Cars Land, along with Carthay Circle and Buena Vista Street, have unequivocally changed the California Adventure side of Disneyland. What used to be the sort of ugly step sister (Cinderella reference, anyone?) to the more guest-friendly Disneyland theme park, California Adventure is now, without question, completely on par with that small world after all next door. The entire theme park has been elevated with the opening of thrilling, exciting, immersive Cars Land at Disneyland.
Theme park guests will feel elated upon entering Cars Land; the entrance through a canyon arch styled architectural design immediately immerses us in the world of Radiator Springs. It looks very much like the eponymous, animated Pixar movie, and very much like the American Southwest. Check out the rock formations. The oranges, reds and grays are just right — reminding well-traveled park visitors of Sedona, perhaps, or Moab, Utah (though Radiator Springs is supposed to be in Arizona, apparently).
Cars Land at Disneyland was designed with the attention to detail and retro feel to help sweep guests off their feet and into a sensation of being at a pit stop on an idealized 1950’s-era car trip down Route 66. From Radiator Springs Racers to Flo’s V8 Cafe to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, the look is perfect – that of a noncosmopolitan, rough around the edges small town, with quirky characters and great food.
John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, describes Cars Land as a “dream come true.” He asked the Imagineers to get out and travel Route 66 as part of their creative process, to help theme park guests feel transported to Ornament Valley and Radiator Springs. He wanted them to experience “seeing the light and hearing the stories of the people on the road…to make it as authentic as we can.”
The cars themselves — Lightning McQueen and Mater — are audio-animatronic. They interact with guests! There are a couple other cars from the movie seen in Radiator Springs, such as DJ, the “ultimate party car.” When he pulls up, modern pop music blares and Disney dancers get the crowd involved in a few-minutes-long dance party.
I also enjoyed seeing Red the Fire truck. Prepare to get wet, though, he’s a “water feature.” His comical sidekick character “Volunteer Fireman” will help with the supposed watering of the flowers, which actually entails watering willing visitors of Cars Land at Disneyland. So watch out if you’d rather stay dry!
Fillmore’s Taste-in features what that hippie van from the first Cars movie would have served, were he a restauranteur rather than a provider of natural gas. The Cozy Cone Motel offers five different snacks in cones (as in traffic cones) such as chili cone queso.
There’s more, of course, but you’ll have to experience it for yourself. And that’s exactly what Cars Land is; not just a ride, not even an attraction. Cars Land at Disneyland is an experience. It would take the most cynical of hearts to not get swept away by the imagination and fun of Cars Land at Disneyland. Hopefully, you’ll find it as irresistible as I did. Theme park family vacations in California don’t get any better than this.
Disneyland hosted me, and a slew of other media professionals, for the Grand Opening of Cars Land at Disneyland. I was not in any other way compensated for this post.