Thursday, June 14, 2012

Carsland - By guest Blogger Randy Crane

WOW! It's hard to believe it's here! YEARS of planning, YEARS of construction and...YEARS of WAITING! Carsland opens to Disneyland Resort Guests on June 15, 2012, but our great friend Randy Crane was afforded a once in a lifetime experience - the Castmember Preview of THE EVENT of the summer! - Al & Joyce

©Disneyland News 

    Thanks to a dear friend of mine, Tricia, I had the privilege of attending the Cast Member preview of CarsLand one week before it opened.

    The preview was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m., but (to exactly no one's surprise), there was already a line to get in by 8:00. Still, Tricia and I stepped into this brand new land just minutes after the official start time. Construction walls were still up at the front of Route 66, so they took us through one of the other entrances-through Pacific Warf and along Radiator Springs Racers. There's something to be said for the primary entrance, but I'm so glad this was my first view.

Photo Courtesy of Vy T. Correspondent for Babes In Disneyland
    As we approached the rock archway, we could see part of the Cadillac Range behind it, with a water feature framed in the middle. I haven't seen a view like this at any theme park anywhere. Passing under the archway and taking in the new sights and sounds was literally breathtaking.

    CarsLand features 3 attractions, 3 food locations, and about 5 shops (I didn't actually count them). There's also a meet-and-greet area with Mater and Lightning McQueen, an interactive experience with Red (the Firetruck), and tons of fantastic detail. During the 31/2 hour preview, we rode all three attractions once-and then Radiator Springs Racers two more times-ate breakfast, explored a couple of the shops, and had our picture taken with Mater.

    I'm not a big shopper so I can't say much about the shops. What I can tell you is that they've done a great job of having merchandise themed to Disney California Adventure and CarsLand in particular. No generic "Disney Parks" merchandise here that I could find. Some of it is expensive, even by Disney standards, but it's really good stuff, with something to please everyone from the mega-Disney-fan to the "I'm here with _________,but I don't really like Disney" guest.

    For breakfast we had our choice between a couple of breakfast offerings at the Cozy Cone and a breakfast menu at Flo's V8 Café. They both looked good, and I'll be back to try more breakfast items, but we opted for Flo's. Tricia had the American Breakfast (scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon and a biscuit) for $7.99, while I had the Brioche French Toast (baked and served with salted caramel sauce and bananas) for $6.99. Both were excellent, with good sized portions for the price. I would expect to pay the same for a similar breakfast at Carrow's or possibly Denny's. Since it was a Cast Member preview, all the food was 50% off, but I would have paid full pricefor these meals. Lunch and dinner looked even more amazing, but since we only had until 12:00 I didn't get to try them.

    For me, the best part of breakfast, though, was sitting in the dining area (to the left of the ordering location) and looking out the large windows at the massive mountain range and the beautiful foliage, watching a couple of cars pass by every now and then. I could have sat here for an hour and just enjoyed the view.

    No time for that, though! We have rides to ride!

    Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is similar in some ways to Francis' Ladybug Boogie, and is the hardest to describe. The ride vehicle (a tractor with a seat hitched behind it) moves from one large "plate" to another, which makes the seats swing back and forth, all while country music-sung by Mater-is playing.The funniest thing I've heard in a long time is Mater giving the Spanish version of the safety spiel!

    Luigi's Flying Tires has its history in the old Flying Saucers attraction that opened at Disneyland in 1961-and closed 5 years later. The ride itself moves fairly slowly, and it takes a little while to really get the hang of maneuvering (which is done by leaning). The addition of the large beach balls makes it more fun and feel more high-energy than it would otherwise, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

    Of course, the headliner attraction is Radiator SpringsRacers ("RSR"). I won't go into too much detail here and spoil it for you. Though I never waited more than 10 minutes for it, having ridden it 3 times I can say that I would easily wait an hour for this ride. Not only is it that good, the Imagineers have done a great job creating a queue that is highly-detailed and immersive. There are hidden touches throughout, and plenty of shade for those hot summer days on the Mother Road.

    On the ride itself, it does have a lot of similarities to Test Track at Epcot, though RSR runs cars side-by-side (hence "Racers"), which is a first. The ride starts with a relaxing drive through Ornament Valley, and boy do you feel like you're there! A sudden turn of events puts you into Radiator Springs and prepping for the big race. Guests get either a new coat of paint on their car or new tires, and then it's off to the race! The race portion is very exciting and high energy-this is the only attraction that's not a roller coaster that I've ever gotten air-time on! It's mild enough for most children that meet the height requirement (40"), on par with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

    A couple of tips for your first ride:
* If you are tall, try to ask for the back row. There is much less leg room in the front.
* The front also feels faster, and may blow your hat off. Sunglasses should be safe in either row, and hats in the back row (but if you lose your hat, it's not my fault!). Just be alert.
* Look around! Especially in the queue - there is lots to keep you interested, and on the ride there are little "moments" that you may miss if you're not looking for them.

    This post doesn't even touch on CarsLand at night, which I haven't seen yet but have been assured it's spectacular.

    There is no doubt that CarsLand will be crazy-busy this summer. You may not want to face those crowds, but I strongly encourage you to come to Disney California Adventure as soon as possible. It will be worth the trip! --- Randy

Randy Crane is an Independent Travel Consultant, affiliated®, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, and sponsor of Tales From The Mouse House - Disneyland Podcast. If you're considering planning a vacation to the Disneyland® Resort let Randy work for you and with you to make it truly magical! Visit Randy at Mouse Ear Vacations or send him an email to  

Randy Crane - Mouse Ear Vacations