A modest makeover of an anemic themed land will mark another step in the right direction as Disney California Adventure continues to correct a series of ills that have plagued the built-on-the-cheap park since opening day.
Walt Disney Imagineering will transform a test pilot's airstrip in a barren desert known as Condor Flats into a lush mountain airfield that will become part of the adjacent Grizzly Peak themed land.
The Condor Flats face-lift is the latest attempt by Disney brass to reimagine DCA after a $1.1 billion makeover that saw the additions of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street and significant changes to Paradise Pier.
The new Grizzly Peak Airfield will feature a California High Sierras theme with the addition of pine trees, a ranger lookout tower and national parks signage. The buildings in the area will get a forest green paint job to allow them to better blend in with the wooded surroundings.
Condor Flats has always been one of the weakest themed areas of the park with only a single attraction, a restaurant, a shop and a restroom. The makeover will cohesively mesh the Grizzly River Run and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail attractions in Grizzly Peak with Condor Flat's Soarin' Over California, one of the park's marquee rides.
The former Taste Pilot's Grill is scheduled to reopen March 20 as Smokejumpers Grill, a quick-service restaurant serving burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant's theme pays tribute to firefighters who battle remote wildfires in California forests.
The grill's new name also makes a nod to the Pixar animated film "Planes: Fire & Rescue," which features a team of anthropomorphic bulldozers known as the Smokejumpers that parachute into wooded terrain to battle wildfires.
The nearby Fly 'N Buy shop and adjacent restroom facility are expected to get similar face-lifts.
Soarin' Over California will reopen later in the spring with an updated domed screen and video projection system. The changes are widely believed to be in preparation for a new film expected to feature an international storyline.