Last September at D23 Expo Disney announced that Pacific Wharf in California Adventure would be transformed into Big Hero 6’s San Fransokyo. Shortly after the calendar flipped to 2023, work began on the project and now Disney has released a few details on the land. In this post, we’ll cover those details and add a little of our own commentary.
The biggest news that was released is that this redone area will be completed this summer. That’s a quick turnaround, even for largely cosmetic changes. In the meantime, it appears that most of Pacific Wharf will remain open during construction. Here are more details, via the Disney Parks Blog.
San Fransokyo Square will transport you to the not-too-distant future, in a fictional mash-up of two iconic cities – San Francisco and Tokyo. As the tech industry began to emerge and the local fishing trade fell on hard times, entrepreneurs came together to reinvent the seaside canneries into a vibrant, multicultural district of neighborhood restaurants and small businesses where you’ll be able to eat and shop.
An iconic landmark of the area will be the San Fransokyo Gate Bridge, which will span the tide pools linking San Fransokyo Square to the Paradise Gardens Park obelisk. Once you cross the bridge, you’ll catch a view of the floating wind turbine atop an old fishing net tannery, powering the district from high in the sky. Clues to the area’s storied and charming past can be found in the details throughout San Fransokyo Square.
Outside a converted warehouse at the south end of San Fransokyo, you may have the opportunity to encounter Baymax. Today, Pacific Wharf is home to eateries featuring sourdough bread, ice cream sundaes, delicious Mexican fare, Asian dishes and more. You’ll still be able to enjoy all your favorite Pacific Wharf dining locations during this transformation.
When the transformation to San Fransokyo Square is completed this summer, you’ll find familiar favorites like soups in freshly baked bread bowls, as well as many new Asian-inspired selections. The new Port of San Fransokyo Cervecería draws inspiration from its tri-cultural influences with signage in English, Japanese and Spanish. Outside will be a fun and inviting beer garden decorated with festoon lights and papel picado.
The San Fransokyo Square Public Works Department is hard at work on this transformation. Be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details, and we look forward to bringing San Fransokyo Square to life in Disney California Adventure park this summer!
What this change amounts to are some aesthetic changes and a Baymax meet & greet. I can’t say that I’m a Pacific Wharf stan (are there any?) so getting upset by the news seems a little much. Baymax is one of the more interesting characters to meet, so that’s a nice addition.
In the same vein, aesthetics are an area where some of California Adventure really struggles. Simply plussing the looks of an area can make a big difference. That’s especially true in an area where sitting down to eat a meal is the main objective. Disguising those aesthetic changes inside of a somewhat relevant to park theme Disney movie makes sense and should make the park incrementally better.
Yes, there are some slight improvements to be had in this area but I still just question why it’s happening. I think the ‘lipstick on a pig’ phrase is a little strong here as Pacific Wharf serves its purpose and wasn’t really broken. It’s not a pig. The frustration that is likely misplaced when it comes to this announcement is because there are several other areas in California Adventure that need saving. Perhaps a more apt metaphor for this change is adding a cool new shirt to your wardrobe while you’re out of pants. That’s not as poetic as talking about pigs though.
I think the other frustration comes in the form of adding IP to an area that really doesn’t need it. Pacific Wharf works as a big food court area. It’s hard not to see the concept of San Fransokyo and think that it’s only getting added because there’s a bridge that could be easily transformed to the iconic look from that movie.
That brings us back around to whether the aesthetic improvements (hopefully) outweigh the cost of doing them. When it comes to those arguments, I generally fall on the side of it’s not my money and I hope Disney spends a bunch on improving every aspect of the park. We’re not privy to that information, unfortunately. If this project is taking away from something else that could have been done, then yes I’d have a slight problem with it.
Bear with me through a sports reference. A baseball team signing a good outfielder shouldn’t prevent them from signing a good pitcher. In theory, adding one has nothing to do with adding another. That doesn’t always happen as owners are trying to turn a profit or other reasons can come into play. When that happens, fans tend to get frustrated with signing the outfielder because it took away from funds that could have been used elsewhere and only made the team a little better.
Likewise, adding San Fransokyo should help California Adventure become a better park. That’s enough to be happy about the change. I just don’t think it will move the needle without addressing some other DCA areas first.
What do you think of San Fransokyo? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland, then check out our planning guide. 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. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!