Disney Wish: Smooth Start to California Adventure


When Disneyland opened more than 45 years ago, rides broke down, the park ran out of food and traffic backed up for miles. The opening was so disastrous, it’s now remembered as “Black Sunday.”

Decades later, the park is a huge hit, and as Disney officials point out, they’ve had a little practice opening theme parks since Disneyland’s grand opening.

So when the rope is officially dropped Thursday on Disney’s 55-acre California Adventure after a hyped but “top secret” grand opening ceremony, park officials said, they’re hoping for smooth sailing.


“We’re ready and we’re excited,” park spokeswoman Michele Nachum said.

Opening festivities get underway about 7 a.m. Thursday, with the park opening at 8 a.m.

“Suffice it to say, it’s going to be amazing,” Nachum said, without providing any details about the events in store.

Celebrities and their families will take their tours of the new park today, arriving to walk down the red carpet one day before California Adventure opens to the public. Among those expected are Helen Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg, George Lucas, Drew Carey and several other “A-list” stars, Nachum said.

Visitors who want to be among the first into the new park on Thursday are likely to start lining up at 5 p.m. today to buy tickets. Disneyland officials have planned several “holding areas” throughout the resort.

Weather Central meteorologist Tom Carlson said no rain is in the forecast despite Tuesday’s cloudy skies.

“I think there will be plenty of sunshine, it’s just that it’s going to be breezy and the temperatures are going to be quite cool,” he said.

And for those who plan to line up hours in advance, Carlson offers a word of caution: “Anyone camping out is going to want to bundle up. The actual temperature [Wednesday night] will be in the mid- to upper 30s, but with that wind, it’s going to feel like it’s in the 20s.”


High temperatures Thursday will hit the upper 50s to low 60s.

For those who don’t want to brave the overnight line, tickets are also available at many Disney stores. However, guests who arrive later in the day are not guaranteed entry into the park.

“It’s a brand new Disney theme park and people love Disney theme parks,” spokesman Ray Gomez said. “We could sell out the first day and several days afterward.”

Once the park reaches capacity, Gomez said, ticket sales will end and the gates will close.

Disneyland officials have issued the following advice:

* Arrive before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

* Buy tickets in advance.

* Plan flexibility, such as an extra day, into your vacation.

* Visit California Adventure midweek.

Anaheim police are also suggesting that visitors allow time for traffic, which is expected to back up on surface streets and freeways, and to closely follow signs directing them to the right parking lots.

Police also plan to add traffic control officers--perhaps for as long as two weeks after the park opens, or as long as crowds remain heavy, Sgt. Rick Martinez said.

“We have learned from past events, there may be delays,” Martinez said. “But even as we speak, Disney is refining their way of getting cars into the parking structure. . . . I’m optimistic by Thursday it’s going to be a smooth way in. But remember, have patience because there are a lot of people coming to this special event.”



Navigating Disney’s New Theme Park

The grand opening Thursday of California Adventure in Anaheim is expected to snarl traffic and draw throngs of visitors. A guide to getting there and a look at the new theme park: