…And you don’t even have to go to Route 66.
“No one’s going to want to leave,” John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, tells D23 after a recent stroll through the nearly finished Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park. “As you walk through Radiator Springs you think, ‘Look at this… it’s just, it’s amazing.’”
When the gates open on June 15, park guests will indeed be awed by the full-fledged mountain range Walt Disney Imagineering now has under its construction belt. But to get there, they’ll have to walk through Buena Vista Street first, which is a mountain-sized project unto itself. “The whole goal was to take you to a different place and time,” John says. “Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. is the town of Walt Disney’s childhood, and Disney California Adventure Park’s Buena Vista Street is modeled after Los Angeles where Walt Disney started his studio. I just love that duality of it. It gives a purpose and a story.”
“This park will be a testament to what we do best—connecting our guests with stories, characters and music they love most,” Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, says. “We’re immersing them in wonderful worlds that they’ll want to visit again and again.”
While Disney California Adventure’s (DCA) Imagineers, architects, chefs, dancers, ride operators, singers, and many, many other skilled artisans gear up for the big reveal, D23 has a first look under the hood of Disneyland Resort’s largest undertaking since the addition of DCA. Well, go ahead—roll down your window and cruise around our website preview!
OFF TO THE RACERS!
Your Radiator Springs Racers journey begins with a road trip in one of the slot car racers—each one unique in color and personality—through Carburetor County. After you’re all buckled in, you’ll drive right into the Cars story via a mountainside tunnel and a bit of Disney magic. “You’re going to see more than 20 full-sized Audio-Animatronics® figures of your favorite characters from the first movie,” Mary Niven, vice president, Disney California Adventure, tells D23. There’s Mack, Van and Mini, who all nearly collide with you—don’t worry, this time Cars‘ Sheriff lets your reckless driving slide with only a warning! And then there’s Mater, who teaches you the ropes of tractor tipping. Just watch out for Frank the Combine out in the fields—he’s known for being pretty cranky!
Upon reaching Radiator Springs, you’ll meet Sarge, Fillmore, Sally and the world-famous Lightning McQueen, who’ll give you a pep talk before you race in the Cars Land grand prix. “These Cars characters prepare you for the race and then you’re off,” Mary says about the moment when the attraction vehicles begin to go down two separate roads. At this point, you and your racing challenger idle through completely different scenes—you will either be off to get a tire change from Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or a paint refresh at Ramone’s House of Body Art. And once the race starts, “you never know exactly which car is going to win,” Mary adds.
GO WITH THE FLO
After a wild ride on Radiator Springs Racers, you and your crew should stop by Flo’s V8 Café—which happens to be right across the way—to refuel. This kitschy roadside eatery is home to Flo and some of the memorabilia she collected during her glamorous career with the Motorama Girls. The mouth-watering menu includes classic diner dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including Braised Pork, Citrus Turkey and New York Strip Loin, plus a Veggie-Tater Bake—a meatless Shepherd’s Pie—for those looking for that special grade of fuel. “We balanced out what is being served in the rest of the park,” Michele Gendreau, director, Food and Beverage, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, explains about the casual diner’s menu. “We pulled out a Disney California Adventure map and marked off burgers, Italian, Mexican, so it really is a study about what do we have in the park and what are the adjacencies to Cars Land.”
MORE ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
While Radiator Springs Racers takes you through life on the highway, the other two Cars Land attractions take you off the road and, in the case of Luigi’s Flying Tires, off the ground! “Once guests are seated inside their tires, Luigi will direct Guido to turn on the air compressor,” Kathy Mangum, executive producer and vice president, Walt Disney Imagineering, explains. “With that command, air will be pumped up through openings in the fl oor of the tire yard and the vehicles will begin to float and fly.”
At Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, guests will whip around behind a baby tractor and enjoy tunes from a giant jukebox built from Mater’s most prized possessions. “The attractions in this land are amazing, and I think they’re very true to what those characters would’ve created if they were creating something,” Mary points out. “We are very fortunate that Larry the Cable Guy, the voice of Mater, recorded the music for that attraction.”
PERFORMANCE CAR-TISTS AND TUNE-UP TREATS
It wouldn’t be a car show without… a Cars show! So it’s no surprise that Cars Land comes complete with three entertainment experiences. “DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive features the character DJ, a 2004 Scion, who’s really a boom box on wheels,” Alan Bruun, creative director, Entertainment, says. “He comes into Radiator Springs and goes, ‘Oh this is a sleepy little town. I think I’ll, you know, perk it up a little bit.’ We also have Red the Fire Truck, and seeing as there aren’t a lot of fires in Radiator Springs, he uses his water to beautify the area and to water the plants and the guests.” The third entertainment addition is over at Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel. “Mater and Lightning McQueen will be there for daily meet-and-greets, but they’ll also be driving through town from time to time,” Alan adds.
