The Happiest Place on Earth became even happier with the opening of Cars Land, the largest piece of a five-year expansion that was completed in 2012 at Disney California Adventure Park. Cars Land features 12 acres of immersive excitement, offering freewheeling fun for everyone as it brings the town of Radiator Springs to life, just as guests remember it from the Disney/Pixar movie “Cars.”
The thrilling additions of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and the Carthay Circle Theatre, home of the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure have added to the storytelling magic of the Disneyland Resort, a world-class, family vacation destination in Southern California with two theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district.
At the time Cars Land opened, Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, called Cars Land the “crown jewel” of the Disney California Adventure expansion.
“Cars Land is the extraordinary result of a close collaboration between the gifted filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios and our talented Imagineers and cast members,” Iger said. “It’s also a spectacular example of our ability to take our characters and stories and bring them to life in new and unexpected ways.”
Cars Land invites guests to take the off ramp right into Radiator Springs, “the cutest little town in Carburetor County,” where they enjoy three family attractions showcasing places and characters from the movie: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, and Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions created for a Disney theme park.
Lightning McQueen and Mater make appearances and pose for photos near the Cozy Cone Motel along with their new friend Cruz Ramirez from the Disney/Pixar movie “Cars 3.”
Each attraction and facility has its own personality, allowing guests to get to know more about the characters who live in Radiator Springs. Themed shops and restaurants also look familiar to fans of the movies, including Flo’s V8 Café, Cozy Cone Motel and Ramone’s House of Body Art.
“A lot of the places you will find only inside Cars Land, so we took the theming and storytelling all the way through, in a way that guests will really feel as if the shops, restaurants and attractions are being operated by that character,” said Kathy Mangum, executive producer of Cars Land. “Everywhere you look there is a funny little car nod. After all, it is a land built by cars.” Many of the automotive winks were inspired by a research trip Imagineers took along Route 66. Others were inspired by working with the animators from Pixar.
“While I love all of the movies we’ve made at Pixar, the ‘Cars’ films are particularly close to my heart, so seeing Radiator Springs come to life at Disney California Adventure is a dream come true,” said John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, at the grand opening. “The artistry and attention to detail throughout Cars Land is absolutely incredible, and I couldn’t be more proud of the teams at Pixar and Walt Disney Imagineering who worked side by side to make this project a reality.”
The “Cars” gang gathers to prepare visitors for the big race in Radiator Springs Racers, the high-octane, indoor/outdoor adventure that revs through the beautiful mountains of Ornament Valley. Guests board cars, each with their own personality, for a scenic road trip that takes them through Radiator Springs, with a stop at either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art. After getting some final racing tips from Doc Hudson, the cars zoom over the roadways in a nose-to-nose, high-speed race, never knowing which car may win.
Elsewhere in Cars Land, Luigi invites guests to ride along with his cousins as they perform the traditional dances of their hometown village in Italy. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters at Casa Della Tires is the newest addition to in Cars Land and features miniature Italian roadsters moving to upbeat music as they glide and spin. Each dancing car has its own high-spirited personality and signature dance moves so guests enjoy a different ride experience depending on which car they board.
Mater provides his own unique siren song, courtesy of a Junkyard Jukebox that has lured baby tractors into Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. There, the tractors dance to Mater’s hoedown tune, swinging guests around in trailers they are pulling behind them. It’s a “tow-si-do” square dance to a playlist of seven songs sung by Mater himself.
The streets of Radiator Springs are humming with entertainment, too. DJ, the ultimate party car -– a big road-trippin’ mobile boom box with giant speakers and built-in disc changer – invites his crew to “DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive,” a spontaneous, interactive dance party. And Red the Fire –
Truck recruits guests of all ages to join “Red to the Rescue!”–helping water the flowers and clean up the town of Radiator Springs. (Prepare to get wet!)
The road leading into Cars Land is dotted with large animated neon signs reminiscent of the ‘50s era of cross-country travel along Route 66. As with other aspects of the land, the neon signs are three-dimensional representations of recognizable landmarks from the movie “Cars,” and they come to life each night at sundown when it’s cruisin’ time along the boulevard.
“Cars” fans and other interested shoppers find a great selection of Cars Land and other Disney and Disney/Pixar gifts and souvenirs at the “local” retail shops in Radiator Springs. Although the interiors of most of these locales weren’t seen in the movie, they were created for Cars Land by Walt Disney Imagineers with their characteristic attention to detail, drawing on inspiration from vintage stops along historic Route 66.
Sarge’s Surplus Hut offers a broad selection of merchandise–kids clothing, costumes, hats, toys and plush–featuring Lightning McQueen, Mater and other “Cars” characters. Radiator Springs Curios is a country-style mercantile with special appeal for collectors of pins themed to all things “Cars.” The shop also stocks magnets, antenna toppers and license plate frames. Ramone’s House of Body Art features the signature items of the Low ‘n Slow Car Club and Champions Custom Speed Shop collections in t-shirts, work shirts, hats and accessories.
Dining options in Cars Land include Flo’s V8 Café, modeled on the quirky roadside eateries along old Route 66. The café serves full meals from a quick-service counter. A windowed “showroom” dining area and adjoining outdoor patio offer a breathtaking view of Cadillac Mountain Range and the vehicles zooming by in Radiator Springs Racers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at Flo’s, and specialties include chicken tamale with scrambled eggs, brioche French toast with salted caramel and bananas, home-style classics such as pork loin or New York strip loin, plus the house-made Pie-O-Rama for dessert.
The distinctive, orange “cone” architecture of Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel offers quick service cone-themed snacks from five different cones, including ice cream cones, chile “cone” queso, pop “cone” and other “cone”-coctions. Fillmore’s Taste-in celebrates the Cars Land “new age” hippie-van-in-residence. His food and beverage kiosk offers the “high-octane” natural health benefits of fresh fruits, bottled water and juices.