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Ride / Golden Dreams

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Image courtesy of Werner Weiss. Used with permission.

"Anything can be done with just one dream. "
—"Just One Dream"

Golden Dreams was a Short Film about the history of California created for Disney's California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, opening with the park on February 8, 2001. It starred Whoopi Goldberg as Califia, the Queen of California.

Califia explains that she is the spirit within California, and an inspiration to many famous residents. Goldberg appears in some of the filmed sequences that follow as Califia—in disguise—to comment or offer encouraging words to various characters who find themselves in challenging situations.

The 70-mm film was among the most sophisticated Disney theatre attractions — highlighting admirable and regrettable eras and incidents in the history of California, including vivid illustrations of injustice, before ending with a montage of notable events and Californians.

Golden Dreams gave its last public showing on September 7, 2008. Disney tore down most of the theater afterwards, to make room for the dark ride The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Today, all that remains of the Golden Dreams building is the replica of the Palace of Fine Arts rotunda, which Disney repainted and now uses as the entrance of Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

Golden Dreams provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Award-Bait Song: "Just One Dream" fits this trope perfectly, even if there isn't an Oscar for Best Attraction Song.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Califia addresses the audience and is even introduced as a statue inside the theatre, before appearing onscreen.
  • Chinese Laborer: A scene shows a group laying explosives to clear the way for train tracks.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: Califia visits Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during the filming of The Wizard of Oz, and advises Louis B. Mayer to have the Silver Slippers re-done in ruby red, to better show off the then-new Technicolor technology. When the costume designer imagines what the Ruby Slippers should look like, they don't look exactly like they do in the final movie, likely so that Disney wouldn't have to pay Warner Bros. note  a licensing fee.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: The segment on female engineers during WW2 is introduced by a radio playing in the background as a woman leaves for work:
    Newscaster: The date: October 14th 1942, Rosie The Riveter leads the way.
  • Disneyfication: Surprisingly averted: The filmmakers didn't shy away from the uglier parts of the state's history, highlighting the plight of Native Americans and the xenophobia experienced by Japanese immigrants — even briefly featuring images of a Japanese internment camp.
  • The Great Depression: One segment focuses on Dust Bowl farmers moving to California in the 1930s.
  • It Will Never Catch On: After Steve Jobs proclaims to Steve Wozniak that they'll sell personal computers to everyone in the world, Wozniak snarks, "Dream on, Steve." Califia chimes in, "Keep dreaming. Trust me on this one."
  • Line-of-Sight Name: A subtle one. When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are unveiling the first personal computer, Califia appears, taking a bite out of an apple, therefore inspiring the Apple logo.
  • Living Statue: Califia's first appearance is as a living Art Deco sculpture in the auditorium.
  • Magical Negro: Califia appears to Californians in need:
    Califia: I can go around and push folks to go after their dreams, pick 'em up a little if they lose the faith.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: Unlike the other sections, the 1960s isn't represented by a single person's story, but instead shows a typical park with hippies as "Incense and Peppermints" plays.
  • Prospector: The segment on the California gold rush features William, a non-caricatured version of this trope.