Cars Land

That’s right, I said Cars Land! Or should I say CARS LAND? Or how about


Yeah, that’s good. The biggest thing to happen to the Disneyland resort since the 50th is the expansion of Disney California Adventure (also known as the Mouse-Next-Door) with Cars Land and Buena Vista Street. The officially open on my birthday, Friday the 15th, and as much as I want to be there just to, you know, be there, my pass is blocked out.

Fortunately, I got into an annual passholder preview!

My ticket to fun! And my Winnie the Pooh watch!

I actually got to see Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and I’ve got like a million pictures (actually 249, no joke) so watch this spot for the best in Cars Land and Buena Vista Street coverage! And by the best I mean my cheerful good humor and often mediocre photography! And exclamation points! Woot!

Cars Land is very well hidden behind shrub-covered walls and just plain old construction walls. The annual passholder preview entrance was back in Pacific Wharf, and I got a quick peek when they were letting out the earlier time slot (my time slot was 1-5pm).

I see it! I see it!

After  a bit of a wait, I made it past the walls, and it was seriously like being instantly transported to the desert. I know people say that whole “instant transformation” (just add water!) but really. It’s Disney, so I know you know what I’m talking about.


Traffic was controlled by dividing the main walkway into the land in half with traffic going in and out on either side. This was extremely efficient, as I was wondering how they were going to control the chaos of people getting in there.

I think the thing that struck me most about Cars Land was the sheer scale of it. These mountains are HUGE. It’s weird to have been watching the construction step by step, like from on top of Mickey’s Fun Wheel, or peeking out over the walls, or videos on Youtube, and then have it be so vastly different stepping inside there. The mountains look like the size of real mountains when you’re standing there. The scale is incredible.

The feeling of distance is amazing

The mountain range serves as the backdrop for the whole land.

There are three attractions in Cars Land: Radiator Springs Racers (the “E-ticket” combo dark ride, thrill ride, and awesomeness), Luigi’s Flying Tires (which is basically a giant air hockey table and you’re the puck, and also there’s beach balls), and Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (which is a kind of spinning ride where your little vehicle gets swung out to the side and if you don’t hang on to something, you bash your hips up at every turn, ask me how I know). I rode all three and will be covering those separately.

Right now I just want to give an overview. If you’re familiar with the movie, or if you’re like Theo and are VERY familiar with the movie, Radiator Springs is all there.

Looking down the street from Radiator Springs Racers

I also want to memorialize this picture, because it will be a very, very, VERY long time before this street is this empty:

Hooray for annual passholder previews!

Radiator Springs is, of course, based on the various small towns along the old Route 66. As we all know, Route 66 was largely replaced by the interstate highway system and I have driven that highway so many times I really can’t count (this is what happens when you grow up in California and then go to college and graduate school in the Midwest, kiddies). Although I never drove the length of the actual Route 66, I have seen its vestiges, which makes Radiator Springs quite nostalgic for me.

Get your kicks…

Like every other amazing Disney land, Cars Land is filled with the tiny, impeccable details that makes it so authentic.

For example, a tourist with a bright backpack taking a picture–TOTALLY authentic

Route 66 was littered with these rough-and-tumble junk shops, and Cars Land has one of its own.

Curios and beat-up license plates

Some things are right out of the movie, like Luigi’s Casa Della Tires.

Home of Luigi’s Flying Tires

And Ramone’s body shop

This picture doesn’t do it justice

And here’s a picture I can’t really think of anything to say about.

Looking back toward Radiator Springs Racers

There are eateries–Flo’s and the Cozy Cone. Flo’s V8 Cafe is right out of the 50s

Is that guy singing “YMCA” or something?

And the Cozy Cone Motel, which is so awesome.

Love this place. LOVE!

The whole Cozy Cone Motel is one of my favorite parts of the Cars movie. It’s modeled after the old Wigwam motels where you can sleep in a teepee, because that’s all kinds of politically correct now. I always always always wanted to sleep in a teepee but my parents never let us. Kevin finally realized the dream a couple of years ago, staying there on his way to New Mexico, but I still haven’t done it.

