The Disney Magic has been sprinkled on the Disneyland Resort once again. With a little help from their new business, Pixar and characters of the hit movie Cars, the Disneyland Resort is better than ever. Cars Land at Disney’s California adventure opened to the public this weekend, setting record lines with wait times so long, apps like DL Waits could only post 120+. I guess the programmers never imagined it going higher.
At one point the wait for the new Radiator Springs Racers was 210 minutes on the sign above the entry. The problem was that entry sign wasn’t where the line began, it was only where the time tracking began. It might be September before I am able to get on all three new rides.
Cast members had to outline new areas to stand in line with green masking tape. Since we arrived quite early in the morning it looked funny, and by 10 o’clock, people were politely standing in line, neatly between the lines of green tape and following the arrows. The lines began so far from the rides, I am not sure people realized what they were doing. They must have been hoping it was Disney Magic ahead.
Walking into Cars Land was a surrealistic stroll right into the movie set. Cars Land could have easily been called Radiator Springs. The Disney imagineers have done an amazing job recreating the imagery and color from the movie. The three new rides are a testament to the leadership that Disney takes when it comes to quality and family fun.
As you enter Cars Land, you immediately find Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is a new twist on the old favorite, the tea cups. Kids and adults of all ages were getting a laugh a minute while riding in a hay wagon attached to the back of a wild tractor. Sitting in the hay wagon, you spin around wildly as if the tractor is trying to escape. The Junkyard Jamboree is right at the front door to Cars Land.
Luigi’s Flying Tires is next and can best be described as Bumper Cars at College Graduation without steering. Each of the tires floats on a cushion of air, reminiscent of a giant air hockey table. Steering is accomplished only by weight shifting. Add in some Monsters Inc. sized beach balls, and you have a ride that you don’t expect. Everybody came out giggling even after a 90 minute wait. Observers were even getting a laugh out of it.
Finally the premier ride in Cars Land is the Radiator Springs Racers. A storybook version of the drive Speed McQueen and Sally took on the outskirts of Radiator Springs. Built on a platform similar to “Test Track” at Disney’s Epcot, the Radiator Springs Racers is a new twisting road though Ornament Valley. After waits exceeding two and a half hours, “Let’s go again” was a regular comment overheard at the exit. The quality of the scenery was simply amazing, and the roar of the engines really brought you into the ride.
The biggest surprise for longtime fans and regulars wasn’t Cars Land at all though. For the true Disneyland fans that haven’t made it in this weekend, you are in for a welcome surprise. To start with, it was obvious merchandise quality has been taken up a notch, the opening day souvenirs were defiantly keepsake quality. Better yet the new Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle are reminiscent of old Hollywood and Southern California. The Carthay Circle fountain is something you can imagine as the centerpiece in a 1940’s musical, or at the entry of the old Glendale Airport that is now home to part of the Disney Studios.
The new restaurant at the Carthay Circle Theater had a fine looking menu. It appears to be on par with the Brown Derby at Disney’s MGM Studios in Orlando. Sadly I am not able to report on the food since the place it booked for the next two weeks.
Since the crowds at Disney’s California Adventure were almost overwhelming, I took a stroll down Disneyland’s Main Street USA and noticed another welcome change. The store windows have been redressed. Instead of window after window of the same Disney Souvenirs, there are unique and very interesting window displays reminiscent of the old Main Street USA.
The windows on Buena Vista Street and Main Street are more like I remembered as a youngster visiting Disneyland and holding my “E” tickets tight. There were deep stares from older visitors, who were likely reflecting on the time when those items on display were new, and wonder in the eyes of young children viewing history for the first time. As the last piece of evidence that the park is seeing new growth from it’s roots the magic shop is back. The place where Steve Martin started many years ago, might now be the start for a whole new generation.
The taffy pulling machine isn’t back yet, but I still have to give Disney Resort President George A. Kalogridis some credit here. After 30 years of watching the wonderful historic main street shops give way to windows of Disney “Stuff” and quick serve food, Mr. Kalogridis convinced someone to spend nearly a billion dollars and put back some Disney magic. And that is something you can’t get anywhere else.