Yesterland

Mission Tortilla Factory
Hosted by Mission Foods

Watch as fresh dough
is transformed into
hot, tasty tortillas
Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

“In a park that showcases the diversity of the California culture and landscape, Mission Foods is proud to demonstrate the history and the making of the traditional food of ancient and modern Mexico—the tortilla.” That’s how the Mission Foods website describes this attraction.

It’s not a ride or a theater. It’s an authentic, working tortilla factory. Get ready for a four-part experience!

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Corn flour and wheat flour storage

Before you enter the factory, admire it from the outside. This isn’t a storybook theme park building. The exterior, with its corrugated metal sides and rough timbers, looks fittingly industrial. The huge, cylindrical storage container on the left holds 14,000 pounds of corn flour, while the one on the right holds 15,000 pounds of wheat flour—enough to yield 408,000 corn tortillas and 390,000 tortillas, respectively (give or take a few).

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

“Tortillas aren’t just for kings anymore.”

Now step inside. The first part of your experience—the pre-show—is in a room with a large mural and an ornately framed video monitor. The mural depicts the Mayan god Hun Nal Ye bestowing corn upon the Mayan people—a momentous event in their history and culture.

Three children narrate a two-minute, animated video, “The Story of the Tortilla,” about the origins and importance of corn and tortillas in the Aztec, Olmec, and Mayan cultures of Mexico. Among other things, the children explain, “Some even worshipped corn as a god,” and, “According to Mayan legend, the tortilla was invented as a gift to the king.”

You’ll learn that thanks to the invention of Maseca corn flour, tortillas are better than ever. (According to Mission Foods, “Maseca is the secret behind the incredible taste, consistency and quality of Mission corn tortillas.”)

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Peek-in vignettes

The doors open to the next room. There are more murals and four peek-in windows. Take a look.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

3-D tortilla vignette

Ghostly little video people populate vignettes within the windows. Watch them grind the corn with traditional stone tools and form tortillas by hand. Then step to the right to another window to watch a more recent kitchen scene. Yes, tortillas have long been the Hispanic staple of life.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Entrance to the Production Line

Now that you’ve learned the proud origins of the tortilla, it’s time for the third part of your tortilla experience. Step into the Production Line room. You get to watch the entire process on a short walking tour—from fresh dough to tasty tortillas.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

The actual factory

It’s not a big factory, but it is a working tortilla facility. The line on your right makes flour tortillas. The one on your left makes corn tortillas. The output is used by restaurants here at the park.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

“3 Pass” Oven (left)

Signs explain what every machine does. For example, In the “3 Pass” Oven, “Each tortilla passes through the oven three times. Heat penetrates the tortilla and seals the outside layer, trapping moisture inside. The moisture causes the ‘puffing,’ which creates a flaky tortilla.”

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Cooling conveyor

After the tortillas have gone through the oven, “the cooling conveyor allows the tortilla to cool down—from 190° to 100°. This process keeps tortillas from sticking together when packaged. Total cooling time for flour tortillas: three minutes.” For corn tortillas, it’s just two minutes.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Fresh sample

You’ll probably consider the Production Line to be the best part of this attraction because this is where you get to sample a freshly baked tortilla (or sometimes only part of one) absolutely free. These are warm tortillas, right off the line.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

“What’s Your Weight in Tortillas?” scale

Don’t forget to weigh yourself. If you accepted a sample, you now weigh one tortilla more than if you didn’t.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Wall graphics at the Demonstration Kitchen

At the far end of the Production Line room, you reach the fourth and final part of your tortilla experience—a chance to learn more about Mission Foods and to discover new ways to use tortillas at the Demonstration Kitchen. Here’s how Mission Foods explains it on their website:

Toward the end of your visit you’ll learn even more about the leader of the “tortilla revolution”… Mission Foods. Devoted to technological innovation, Mission uses technology not only to reduce costs, but to increase product quality and consumer satisfaction. These innovations are one of the most interesting aspects of the Mission Tortilla Factory.

Most Interesting? Perhaps to some guests—but, to most guests, probably not as interesting as the idea of getting free food at a theme park.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Mission Foods Demonstration Kitchen

Watch Mission Foods chefs preparing traditional Mexican and contemporary California recipes using genuine Mission tortillas.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Yum!

