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The Happiest Place on Earth got happier June 15 with the grand opening of Cars Land, the largest piece of the five-year expansion at Disney California Adventure Park. The 12-acre parcel that is Cars Land brings the town of Radiator Springs to life, just as guests remember it from the Disney Pixar movie “Cars.”
In addition to Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and the Carthay Circle Theatre, home of the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure, were unveiled as well. These additions give Disney California Adventure a new ambiance that recaptures the glamour of California in the 1920s and ‘30s.
“The crown jewel of our Disney California Adventure expansion, Cars Land is the extraordinary result of a close collaboration between the gifted filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios and our talented Imagineers and cast members,” said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “It’s also a spectacular example of our ability to take our characters and stories and bring them to life in new and unexpected ways.”
Randy Garfield, executive vice president of worldwide sales and travel operations for Disney Destinations and president of the Walt Disney Travel Company, told TravelAge West that he thinks the addition of Cars Land will give guests more reason to extend their Disneyland vacations — which in turn will give travel agents more product offerings for clients. In fact, a large group of travel agents were on hand at the grand opening of Cars Land.
“Ever since we expanded to two parks, our intention was to make Disneyland resort a multi-day vacation destination,” said Garfield. “To a large extent we did that, but now we have established a foothold more firmly and we feel like this is now at least a three-day visit for people to see it all. I think this has firmly cemented the Disneyland Resort as a multi-day vacation.”
Cars Land features three rides based on places and characters from the movie: Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions created for a Disney theme park. Cars Land also has several themed shops and restaurants, including Flo’s V8 Cafe, Cozy Cone Motel (which offers guests a variety of foods all served in cones) and Ramone’s House of Body Art. Lightning McQueen and Mater will make appearances and pose for photos with guests throughout the day in Cars Land.
One of the most elaborate rides in Cars Land is Radiator Springs Racers, an indoor/outdoor roller coaster that takes riders through the stunning scenic mountains of Ornament Valley. Guests board cars for a road trip that takes them through Radiator Springs, with a stop at either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art. After getting some final racing tips from Doc Hudson, the cars zoom over the roadways in a high-speed race, never knowing which car may win.
Elsewhere in Cars Land, riders can lean left and right aboard Luigi’s Flying Tires, floating and bumping along in a 21st-century attraction reminiscent of the classic Disneyland Flying Saucers attraction. (It’s a bit like being on an enormous air hockey table.) Music plays and giant inflatable balls hover along the floor, adding to the fun.
At Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, tractors “dance” to Mater’s hoedown tune, swinging guests around in trailers they are pulling behind them.
Garfield reminds guests not to overlook the importance of the new Buena Vista Street as well.
“It gives the park more character,” he said, “and it tells the story of what Los Angeles was like when Walt arrived to make his fortune. To me it’s now the equivalent of Main Street [in Disneyland].”