Yester California Adventure at Yesterland Orange Stinger
Height requirement: 48 inches or taller
Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
A four-story orange peel hides a 48-seat Zierer Wave Swinger.

Welcome to a ride that’s a tribute to the orange groves and citrus honey production of California. After all, California Adventure is all about California. Keep in mind that the 160 acres that Walt Disney acquired in 1954 for Disneyland and its parking lot were once covered mostly by orange trees—with honey bees buzzing around the orange blossoms.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
Look for the honey bees with aviator goggles.

Head up the stairs to the ride level and wait for your turn. There’s no pre-show, but the view is pretty good. As you watch the riders to your left, you can anticipate what the ride will be like. Or, to your right, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Paradise Pier from a vantage point one story above water level.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
The queue is on a platform along the edge of the orange.

Pick a swing chair, any swing chair. Your seat is suspended from a canopy high above you by chains. Get into a seat. Then put the metal bar across the seat above your lap.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
Every rider gets his or her own seat.

A hydraulic system raises the central column like an old-fashioned telescope, lifting the canopy. The central column rotates in one direction, while the canopy rotates in the opposite direction. To make it more interesting, the canopy tilts in various directions to create a wave-like motion for the riders. It’s really a mechanical marvel.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
You’re flying, with your feet dangling high above the ground.

There’s something here for four of your five senses. See glimpses of Paradise Pier from the open areas in the orange peel. Hear the sound of bees buzzing (or the sound of screams drowning out the buzzing). Smell the scent of oranges. Feel the wave action of the tilting canopy and the centrifugal force that makes your seat swing out to the side. (The fifth sense is taste, but food and beverages are not allowed on the ride.)

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
Don’t lose your shoes.

Before you know it, you hear a recorded announcement:

“It looks like our flight time is up. Please stay seated until your Orange Stinger stops. Then, lift the bar; check for your belongings; leave through the nearest exit. Thank you for flying with us. We hope to see you again soon.”
Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
Orange Stinger souvenir toy

If you want to remember your ride on the Orange Stinger, stop by a park gift shop for the souvenir toy.

The Orange Stinger was one of the original attractions at Disney’s California Adventure when the park opened in February 2001. At its core, the attraction was a Zierer Wave Swinger, an “off the shelf” product from German amusement park ride manufacturer Zierer Karussell und Spezialmaschinenbau GmbH.

WaveSwinger at Knott’s Berry Farm
The WaveSwinger in Fiesta Village at Knott’s Berry Farm

Surprisingly, the designers of California Adventure included the ride in the new park even though there was already a Zierer Wave Swinger at nearby Knott’s Berry Farm. (Knott’s originally called their ride Slingshot in 1987, but changed the name to WaveSwinger in 1998.)

By enclosing the ride in a structure that looked like an orange and providing one-of-a-kind seating, the Orange Stinger would provide a unique experience, while still delivering the thrills that Wave Swingers are known for.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
The original seats looked like bee parts (photo taken February 18, 2001).

When the Orange Stinger first opened, each guest sat in a whimsical seat that looked like a yellow and black bee abdomen with bee wings and legs on each side.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
Orange Stinger guests were buzzing bees (photo taken February 18, 2001).

Guests were not simply riders on a ride; they became a swarm of buzzing bees, and they smelled the scent of oranges, pumped into the attraction. Sure, there were Zierer Wave Swinger rides all over the world, but no other one was like the Orange Stinger.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
The “bee behinds” are gone (photo taken February 21, 2001).

The bee seats immediately became a problem. The decorative covers could not withstand the damage from the hanging seats banging into each other. The two “bee behind” photos in this article are from February 18, 2001. The photo above was taken just three days later. The decorative covers were gone.

Originally, The Orange Stinger had a posted maximum weight if 200 pounds. This restriction disappeared after a few years.

