Cars Land Greatest Hit at Disney California Adventure
Tucked in the park’s southeast corner the main entrance to Cars Land is across from the Golden Vine Winery. There there are secondary gateways in a Bug’s land and in Pacific Wharf. Radiator Springs is a screen-accurate re-creation of the sleepy single-stoplight town along Route 66 populated by Pixar’s anthropomorphized automobiles. In addition to three rides, you’ll find eateries themed to the film’s minor characters, such as Fillmore’s Taste-In serving fruit drinks and snacks; Cozy Cone Motel, with chili, ice cream, and popcorn, all served in conical containers; and Flo’s V8 Café, serving creative takes on classic comfort food with a Southwestern twist for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Souvenir shops include Radiator Springs Curios (collectible pins and Route 66 postcards), Ramone’s House of Body Art (car-themed artwork and clothes), and Sarge’s Supply Hut (Cars-branded toys and games).
Cars Land attracts huge crowds and as striking as Cars Land is by daylight, it is even more stunning after sunset; the nightly neon-lighting ceremony set to the doo-wop classic “Life Could Be a Dream” is a magical must-see (showtimes are not publicized but occur promptly at sundown, so ask a Cars Land cast member and arrive early).
And now about the three rides at Cars Land
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree sits on the outskirts of town. It is the junkyard home of Mater, the redneck tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. In his yard sit 22 baby tractors, each towing an open-air two-seater trailer. Mater’s voice emerges from a jury-rigged jukebox singing one of seven specially composed square-dancing tunes plus one hilarious hidden song that plays only once per hour. The tractors travel in overlapping figure eight patterns along interlocking turntables. The vehicles are transferred from one revolving turntable to another, creating near miss moments.
Mater’s trailers swing freely from side to side, creating a centripetal snapping sensation similar to vintage whip carnival rides. Mater’s may look like a simple kiddie ride, but it supplies an unexpected kick that draws us back for repeated spins.
Mater is the breakout hit character of the Cars franchise, and his namesake ride is visually attractive but slow loading. Still, it typically has the shortest queue of the three Cars Land attractions and it is my favorite ride.
Luigi’s Flying Tires (* closed February 16, 2015) are hovercraft bumper cars paying tribute to the Radiator Springs resident Ferrari Fanatic. You first queue inside the Casa Della Tires shop (where memorabilia from Luigi’s and Guido’s careers is on display), and then pass through a garden of automotive-inspired topiaries, before boarding your own supersize tire. Using a system similar to an air hockey table, your two passenger vehicle (up to three with a child) lifts up on a thin cushion of air. You then get about 2 minutes to scoot around the arena, trying to bump against other riders
Luigi’s Flying Tires can be tricky for first-time riders to control and with epic wait times this glacially loading attraction can attract, riding enough times to become an expert driver appears an unrealistic prospect for all but the most avid Annual Pass holders. However, hovering is a blast once you get the hang of it, and most guests get off giggling even if they spent much of the short ride stalled on the sidelines. * On February 16, 2015, Luigi’s Flying Tires closed at Disney’s California Adventure. Casa della Tires will reopen as a completely new attraction in early 2016. The attraction will feature a new ride system and ride vehicles.
Radiator Springs Racers is the headliner among the three attractions. You begin your road trip by walking through Stanley’s Oasis, the town’s original 1909 settlement, and end up in a cavernous loading station. There you board a six-passenger convertible, each with a smiling face on its front grill, and you’re off on a scenic tour of stunning Ornament Valley, on your way to compete in today’s big race.
After a leisurely drive past massive rock formations and a majestic waterfall, you enter the show building for a series of indoor scenes depicting the residents of Radiator Springs. Along your tour, you’ll be sidetracked by a tractor-tipping expedition with Mater, which leads to a run-in with an angry harvester. Before reaching the starting line, you’ll need some new tires or a fresh coat of paint. Then it’s time to line up alongside another carload of guests as you await Luigi’s countdown. The last third of the ride is a flat-out race over camelback hills, under outcrops, and around banked curves, with a randomly chosen car crossing the finish line first. Radiator Springs Racers’s top speed of 40 miles per hour falls short of Test Track’s 60-plus peak, but the winding turns and airtime-inducing humps supply an exhilarating rush. After a final swing past the glowing stalactites of Tail Light Cavern and some parting praise from Lightning McQueen and Mater, you’ll exit your vehicle and inspect your obligatory on-ride photo.
Note that Fastpass for this ride is a must and they are distributed outside of Cars Land proper, near It’s Tough to Be Bug!, with a queue for tickets forming from Carthay Circle before the park officially opens.
Cars Land is only one of seven themed lands at DCL. For more information on all Disney California Adventure rides and for planing your trip to Disneyland check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Bob Sehlinger and Seth Kubersky. If you are interested in the history of Disneyland the Disneyland Story by Sam Gennawey brings you the evolution of Walt Disney’s dream into reality and how the park has changed since it’s beginning until now.