Yesterland
Paradise Pier’s Original
Games of the Boardwalk
“It’s a Winner Wonderland!”
 
Boardwalk Bowl, Dolphin Derby, San Joaquin
Volley, Shore Shot, Angels in the Outfield,
New Haul Fishery, and Cowhuenga Pass
Billboard for Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Here at Yester California Adventure, the theme of Paradise Pier is California amusement piers of the 1920s. Or is it the 1950s? Or is it the 1980s? Or is it 2001? It depends on where you look.

It doesn’t matter. Real amusement piers have carnival games. And, by golly, so does this park. Try your skill at each of the seven games. Have fun! Maybe you’ll even win a silly-looking, bright-pink stuffed pig.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

The best-known games of the old-time boardwalks await you at the festive midway booths on Paradise Pier. Test your skill and try your luck. Who knows, you might just walk away with a cool prize!

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Boardwalk Bowl: This classic skeeball-style game lets you strike it rich by bowling wooden balls into target holes.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Dolphin Derby: A dozen diving dolphins are racing from San Diego to Sacramento in this swimmingly swell water-gun game.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

San Joaquin Volley: Drop by this roadside fruit stand, where you can try your luck at tossing a softball into six bouncy baskets to win a prize.”

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Shore Shot: The crowd’s screaming, the game’s on the line, and you’ve got the last shot! Can you come through in the clutch for your favorite college hoops team?

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Angels in the Outfield: So you want to be a major league pitcher? Well then, pick up a few baseballs and aim straight for the catcher’s glove!”

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

New Haul Fishery: Go fish! Younger Guests can try their hand at fishing in a mountain stream at New Haul Fishery. Magnetic fishing rods lure the fish to bite; when retrieved, each fish reveals a prize, so everyone’s a winner!

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Cowhuenga Pass: In this ranch-themed game of chance, Guests toss softballs into milk cans, named after six hearty heifers: Bell, Billie, Buttercup, Betsy, Elsie and Ed.


The seven games of Games of the Boardwalk opened as part of Disney’s California Adventure on February 8, 2001. The captions below the pictures above are all from the park’s official website in 2001.

The captions and the names of most of the games were outsourced by Disney to Karma Creative (now World Creative Supply), a company whose business is to “name products, create slogans, write tag lines, and proofread text.” Karma Creative was responsible for many the original attraction, restaurant, and shop names at Disney’s California Adventure—their specialty was puns.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Games of the Boardwalk below the California Screamin’ roller coaster track (2002 photo)

Where did the names come from? San Joaquin Volley was a pun on California’s huge San Joaquin Valley. Shore Shot was a pun on “sure shot” for this game on the California shore. Angels in the Outfield was named after a 1994 baseball movie from Walt Disney Pictures. New Haul Fishery was a pun on Newhall, a city that is now part of Santa Clarita. And Cowhuenga Pass was a pun on Cahuenga Pass, the route between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley across the Santa Monica Mountains. Boardwalk Bowl and Dolphin Derby were just alliterations.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Toy Story Midway Mania construction wall at the left edge of the Games area (2007 photo)

The original Games of the Boardwalk were located between Malibu-Ritos and the Midway Shops, near the Sun Wheel. Today, that location would be described as being between Toy Story Midway Mania and the Midway Shops, near Mickey’s Fun Wheel. You’ll still find Games of the Boardwalk there, but these are new games.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

“Study model” at Blue Sky Cellar (2009 photo)

As part of Disney California Adventure’s $1.1 billion enhancement and expansion project, the original games closed in 2007 (to become part of Toy Story Midway Mania) and 2008 (to retheme the remaining portion). Four new Disney-themed games with splendid Victorian façades would replace the seven California-themed games with their rather charmless façade of garish signs.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Construction (2009 photo)

The new Games of the Boardwalk opened in April 2009 featuring Disney characters and Disney prizes: Goofy About Fishin’, Bullseye Stallion Stampede, Casey at the Bat, and Dumbo Bucket Brigade.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

The new look (2009 photo)

When discussing both versions of Games of the Boardwalk online, fans have suggested that Walt Disney would not have approved. They pointed out that there were never such games at Disneyland during Walt’s lifetime. Of course, playing “What would Walt do?” is just educated guessing. I asked Disney expert Jim Korkis, author of The Vault of Walt, for his thoughts:

Werner Weiss: Based on your extensive research about Walt Disney, do you think Walt would have wanted carnival games?

Jim Korkis: While Walt consulted with many successful amusement park owners and operators, it was clear Walt never followed any of their suggestions, including the installation of carnival games. Walt wanted a different atmosphere at his park. Carnival games provoked a type of behavior Walt didn’t want; customers lost; and there was a basic inequity in the prizes. Walt didn’t want people to “spiel” loudly out in front of their businesses at Disneyland and had to counsel some of the early participants about not doing so in front of their store or restaurant. Part of the experience of a carnival game is the operator spieling loudly to encourage people to play.

Werner: At least nobody spiels loudly at Games of the Boardwalk. During Walt’s lifetime, did Disneyland have anything along the lines of carnival games?

Jim: The shooting galleries were notable exceptions because no one really lost and there was value for the money paid. They also seemed to theme in well with their locations. Walt even played the Frontierland Shooting Gallery himself, and the operator made Walt pay, just like the rest of the guests. Also, the widely held belief that carnival games were “rigged” or “crooked” would have been enough for Walt to avoid them.

Werner: The Frontierland Shooting Gallery wasn’t about winning prizes either. It was about having an experience. Now, what about Disneyfying the Games of the Boardwalk in 2009?

Jim: Remember that Walt’s philosophy was not to separate families, not to force them to spend money, and to have a clean and friendly place for them to enjoy. Overlaying Disney characters on carnival games doesn’t seem to be immediately in that spirit.

Werner: Is there any place for carnival games at Disney parks?

Jim: I think a good example of a carnival game being effectively “Disneyfied” is Toy Story Midway Mania. While it maintains the basics of carnival games, it allows everyone of any age to participate, have fun together and no one really loses. It becomes more challenging to adapt other classic carnival games to a similar format.

Games of the Boardwalk at Disney's California Adventure

Goofy About Fishin’ (2010 photo)


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© 2010-2014 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated October 10, 2014.

Photo of Games of the Boardwalk billboard: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Games of the Boardwalk sign: 2002 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Boardwalk Bowl game: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Dolphin Derby game: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of San Joaquin Volley game: 2001by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Shore Shot game: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Angels in the Outfield game: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of New Haul Fishery: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Cowhuenga Pass game: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Games of the Boardwalk with roller coaster track: 2002 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Games of the Boardwalk exterior with construction wall at left: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of new Games of the Boardwalk model in Blue Sky Cellar: 2009by Allen Huffman.
Photo of new Games of the Boardwalk construction: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of new Games of the Boardwalk exterior: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Goofy About Fishin’ game: 2010 by Werner Weiss.