Little more than a week ago, I attended the launch of Cars Land, a brand new addition to Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California. Disney has transformed a 12-acre parking lot into a fantastical, real-life rendition of Radiator Springs that lets you jump right into the beloved Disney-Pixar hit animated films. As intricately themed and immersive as any land at any Disney theme park, Cars Land overflows with stunning Route 66 iconography and insider winks at the Cars films around every turn.
After five years in the making, Cars Land officially opened on June 15, 2012.
Welcome to Radiator Springs, the setting for the Cars films and a brand new mecca for Disney-Pixar fans.
Radiator Springs Racers, the $200-million E-ticket of Cars Land, is Disney at its very best. The ride combines wonderful storytelling, striking animatronics, highly detailed backdrops, and just the right amount of adrenaline.
Flo’s V8 Café has a sassy juke-box feel and loads of memorabilia from Flo’s former singing career with the Motorama Girls. (Who knew?) Inspection of the gold records hanging on the walls reveal hits such as “Jeep Date,” “Brake it to Me Gently,” and “I’ve Taken a Shine to You.”
Disney’s imagineers have come up with an exceptionally fun collection of merchandise for Cars Land, including many exclusive items you won’t find online or in other areas of the park. On opening day, these funky tire hats were a runaway bestseller.
Mamma mia! Cross a teacup ride with giant beach balls and a thick Italian accent, and you’ve got Luigi’s Flying Tires.
At Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, everyone’s favorite tow truck is the driving force behind this gentle scrambler ride.
Up, up and away with a Lightning McQueen or Mater balloon.
A brilliant take on the classic Route 66 wigwam motels, the Cozy Cone Motel offers no accommodations—just light bites like churros, popcorn, and yes, even ice cream and a variety of drinks—served up in bright orange traffic cones.
* All photos: Suzanne Rowan Kelleher