In June of 2012, Disney unveiled two new lands in its Disney California Adventure park: Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. While both are remarkable and make a visit to Disney California Adventure more exciting than ever, Cars Land sets a new standard for Disney attractions and is by far the most exciting addition to the Disneyland Resort in many, many years.
We first visited Cars Land during our July getaway. It was a highlight of our trip and a reason we extended our stay by an extra day. Disney’s Imagineers have captured the essence of the film, recreating Radiator Springs in mind-blowing detail. Everything from the fountain in front of the Cozy Cone Motel to the traffic light’s slower third blink is true to the original story. It’s hard to describe the sensations one feels upon first entering Cars Land. It’s a mixture of excitement, awe, and disbelief intensified beyond the imaginable. Cars Land is especially captivating in the evening, when the neon lights come on and the main street comes alive.
I’m not sure either of us knew what to expect before visiting Cars Land. Like many others, we’d done some research online, followed the hype, and knew it would be incredible. But our first steps in Radiator Springs were filled with so much more awe and excitement than I could have imagined. During Magic Morning the next day, our expectations were exceeded again as Mater and Lightning McQueen came out to greet guests. The two even took time to meet and pose with us.
All New Attractions
Cars Land introduces three new rides to Disney California Adventure. Wait times for each vary throughout the day and are tortuously long during the park’s busiest hours. Plan to take advantage of the Radiator Springs Racer FastPass, Magic Morning’s in Disney California Adventure and the time during World of Color in the evenings to hop on these rides with less of a wait.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree features tractors swinging guests round and round while Matter himself sings hilariously in the background. We were skeptical at first but Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is surprisingly fun. While the queue is not nearly as detailed as the other queues in Cars Land, there’s plenty to discover during a long wait. We’re found the secret to this ride is to lean into the swing. By doing this, you’ll pick up more acceleration and turbo-charge your fun (too punny?). For the best wait time, visit this ride after riding Radiator Springs Racers during Magic Morning and while World of Color is showing in the evenings. And be sure to visit Mater’s Petting Zoo just outside for a chance to pet one of those adorable little tractors!
Luigi’s Flying Tires
If you’re a Disneyland history buff, you’ll recognize Luigi’s Flying Tires as a revival of Disneyland’s 1961-1966 Flying Saucer ride, which makes this ride even more exciting. Luigi’s tires are seemingly simple but require a surprising amount of coordination. Riders lean left, right, forwards, and backwards to control the direction of their tires as they glide and collide with other guests in an Italian garden. During our July getaway, riders chased, captured, and sent giant beach balls soaring through the air, giving the ride an extra shot of fun. These giant beach balls were, as we learned during our visit in February, a limited-time addition and, according to one cast member, will be replaced soon by something new. The line for Luigi’s Flying Tire is typically out the door but don’t let that stop you. The queue is filled with incredible detail and the long line actually helps you take it all in!
Radiator Springs Racers
Of course, the most popular of the three new rides is Radiator Springs Racers, which sends riders racing through Radiator Springs, even tipping tractors along the way! The detail—from the queue that winds through Ornament Valley to the Cadillac Mount Range—is incredible and requires several rides to truly appreciate. The ride begins with a scenic drive through Ornament Valley, taking riders past many landmarks from the film. From there riders are taken to Radiator Springs where they meet Lightning, Mater, Sally and the other lovable characters from the film. After a quick stop in Luigi’s or Ramone’s shop and a pep talk from Doc Hudson himself, riders are sent racing to the finish line. It really is an awesome attraction.
This is one of our favorite dark rides in the Disneyland Resort and we’ve ridden it a half dozen times at the time of this posting. Expect to wait 100 minutes or more during general admission hours. If you want to maximize your fun, take advantage of Magic Mornings to not only be the first on but also to pick up a FastPass for later in the day. (Plan to pick up a FastPass first thing in the morning as they are typically all gone by 10:00am.)
Cars Land introduces some new dining options to Disney California Adventure. These new dining options include Flo’s V8 Cafe, Fillmore’s Taste-In, and the Cozy Cone Motel. To be honest, we passed on each of these restaurants. This was not because they don’t offer decent food. Rather, we employ a different strategy when dining in the Disneyland Resort. For a review of the new dining options in Cars Land, take a look at this Disney Tourist blog post.
We can, however, attest to the deliciousness of Fillmore’s Fuelin’ Groovy Ade with “high octane” (vodka). The “normal” Groovy Ade comes in a souvenir cone cup while the “high octane” Groovy Ade is exclusively available in a neon-green, attract-the-attention-of-cast-members-who-watch-for-too-much-fun-cup. Both versions are sure to give you a sugary rush.
If you’re looking to pick up some souvenirs from Cars Land, be sure to check out one of the three shops. You’ll find Sarge’s Surplus Hut near the main entrance of cars land. There’s plenty of cars-related memorabilia and toys in here. You’ll even find the odd-looking Luigi’s Flying Tire hats inside. Just down the street is Radiator Springs Curios. There is so much to see inside this shop that it’s terribly disappointing to realize most of it is not for sale! Finally, there’s Ramone’s House of Body Art. If Sarge’s Surplus Hut is for the kids than Ramone’s House of Body Art is for the grownups (well, as much as any Disney shop can be!). There’s plenty of Cars Land-inspired apparel, posters, and more inside, and based on our two visits, the merchandise changes fairly regularly.
It’s difficult to do Cars Land justice with a single post, or with any number of posts really. Disney’s Imagineers have truly outdone themselves, having created a land where reality is suspended and the worries of the world are left behind. Experience if for yourself and share your experience in the comments below!