BACKSTORY: The original entrance letters, which spelled out 'CALIFORNIA' and The Sunshine Plaza area were removed in January 2011. Construction began on the new entrance, modeled after the Pan Pacific Auditorium which was originally located in Los Angeles. It reopened on June 15, 2012. It was announced in May 2012 by The Disney Parks Blog where the former entrance letters were going:
The “CALIFORNIA” letters previously located in the esplanade of the Disney California Adventure park entrance have found a new home! The Disneyland Resort will donate the set of letters, which were removed to make way for the Disney California Adventure park expansion project, to the Friends of the California State Fair, a nonprofit organization that benefits California Exposition & State Fair (Cal Expo) in Sacramento. Cal Expo is the site of the California State Fair and hundreds of other events annually.
From the OC Register in October 2012:
Truckers are moving Disney's C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letter statues north to the state fair after a decade in front of Disney California Adventure.
On Thursday, eight workers placed the statues onto three flatbed trucks transporting the iconic statues to Cal Expo in Sacramento. Crews plan to unload the 10 statues Friday into storage until they are displayed in front of the fairgrounds in about a year, said Paul Gillingham, deputy manager of the state fair.
The concrete statues that spell out "California" stood in front of Disney California Adventure from 2001 to 2011, when they were removed as part of the makeover of the theme park. During that decade, the nearly 12-foot letters were a popular place for tourists to pose for pictures and often were decorated for special events and seasons, such as candy-cane stripes for Christmas.
Disney took the statues out of an Anaheim storage facility so a 70-foot crane could load the letters flat onto the trucks. The meticulous process took about five hours under a gray and often drizzly sky. The first letter – R – alone took an hour to prepare and place on rubber blocks on the truck.
The letters weigh a total of 87,000 pounds. The heaviest one is O at 13,000 pounds.
Late Wednesday, Gillingham drove to Anaheim from Sacramento to take 119 rubber blocks used to cushion the vibrations so the letters wouldn't break on the drive. The move will cost about $7,000.
The state is working on finding funding for the installation of the letters, which could cost an additional $63,000. In May, Disney announced that it would donate the letters, worth about $250,000, to the Friends of the California State Fair for display at the site.
Although some fans wanted the letters to stay in Orange County, Sacramento resident Steve Tuck said he will be happy to see the statues up north.
"I'm glad Disney chose to donate the iconic letters that so many of us have taken photos with rather than throw them away, and it's a big deal for Sacramento to be the recipient of them!" Tuck said in an email.