Today, in the third of a series of Disney California Adventure “then and now” comparisons, Yesterland looks at some parts of Paradise Pier. More of Paradise Pier will follow in a future article.

Read the full YESTERLAND article HERE: DCA Then & Now, Part 3: Paradise Pier.

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

  • Sifferz

    Wow; I remembered the entrance being really, really drab and how the park felt fairly empty pre-Cars Land, but I didn’t realize just how much Paradise Pier improved. The old version looks cheap and unfriendly; it seems to lack a certain flare for color that the new one acquired.

    Goes to show that it’s just a culmination of all the small things that make a great whole.


    It looks like the handrails are there on CS in 2002, they just happen to be in the down position. It it now normal for them to always be up?

    Also, in the first set of photos it looks like they added tons of “decorations” to all the handrails to keep people from climbing/sitting on them.

  • eicarr

    Its still jarring to see the improvements. It went from my 4th favorite US Disney park to 2nd(behind DL) in five years. Crazy!!

    Sometimes I second guess my first impressions of DCA 1.0…. but seeing these photos… it was just as bad as my memories.

  • red barchetta

    I really don’t understand the comments here. Paradise Pier looks almost identical to how it did before, with some very minor changes (and at least one for the worse: that handrail by the coaster is hideous).

    I always liked Paradise Pier, and I while I do like it slightly more now, I always thought it was a great portion of the park. But I think they could make it even better.

    • Sifferz

      In the park’s opening state, it definitely was the best part of the park. To say it has been improved drastically isn’t to say it was bad; I just find the 1.0 state of the pier to not have that signature disney feel to it; some friendly tone is missing, the subtlety that marks everything they do. It looked kind of cheap and cheesy, while the improvement fixed a whole bunch of little things that made the whole area look more appropriately themed, friendly, and enjoyable.

      I will grant you the coaster handrail, though. Don’t know why they couldn’t just pop that thing out when they need to evacuate the ride instead of leaving it up all the time.

  • ScottG

    We find the New DCA superior to the old in every way and I don’t miss it a bit. Now instead of being a park you spend a couple of hours at, we can spend the buld of the day and enjoy better food as well.
    The new DCA is a huge plus for us.

    • red barchetta

      @ScottG I was talking specifically about Paradise Pier, as seemed to be the posted I responded to, not DCA as a whole.

      @holierthanthoutx I actually agree with you; some changes were better imo (I actually do like the new Midway games, but as the pictures show, even thats’ a subtle upgrade), but I do miss the Mickey Mouse loop. Its replacement looks oddly sized and unbalanced–the font is really small.

      And again, that handrail really detracts from the initial buildup of the coaster.

  • Big D

    I guess the new Paradise Pier looks better then the old one, but it still seems like a huge waste of space to me. And looking at California Screamin photos side-by-side, I actually prefer the Mickey head from before to to what we have now.

  • holierthanthoutx

    Count me among those who mostly prefer the old look. We loved the Mickey icon in the CS loop, and we loved the sun face on the Sun Wheel. We’re sort of ambivalent about the rest of the changes — the shops and games in the midway area looked bad before and still look bad now. We’re of two minds about the orange peel; my husband liked it and I prefer the new Silly Symphony Swings look.

    We’ve always loved DCA — we flew to California the week it opened so we could see it, and we thoroughly enjoyed it — and, overall, it has improved over the years, but we really miss the old look of CS and the Sun Wheel.

    • OprylandUSA

      I agree. I like the old version. Look at the actual boardwalk. It’s so cluttered now. Granted, there are people visiting (and there wasn’t before), but they’ve added things that don’t belong and taken away fun elements from the added to the excitement.

  • robbiem

    I’ve never understood Paradise Pier, even in its new state it looks cheap, tacky and very UN Disney to me. Why theme an area of a theme park to an amusement park? The exact kind of tacky place which inspired Disneyland in the first place!

    If I was in charge I’d level the whole place and put something of quality into the park

  • fnord

    The feature of original paradise pier that annoyed me the most was those god awful giant
    columns between the games that cone out at the bottom, then have a black space next to the ground, which gave them a special cheap look. They look like nothing I’ve ever seen at a real amusement
    park, even historical photos. I can’t believe any of those survived an artistic makeover.