The new “Cars Land” at Disney’s California Adventure is still drawing huge crowds weeks after opening. When we visited the park earlier this week, --- the Fast Passes (you check in at the ride and get a pass that allows you to come back at a set time later in the day and get in a shorter line) for the Radiator Springs Racers ride were sold out by 9 a.m. - on a weekday, more than a month after it opened. The line without the fast pass is generally well over two hours, and we’d seen Tweets on the weekends of people waiting three-and-a-half hours.
Disney California Adventure aka DCA has been under a multiyear plan to put more “Disney” in the park, and Cars Land is the biggest and latest expansion. The Radiator Springs Racers ride reflects that. It’s an attempt at putting storytelling and thrills in the same ride, and it’s something only Disney would try to pull off.
The ride itself is a combination of seeing the Cars characters in different settings (with computerized screens to show facial expressions) followed by a race in the car you are riding in (although you don’t control the steering or speed) on an outdoor track. Sort of like slot-car racing at life-size level with speed and twists and turns, but still definitely a ride designed for kids and the whole family to enjoy. It’s not one of those vertigo-inducing adrenaline-rush rides like Tower of Terror or California Screamin’.
There are two other rides in the Cars Land section. Luigi’s Flying Tires is sort of like riding the puck on a giant air hockey game.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is similar to the famous Tea Cups ride in Disneyland, only with tractors.
In keeping with the theme of the Cars movies, eating options include Flo’s Diner, which does breakfast, serves homestyle rotisserie dishes like pork loin, and, of course, pie. The Cozy Cone Motel has drinks served in a souvenir orange cone, while Fillmore’s Taste-In focuses on healthy and vegetarian options.
Throughout the day, various Cars characters are wheeled out to specific areas so people can take a picture with them.
Cars Land is probably best experienced at night, when everything is lit up and the mountain backdrop to the Radiator Springs ride becomes highlighted above the main thoroughfare.
The Travel Tramps write regularly about their treks near and far in City Weekly, as well as blogging online at CityWeekly.net. You can also listen to Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin on the weekly Travel Brigade Radio Show and follow them on Twitter @TravelBrigade.