Cars Land a wild ride for car nuts
New Disneyland theme park area inspired by a real road trip along Route 66
Anaheim, Calif. — The two animated Cars movie blockbusters, the monster merchandising records they set, and now the new Disneyland theme park area in California, were all inspired by a family road trip by noted car enthusiast John Lasseter. The director of the Cars movies, now officially chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney animation studios, said the original movie came out of a long road trip along Route 66 with his wife and five sons. The movies' characters were inspired by folks they met along the way.
He was speaking at the recent red carpet opening of the new Cars Land, an entirely new section of the Disney California Adventure Park, and the first Disney foray for our own family. Our two boys, aged four and eight, not only loved the Cars movies, but had already contributed healthily to those merchandising records, with Lightning McQueen toys, Mater bubble bath, Cars towels, T-shirts, bed sheets and even the comforter lying on my older son's bed. And that was all before experiencing Radiator Springs in real life.
"The plants, the scenery, the costumes, the colours — Cars Land is full of those tiny little details, and the more you look, the more you'll find," said Lasseter.
It truly is an amazing visual and sensory experience. Just reaching the Cars Land entrance, stepping past the Radiator Springs sign, and the long, paved road along Route 66 of this fictional small town in a world created by and for cars immediately brought the kids into the movie. "Wow, this is the road that Rusty fixed!" Rusty is our boys' nickname for Cars' star Lightning McQueen, thanks to the race car's main Rust-eze sponsor.
Even if you don't have kids, or haven't seen the Cars movies, small 'c' car enthusiasts will revel in the little jokes and automotive references strewn all over the park, just waiting to be noticed and discovered.
Straight ahead as you enter but off in the distance is the Cadillac mountain range, so named because each mountain peak is cut to resemble the rear fenders of late '50s' to early 1960s Cadillacs, its six peaks representing the tail fins of 1957 to 1962 Caddies.
To the left is the Cozy Cone motel, a series of wigwam-shaped pylons where the occasional small town tourist could park/sleep in the movie, based on the real wigwam motels sprinkled along Route 66, only a handful of which remain today, near San Bernardino, California. The Cozy Cone motel at Cars Land is instead a snack bar area, serving drinks in bright orange pylons, and popcorn in character-festooned tubs that make neat (if pricy) pencil crayon cases afterwards.
The road leads up to the largest of the area's three rides, Radiator Springs Racers, which starts out as a fast indoor drive through the city before a warning by the sheriff slows things down. From there you visit either Ramone's House of Body Art (and get sprayed with water mist from airbrush paint guns) or Luigi's Casa Della Tires, in preparation for your big race. That's when your six-person convertible lines up against another racer, and everything speeds up — quick.