Radiator Springs resident Tow Mater is known for his cheerful demeanor, willingness to help out a fellow vehicle in distress, and good intentions that often go comically wrong. He’s also the star of the Cars Land attraction that bears his name, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.
And when he’s not off on an adventure with best friend Lightning McQueen, Mater likes to tinker with the cast-off items in his salvage yard, says Greg Wilzbach, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) senior concept designer and art director for Cars Land. “One day he decided to cobble together a jukebox,” Greg says. “It’s quite a contraption, made up of old oil drums and a jumble of car parts, and it plays country music that he loves to sing along with.”
Mater can’t wait to share his invention with his Radiator Springs friends. But just as he’s heading out, a herd of baby tractors stampedes into town.
“They’re making quite a commotion,” Greg says. “But as soon as Mater rolls up playing his jukebox and singing, they simmer down and follow him back to the junkyard. Now, every time Mater fires up his jukebox, the little tractors get together to throw an old-fashioned hoedown.”
Guests visiting Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree are invited to join the party by riding in trailers towed by the tractors. The experience is reminiscent of the classic whip rides popular at boardwalks and amusement parks in the early 20th century that used centrifugal force to provide thrills—but with a literal twist.
“Unlike traditional whip rides that follow a stationary track, the vehicles at Mater’s are transferred along a series of four interlocking turntables,” says Chuck Flueck, WDI senior mechanical engineer. “So along with the swinging action, the tractors are also weaving in and out of each other in figure-eight patterns that make it appear like they’re about to collide with each other.”
Of course, the attraction is designed to be an exciting yet safe experience. “We’ve done figure-eight attractions before, such as Francis’ Ladybug Boogie in a bug’s land, but never with this many turntables,” Chuck says. “It’s a complex configuration, but we’ve worked out a great ride system, and our testing has gone really well.”
Complicated mechanics aside, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is intended to be a lighthearted adventure that appeals to all ages. “It might look like a kiddie ride at first glance, but adults will be surprised how much they like this attraction,” Greg says. “The square dance music and Mater’s hilarious singing combined with the twirling of the tractors and the “near misses” with other vehicles—I think you’re going to see everyone get off with big smiles on their faces.”
By Walt Disney Imagineering’s Tom Barnes, as appeared in Disneyland Resort Line