Disney California Adventure is pressing ahead with another radical transformation… And this one takes AWAY one of the park’s themed lands. The park opened in 2001 with three themed lands, each set in a cartoonish California of the 1990s. Puns ran rampant as the park tried to emulate real Californian locales with a hip, edgy, modern “Disney” twist.
Upon its grand re-opening in summer 2012, the park was (quite literally) transformed, debuting with two new lands and the rest re-districted and re-named. Prominently, the park’s all-encompassing “Golden State” land was sub-divided into re-themed and time-period-specific lands called Grizzly Peak, Pacific Wharf, and Condor Flats.
Standing out from its sisters, Condor Flats retained the old, “modern” style that California Adventure opened with. But that is about to change. And in the process, California Adventure is losing the Condor Flats themed land entirely, reducing the park from eight lands to seven.
When the park opened, the Grizzly Peak area had originally been cast as an old rusted logging operation in California’s High Sierras taken over by an extreme sports company in the 2000s. With its new identity, the clock was turned back and the land became a 1950s National Park. In the style of Disneyland’s Frontierland, entering Grizzly Peak was now like traveling back in time to an idealized and very-much-alive grand redwood forest with park rangers, active waterwheels, and no rust in sight.
Another sub-area within the Golden State to earn official “land” designation in 2012 was Condor Flats. The one attraction in the land was the park’s only standout upon opening: Soarin’ Over California. The area was meant to resemble an old high-elevation desert airstrip taken over by a modern flight-testing center. However, the relatively small land bordering on the forested Grizzly Peak never quite gave the impression of being at a high-elevation, much less a desert.
Though Condor Flats was given full “land” status and some minor place making as part of the park’s re-opening, it still stuck out like a sore thumb for Disney fans – a last holdout of the “old” California Adventure, filled with modern-day architecture and an unspecified backstory, lodged between the elegant new 1920s Buena Vista Street and the beautiful 1950s Grizzly Peak.
Finally, 2015 will see Condor Flats given its facelift as promised during the park’s re-build in 2012. And to be born again, Condor Flats must disappear entirely!