Yester California Adventure at Yesterland

DCA Then & Now, Part 1:

Around Grizzly Peak

at Golden State land

Disney California Adventure has seen huge changes over the past decade. But some parts of the park did not need major redevelopment because they were designed well to begin with.

Today, in the first of a series of Disney California Adventure “then and now” comparisons, Yesterland looks at some spots around Grizzly Peak.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, September 13, 2013.


Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Grizzly Peak (2002)

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Werner Weiss, 2013

Grizzly Peak (2013)

The park means a lot to me, in that [Disneyland is] something that will never be finished, something I can keep developing and adding to. Not only can I add things, but even the trees will keep growing. The thing will get more beautiful every year.

— Walt Disney

As the two photos above show, the trees have also been growing at Disney California Adventure. Grizzly Peak originally towered above the trees. Now, the ever-growing evergreens threaten to tower above Grizzly Peak. From some angles, trees now hide much of the faux mountain.

As the trees have grown larger, the mountain has appeared to become smaller and less majestic. It’s not just because less of the mountain is showing; it’s also because the trees serve as a frame of reference regarding its size.

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Golden Vine Winery and Grizzly Peak (2002)

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Werner Weiss, 2013

Golden Vine Winery and Grizzly Peak (2013)

Grizzly Peak looks like the head of a California grizzly bear (Ursus californicus). Despite being extinct since the 1920s, the creature became the official State Animal of California in 1953. As the trees keep growing, the mountain may also become extinct, at least in the eyes of guests.

In the first of the two photos above, the powerful bear thrusts his head skyward. In the second photo, he appears to be gasping for air while drowning in a sea of trees.

It’s not a simple matter of trimming the tops of the trees. The cone-shaped evergreens don’t lend themselves to that kind of trimming.

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Wine Country Trattoria at the Golden Vine Winery (2002)

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Werner Weiss, 2013

Wine Country Trattoria at the Golden Vine Winery (2013)

The difference between the two photos above is obvious. A sturdy trellis now provides partial shade over many of the tables on the terrace at the Wine Country Tratoria.

A bigger change happened before the 2002 photo. When Disney’s California Adventure opened in February 2001, the terrace was the outdoor seating area for Wine Country Market, a gourmet grab-and-go food shop presented by Robert Mondavi. Before the end of 2001, the then-troubled winery pulled out of its sponsorship arrangement with the then-troubled park and the Wine Country Market closed. Disney reopened the space as the table-service Wine Country Tratoria in 2002—and it’s been that way ever since.

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

The bear at Grizzly River Run (2002)

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Werner Weiss, 2013

The bear at Grizzly River Run (2013)

Grizzly Peak isn’t the only grizzly bear in the area. Grizzly River Run, a white water raft ride, has a bear as its mascot and signpost.

When the theme of Grizzly River Run—including its queue and its scenery—changed from extreme sports to traditional 20th century State Parks, the bear got a bit of a makeover. He lost the logo from his life vest and his oar now looks like an old-fashioned wooden oar, not a contemporary aluminum oar.

By the way, the wooden fence and the covered sign in the 2013 photo were temporary. The photo was taken when Grizzly River Run was down for refurbishment.

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

Pathway near Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa (2002)

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Werner Weiss, 2013

Pathway near Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa (2013)

Bigger trees and more benches in 2013 than in 20o2. What more can be said?

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2002

“Bear Left” billboard and Mark V Monorail (2002)

Disney California Adventure Then & Now, Part 1

Werner Weiss, 2013

“Bear Left” billboard and Mark VII Monorail (2013)

The final two photos in this set show another corner of the park that hasn’t changed much. The palms have grown taller. But when a monorail comes by, the change is obvious.


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Updated September 20, 2013.