Last 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.
The 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.
The 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.
Back 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.
The 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.
The 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!
The 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.
As we proceed back up Buena Vista Street, we pass under the concrete arch which is designed after the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge in Atwater Village.
Like 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!
Buena 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!
On the journey toward Home,