Radiator Springs has come to life at Disneyland Resort’s California Adventure! The official opening of Cars Land isn’t until tomorrow, June 15th, but Disney fans and Pixar enthusiasts are already abuzz with excitement. (Ka-Chow!) We’re here with the inside scoop on the rides, dining, and entertainment in store for Disneyland Resort visitors this summer and beyond. Read on for what to do in Cars Land with kids of all ages (and grown-ups too!).
I’ve said it many times, but I’ll say it again: Disney does theming like no other. Expect nothing less than their standard level of excellence when it comes to the total immersion experience that is Cars Land. Visitors will feel as though they’ve actually stepped into Radiator Springs. (Prepare for the surreal ‘wow’ factor you’d expect when visiting a real landmark for the first time.)
Everywhere you turn in Cars Land, special touches await, but Pit Stops for Kids caught up with top Disney Imagineers Kathy Mangum and Kevin Rafferty to discuss the countless details visitors might miss. What to be on the lookout for? The albums on the walls of Flo’s V8 Diner, which offer visitors a glimpse into never-before-told Flo backstory, the tools of the trade in Ramone’s House of Body Art, which has been authenticated by an actual Southern California car customizer, and the bushes within the vegetation behind Cozy Cone Motel, which may lead vigilant visitors to a hidden Mickey…of sorts.
Plenty of retail shops add to the town-like feel of Cars Land, including Sarge’s Surplus Hut and Radiator Springs Curios in addition to Ramone’s. At night, the street is lit with 16 neon signs. Disney Imagineers took trips down the real Route 66 for inspiration, and it shows in the authenticity throughout.
Rides in Cars Land includes three attractions, all of which are geared toward general family fun. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree spins riders in a ‘tow-si-do’ dance in Mater’s salvage yard as guests ride trailers hitched to cute baby tractors. There is a height requirement of 32″, and the ride does swing from side to side. However, I never felt dizzy as I would on a certain Fantasyland ride involving teacups. Insider tip: none of the tractors are exactly the same. Pick your favorite!
Luigi’s Flying Tires is an ambitious ride in that it strives to appeal to guests’ sense of fun rather than offer a thrill. After boarding ‘hovercraft’ tires which float on air (literally), groups of 2-3 attempt to control their tire by shifting their weight. It’s interesting to see how this ride works from an engineering standpoint, but it’s low on excitement. It’s sometimes downright slow-going, but oversized beach balls bouncing around aimlessly (or with perfect aim, depending upon the guest throwing them) save the day. Kids will love tossing these around. The height requirement is again 32″.
The flagship attraction of Cars Land is of course Radiator Springs Racers. This ride requires visitors to meet the 40″ mark, and has a FASTPASS option. Half immersion ride experience and half high-speed race, Radiator Springs Racers requires at least two visits to fully appreciate. Guests start with a tame ride through canyons, Radiator Springs, and beautiful Taillight Caverns, then experience one of two ride options: a visit to Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art. Finally, they slide onto a race track with one other car, and race to the finish. Racers is tons of fun, a thrill for kids, and a wonderful visit to another world. Two thumbs up from me!
Cars Land dining options:
I love the new dining options Cars Land provides visitors to California Adventure! Guests are offered down home, ‘comfort food’ style choices that are still (fairly) healthy and very filling. At Cozy Cone Motel, pick up delicious counter food snack options, many of which could double as lunch or dinner (especially the chile cone carne–in meat or vegetarian options–served in a cone-shaped bread bowl and topped with corn chips and cheese). Fillmore’s Taste-Inn offers fresh fruit as well as light snacks.
At Flo’s V8 Cafe, homestyle favorites like rotisserie chicken, meatloaf, or mac and cheese are served in big portions. I tried the vegetarian Veggie-Tater Bake with their signature apple cheddar ‘ugly crust’ pie, which was wonderful. Families will find wholesome food options here, all included in the Disney dining plan, and all substantial enough to call a full meal.
Cars Land entertainment:
Entertainment is on-going in Cars Land. DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive is boogying out on a regular basis, teaching guests dance moves like the Overdrive, and Red to the Rescue! helps clean up Radiator Springs by watering the flowers (and you).
There’s also a lot of merchandise you’re not going to want to miss. And as on Disney Cruise Line‘s Castaway Cay, some of these items you can’t find anywhere else. If you want a ‘flying tire’ hat, for instance, you’d better get it here. To see the flying tire hat modeled, check out the coverage of Cars Land at Ciao Bambino! Tip: If you don’t want to wear it all day, have it sent straight to your room if you’re staying at a Disney property.
If you’ll be in Cars Land this summer, add your favorites to the comments!