The Berm: DCA’s Redemption

Today I learned what the “Disneyland Berm” is. …But back to that in a moment.

Still fascinated by our discussion about whether Disney California Adventure (DCA) was a superior park to Disneyland, I decided to dig up a little DCA history.

I won’t bore you with all of those details, since you can find them as easily as I did, but it did make me think more about the recent renovations at DCA and why that park is now substantially better than it was when it first opened.

It’s all about the berm.

Berm [ /bərm/] noun;  a flat strip of land, raised bank, or terrace bordering a river or canal.

The berm in Disneyland is made up of trees and dirt mounds to create a physical barrier around the park, hiding any outside structures from the horizon. This helps encompass the guests in the park, leaving the outside world, well, outside.

In 2001, the then named, Disney’s California Adventure was build without a berm. This meant that while walking down Paradise Pier or standing in line for the ferris wheel, you could actually see the tops of hotels and power lines, even the Anaheim Convention Center. While you may or may not have noticed these things, full immersion in this park was just not possible. I mean, seeing the red Hilton sign while you’re waiting to get on Screamin’ forces you to remember you’re in Anaheim, not a Disney-fied boardwalk.

Disney’s California Adventure Pre-Renovation

The (much needed) DCA renovations, which began in 2010 and included a renaming to “Disney California Adventure” (note the missing possessive), also included the construction of a berm. The creation of Cars Land (most notably the backdrop of desert rocks and the trees behind Luigi’s Tires) acts as a high barrier to help hide the visibility of the outside world. Also worth noting is the Carthay Circle Theatre tower at the end of Buena Vista Street, which is both tall enough, and eye catching enough to act as a solid distraction from the city life beyond the park. While there are still a few outside objects visible, these rather large changes have truly made a difference to your overall emergence in DCA.  It’s this attention to detail that makes us all love Disneyland and is exactly what was missing from the earlier version of DCA.

Cars Land  Berm

So, while adding the berm to DCA may not have brought it completely up to Disneyland’s level of awesomness (*cough* Terrence is still wrong *cough*), it HAS made the park a true part of the Disney Theme Park Family.



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