DCA Then & Now, Part 2: Around Condor Flats

Written by Werner Weiss. Posted in Disney History, Disneyland Resort, Features, Werner Weiss

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Published on September 20, 2013 at 1:40 am with 17 Comments

In the second of a series of Disney California Adventure “then and now” comparisons, Yesterland looks at Condor Flats, “a high-desert airfield dedicated to the wonder and ingenuity that helped spawn California’s legendary aviation industry—from age of the first hand-made flying contraptions to the space age.”

Read the full YESTERLAND article HERE: DCA Then & Now, Part 2: Around Condor Flats.

When you are done reading, please leave your comments below.

About Werner Weiss

Werner is the curator of Yesterland.com, the ultimate collection of Disney theme park past attractions. You'll find his handiwork featured here every Friday.

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  • Timekeeper

    It’s a little too late as Planes are now part of the pre-show video at Soarin’, see http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/186415-planes-have-been-added-soarin.html

    But aside from that, I think the trees add something from the other angles of DCA, as it makes grizzly peak look much farther than it actually is. Hopefully a new theme for Condor Flats is coming.

    Timekeeper

  • CaptainAction

    Guess I’m the odd man out but I always liked Condor Flats. I like the old sign which they took down. I like the area partly because it feels different than everything else. More of a masculine feeling with a rugged element which isn’t at all the feel of any other area. I enjoy the throwback to the early jet pilots, many of whom became our first astronauts. The Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack music really fits in with the area too.

    • MarkW

      Agreed. I’ve always like Condor Flats as well. However, I think they should work on the theming a bit to make it look more authentic. More of the rustic feel and block the view of the monorail.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    This article was really interesting to me. I love when Werner Weiss does those comparisons of the pictures now versus then.

    Condor Flats really needs work. I laughed when he said in a photo comment that “those are not pedestrian crosswalks on the cement”…because when I was last in DCA that’s what I thought it looked like.

    I have my park map out and I don’t think there is enough room to really do anything spectacular with Condor Flats. It does make sense to just have Grizzly Peak absorb it, so that Grizzly Peak would be this one big area. If they did that, I bet they could reconfigure space so that maybe a dark ride could go in there. What about creating one that features all the Disney movies that are set in North American woods…and have the Wildnerness Guides from UP be part of the ride. Theme it like you are with them as they learn about animals for merit badges. You could do: Bambi, Brother Bear, Pocahontas, Fox & Hound, and even Rescuers (kind of…though that is more swamp).

    Nothing intense or anything…just a nice classic style dark ride but with nice effects that really highlight all the Disney North American animal movies.

    The Soarin’ building could be rethemed to the Wilderness Explorers’ headquarters, which has an airfield for exploring. And when you ride Soarin, you are going on an exploration by air. This could all tie into the “Adventure” part of “Disney California Adventure”.

    • CaptainAction

      Sounds like another Small World. Another ride for little girls. We got enough of that. Let’s keep thinking.

      • Marko50

        Sorry, but I really don’t see how you get iasw out of that. But to each their own thinking.

  • soletrain

    lose desert theme and replace with gold country grizzly peak old school redwood state park vibe. that would marry it right into the next land…and yeah another dark ride would be fresh!!! add another dark ride + an update to soarin’. make it feel like you step back in time…sounds easy enough.

  • Werner Weiss

    To me, Condor Flats already feels like part of Grizzly Peak — except that the structures look industrial and there’s too much concrete pavement. Despite the test center airfield theming, I’ve never thought, “wow, this feels just like a high desert airfield.”

    I wanted to avoid “armchair Imagineering” in the article, but I’ve thought about what I’d like to see. The vast expanse of concrete pavement could redone as a continuation of Grizzly Peak’s Highway 49, along with side roads, bridges, streams, shade trees, and “National Park” features. The big Soarin’ hangar could be covered with granite rockwork with a Yosemite Valley look. Taste pilots’ Grill could be redone as a National Park lodge dining room. Other structures could be turned into mountain cabins and “historic” mining structures. The Monorail beam could be dressed as a railroad trestle.

    Grizzly Peak would become a true land. And it would all tie in better with Disney’s Grand Californian Resort.

    • CCS

      Oooooh, yes, yes, yes! I can see it all as you described, Werner.

    • JiminyCricketFan

      I like your idea too. It just never successfully felt like a desert to me. I think a National Park theme would be more attractive and fitting for those who want to be on vacation.

      • Marko50

        LOL! I never knew it was *supposed* to be desert.

  • OrangeFlash

    I’ve always adored the concept of Condor Flats, because aircraft are so important to California’s history. Granted, the execution leaves much to be desired. But I keep longing for a big building nearby (underground?) with an array of fighter jet simulators for guests to pilot…

  • danyoung

    I guess I don’t have any problem with the area being re-themed. But I also don’t have a problem with it now. I never understood taking out the entryway sign and the big jet over Taste Pilots. It just seemed like they were taking away elements that made it all work. And I have a huge problem with anyone who thought that the runway pointing towards the Tower of Terror in any way invoked 9/11. What’s next – being worried that Space Mountain was built with bolts, and there are bolts on nuclear warheads, so let’s change the look of Space Mountain? It seems that anyone can find something anywhere that they have a problem with. I just don’t see it.

  • Marko50

    What I’d most like to see changed about Condor Flats is the Taste Pilots Grille. I ate there about a week ago, thinking that the Angus Cheeseburger sounded good and maybe, just maybe, the food had improved.

    It hadn’t.

    • Golden

      They should start by changing the name. I hope the menu stays “American Fast Food” but it can be executed a lot better, as Disney have done with most of their food places now.

  • Golden

    Condor Flats has, for me and my family, always been one of our favourite parts of California Adventure. On opening day, it was easily our favourite section. Even after the redesign, it remains one of our favourites. I’d sooner see further work done at Hollywood Land, Paradise Pier and around the other side of Grizzly Peak.

    I think you could easily lose the concrete design and make it feel more like a casual airstrip – but the 1940s airstrip out in the desert vibe is something I really really appreciate and enjoy and I think it would be a real shame to lose it – it would feel to me like Disneyland losing all of one of its time-period lands eg Main Street or Frontierland.

  • Tommy58

    I really hate to be “that guy”… but it must be pointed out that Chuck Yeager’s historic flight in the Bell X1 occurred on Oct. 14, 1947. Not 1946.