Our trip to California last month for the Disneyland Half Marathon not only included a stop at Disneyland but also a visit to California Adventures as well. In our initial trip planning, we had decided NOT to make a jaunt over to the park. However, it was the latest and greatest attraction that had drawn us to change our plans. The attraction? You guessed it, Cars Land!
I know, I know, it seems silly to have changed plans just for the 12 acre, Pixar themed area. But, like any good mother, I did it for my kids. DS8 has been a HUGE Cars fan for most of his little life and being the awesome mom that I am (right, Nolan?) I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to allow him to walk through the town from which his favorite characters hail. While DS8 may have been on sensory overload as he set foot in Radiator Springs, the rest of us were dazzled by the “land” as well. I caught my first glimpse of the expansion at dawn while running the Disneyland Half Marathon that morning. The purple/blue early morning sky make for the perfect backdrop for the Cadillac Mountain Range (the 6 peaks are built to resemble the tail fins of classic Cadillac cars). I was excited. It looked even better than I had imagined and I just knew DS8 was going to FLIP! So, after our post-race shower and snacks, we headed out for our afternoon at California Adventure and made a beeline for Radiator Springs.
The first thing we noticed when we arrived is the Imagineers did a fabulous job of making this “land” look just like the Radiator Springs you see in the movies. It is one “street” aligned with “shops” on either side that dead ends at the mountain range, complete with the single, foreboding traffic light. There are plenty of places to grab something to eat or drink. Fillmore’s Taste-In, located closest to the Cars Land sign, offers cold bottled drinks, fresh fruit, and other on-the-go snacks. The Cozy Cone Motel, located about halfway down the single street, is an awesome little stand. Five “cone” stations are set up in almost a semi-circle, each offering unique fare. The two things we thought were really awesome were #1 you can get your drinks in a construction cone cup and #2 the cone 5 station offers flavored popcorn. These flavors are not your typical cheese or caramel flavorings, but rather unique concoctions that are just begging to be sampled, such as dill pickle and sweet and spicy flavored popcorn. Two flavors are offered every day and change flavors change daily. Flo’s V-8 Cafe is very close to the Cadillac Mountain Range. Here you will find a Route 66 diner inspired quick service restaurant that offers American cuisine with a modern twist on breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is where we chose to eat lunch. The interior is designed in 1950′s diner decor, complete with aqua blue walls and neon pink accents. Seating is both indoor and outdoor-patio and is on a first come first served basis, so it may be wise to send a member of your party to scout out a table while you order, especially during peak meal times. The menu is diverse and is sure to please every member of your dining party. I was impressed with their vegetarian selection, as the usual offerings for veg-heads are pasta or a veggie burger. Here they serve a “veggie tater bake” that was delicious! The other gem on the menu are the pies. Flo’s offers several different dessert selections, but I just had to try the signature apple-cheddar pie. It was sweet and savory and so very, very good. As for kiddie-fare, it was the usual mac and cheese all around for my kids, but they do serve roast beef and turkey sandwiches as well. Parents beware, for an additional charge, the kids can get their meal served in a Lightening McQueen shaped box….yes, we now have five of those babies in our house.
While the food offering are impressive, this is not the reason the masses flock to Cars Land. Here in Cars Land you will find three, movie inspired rides. The first is Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, where little trailers are pulled around by tow-trucks while riders listen to Mater sing. It’s cute and great for little ones, but be aware the height requirement for riders is 32″. The second, and probably the most unique ride is Luigi’s Flying Tires. Here, 6,714 air vents blow around 1.86 million cubic feet of air per minute to keep your “tire” floating, yes REALLY FLOATING, ever so slightly above the ground. It’s like a cross between an air hockey table and a hover board from the movie “Back to the Future”. While those rides are pretty groovy, the piece de resistance is Radiator Springs Racers. Here, riders can board a 6 person car for a scenic drive through Ornament Valley, meeting up with familiar Cars characters along the way. Riders are then pitted against another car in a high speed road race through hills and around banked turns to the checkered flag. This ride is EXTREMELY popular and as such, the wait times are quite lengthy. While fast passes are available (check your map for the location of the fast pass kiosk, as it is NOT near the ride), the line was very long and the wait time to get A PASS was about an hour on the morning we were there and passes were completely gone within an hour and a half of park opening that weekend. Unfortunately for DS8, he was unable to ride this ride, as it had closed that afternoon due to mechanical problems. We even went back the California Adventures the next morning before we left Anaheim, right at rope drop, to see if he could get on. DH and the older kids waited in line for 45 minutes only to find out, once they reached the front of the line, that the ride had broken down, yet again, and they were turned away. That was REALLY disappointing.
Despite the mechanical issues of the big-ticket ride (and that may very well be a deal breaker for some), our overall opinion of the new Cars Land was positive. It was well planned, realistically constructed, and well worth a visit if you have a little (or big) Cars fan in your travel party.