During our last few treks to Disneyland Carol and I have eagerly watched Cars Land take shape. We were excited and anxious to see it since the very first day the new project was announced. Our friends who visited since it opened in June 2012 have given it nothing but rave reviews . . . so our appetites were well whetted before our arrival in mid December.
We knew the parks would be crowded at that time of year so we decided to focus on just a few of our favorite attractions and spend plenty of time at Cars Land. WOW! We were anticipating big things at the new 12 acre site but what we found far exceeded our expectations. It is simply overwhelming.
We were astounded by the transformation that had taken place in a former parking lot. As we turned into Cars Land and walked down Route 66 we felt like we were actually in Radiator Springs . . . "Look, it's Flo's V/8 Diner . . . over there is the Cozy Cone Motel." Our eyes were drawn in every direction at once.
Yes, it's that good!
The Imagineers captured all the color and excitement of the two Cars movies and reproduced it in stunning detail. You will see Sarge's Surplus Hut, a gift shop housed in an Army Quonset hut.
Next door is Fillmore's Taste-In, a snack shop with some surprisingly healthy food options. Fillmore's is set in and around a tie-died, psychedelic-hued geodesic dome.
The automobile theme is consistent throughout; even the flowers in the planters have a distinct automotive flair.
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is one of the three new rides located in Cars Land. You sit in a small wagon pulled by a tractor as it travels around a double figure eight track. It looks and sounds pretty tame but it does give a pretty good "whip" effect as you whirl around the track. We really enjoyed it! Of course our favorite Cars character, Tow Mater, is joking and singing throughout . . . it's no wonder we liked it as much as the children.
Sally's Cozy Cone Motel is a series of five snack bars, each housed in one of the cones. Everything they serve is presented to you in a cone. There are some creative dishes such as the churro cone (churro bits served in a cone), chili cone-queso served in an edible bread cone, pop-cone (pop corn in a cone), cone coctions (pretzel bites in a cone) and of course ice cream cones.
There are regular meet & greet sessions with Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater in front of Sally's Cozy Cone!
At the end of Route 66 is Luigi's Casa Della Tires which serves as the entrance to the new Luigi's Flying Tires ride.
You sit two or three abreast in the middle of a huge tire. The ride operates like a giant air hockey game; air blows up from below the surface and "inflates" your tire which becomes a hovercraft. You lean left, right, forward or back in order to move in that direction.
It's like a bumper car ride which operates in super slow motion. It's interesting technology but one ride was enough for us. We rode Mater's Junkyard Jamboree several times but at Luigi's it was "once and done".
Also at the end of Route 66, across from Luigi's, is Flo's V/8 Café. Step back into the early 60's when you enter Flo's. The décor is vintage 60's with plenty of neon and chrome.
There is indoor seating but the outdoor tables offer some amazing views. Sit out front among the gas pumps and watch people parade past on Route 66.
Or take your chow out the side doors to a seating area which overlooks Ornament Valley. We just loved the French toast we had for breakfast at Flo's as we soaked in the scenery of Ornament Valley . . . then as an added bonus Lightning McQueen drove past.
Just past Flo's is Radiator Springs Racers . . . the real focal point in Cars Land.
The Imagineers did an amazing job re-creating all that awesome desert scenery from the movies. The Cadillac Range Mountains form the backdrop for beautiful Ornament Valley. Do you see those tail fins in the skyline?
Ornament Valley covers about 6 acres or about half of the total area of Cars Land and it is truly breathtaking. Our jaws dropped as we took a high speed tour and soaked in the grandeur of the desert scenery. We enjoyed this attraction so much that we rode it seven times during our short stay in California! On one ride I sat next to a young lady who commented, "Wow, this is amazing. I'm from Utah and this scenery is so realistic it really reminds me of Monument Valley." High praise indeed!
The standby queue for Radiator Springs Racers takes you past the spring (shaped like a radiator) which Stanley Steamer discovered before he established the town of Radiator Springs. As you continue on in the line you pass through some typical Route 66 buildings such as the "Bottle House" before you board your car and begin your tour.
The ride itself is terrific. I won't spoil it for you but, you meet some of your favorite characters along the way. You get a chance to do some tractor tipping with Tow Mater and then the ride finishes with a high-speed race to the finish line!
Amazing . . . we cannot wait to get back in May and ride it again!
Cars Land Tips
This is the most popular area in the newly refurbished California Adventure park and it is almost always crowded. The lines, particularly for Radiator Springs Racers are long. Here are a few pointers, based on our experience, to help you get the most out of Cars Land.
1. Guests at Disney Resorts are able to enter one of the two theme parks an hour early on select days. If you are not at a Disney Resort, check the schedule and plan to visit Cars Land when the "Early Entry" day is at Disneyland. The California Adventure park will be much quieter that morning since many folks will go to Disneyland.
2. Get there early. We arrived about ten minutes before rope-drop on our first day and were amazed when we saw two separate lines near the Carthay Circle Theatre. One line was a general line to enter the park but there were already several hundred people standing in the second queue to get FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers. Yikes! We stood in the general line and went to the standby line for Radiator Springs Racers at rope-drop. We waited 35 minutes for our ride. Then we went to pick up a FastPass, the big line at the distribution machines was much shorter after the park had been open for a while.
3. Use the "Single Rider Line". I can't stress this enough! The cars at Radiator Springs Racers hold 6 passengers and most groups in line are 2 or 4 people. They pull from the Single Rider Line to fill each vehicle. Even at the busiest times, when the standby line was 150 minutes, we were never more than 35 minutes in the Single Rider Line.
4. See Cars Land at night. It is very different after dark, the neon lights shine everywhere and the accent lighting brings out the red in the sandstone formations at Ornament Valley. It is a totally different atmosphere at night!
5. Here's a tip our friend Beci at Mouse Fan Travel gave us. It was great advice so I'm passing it on to you. Be sure to enter Cars Land from the back end. Walk past the main entrance which is across from the Wine Country Trattoria. Just before you get to the bridge to Pacific Pier you will see a smaller bridge to your left. Take that bridge to the Pacific Wharf area and head straight across, past the Pacific Wharf Café and the Lucky Fortune Cookery. As you pass under that big stone arch you will see an amazing vista of Ornament Valley. Take this route in daylight and after dark, it's very pretty!
Enjoy this video of the Holidays at Disney California Adventure!
So that's a brief glimpse of Cars Land. If you haven't seen it for yourself yet you need to drop everything and head there right now. I know you'll enjoy it . . . we sure did! We can't wait until we're there again in about four months.
The previous post in this blog was The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour.
The next post in this blog is Be Our Guest Restaurant - the Music.