Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Disneyland Edutainment Part 9 of 10 ~DCA Part 1 ~ Reprised

Disneyland Edutainment Part 9 of 10

Disney California Adventure Part 1 ~ Reprised

You mean you can learn something in California?

It’s Teaching Disney Tuesday!

Disney California Adventure Park opened in 2001 and was almost totally educational. With its Artventure interactive spots to make different craft projects that taught things like aerodynamics with paper airplanes. Others taught things like Chinese culture by teaching how to make paper lanterns and other Chinese crafts. The Bountiful Farms area taught how to make things from crafts of early California history like corn husk dolls. They also had a fun area with questions about the fruit and vegetables grown in California and how they first came to be grown here.

Golden Dreams was a favorite of our family and is greatly missed. It showed California history from the viewpoint of the people who came. It discussed each people group and that group of people’s Golden Dream that lead them here. It was sometimes a harsh look at what happened when different people groups came to California and America in general. Over the years little by little the more educational attractions are being taken out and replaced with more thrill rides and just for fun things. Is that to say there is no educational merit in DCA? Heavens forbid! With an open and creative mind you can learn no matter what you are doing.

Over all DCA is a look at California history and culture. The beach theme is heavy all around the park but so is mountain! On the side of Grizzly Peak is a beautiful set of waterfalls. It makes me feel like I’m standing at one of the smaller falls in Yosemite National Park. This shows the wide range of ecosystems in California. California is unique in the fact you can have breakfast at the beach, lunch in the desert and dinner in the high mountains. There are even rain forests to head to for a very late night, or early the next morning snack! DCA gives a taste of this diverse states geography and its unique history. If you don’t like the beach, no problem head to the desert. Don’t like the heat? Go to the mountains! There are plenty of choices!

The entrance to DCA has the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge (for now but soon to be gone forever) but the general area is reminiscent of the area around Hollywood and Burbank, California. Both are places important to Disney the man and the company. To the left is the Hollywood Backlot area. To the right is Condor Flats. The entry gates will soon look similar to the entry gates at WDW’s Disney Studios with the classic pillars from the Hyperion Theater standing above them.

One of the signature rides at DCA is Soarin’ Over California. In this short ride you get a good aerial view of the different areas of California from beach to big city. You get the feeling of flying and as you wait in line you can discuss one of California’s greatest but sad to say now mostly gone industries, aerospace. Some of the greatest developments in human flight came from California. Once inside the line look around at the walls as you wait. There are pictures of some of the greatest pilots and designers alongside pieces of various planes. There are name plates next to each telling you what the part is as well as what plane it is from. The pictures also tell you who they are and a little of their history. Discuss how this ride works and the fact that it was designed using a child’s toy! Do a Bing search and find out all to took to make this ride. What was the importance of Aerospace industry to California and the United States? What part did Aerospace and Walt Disney play in helping the United States winning World War II? I think you will be amazed to find out the answers! Go find them for yourself and enjoy the trip through history, Californian, America and Disney.

There is a small plane parked at the end of a short runway. (Really a walk way for cast members to go out into Downtown Disney.) What is unique about this airplane is it is the same type of plane Amelia Earhart was lost in. It is a slightly scaled down version of the plane. So this brings up the topic of early aviation and women pilots. What really happened to Amelia Earhart? You can also continue your general discussion of flight as well.

Continue down the path and swing around to Grizzly Rapids. Here you can talk about the sport of river rafting and the fun and dangers of swift water. What type of survival gear would be needed to stay in the wilderness for several days while riding real rapids or just camping? All around Grizzly Rapids there are antiques from the early days of California. There is a water wheel (not an antique but a replica)! There is a sign that discusses how it works. There is a Mule Engine just sitting there near the water wheel. There are many wonderful things to find that help you understand how early California life was and what creative things people came up with too survive. There are signs telling you about each of these items.

Across the way is Challenge Trail! Listen as you enter the area. What do you hear? There are different animal and bird sounds being played around the area! Look down. On the “dirt trail” you will see impressions left by animals, birds and leaves. If you follow the bird and animal tracks they lead you to signs that tell you what type of creature left them. Did your child or you guess correctly? Near the place you find the leaf print you will find a sign that tells you what type of tree that leaf or nettle was from. Were you able to identify them? Go up and check out the Ranger Fire Lookout Station! You will see radio equipment (as a Ham Radio Operator I find the radio interesting for the fact it is missing speakers), maps and books about the area and how to protect it. The entire “station” looks exactly like an old fire lookout post! There is even a beautiful topographical map of Yosemite there. Let the kids burn off some extra energy so they can stand quiet in a line by letting them try the rock climbing wall. Take a ride on the Smoke Jumpers tire ride. Stop in and visit with Brother Bear and hear their story. Around the area the stage area are various totems. Each is a different animal and there is a sign telling the story behind why the Native American’s honored them. Write down the information and look up more information and some of the stories the Indians told. Sad to say here is another learning experience Disney took out. They had actors telling real Miwok Indian stories from the Yosemite area.

After exiting Challenge Trail turn right and then right at the next turn. This area has the feel of the San Francisco. The second story windows all have things that hold to the theme of San Francisco. At the end of the walkway is the new Ariel’s Undersea Adventure ride. Here you can talk about the story and story writing. Compare the original story to the movie and the ride. Consider what it would be like to live under the sea or even scuba dive.

Go right out of Ariel’s Adventure and follow the walk way over to Paradise Pier. Along the way you will find rides that were and still are popular at various piers around California. The Golden Zephyr is a fine example. The Pier area itself feels like the good old Santa Monica Pier. On all the rides you can discuss the physics of the ride and if it tells a story what is it and how would they do it differently.

For now I’m leaving DCA and letting you figure out some of the answers to the questions I posed already. I’ll come back and continue our edutainment excursion through DCA in Part 2. There is still Bugs Land and Hollywood back lot to explore. That is where I’ll go next. In the next year new things will be opening and we can explore them together.

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