Disney California Adventure makes its debut

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With the grand opening Thursday of Disney's California Adventure theme park, Disney has completed the $1.4 billion transformation of Disneyland from a one-theme park, two-hotel complex, into the full-blown Disneyland Resort.

Disney's California Adventure theme park in Aneheim, Calif., opened Thursday. Officials say agents now have a reason to use Anaheim as a base for visiting Southern California.

In the opinion of this writer, one of several hundred travel industry guests invited to preview the new park, the top ride alone is worth the trip.

Soarin' Over California, in the park's Golden State sector, offers an all too brief 7.5-minute simulated aerial tour of the state, a virtual hang-gliding experience that ends with an up-close view of Disneyland and its nightly fireworks.

Other sectors of California Adventure include the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, focusing on popular films and TV shows, and Paradise Pier, which features the California Screamin' coaster and other rides.

The park also features a daily parade with outrageous floats.

In addition to the new park, Disneyland now boasts the upscale, 750-room Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, as well as the Downtown Disney entertainment, dining and shopping district.

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