This summer, the eagerly anticipated additions of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land opened to excited Guests as part of a major expansion at Disney California Adventure Park. Now, those popular areas will undergo a spectacular holiday makeover, meaning that The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got Merrier.
Bustling and busy Buena Vista Street, which now welcomes you when you enter Disney California Adventure Park, is themed to a Los Angeles business main street from the 1930s. It re-creates the era when Walt Disney was establishing his world-famous animation studio.
A community Christmas
“For this first holiday celebration, we imagined that all the businesses on Buena Vista Street got together like a chamber of commerce to bring the community together,” explained David Caranci, Manager of Resort Enhancement. “It becomes a matter of civic pride to decorate the street and stores and to erect a huge, 50-foot-tall Christmas tree in the heart of the city as a spot for everyone to join in singing carols.
“Even Mickey and his friends will sport a retro look — how they appeared in the 1930s — to match the rest of the theming on Buena Vista Street. We’ll also have wonderful vintage toys for display under the huge Christmas tree. From a tin robot to a blimp — all sorts of hidden surprises from that time period.”
The bell motif on the garlands and street decorations is continued on the oversize ornaments on the massive Yuletide tree as well. The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers will perform as they wander up and down the street and participate in the evening tree lighting.
Re-creating magical holiday moments
“On the episode entitled ‘Holiday Time at Disneyland’ on ‘Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color’ TV series in 1962, Walt was seen in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle ringing bells and standing beside a group of carolers,” said Carla Carlile, Show Director, Walt Disney Entertainment. “We are very excited to re-create that concept with our own bell ringers in a ring-along, sing-along encouraging our Guests to join in by singing familiar carols and ringing in the season.”
“One of the things that I love about the creative people at The Walt Disney Company is their attention to detail,” said Alan Bruun, Creative Director, Walt Disney Entertainment.
“The amazing people in Resort Enhancement studied what type of trees might have been used during that time period in Los Angeles. The Buena Vista Street tree is completely different from any others in Disney Parks. All the decorations are large-scale replicas of actual decorations that would’ve been on a Los Angeles Christmas tree in the 1930s.”
Underneath the airy tree will be a custom-made 1/16th-size train chugging along with sound and lights through the specially designed gifts, evoking Walt Disney’s love of model trains.
The Citizens of Buena Vista Street, the improvisational performers at the Park, will share in the holiday cheer with Disney California Adventure Park Guests, treating them as if they were residents of the town. Molly the Messenger will have forms for children to fill out to send their letter to Santa.
Speaking of the jolly old elf himself, Mr. Claus will be found in the lavish Elias & Co., a sprawling shop that evokes the grandeur of classic department stores. Just like those fondly remembered stores of yore, Santa will be at his special seat surrounded by his many helpers so that children can share their secret wishes with him.
Getting all revved up for the holidays
Cars Land is celebrating its first Christmas season as well, in an enchanted creative partnership between Resort Enhancement, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. “We all came up with some very imaginative answers to the question, ‘How would cars celebrate the holiday season?’” said David.
Look for Snowy the Snow Car, a brand-new automotive holiday friend. He’s the Cars Land version of a snowman. “We have all fallen in love with him already because he is just so endearing,” said David. A nice photo next to this whimsical, seven-foot fellow might be just the thing to include with your holiday cards this year!
Every resident of Cars Land has incorporated their own personality into their holiday decorations. Mater has a nine-foot-tall tree with an arching sparkplug on top as the star. Luigi and Guido added holiday flair to the red, white and green color scheme of their shop—the colors of the Italian flag. Sarge sports a six-foot-tall, red, white and blue tree with a military star on top. And Flo’s nine-foot-tall tree is made out of oil cans!
Around almost every corner of Cars Land, you’ll discover new imaginative decorations and surprises — even the 20-foot-tall tree at the courthouse has a hubcap for every ornament. The courthouse statue of Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs, is adorned with a Santa hat and a big bag of rims, wheels, accessories and other goodies for all the good residents of Cars Land.
“We’ve never done a land like this before,” David added. “Our Guests won’t see these types of unique decorations anywhere else in any of the Disney Parks.”
Beyond Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, the spirit of the season will also glow throughout Disney California Adventure Park. The lights on Mickey’s Fun Wheel on Paradise Pier will be specially programmed for the holidays. Not far away, good pals Flik, Princess Atta and Princess Dot have decorated “a bug’s land” so it’s crawling with goodwill to men, women — and cute bugs!
The rocking Mad T Party will offer its own holiday spin on its special entertainment repertoire — including a live band and dancers with an icy, cool look for this party in the streets. Don’t be surprised if, just as things start to really heat up, a surprise snowfall doesn’t cool things off for a bit before the fun begins again!
Of course, one of the most acclaimed wonders to appear in recent years is World of Color, the nighttime water spectacular. It’s the festive finale to any day — or several days — of Disney California Adventure fun, but during the holiday season, look for special surprises added especially for this delightful time of year.
“One of the most exciting things for all of us is creating new holiday traditions,” said Alan, echoing the enthusiasm of his fellow Cast Members on the makeover team. “Now there are holiday things to enjoy on our ‘two main streets’ to add to the existing memories traditions at Disneyland Resort.”