is the Ahwahnee Camp Circle. Here, split logs and tree stumps serve as the seating area for guests to enjoy an Indian storyteller who share tales of the California wilderness, the animals that inhabit the areas and the ecology of the land. Animal demonstrations, campfire singalongs and ghost stories also entertain wilderness visitors."