Orange Stinger at Disney's California Adventure
Conventional seats on the Orange Stinger (2004 photo)

The original designers of California Adventure made an effort to give the Orange Stinger a California theme. However, the ride and its theming did not successfully take guests back in time to “the heyday of the great seaside amusement park piers” (as Disney’s 2000 annual report described the theme of Paradise Pier). The giant orange peel looked more like something from the early 21st century than the early 20th century. For riders, the peel blocked much of the view.

When experienced Disney Imagineers redesigned Disney’s California Adventure, they decided to keep the ride—but to remove the peel and improve the theme. The underlying ride represented a substantial financial investment, and many people enjoy Wave Swinger rides. These Imagineers probably would not have chosen to put a Wave Swinger in the park if they were starting with a fresh piece of paper (or an untouched asphalt parking lot), but the ride was already there.

Disney concept art for Silly Symphony Swings
Concept art showed that the Orange Stinger would become Silly Symphony Swings.

The last day of operation for the Orange Stinger was July 13, 2009. It closed so that the ride’s transformation into Silly Symphony Swings could begin.

Purists pointed out that the 1935 Mickey Mouse cartoon The Band Concert, which inspired the new version of the ride, was not part of Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony series. But Silly Symphony Swings sounds better than Band Concert Swings.

Orange Stinger 'unpeeled' on August 6, 2009
The Orange Stinger being “peeled” (August 6, 2009, photo)

After more than ten months of work, Silly Symphony Swings had its soft opening on May 28, 2010, and its grand opening on June 11, 2010.

Orange Stinger 'unpeeled' on August 6, 2009
The construction looked better than the Orange Stinger (September 15, 2009, photo)

With scenes from Walt Disney’s brilliant animated short The Band Concert painted on an intricately decorated canopy and conductor Mickey Mouse high atop it, the ride emerged with “Disney magic” that it lacked in its original incarnation.

Wave Swinger at Chicago's Navy Pier
The Wave Swinger at Chicago’s Navy Pier is an example of a 48-seat Wave Swinger.

The Silly Symphony Swings attraction is a more conventional Wave Swinger than the Orange Stinger. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a good reason why Wave Swinger rides are not normally enclosed. It’s more fun for riders.

Yes, this used to be the Orange Stinger.

With the new decorations and the ride’s movements no longer hidden from guests walking around Paradise Bay, the Silly Symphony Swings attraction contributes old-time charm and kinetic energy to Paradise Pier.

Your conductor, Mickey Mouse

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© 2009-2011 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated May 5, 2011.

Photograph of Orange Stinger from Sun Wheel: Werner Weiss, 2007.
Photograph of Orange Stinger sign entrance: Werner Weiss, 2002.
Photograph of Orange Stinger waiting line: Werner Weiss, 2006.
Photograph of guests loading at Orange Stinger: Werner Weiss, 2006.
Photograph of guests riding Orange Stinger swings: Werner Weiss, 2006.
Photograph of guests riding toward camera on Orange Stinger: Werner Weiss, 2006.
Photograph of Orange Stinger toy: Allen Huffman, 2001.
Photograph of WaveSwinger at Knott’s Berry Farm: Werner Weiss, 2010.
Photograph of Orange Stinger bee seats (empty): Allen Huffman, 2001.
Photograph of Orange Stinger bee seats with guests: Allen Huffman, 2001.
Photograph of Orange Stinger at night: Allen Huffman, 2001.
Photograph of Orange Stinger replacement seats: Allen Huffman, 2004.
Publicity image of Silly Symphony Swings concept art © Disney.
Photograph of the Orange Stinger being “peeled” in August 2009: Werner Weiss, 2009.
Photograph of the Silly Symphony Swings construction wall in September 2009: Werner Weiss, 2009.
Photograph of Wave Swing at Navy Pier in Chicago: Karen Weiss, 2009.
Publicity photograph of Silly Symphony Swings: © Disney.
Photograph of Mickey Mouse atop Silly Symphony Swings: Werner Weiss, 2010.