February 2001 – May 2011
California Adventure had a brand new concept for a Disney park: a tribute to all things California. Part of that tribute included tours of the production process for two California staples: sourdough bread and tortillas. The tortilla tour came as a result of a partnership with Mission, debuting with the rest of the park in 2001.
Like its neighbor, Boudin, Mission Tortilla was actually a working factory. Guests embarking on the tour got to peek into the process of making tortillas, and taste the final result. The first room in the tour, the pre-show room, played a video telling the “story of the tortilla”. This video was a brief animated summary of how the tortilla emerged from Mayan culture, growing to become a staple in Central American cuisine.
The second room in the tour earned a unique nickname: the “Ghost” room. This room had a massive mural with four windows, with each depicting tortilla production in different periods of history. The backgrounds of these scenes were physical dioramas, but the actual people in each window were projections onto the diorama, hence the ghostly nickname.
Room three was the most exciting part of the tour: the production line. This room was an workspace, with the bakers at work at the machines. Guests watched both corn and flour tortillas being ground, shaped, and baked. A plaque in front of each machine described its role in the tortilla-making process. At the end of the line, guests could sample fresh tortilla right off the line.
Finally, the tour ended in the Mission Tortilla room, the commercial section of the sponsored tour. This room displayed another mural with the story of Mission, and at the back of the room, guests watched Mission chefs prepare tortilla dishes at the Demonstration Kitchen.
Before Cars Land arrived in California Adventure, the Pacific Wharf corner with the Tortilla Factory was a much quieter section of the park. The Factory Tour never became extraordinarily popular, although it did have its fair share of loyal followers. But after ten years of operation, Mission and Disney mutually decided to end their partnership, and the Factory Tour closed its doors in 2011.
For almost six months, the Factory Tour building remained empty, which left fans to speculate that the Mission/Disney partnership might start up again. Finally, in December 2011, Disney formally announced the Factory Tour’s replacement: Ghirardelli.
To the disappointment of many visitors, the Demonstration Kitchen only prepared food for viewing, not for eating.
The production line room featured a scale where guests could see what they weighed…in tortillas!