Disney Parks inspire passion for a number of reasons. Three of the Disney theme parks’ core concepts are authenticity, the usage of breakthrough technology, and story. There may be no attraction that better exemplifies these three ideals than Carousel of Progress, which opened at the 1964 World’s Fair in NY before relocating to Disneyland and then to Walt Disney World. Walt Disney was a master at storytelling and Carousel was just another example of his ability to captivate the audience. It is essential that the Disney Parks teams hold to these concepts so that new generations have the opportunity to be transported to another time and place, just like those who have visited the parks these last few decades. In the building of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure (DCA), which had their grand opening one year ago, Disney Parks has once again proven it has the ability to bring senses of wonder and joy to children and adults alike.
After much anticipation, Cars Land opened to park visitors on June 15, 2012, delighting guests with the authentic recreation of the town of Radiator Springs from the world of Cars. Even those who were not in love with the Cars films were impressed with the scope and look of the new land at DCA. Walking into the area, you are greeted by the shops and buildings seen in the films. Look straight down the road and you are faced with a mountain range, painstakingly brought to life by Disney Imagineers. The so-called crown on that range is the enormous rock-like structures fashioned to appear like 1950s Cadillac tail fins, which again is ripped straight out of Cars.
There is only so much enjoyment that guests can get from beautifully crafted designs, so it is great that three enjoyable attractions utilize the space to allow families and friends to share an experience. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Flying Tires, and Radiator Springs Racers use a combination of innovative technology and story to take park guests on an adventure back into the 1900s. It is ironic that in order to go back to an era where technology was limited, we have to utilize the newest forms of technology. Walt Disney understood that, but he was adamant at telling a compelling story alongside the technological innovations. If visitors face an onslaught of the greatest technology that lacks story, the experience is likely forgettable. It is a formula that is challenging to abide by, but is one that companies such as Disney Parks and Pixar strive to hold to.
When you think you have seen it all at Cars Land, you haven’t, because the excitement of the new area and the promise of large crowds will push you to visit the area earlier in the day. Return at night, when the lights are turned on, and there is an entirely different kind of beauty that you will witness. Similar to how Main Street, U.S.A. at neighboring Disneyland dazzles those walking by at night with its lit-up structures, the neon lights at Cars Land illuminate the signs. The mountain range, which appeared amazing during the day is awe-inspiring at night.
One year after its opening, Cars Land remains an incredibly popular experience for guests of the Disneyland Resort. New guests flock to the themed area, while frequent visitors return because the Imagineers meticulously worked to fill the area with the tiniest of details that supported the transportation away from reality. I hope to see many more attractions in the future which capture the quote on the plaque that sits at the entrance of Disneyland: