Disney California Adventure

The Bay Area

February 2001

The bulk of California Adventure's Bay Area is a vaguely San Francisco-themed corridor that connects the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area to Paradise Bay. The most prominent structure along this corridor, and the only one generally open to the public, is a large restroom. Guests may remember that the park's entrance features a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, beneath which is -- you guessed it -- another large restroom. Why the linking of bathrooms and San Francisco by California Adventure's designers? It's hard to say, but the less-than-flattering association has not gone unnoticed in northern California. In 2003, the mayor of San Francisco passed a special law requiring that movie theaters in his fair city prominently display posters for Disney films near their bathrooms. Also, a "This space reserved for Michael Eisner" sign has been permanently posted on the door of an Alcatraz solitary confinement cell.

The main non-bodily-function-related attraction in the Bay Area is Golden Dreams, a short (90 minute) film relating the history of California. Golden Dreams stars Whoopi Goldberg as "Calcify, the bitter spirit of California" -- a supernatural apparition of undisclosed origin that has watched over the state from the beginning of time, all the while becoming crabbier and crabbier.

Golden Dreams quickly covers most of California's earliest years -- from its origins as a nameless hunk of Pangea to its discovery by ice-bridge-crossing soon-to-be-native-Americans -- and begins to really tell the tale with the arrival of Spanish missionaries. Calcify appears as a missionary to tell their story, doing a rather poor job of it since Whoopi Goldberg doesn't (to put it delicately) look a whole lot like a Spanish man. Although Calcify isn't crabby enough yet at this point in the film to point out that the missionaries pretty much just wholesale enslaved the locals, she does at least call up an earthquake so that she can look smug while it knocks them off their horses.

From there, the film plods through many depressing scenes from California's past, including:

  • Gold hunters slowly starving on the banks of a panned-out river
  • The death of Zorro
  • Racist whites throwing tomatoes at a newly arrived Asian "picture bride"
  • A riot at Alcatraz
  • The building of Malcasa Point's infamous multi-murder site, the "Beast House"
  • The beginning of the rot of American culture by the Hollywood "entertainment" machine
  • The creation of the personal computer by idealistic geeks who had no idea they'd eventually be overwhelmed by inferior machines running Windows
  • Scads of serial killers
  • The assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk
  • Copious earthquakes and fires
  • The election of the current governor

The film ends with a completely depressed Calcify narrating a montage of great Californians, and commenting that "most of them are already dead, and the rest probably will be soon, even if the whole state doesn't fall into the sea first."

All in all a very, very depressing film. See it with your children, and threaten to go back if they don't behave.

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