The chefs at Demonstration Kitchen produce tasty looking dishes. Tortillas are the perfect ingredient for any meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and any course (appetizer, main course, or dessert).

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Samples for looking, not for tasting

Here at the park that celebrates California, what company could better represent California than Mission Foods?

By the way, Mission Foods is headquartered in Irving, Texas. It’s is a division of Gruma Corporation, which is part of GRUMA S.A.B. de C.V., based in Monterrey, Mexico.


Mission Tortilla Factory was one of the original attractions at Disney’s California Adventure when the park opened on February 8, 2001.

In its early years, Mission Tortilla Factory was the subject of jokes and a symbol of how the new park had redefined the word attraction. Disneyland had Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. California Adventure had a bread bakery and a tortilla factory. (In fairness, the new park also had Soarin’ Over California and a short list of other well-received attractions.)

However, over time, Mission Tortilla Factory developed a loyal following. It wasn’t a case of Annual Passholders returning again and again to watch the little family in the peek-in windows. But many stopped in for a fresh, warm tortilla sample from a friendly tortilla baker. The tortillas were genuinely good—much better than tortillas packed in plastic sitting on grocery store shelves.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

“Tortilla Factory is Closed” (May 31, 2011 photo)

For more than ten years, Mission Tortilla Factory operated in a quiet corner of the park. With Cars Land coming in 2012, the location was slated to become a prime, high-traffic spot next to Fillmore’s Taste-In at the main entrance to Cars Land. But Mission Tortilla Factory didn’t wait for that to happen.

Mission Tortilla Factory closed permanently on May 31, 2011.

On June 8th, 2011, an Orange County Register article by Eugene Fields quoted a prepared statement from Disney spokeswoman Betsy Sanchez: “It was a mutual decision not to renew the agreement. We look forward to providing our guests with a new experience in this location.”

On the day before Mission Tortilla Factory closed, MiceAge editor Al Lutz scooped every conventional and online media outlet with the news of what would replace the tour. Al wrote, “Disney is wrapping up the details on a new sponsorship deal with an iconic California company they had been chasing back in the late 1990s for DCA, but which wisely took a pass after deciding they were unimpressed with the original park. But now the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company of San Francisco is planned to become DCA’s newest sponsor, and if the current timeline holds Ghirardelli will debut in 2012 in an expanded and remade building at the old Mission Tortilla Factory location.”

For a while it seemed as if Al’s scoop might have been wrong, or at least that Ghirardelli and Disney failed to reach an agreement.

Mission Tortilla Factory at Disney's California Adventure

Concept art for Ghirardelli at Disney California Adventure

Finally, on December 1, 2011, a Disney press release made the news official: “Disneyland Resort today announced that Ghirardelli will open a new location inside Disney California Adventure park in late spring 2012. The soda fountain and chocolate shop will add yet another layer of traditional San Francisco flair to the Pacific Wharf area of the park.”

The press release included a line that was sure to bring a smile to anyone who enjoys good chocolate: “Each guest will be able to enjoy a complimentary sample of the signature Ghirardelli Squares® chocolate.” A free chocolate taste is even better than a free tortilla taste.

The concept art that accompanied the press release showed a building that would reuse the Mission Tortilla Factory structure. Instead of being clad in industrial corrugated metal, the building would now be clad in attractive red brick, reminiscent of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.

If anyone still wants to laugh about the park’s definition of the word attraction, it just takes a glance at the official Disney California Adventure website. Included as one of the Paradise Pier section’s 11 attractions is Duffy the Disney Bear.


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© 2012-2014 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated August 22, 2014.

Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory entrance: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory flour storage containers: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory pre-show: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory peek-ins: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory family in peek-in vignette: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory entrance to Production Line: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory entrance: 2003 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory 3-Pass Oven with mother and child: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory cooling conveyor: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory sample distribution: 2008 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory “Weight in Tortillas” scale: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory wall graphics: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory demonstration kitchen: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory demonstration chef: 2008 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory demonstration plates: 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Mission Tortilla Factory “Closed” sign: 2011 by Chris Bales.
Concept art for Ghirardelli at Disney California Adventure © Disney.