Meandering through Disney’s Buena Vista Street

by Lynn on January 27, 2013

Carthay Circle TheaterLast fall and again this month, I had the pleasure of touring Disney’s recently-opened Buena Vista Street, a multimillion dollar make-over of the California Adventure theme park entrance. Spanish revival and Art Deco-styled buildings pay tribute to the world Walt Disney met as a young idealist, when he traveled from Kansas City to Los Angeles in 1923.

Carthy Circle TheaterThe gorgeous building that anchors the traffic circle is modeled after the Carthay Circle Theater, where Walt Disney’s first full-length production, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered in 1937. The proceeds from that opening were used to purchase the land which would later house Walt Disney Studios, on Buena Vista Street in Burbank, CA where they are still located today.

Carthay Circle restaurantThe inside of the Carthay Circle Theater is an upscale restaurant and lounge. The dark wood interior features rich fabrics, old photographs, decorative wall sconces and wonderfully vintage-looking chandeliers.  The upstairs restaurant features an exquisite mural-paneled arched ceiling skylight.

Carthay Circle restaurant

Carthay Circle California Adventure In Carthay Circle, bronze statues of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse welcome visitors to the 1930’s.

Carthay Circle California Adventure

Buena Vista Street California Adventure

Buena Vista Street California AdventureBack on Buena Vista Street, other buildings reflect the architectural style found in the areas of Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Wilshire Boulevard. My sister and I stopped in at the department store for a little shopping. Again, the authentic period details are amazing. It was like walking into the old Broadway store we remembered from our childhood.

Buena Vista Street California AdventureThe wall coverings and light fixtures are great, and I especially loved the mannequins! When we were children, our dad was a display manager for both JC Penney’s and Sears. Much of his job was to design huge window spaces, where backgrounds and props were arranged with mannequins to display the latest fashions of the season.

Buena Vista Street California Adventure

Buena Vista Street California Adventure

Buena Vista Street California AdventureFurther down the street was the local Five-and-Dime store, and just outside, a bicycle-riding messenger delivers musical missives!

Buena Vista Street California Adventure

Buena Vista Street California AdventureRadio broadcasts can be heard at the old gas station, and across the street, fresh fruit and juices are sold at the indoor-outdoor market.

Buena Vista Street California Adventure

Buena Vista Street California AdventureThe architectural detail on the building facades is just amazing. Similar to Main Street in Disneyland, Buena Vista Street recreates that step back in time for guests at California Adventure. And it is such a huge improvement over the pointless hodge-podge beach theme that preceded it!

Disney California Adventure trolleyThe main mode of mechanical transportation on Buena Vista Street is the bright red trolley! While the cars run independent of the electrical wires, they are a critical part of the design element which helps to make the illusion believable.

Buena Vista Street California AdventureOne of the trolley stops is in front of the market. Period advertising adorns the trolley interior.

Disney California Adventure trolley

Disney California Adventure trolley

Buena Vista Street California AdventureAs we proceed back up Buena Vista Street, we pass under the concrete arch which is designed after the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge in Atwater Village.

Buena Vista Street California Adventure

Disney Buena Vista Street ice creamThe ice-cream parlor is just up ahead on the corner. The interior has some architectural details which remind me of Union Station.

Disney Buena Vista Street

Disney California Adventure StarbucksBack at Carthay Circle, we stop at the new Starbucks! The interior has sort of a California mission-style feel to it and features several wall portraits of the Silver Lake Sisters.

Disney California Adventure StarbucksLike other guests before me I’m sure, I naturally assumed they were a sister act from the 1930’s. However, I’ve since learned that the three ladies are one of the many fictitious back stories that accompany the buildings on Buena Vista Street!

Disney California Adventure StarbucksStarbucks has huge windows that face Carthay Circle—great for people-watching!

Disney California Adventure StarbucksWhen we were there last October, we stopped in for breakfast and iced lattes and then relaxed with a copy of The Buena Vista Bugle!

Disney California Adventure Carthay CircleBuena Vista Street is a gorgeous addition to Disney’s California Adventure, and I am sure that Walt would have wholeheartedly approved of the wonderful renovation commemorating his early years in Los Angeles. After all, California is where the adventure all began!

Disney Buena Vista Street bicycle messenger

On the journey toward Home,

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