Early Friday morning, 4000 Disney fans lined up by 7 a.m. to joined Mickey Mouse and Diney CEO, Bob Iger, at the Grand Re-Opening celebration of Disney’s California Adventure park in Anaheim, California. The ceremony marked the end of a five year, $1.1 billion makeover of Disney’s (previously) least popular theme park, which included the additions of Toy Story Mania and the re-imagining of Paradise Pier, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, the epic nighttime spectacular – World of Color, a host of new eateries, a brand new entrance known as Buena Vista Street, and the park’s new crown jewel, Cars Land. Early reviews of the epic re-creation of the nostalgic roadside town of Radiator Springs from Pixar’s Cars say that it is like stepping right into the movie. The area’s new E-ticket attraction, Radiator Springs Racers, is being unanimously lauded as one of the best themed ride attractions ever built. Part dark ride, part roller coaster, the massive new ride features the latest technology, incredible audio-animatronics, and a high speed racing duel along the 125-foot-tall Cadillac Range. As impressive as the ride is, it is the entire land itself that is reported to be the true accomplishment, faithfully recreating the entire town of Radiator Springs in extreme detail, generating a fully immersive storytelling environment. It is even more beautiful at night when the land comes alive in colorful Route 66 inspired neon. The area also features two more rides, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, a whip-style flat ride, and Luigi’s Flying Tires, an update of Disneyland’s classic flying saucer attraction.
While Cars Land is getting all the glory, the Buena Vista Street area is also a much needed improvement and a work of art in itself. It is a finely detailed re-creation of 1920’s Los Angeles, modeled after what Walt would have seen when he moved to California to pursue a humble animation career. A Red Car Trolley passes through Carthay Circle by art deco storefronts and interpretations of historical buildings in this charming homage to Mr. Disney. These new additions will surly give Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter a run for its money and bring in hoards of people to this once disappointing theme park. There is no doubt that Cars Land is the must-see theme park attraction of the year! I personally cannot wait to get there and see it in all its glory before racing alongside Lightning McQueen! Whether you are a fan of the Cars franchise or not, the artistry and detail of this momentous accomplishment in Disney history is tremendous and will be appreciated by theme park goers for years and years to come. It has taken 11 years, but it looks like California Adventure is finally on par with the rest of the Disney park collection!