Yesterland
 
Eureka! - The California
Adventure Parade
Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

The title float of the Eureka! parade


The Greek word Eureka means “I have found it.” Eureka has been on the state seal of California since 1849. And Eureka has been the official state motto of California since 1963.

Eureka! - The California Adventure Parade brings the diverse ethnicity and cultures of California to you at Yester California Adventure.

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Six faces of Eureka preside over the distinct units of the parade

Eureka is also the name of the deity who presides over the parade. Her appearance changes to match each unit of the parade:

  • Center of the sun icon at the start of the parade
  • Aztec-inspired bird-headdressed essence of Hispanic California
  • Angel of the “City of Angels” (Los Angeles)
  • Sun-worshiping beach beauty of the beach scene
  • Chinese Opera goddess of Chinatown
  • Golden goddess of the Golden State for the finale
Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

The parade is starting.

Find a spot along the “performance corridor” (parade route). There’s no need to get there early. Even on summer days, there aren’t too many guests trying to see the parade.

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

The sun is a recurring theme.

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Celebrating California’s Hispanic heritage

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Is it a bird?

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

No. It’s the bird-headdressed essence of Hispanic California.

Watch the huge cast of dancers, puppeteers, athletes, drummers, and eccentrics in their spectacular costumes. The performers work hard, and they do a terrific job. Okay, the drummers on the Watts Towers don’t have spectacular costumes, but they do a spectacular job swinging off the towers and drumming.

There’s even a parade performer dressed as a fortune cookie and another dressed as a Chinese take-out container.

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Yikes!

Where’s Mickey? Where’s Cinderella? Where’s Pooh? Where’s Buzz? You won’t find them anywhere here. This parade draws on artistic and cultural traditions from all over California—but not on the traditions of a certain Burbank movie studio. Besides, you’ve probably seen Mickey, Cinderella, Pooh, and Buzz many times in other shows and parades.

Wouldn’t you rather see dancing puppeteers with giant fish and 18-foot-tall Day of the Dead skeletons? How about a puppet of a Venice Beach bodybuilder on a wheeled sandwich board? How about Mexican Folklorico dancers? How about skateboarders and in-line skaters who zip on and off ramps on a parade float?

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Los Angeles unit of Eureka!

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

A drummer hanging from the Watts Towers

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Homage to the Hollywood Bowl

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Giant fish puppets introduce the beach.

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

Stunts on the surfboard-encrusted beach float

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

The Golden Gate Bridge takes a walk.

Eureka! at Disney's California Adventure

The final Eureka reaches out to you.


Eureka! - The California Adventure Parade opened in February 2001, along with Disney’s California Adventure. After an off-season hiatus, the parade returned in summer 2002—but that was the end of Eureka!

Why did Eureka! fail? Was it the lack of Disney characters? The Tapestry of Nations at Epcot’s Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration had been a huge hit a couple of years earlier, and it had no Disney characters either. The difference was that Tapestry of Nations came across as a unified work of art, while Eureka! came across as a disjointed mishmash.

Somehow, the whole was less than the sum of its parts. It wasn’t clear if the parade was trying to be artistic, authentic, satirical, majestic, or silly (at times, it was each of these). It’s a shame, because a lot of clever and original design work went into the Eureka! parade. (For example, the walking Golden Gate Bridge was brilliant.)

Eureka! also suffered from the low overall guest attendance at Disney’s California Adventure. Park management knew they had to make changes. It’s easier to replace a flawed parade that doesn’t draw big crowds than to redesign poorly conceived “lands” or to add several much-needed “E” Ticket attractions. Instead of seeing Eureka!, California Adventure guests in summer 2003 were treated to (or subjected to) the X Games Xperience, an extreme sports demonstration.

In 2003 and 2004, there were no daytime parades at Disney’s California Adventure. At least there was a nighttime parade. In July 2001, the former Main Street Electrical Parade came to the park as Disney’s Electrical Parade.

In May 2005, a daytime parade—Block Party Bash—finally returned to Disney’s California Adventure as part of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration, “The Happiest Homecoming on Earth.” Block Party Bash featured Pixar characters and performers who interacted with the audience.

It seems that all Disney parades are now processions of Disney and/or Pixar characters. That’s a shame. Many excellent Disney rides and attractions over the years were not based on existing Disney characters; parades and shows don’t have to be either. Sure, Disney park guests expect to see characters, but not to the exclusion of everything else. Disney park guests expect excellent, creative family entertainment. Let’s hope that Eureka! didn’t cause Disney management to lose all faith in parades that aren’t based on familiar characters.


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© 2007-2014 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated March 21, 2014.

First five photographs of Eureka faces on the photo-montage: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Sixth (final) photograph of Eureka face on the photo-montage: 2002 by Werner Weiss.
All other photographs of the Eureka! parade: 2002 by Werner Weiss.