Yesterland

Golden Gate Bridge

Symbol of Strength, Unity,
and the Dreams of California
Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

The world’s best known bridges include Tower Bridge in London, Brooklyn Bridge in New York, and Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney. But perhaps the most famous and iconic of all is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

But you don’t have to go to San Francisco to see it. Here at Yester California Adventure, the Golden Gate Bridge is just beyond the park entrance.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

California Adventure’s Golden Gate Bridge at night

Just like the real Golden Gate Bridge, the theme park version’s towers, cables, and deck are a bright color called international orange. Whether bathed in sunlight, shrouded in fog, or glowing from nighttime illumination, the distinctive color assures that you’ll notice the mighty bridge. The two towers look simple and functional at first, but a closer look shows beautiful Art Deco details.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

The view from the front of the Monorail

Instead of carrying six lanes of traffic with a sidewalk on each side, this replica of the Golden Gate Bridge carries one Monorail beam—or, more accurately, it hides one Monorail beam. In fact, it’s not really a suspension bridge.

It’s a decoration.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

The San Francisco mural next to San Francisco’s most famous bridge

The bridge is one of the elements that’s designed to make the entrance to this park look like a giant postcard.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Sign about the Golden Gate Bridge near the San Francisco part of the mural

To be honest, nobody will mistake this Golden Gate Bridge for the one that opened 1937. It doesn’t look much like the real thing. Sure, it has two towers, international orange paint, and details that resemble the real thing.

Not surprisingly, the size is different; that’s to be expected at a theme park.

But the proportions are completely different too. The towers here are much taller than the length of the span, giving the bridge a squished look. The biggest difference is that instead of connecting two peninsulas across a body of water, this span goes over a walkway between two gift shops.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Rivets

Even so, some of details are impressive—such as the pattern of rivets.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Under the bridge

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Looking up from under the bridge

If it rains when you visit the park, you won’t be able to stay dry by standing under the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Bridge as a place to display banners

This Golden Gate Bridge serves another function in addition to hiding the Monorail beam. It’s also a place to hang advertising banners. Almost all guests entering or leaving the park will see the banner. (The only guests who can avoid it are those using the private entrance from the hotel.)

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Golden wreath in the Golden Gate Bridge

Over the holidays, festive golden decorations dress up this Golden Gate Bridge. You won’t see that on the San Francisco version.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

For your toy Monorail set

Don’t forget to buy a Golden Gate Bridge for your toy Monorail set. Then your toy Monorail will resemble the real one at the park—just as the toy California Screamin’ set resembles the real thing, with its giant Mickey Mouse decoration within the loop.


The Golden Gate Bridge at Disney’s California Adventure (now Disney California Adventure) opened with the park in 2001.

At Disneyland Park, guests entering the park pass under a charming, old-fashioned railroad station. The station introduces Main Street, U.S.A.

In comparison, at California Adventure, guests entered by passing a series of decorations—the giant twin tile murals, the Golden Gate Bridge, the cartoony storefronts of Engine-ear Toys and Greetings from California, and the Sun Icon and Wave Fountain. These decorations didn’t create a sense of being immersed in a different time or place.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

The real Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (2005 photo)

The real Golden Gate Bridge is not only a California landmark; it’s also a stunningly beautiful, world-famous engineering marvel. The bridge, a part on U.S. Highway 101 and California Route 1, links San Francisco to Marin County across the Golden Gate Strait, entrance to San Francisco Bay, one of the great natural harbors of world. The center span of the 1.7-mile-long bridge is 4,200 feet, which was a world record for 27 years after the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Under construction (April 2000 photo)

For a park celebrating California, honoring the Golden Gate Bridge was a good idea.

Soarin’ Over California begins with a magnificent scene of flying over the Golden Gate Bridge—a fitting start to the park’s most acclaimed attraction.

Unfortunately, the park’s other tribute to the Golden Gate Bridge was not as successful. Reducing the Golden Gate Bridge to a decoration made it into something like the decorations at Disney’s Value Resorts at Walt Disney World—except that those decorations are usually much larger than what they represent.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Buena Vista Street with the new bridge (art © Disney)

A multi-year project, announced in 2007, would give Disney California Adventure the quality and charm of its famous neighbor. The park entrance would become Buena Vista Street, based on Los Angeles in the 1920s, when Walt Disney arrived to make his mark in the movie industry. The Golden Gate Bridge would no longer hide the Monorail beam.

The new plan was to hide the Monorail beam with a bridge that would match Buena Vista Street.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

New entrance and old bridge (July 2011 photo)

For a short time, the Golden Gate Bridge co-existed with the new entry gate. But that didn’t last long.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Golden Gate Bridge towers gone (July 2011 photo)

In July 2011, the towers of the bridge came down. It was no longer the Golden Gate Bridge. The next step would be a transformation based on the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge at Disney's California Adventure

Glendale-Hyperion Bridge (historical photo)

The Glendale-Hyperion Bridge is the perfect model. The bridge opened in 1928, the same year that Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created Mickey Mouse. Hyperion Avenue was the road on which Walt Disney had his studio at that time, and the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge was just a half mile away.

As with the Golden Gate Bridge, the short crossing at Disney California Adventure will be much smaller than the real thing. But this time, the bridge won’t be an icon. It will be a small part of the bridge, perfectly complementing the storefronts of Buena Vista Street.

When Walt Disney extended the Monorail track across the parking lot to the Disneyland Hotel in 1961, who would have thought it would be necessary to dress up a short section of the beam to look like a landmark bridge—not just once, but twice?


Take a look at how the Golden Gate Bridge was part of the original “giant postcard” entrance into Disney California Adventure:

There’s a terrific article about the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge at Big Orange Landmarks, hosted by Floyd B. Bariscale:


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© 2011 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated July 10, 2012.

Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge with Monorail Blue: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge nighttime: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge from Monorail: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge with mural: 2002 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge sign: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge rivets: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge underneath: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge looking up: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge with ABC Primetime banner: 2004 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge with golden wreath: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Golden Gate Bridge toy at Disney California Adventure: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco: 2005 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of DCA construction: April, 15 2000 by Tony “WisebearAZ” Moore.
Rendering of Buena Vista Street © Disney.
Photo of new entrance with Golden Gate Bridge towers still up: 2011 by Chris Bales.
Photo of DCA Golden Gate Bridge with towers removed: 2011 by Chris Bales.
Photo of Glendale-Hyperion Bridge (historical photo): circa 1928, public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.