And of course, if you’re a car, you’re not staying in a teepee, you’re staying in a cone!

Well the best part of the Cozy Cone at Cars Land is that there are five cones in the back, and each one is a food window serving a different kind of food, and all of the food comes in a cone.

I mean, how awesome is that?

There’s also Doc Hudson’s medical clinic

Just for show

It’s the Hudson Hornet!

And that’s where you’ll find a bathroom.

Because I know you were totally wondering

One great thing about Cars Land is that the imagineers planned all kinds of shaded rest areas like this one:

Nice and peaceful

It was awesome to have a few places where you can just sit down, cool off for a second, and do a little people watching. They really thought through everything.

And of course, there’s the obligatory meet and greet

Well dad-gum!


Both Mater and Lightning McQueen talk. Not necessarily TO you, but they know when you’re standing there and make comments. Mater told me I looked like I’d been through the car wash. I wasn’t quite sure how to take that.

For added authenticity, Mater and McQueen actually drive around. I mean, not fast or anything, and surrounded by a phalanx of people like Secret Service agents guarding the President’s limo, but still. They drive.

Mater on the move

And speaking of Mater, here’s his junkyard.


And here’s another picture looking down the street.

Love those bluffs

And of course, Radiator Spring’s founder

Radiator Springs Fire Department


The big achievement in Cars Land is, of course, Radiator Springs Racers. I did ride it, and I took pictures of the queue, but I didn’t take pictures of the ride itself because I like to fully enjoy the experience before I do it all behind the lens. I went back to ride it again but it had broken temporarily and my feet were killing me, so you’ll have to wait on full ride pictures. I will show you these though:


Stick around for more Cars Land and Buena Vista Street!




19 responses to “Cars Land

  1. Kristy Fisher Cassidy June 13, 2012 at 5:46 am

    This looks awesome! It’s nice to see that they keep learning from issues in the existing parks. I’m just amazed how much they are still able to cram onto that Anaheim property.

    • Shelby June 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      They are so efficient with the space! The queue for Radiator Springs Racers is something to behold–so much room for length while still keeping the width handicapped-accessible.

  2. JHealy June 13, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Thank you so much for posting this!! How exciting!! Looks amazing!!

  3. WordyDoodles June 13, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Looking like you just went through a car wash is definitely a compliment, coming from a car. 🙂 Awesome post! I’m thinking we need to plan a trip out there soon!

  4. Denise June 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Many thanks for the Cars Land post! I finally bit for a D23 membership (got a discount as a Disney Visa holder), and as a member was offered a sneak peek for varying amounts of moolah, was your visit a perk as an annual passholder or did you have to pony up additional sums?

    • Shelby June 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      The paid previews were also available for annual passholders. This was a free preview, but lottery-based and I didn’t make the lottery. Thankfully someone else had an extra slot in their party and invited me along :).

  5. Linus V. June 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I am really looking forward to experiencing Luigi’s Flying Tires, and update from the 40 year old ride that once existed in Tomorrowland, The Flying Saucers.

  6. Lisa S. June 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Nice! I was hoping you got to go! Glad it wasn’t super crowded!

  7. Kris June 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Desmond was telling me who lives in each building, and much like you (and Theo) was very eager to tell me what Mater and McQueen say. At the end, he was very upset not to know the name of the car you were riding in, and would like me to ask you for “more cars please”.

    It looks great. Can’t wait to get back out west and see it. How great that you were able to go before it gets crazy!

  8. Lisa June 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    OMG! Thank you so much for this sneak peak. Just like Theo, my kids are VERY familiar with this movie, and after seeing your pics we may have to try and fit in a trip to Radiator Springs this year. Although when we go those nice wide walkways will no doubt be packed…

  9. Amy Sundberg June 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I can’t remember, is Radiator Springs Racers the one similar to Test Track at Epcot?

    • Shelby June 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Yes, it uses the same technology, but is like Test Track amped up on steroids to the thousandth degree. It’s like a combination between dark ride and thrill ride.

  10. Pingback: Cars Land After Dark « My Year With The Mouse

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