Land Exit Survey

Land Exit Survey: Disney California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street

We move along in our Land Exit Survey series with California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street. It’s the first time we’ll cover an entrance to a park! Theme parks are made up of sub-sections, generally called lands which is what Buena Vista Street is. Since you’re reading a theme parks blog then I’m guessing you probably know that. Many of these lands are spectacular, some are far from it. In this series, we cover individual lands one post at a time and answer some questions about them.

While this isn’t quite the deep dive into lands that we’ve done before, I’ll provide the basic information about the area and we’ll add in our overall opinions. We’ll also use these posts to talk about theme both throughout the land and within the park. All of the posts will use the same questions. Let us know in the comments if there are questions that we should add!

Carthay Circle

So far this series has covered Mysterious Island in Tokyo DisneySeaToy Story Land in Hollywood Studios, Grizzly River Run in California AdventureAnimal Kingdom’s AsiaDisneyland’s ToontownMagic Kingdom’s Fantasyland and Epcot’s Future World West. Heading back to California Adventure today, we turn to Buena Vista Street which was added to the park in 2012. Are we used to doing these posts about lands with no rides? No! Are we going to give it our best shot? You know it!

What is your short(ish) review of Buena Vista Street?

Andrew: Relative to what was there before and to the current state of California Adventure, Buena Vista Street is lovely. The park entrance doesn’t try to upstage Main Street across the Esplanade but instead is its own thing with the understated yet beautiful Carthay Circle at the end. I don’t care much about anything actually inside of the land but it’s here to set the stage and it does that well.

Michaela: Until this very moment, I had never given Buena Vista Street a single thought. I honestly didn’t even really comprehend that it itself was a classified land in DCA. Oops! Thinking on it now, it is a very well manicured area of the park and does a good job of showcasing the “California” portion of California Adventure. Due to many changes in the park, there really aren’t many Cali portions left, but this is a nice way to enter the park.

What’s in the land?

  • Red Car Trolley – A trolley that runs from Carthay Circle through Hollywood Land. While it was closed during Avengers Campus construction, we expect it back in time.
  • Character Meet & Greet – Meet Mickey, Minnie and Goofy dressed in their 1920’s best.
  • Elias & Co. – Has the look of a department store and is the biggest souvenir shop in California Adventure.
  • Julius Katz & Sons – Named after Julius the Cat from some of Walt Disney’s earliest cartoons, this shop features gadgets and home decor.
  • Kingswell Camera Shop – Named after the first street Walt Disney lived on in LA, this shop is a PhotoPass hub.
  • Oswald’s – Home to hats, autograph books, bags and other things to get you ready for the day, Oswald’s is named after one of Walt Disney’s first cartoon characters.
  • Trolley Treats – California Adventure’s candy shop! It’s named after trolleys.
  • Carthay Circle – Inside of California Adventure’s icon resides a wonderful table-service restaurant and excellent lounge.
  • Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream – Home to some large (and less large) sundaes as well as ice cream bars.
  • Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe – This is a Starbucks but it looks pretty good inside!
Donald Lookin

What is Buena Vista Street’s backstory and theme?

Buena Vista Street is an ode to 1920’s and 1930’s era Los Angeles with constant, but tasteful, nods to Disney’s past in the names of the stores. Carthay Circle is a replica of the theater where Snow White premiered. Like other lands that try to transport guests, this has less of a backstory and just tries to put the parkgoer back in time. Idealized realism is what they shoot for, in the same realm as New Orleans Square.

DCA Carthay Circle Halloween

What is your favorite part of the land? What’s the most memorable aspect of it?

Andrew: I’ll start with the latter question because I don’t think there’s any question that Carthay Circle is the most memorable part of the land. It’s a beautiful building and the whole street leads up to it. My favorite part of the land is what is inside of that beautiful building as both the lounge and the restaurant serve exceptional food. Shout out to all of the references in the names, they really nail it here.

Michaela: I think my favorite part of this park entrance is the characters you see at the end of the promenade. I run into either Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald almost every time I enter or leave this park somewhere in front of Carthay Circle. I love their 1920s themed costumes, and seeing characters right as you enter really hits you with Disney magic.

Carthay Circle Lounge flatbread DCA

Are there parts of DCA’s Buena Vista Street that you don’t like?

Andrew: Knowing full well that Disneyland Resort lacks space, I do think Buena Vista Street can be underwhelming since it is so small. I think they did the best with what they had but it’s not some jaw-dropping entrance. Thankfully, there’s also some charm in that. Also, the bathrooms could be nicer.

Michaela: There’s nothing outright wrong with Buena Vista Street (like there are with other lands in this park), but I agree here with Andrew that it’s simply lackluster. Leaving Disneyland, you see the train station and the castle and it’s easy to become emotional at the beauty of the place as well as the memories that come with those icons. None of that emotion bubbles in me when I leave DCA through Buena Vista Street.

How does the land coincide and transition with the rest of the park? Does Buena Vista Street make the park better or worse?

Andrew: As far as California Adventure goes, I think Buena Vista Street has the smoothest transitions into the next lands. Hollywood Land and Grizzly Peak both flow naturally since they’re both set believably in California. Whether the land coincides with the rest of the park is another question but hardly the fault of Buena Vista Street, as the identity crisis comes elsewhere. I think Buena Vista Street makes the park better and was a big improvement over the previous entrance.

Michaela: I definitely think Buena Vista Street makes DCA better. It has the stores, eateries and Starbucks needed for guests to be happy entering and leaving the park, and to be honest that’s all that’s needed at the front of a park for most guests. Additionally, it’s a pretty place to be.

Grizzly Peak Carthay night DCA

Where would you rank the land in relation to the others in the park?

Andrew: It’s hard to rank park entrances against ones with actual rides. Also, I’ll leave Avengers Campus out of the rankings until we get the chance to visit. With that in mind, I’d put Buena Vista Street 3rd well behind Cars Land and Grizzly Peak and ahead of Hollywood Land, Paradise Gardens Park and Pixar Pier. It’s similar to Pacific Wharf in some ways but a little classier.

Michaela: In terms of having a cohesive theme this land ranks very high in DCA. I might even rank it above Grizzly Peak just because I like the hustle and bustle vibe the land gives off when the Red Car Trolley is running. Therefore, I would rank it second behind Cars Land.

Do you like our Land Exit Surveys? Would you add anything? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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