In addition to a meet-and-greet area, the Cozy Cone Motel also serves as a cone-themed snack location. Each cone is inspired by the quirky “wigwam” motels along Route 66 and serves Churro Bites with Cinnamon-Chocolate Sauce, “Route” Beer Floats and Chili Cone Queso, among other tasty treats. Another snack location is across the way at Fillmore’s Taste-In, which serves fresh fruit, bottled beverages and juices.
Nineteen twenty-three Los Angeles, a bustling town at the height of its glory, drew Walt in with its elaborate movie houses and creative core. It was just beginning to identify itself as the silver-screen city, and its location on the West Coast made it a melting pot of culture and art. Spirited hopefuls arrived from around the world to fulfill their California dreams—the same atmosphere that sent young Walt Disney’s career soaring.
Through its exquisite architecture, dining, shopping and fun atmosphere entertainment, Disney California Adventure Park’s all-new Buena Vista Street lets guests step into that particular time in Los Angeles history and Walt’s early life.
When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs debuted at the Carthay Circle Theatre 75 years ago, it changed the moviemaking business and the Disney Company forever. Now, thanks to Walt Disney Imagineers, a reproduction of the original Carthay Circle Theatre allows park guests to relive those magical moments over and over again.
Carthay Circle Theatre is home to the Spanish Colonial Revival-style Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge, which features contemporary Southern California cuisine. The 256-seat addition boasts some of the best views of the park and a menu created by acclaimed Executive Chef Andrew Sutton, known for his award-winning selections at Napa Rose in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. The dining experience was created to be reminiscent of “an after-premiere gala,” Andrew says. “I also wanted to make it a sanctuary for all aspects of the family. It’s casual, fun, friendly and everything great about Disney.”
PAINT THE TOWN RED
Before California was known for its freeways, people were often transported from place to place aboard trolleys. On Buena Vista Street, you’ll be able to hop aboard one of two Red Car Trolleys for a one-way trip between The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Buena Vista Plaza. Motormen and motorettes share tidbits of Los Angeles and Red Car history along the way.
The trolleys meld Los Angeles and Disney history. Trolley 623 is a nod to 1923, the year Walt Disney arrived in California, while Trolley 717 stands for July 17, the date Disneyland Park opened in 1955. “Including the catenary lines takes us to that level where it feels real,” Lisa Girolami, senior show producer, Walt Disney Imagineering, says. “You’ve got the lines overhead, which we’re not used to today, but it will give you a sense of time and really complete the street and bring it dramatically to life.”
OLDSIES AND NEWSIES
The historic Red Car Trolleys also take part in Buena Vista Street’s high-energy entertainment. The Red Car News Boys, who shout headlines as they hawk newspapers on street corners, hop off the Red Car Trolley at Carthay Circle to sell their newspapers each day. “This show will feel like a mini musical,” John Addis, senior show director, says. “I think that’s something not really done on the street before.” There’s heartthrob Johnny and his pal, smart aleck Kip. Then there’s Sal, who’s actually Sally. “Sally is the kind of girl who hangs around the guys, wearing her brother’s clothes and wants to be one of the guys,” John adds.
And don’t miss Five & Dime! Originally from Chicago, these maverick musicians packed their bags, hopped in their jalopy and drove down Route 66 to Buena Vista Street in pursuit of stardom. “When they get here, they’re trying to make their big break, but they need to get a job,” Denny Newell, senior show director, says. “So, they start working at the Five & Dime and they meet Dime, who works there.”
A BUENA SUMMER
D23 is leaving it up to you to discover the rest of Buena Vista Street on your own, including stores such as Oswald’s, Big Top Toys, Kingswell Camera Shop, Atwater Ink & Paint and Trolley Treats; and eateries including Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café, Mortimers Market and Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream.
It’s no wonder Disney California Adventure Park is calling June 15 the official grand reopening. Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, the crown jewels of the Park’s five-year expansion project that began back in 2007, are impressive additions. “California is all about this feeling of optimism and that anything can happen,” Mary Niven says. “You know, how one person can make a difference. You engage, and you meet and you learn about Walt and Buena Vista Street, and that kind of feeling carries through the whole Park.”
By D23′s Billy Stanek