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A clean and colorful Cannery Row

The Pacific Wharf area borders the transition between Paradise Pier and the Golden State district, and serves mostly as a concentrated center of smaller dining venues with a heaping helping of California theming in the likeness of Cannery Row and Monterey.

Something fishy going on here

A lot of places to eat, actually! Even the attractions in Pacific Wharf are food-based -- assuming you consider walk-through tours of the Mission Tortilla Factory and the Boudin Bakery residents on the unconventional end of the theme park attraction spectrum.

With so many high profile thrill rides dominating the north end of the Golden State district like Grizzly River Run and Soarin' Over California, wandering guests heading into the Pacific Wharf area might find its mellow pace and offerings quite startling by comparison. By Disney park standards, it is an oddly passive region of design to be so chock-full of food venues in a small parcel of land.

It was a bold move to include a tortilla-making 'attraction' in a 21st century theme park, considering its limited return-visit appeal and somewhat hazy historical significance to Californian history or entertainment. Odder still to lump it into a themed area recreating the Pacific northwest rather than the more relevant Southern California association, given its strong cultural influences from south of the border in Mexico. The themes being shoved together here seem to clash under anything but the generic "Stuff About Food" umbrella concept . . . another small example of a pervasive, subtle undercurrent found throughout DCA where the idea feels "off" -- if only subliminally -- to guests and Disneyphiles: if someone stops to wonder "Why is this here?", it usually means the creative design ball was fumbled somewhere in the process.

This area may grow on you

 

We plow deeper through the Golden State once again to visit the Bountiful Valley area, which pays tribute to California's agricultural prowess and success. Another slower-paced section of the park to be sure, hosting a number of "how to" attractions including:  the Bountiful Valley Farm and the Golden Vine Winery, formerly sponsored by Robert Mondavi.

 

 

Sure, it's not the most thrilling section of DCA, but a study of Disneyland would reveal that Walt included many such attractions in his original park, in an attempt to promote cultures, history and industry while entertaining.  Same attempt here, and I give WDI credit for even including exhibits this "tame" in today's thrill-obsessed theme park market.  Whether these tributes will earn their keep amid DCA's stretch of underachieving attendance numbers remains unknown -- perhaps they're just the seeds for such cultural exploration of California's heritage which will someday grow into grander attractions as the park matures into a fruitful future?

Or maybe that's just a load of nitrogen-rich fertilizer?   But I'll keep hope alive.

Cultivating an understanding of California's agricultural history

Ants dance.  No pants joke please!

No, those aren't pests threatening our crop, they're two of our peacefully coexisting ant friends inhabiting the Valley, and their impromptu dance signals that an attraction hidden nearby has quickly become an underground success!

Flik 'imagineers' the show signage

That famous formicidae, Flik, welcomes guests to a very popular and fun attraction, It's Tough to be a Bug!, which originated in Disney's Animal Kingdom before our Californian ants set up their own colony theater here at DCA. This 3D multimedia show continues the adventures of Flik and his insect buddies from A Bug's Life with a bug's eye view of living on a small scale. The attraction is packed with skittering, scurrying special effects to tickle and thrill the senses of its human audience, and shouldn't be missed.

In the autumn of 2002, It's Tough to be a Bug! will be joined by a Flik's Fun Fair, one of the first new attractions slated to appear in DCA as a new area called A Bug's Land opens in the Golden State district. Such an addition marks the first steps to enlarging DCA to attract a wider (and hopefully bigger) audience, including the littlest guests who may have gotten slightly short changed in DCA's initial young adult-skewed design.

Now be careful where you step and let's trade our 'bug eyes' for sunglasses as we pile in the limo and our driver chauffeurs us to the Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

© 2001-2002 scott weitz