CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE THEME PARK OPENED
Disney's California Adventure opened on February 8, 2001, giving visitors to Anaheim another choice in theme parks. Created adjacent to Disneyland on what was once the parking lot, California Adventure celebrates the history and achievements of the Golden State. Visitors enter California Adventure through a Golden Gate bridge and across Sunshine Plaza with its 50-foot titanium sun sculpture. The three "lands" (Golden State, Paradise Pier, Hollywood Pictures Backlot) offer several high-speed thrill rides including California Screamin', Maliboomer, and the Sun Wheel.
A new level in simulators was reached with Soarin' Over California, which creates a virtual hang gliding flight across the Golden State. Rows of seats are lifted 40 feet into the air inside an 80-foot dome, moving riders into a surrounding film. Though California Adventure is geared more for the teen and adult crowd, a variety of other rides plus shows, special effects, and parades makes it a companion and rival for Disneyland.
Many reasons were given for the energy crisis. Creation of new sources of power generation had not kept pace with increased electricity use. A drought in the Pacific Northwest had reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, which California relied on. Deregulation of energy pricing did not work as planned. Major energy suppliers Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison were in financial crisis, and independent power companies were refusing to sell to them.
Governor Davis met the impending energy crisis by calling on Californians to conserve energy, and by having the State purchase power under long-term contracts at high costs from suppliers. The threatened blackouts did not occur. The energy crisis passed, and the California government was left with paying the bills for the long-term contracts.
GOVERNOR RECALLED BY VOTERS
For the first time in California State history, the voters recalled an unpopular governor. On October 7, 2003, Democratic Governor Gray Davis was ousted from his second term by a vote of 55.4%. Voters elected Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, a well-known actor and bodybuilder who had not previously held an elected office. Schwarzenegger received 48.6% of the vote to become the next governor.
The recall movement began early in 2003 when Ted Costa, director of People's Advocate, filed an intention to circulate a petition. Reason given for the recall was "gross mismanagement of California finances." Davis' unpopularity, however, was also blamed on his refusal to listen to the people and on Californians' widespread frustration about the crises in energy and education, as well as the sad state of the budget.
A recall committee calling themselves Rescue California collected the required 897,158 valid signatures to force a recall election. The recall process was opposed by Davis allies, the Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall. On August 13, the California Secretary of State certified 135 candidates on the ballot, though some withdrew before the October election date.
WILDFIRES TURN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA INTO AN INFERNO
Wildfires consumed more than 743,000 acres in drought-dried Southern California in October of 2003, causing journalists to call it the California Inferno. Fueled by the hot Santa Anna winds, seventeen separate fires swept through areas from the Simi Valley (north of Los Angeles) to the Mexican border, destroying over 3,500 homes plus many other buildings. Twenty people were killed by the fires before firefighters were able to contain the spread and control the blazes.
Particularly hard hit was San Diego County, which lost several thousand homes and the entire town of Cuyamaca. In the resort areas of the San Bernardino Mountains, the large number of dead trees allowed the fire to spread rapidly. The California State Park system lost about 30,000 acres of State Park land, the worst fire in the park system's 139-year history. In Cuyamaca Rancho State park, fires burned more than 24,000 of the 25,000 acres and destroyed the museum and park headquarters.
Officials believe that several of the fires were set by arsonists. One may have resulted from a signal fire lit by a lost backpacker. The resulting toll on the California economy was estimated to exceed $2 billion.