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A look behind the construction wall at Disney California Adventure's Cars Land

By Robert Niles
Published: June 3, 2011 at 5:47 PM
The Disneyland Resort wrapped up its summer media event this morning with a presentation on "What's Next" set, appropriately enough, inside the Cars Land construction site within Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland President George Kalogridis

Disneyland President George Kalogridis described the changes still to come at the California Adventure, including the debut of the new entrance turnstiles, the Buena Vista Street entrance plaza and the Carthay Circle Theater, which will occupy the place once held by the Sun Sphere. The Carthay Circle was theater where Walt Disney's first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, debuted in the 1920s. California Adventure's Carthay Circle will house a new table-service restaurant and lounge, Kalogridis said, putting to rest rumors that a new Club 33-style private club might go into that space.

Next up, Disney Imagineers Kathy Magnum and Kevin Rafferty talked the crowd through the construction progress in Cars Land. As they spoke, a live video feed from the top of the Tower of Terror panned across the land, shooting close-ups of the construction that were displayed on a video screen. (So you're going to see pictures of a picture here.)

Today's event took place at what will become one of two entrances into Cars Land. The main entrance will stand across from the Blue Sky Cellar, where the Lightning McQueen and Mater meet-'n-greet now stands. Visitors entering Cars Land at that point will walk up Route 66 on their way to Ornament Valley and the land's iconic Radiator Springs Racers ride.

The other entrance, where we sat today, will welcome visitors entering from Pacific Wharf. They walk along the cross street to Route 66, then on to the various attractions and shops in the new land.

Magnum and Rafferty described some of the coming features in the land, as the camera showed them under construction.

The Cozy Cone won't be a motel, as it was in the movie. Now, Sally's property will be a snack food court, selling as sorts of "cone" food, inkling "popcorn" and "chili cone carne," among other groan-inducing puns.

Sally's Cozy Cones

The main restaurant in Cars Land will be Flo's V8 Cafe. There, you'll find "comfort food," inspired by many mom-'n-pop diners along Route 66. (Think Roadfood, I suspect.) Magnum mentioned mac n' cheese as one menu item, and both mentioned that the restaurant will offer pie, the food the two said Imagineers overindulged in on their research trip across the remains of Route 66.

Flo's V8 Cafe

The cafe, which is built to look like a giant air filter, also will provide a backstory for Flo, who they said used to be a Motown-style singer, and whose gold records you'll see on the wall in the cafe. The cafe also will house Doc Hudson's Museum, providing additional backstory on the character voiced in the film by the late Paul Newman.

Luigi's Flying Tires will run in the backyard of the Luigi's tire shop. Here, the story is that Luigi's fired up the air compressors to allow visitors to "fly" on floating tires, levitated by the compressed air.

Luigi's Tire Shop

Finally, the two talked us through Radiator Springs Racers. Visitors will encounter several of the Cars characters, including Lightning McQueen, Mater and Doc Hudson, in the queue for the attraction. Then it's off to the track, where Luigi and Guido will wave the flag as you race against another car of visitors.

Ornament Valley

Radiator Springs Racers will run on a similar ride system to Test Track at Epcot in Florida. Except that this ride will dispense with all that indoor faux ride testing in favor of just that exhilarating speed run outside, with dips and several turns through Ornament Valley, making this more a thrill ride experience than Test Track.

But there are some surprises at the end of the ride, too. "We have a really wonderful part of Ornament Valley, which is a natural wonder called Tailight Caverns," Rafferty said. "It's filled with stalag-lights [I don't know if he meant "stalactites" or if Disney's coining a new term for those spire-like features in its Ornament Valley caves], which are designed in the style of old '50s-style cars, and in that scene, you come back from the race and we're going to create different ride profiles so that you cross the finish lines at different times. You may get a different one each time you go."

So what exactly does he mean by "multiple ride profiles"? Rafferty wouldn't say, insisting that people would have to ride to find out. But it seems that a welcome back from Lightning McQueen and Mater will be part of the end of every ride.

As I left, I did capture a couple of other shots of the construction. Here's the ornament arch under which visitors will enter from Pacific Wharf:

More Ornament Valley

And here's a close-up of the Radiator Springs Racers track, with Ornament Valley in the background.

Radiator Springs Racers, under construction

Readers' Opinions

From 74.82.64.160 on June 3, 2011 at 6:16 PM
Soooo there's not going to be much of a dark ride portion of radiator spring racers? Because ill be honest then, I can get a normal racing ride anywhere. Cedar Point has Gemini, and even my home park has the american eagle. I'm sorry, but with no dark ride portion, it doesn't sound like a very "Disney" ride.
From Robert Niles on June 3, 2011 at 9:28 PM
Listening to their remarks again, they were really fudging how much dark ride there would be on this. Clearly, it appears that the ride ends inside. But how long you ride inside in not known at this point. And the description of encounters with characters inside the queue suggests that the wait area will be part of the show, too.
From Joshua Counsil on June 3, 2011 at 9:36 PM
"... we're going to create different ride profiles so that you cross the finish lines at different times. You may get a different one each time you go."

Whoa.

Is Disney implying that they're going to create a vision system that registers guests' faces in a database, then changes the ride ending if that same face is recognized that day?

If that's the case, then... whoa.

From Robert Niles on June 4, 2011 at 7:35 AM
I didn't read that much into it. Just that it might be a Star Tours- or WDW Tower of Terror-type ride system, with multiple profiles loaded into which could be randomly selected. Given that he said "may" instead of "will" that suggests to me that there wouldn't be that many options - only a handful, rather than Star Tours' 54.
From Tyler Stover on June 4, 2011 at 9:15 PM
The ride building seems to be pretty large, so I imagine there will still be a significant indoor dark ride portion. Just roughly estimating using google earth, the Radiator Springs Racers show building looks to be a bit smaller than the Indiana Jones show building, about the same size as the small world show building. Now there's no way of knowing how it will be packaged in there, but maybe that can give you a rough idea.
From Anon Mouse on June 6, 2011 at 7:38 AM
Why not go back to the Blue Sky Cellar photos? In there, there are dark ride portions. Think of the testing part of Test Track switched out with storylines from Cars.

I am rather suspicious about any ride profile variations. Look at what they did with Indiana Jones Adventure. The ride variations didn't seem to matter much and they won't fix the many special effects that don't seem to work. With the Cars ride, you'll just experience one or two variations that quickly get forgotten.

From Will Chilcote on June 6, 2011 at 1:31 PM
I figured all a long that it was a redesign of Test Track. It a great idea. I love test track its my favorite thing at Epcot. Did they mention anything about Mater's Junkyard Jamboree? Is it a clone of the ride at Disney studios in Paris?

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