June 12, 2012

Cars Land Is So Worth Checking Out

Disney's California Adventure always seemed a bit like the red-headed stepchild of Disneyland to me. I'd only cross the plaza between the two parks one out of five or so trips to Disneyland and mostly just so I could get an adult beverage. Over the past few years though, California Adventure has become a place to visit. The soon to be opened Cars Land is downright impressive, and I bet it will draw in tons of new visitors to the languishing theme park.

Crowds will be descending en masse upon California Adventure soon to see the new Cars Land and Buena Vista Street - both new areas and their attractions officially open on June 15. When I received an email advertising ticketed previews for annual passholders I knew this would be my chance to see Radiator Springs before it was overrun with thousands of people. After weighing some pros and cons, I decided it was probably worth it. And boy, was it ever.

I got a ticket for the 8-12pm block on Saturday. I arrived to the park around 7:45, parked and picked up my ticket without any waiting. I barely had to stop on my way to Cars Land. Walking from the Pacific Wharf into Cars Land is like entering another world. The vista of Ornament Valley greets you, and it feels like you're walking into the Painted Desert. Though I like Cars, I LOVE the landscape of places like Zion and Arches National Park, and the designers completely nailed it. I don't know if forced perspective has ever looked so good or been so effective. The view upon strolling in took my breath away.

As you walk in you'll pass the Radiator Springs Racers and before you know it, you're right in the middle of Radiator Springs. The level of detail to which the little town from Cars is re-created is amazing. The only other place I've seen themed so completely is Wizarding World. The Cozy Cone Motel is there, so is Tow Mater's, Ramon's House of Body Art, the Stanley Statue in front of Town Hall, and so much more. It's truly like you're walking right into the movie.

I had four hours to spend in Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and I tried to squeeze the most out of them. Most everyone in the preview group ran right towards the three rides, so I wandered around absorbing the landscape and taking pictures of absolutely everything. I decided to have breakfast at Flo's V8 Cafe, and the chicken tamale with eggs was sooo good.You could choose from lots of options there, or you could visit the Cozy Cone's snack stalls for even more treats like ice cream, popcorn, fries, and churros. Roving cast members sold cotton candy, popcorn, and beverages throughout Cars Land (I even spotted them in line for the Racers selling goodies).

I finally jumped in the single rider line for the Radiator Springs Racers and waited a short 15 minutes to step inside a car. My initial reaction: wow. The ride has two tracks, and at first, it's a leisurely drive through Ornament Valley. Then you go indoors through Luigi's and Ramon's to prep for the "race" against the car on the other track. It's the fun of the Indiana Jones ride without all the jolting about, and the scenery inside and out is just beautiful. I rode it twice.

I didn't ride Luigi's Flying Tires or Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, but I observed. Luigi's looked less than exciting to me. It's basically the world's biggest air hockey table, and the cars float on the surface along with giant beach balls that you can throw about. People leaned out of their cars at ridiculous angles to try to reach the balls, and the cars didn't seem to move fast and in some cases, not at all. I don't think I'll be waiting in a long line for it anytime soon. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree reminded me of the spinning tea cups but with more whipping around than spinning.

What else? Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater took turns in front of Cozy Cone motel for photo ops. From what I overheard, kids seem to be way more excited about meeting Mater than the race car. I browsed through all three shops and before I left I grabbed a "route" beer float from one of the cones.

I didn't want to leave Cars Land, but I'll go back soon. I'm especially looking forward to seeing all the neon at night.

Between the addition of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street, World of Color, and the Toy Story and Little Mermaid rides, I know that I'll make the drive down to Anaheim only for California Adventure.That's not something I pictured myself saying five years ago.

You can see more photos from my visit to Cars Land here.

(I don't blog about Disney often, but if you didn't know, Disneyland makes me really happy).


  1. Looks like I need to go see it in person! Love the pictures, by the way, especially (for reasons I can't nail down) the one of the Burma-Shave-style signs. Have you seen the Mad Tea Party yet? Curious what you think, and comparison with elecTRONica.

  2. I haven't seen the Tea Party yet, hopefully at the end of the month though!

  3. This really makes me want to go before my pass is blocked for summer!

  4. Well, if it helps make your decision it sounds like crowds are crazy right anyways!

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