The main attraction of the Paradise Pier district is Disney's first West Coast looping roller coaster, California Screamin'. This high tech ride boasts a retro look: its winding steel structure mimics the classic wooden coaster appearance and sloping camelback layout, thus conforming to the Pier's nostalgic style while offering the smooth, high speed thrills of a modern ride.
And speed is California Screamin's strong suit: as seen in the photo above, the closest covered hill is not a drop, but is actually the ride's first "lift hill".
But no, this isn't your father's Oldsmobile nor typical lift, because the linear induction launcher hurtles riders across the south end of Paradise Bay, accelerating cars from 0 to 55 mph in under five seconds, straight up the first hill only to hurtle down it on the other side before riders can catch their breath. And that's just the start of the ride.
It's a fun ride and of good length as well, with over a mile of track that traverses nearly all of Paradise Pier, hosting many dips and steeply banked turns, a maximum drop angle of 50° and a high peak of 120 feet. Let's not forget the full inversion loop "through" the Mickey Ears logo dominating the track tower. Adding to the fun, like the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster in Orlando and Disneyland's Space Mountain (though its system hasn't worked on my last two visits), each car train of California Screamin' packs 108 speakers which blast a rocking California-style soundtrack, really pumping up the entertainment volume. The only drawback to California Screamin' was its early, frequent maintenance problems: it broke down a bit too often, which was a hardship for the park (and guests) since it's one of the few E-ticket thrills in DCA. The Disney maintenance CMs generally do a terrific job of keeping the parks running, but they need to ensure the bugs are worked out of this system so the coaster runs consistently and reliably.
Here California Screamin' stretches out along Paradise Bay for some quick twists and camelbacks, whipping past two other Pier attractions, the Sun Wheel and the towering Maliboomer. By the way, have you caught on to the sun imagery yet?
© 2001-2002 scott weitz