PHOTOS: Smokejumper’s Grill, First Piece of New Grizzly Peak Airfield, Opens in California Adventure

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Hope springs eternal on the first day of spring at Disney California Adventure, where a tribute to daredevil airmen who flew planes to the edge of space gives way to a thematic accolade to those brave souls who choose to jump out.

Even though the rest of the area isn’t open yet, Smokejumpers Grill (which opened today) previews the backstory of the area, while serving up a steaming plate of real and created fire jumper lore, adding some Disney nature collateral to the menu… all along with burgers and fries.

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A fairly servicable quick service menu with kid meals, beer and wine

Today, the Disneyland Resort began to remedy old perceptions with the opening of the first phase of a re-imagined Grizzly Peak Airfield “land” at Disney California Adventure. The rest of the one-attraction-area is expected to reopen in May. Work going on in the Soarin’ Over California attraction in this area has been described as technical, part of a process to return the show to a state of the art presentation. There are no changes expected in the “Soarin'” attraction outside of crystal-clear digital projections. At least yet.

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Concept art depicting the reimagined area. © Disney
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A “letter” pinned to one of the bulletin boards serves up a back story for the Smokejumpers Grill.
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Two theatrical posters from Walt Disney True-Life Adventures hang in the new restaurant. Is Grizzly Peak the “King of the Wild Frontier” now?

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This area of the park will benefit the Park by offering some “plebeian food” in a location near its “hub.” While the upscale Carthay Circle Restaurant was added during the “Great Revision” in 2012, several other food opportunities were lost. Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream, Baker’s Field Bakery, and the Soup Opera Bistro all near the Park’s center, were stuttered before the grand re-design. The near-by Fiddler Fifer and Practical Cafe also dumped soup and sandwiches from its menu shortly after opening.

The change to Grizzly Peak Airfield will create a more cohesive “story” as guests figuratively leave “Los Angeles” and head for the hills rather than the dessert. But as tales of the high-desert daredevil airmen go the way of the flightless Dodo, we also say goodbye to an attempt to tell a real California story. The previous area theme, Condor Flats, nodded to the test pilots who chased, then broke the sound barrier in the nascent race to space. However, this homage to one of California’s great “reach for the stars” moments, didn’t prove to have the “Right Stuff” for the Theme Park’s guests.

Seemingly this now little known stop on the road to space was not fully understood by the general public, or perhaps it was the underwhelming utilitarian airfield setting that failed to stir park-goers imaginations. Regardless, Grizzly Peak Airfield is a welcome change of scenery for the park.

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TimPat McRaven

Deejay Middlebrow is an American disc jockey who has been selected by a secretive group to curate the Radio Free Disneyland Podcast.

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