Cruisin’ Cars Land with new collectibles, cold weather, and decreasing crowds at Disneyland Resort

in Disney, Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Theme Parks

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It’s been roughly seven months since the grand opening of the highly successful Cars Land expansion of the Disney California Adventure theme park and since its debut it has remained immensely popular with daily crowds pouring into Radiator Springs Racers and taking in its many intricate detailed touches.

Though I’ve been back to the area a few times since it premiered, my visit to the Disneyland Resort last weekend provided an opportunity to offer an overall update on what’s new, different, and unique or simply what I hadn’t previously had a chance to try.

So welcome back to Radiator Springs…

Cars Land
Last week California was hit with record cold temperatures, in the 50s during the day and dropping into the 30s at night. It made for quite the unique experience at the Disneyland Resort. Many visitors were bundled up and shivering while a lot of locals simply stayed home. Fortunately, the residents of Radiator Springs are always out, including Mater posing at the Cozy Cone Motel (with Lightning McQueen pulling up behind him).
Cars Land
One of the most magical moments in Cars Land is to see the characters driving through. It really makes it all come alive. Here Mater strolls past Flo’s V8 Cafe.
Cars Land
Lightning McQueen can often be spotted cruising by Ornament Valley.
Cars Land
This spot out back behind Flo’s V8 Cafe remains one of the best views in all of the Disneyland Resort.

Cars Land
Red the fire truck was out too. These characters are so irresistible that even Disney’s cast members want to take pictures with them.


Cars Land
DJ made his rounds too, though I still don’t think Cars Land visitors know just what to make of this show. Very few people are ever dancing along, even after being invited. It’s visually pleasing and quite colorful, but also creates a traffic jam.

Cars Land
Inside Flo’s V8 Cafe, signs of lessening crowds were obvious. Since the grand opening, this queue has often been packed with people, with Cars Land never quite finding any down time moving straight from summer into the busy Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas seasons. But with the cold weather setting in and no holidays to celebrate, visitors could finally enjoy it all without too much waiting in line.  (That’s my wife Michelle in the red, zipping through ahead of me!)
Cars Land
And even the frigid temperatures couldn’t keep me away from finally enjoying one of Flo’s famous milkshakes. The chocolate was extremely thick, difficult to drink until after it melted a bit – but worth the wait! It’s a good idea to order this with a meal, allowing just enough time for it to settle while devouring the food. And now I own one of these snazzy collectible glasses too!
Cars Land
The smaller sized crowds were evident over at the Cozy Cone Motel too, where there were little to no lines at each of the cones.
Cars Land
Again, this gave me a chance to try something I hadn’t gotten around to yet, thoroughly enjoying Ramone’s Pear of Dice soda. Now that Red’s Apple Freeze has come to Orlando in the form of Lefou’s Brew, I didn’t feel bad ordering something else, and was happy I did because this fizzy drink was refreshing and looked great in the sunlight.
Cars Land
I also tried another elusive dish, the Chili Cone Queso. It was exactly what I thought it would be, warm chili mixed with plenty of cheese, topped by Frito’s chips and surrounded by a soft bread cone, which I completely consumed. It’s a fun handheld snack/meal.
Cars Land
Each trip to Cars Land requires at least one ride on each of its three main attractions. This time, we started with Luigi’s Flying Tires.
Cars Land
A posted 30 minute wait isn’t bad for this slow-loading ride. We only had to wait for 2 or 3 rotations before we hopped on, clocking in at less than 30 minutes. It was nice to see fewer people in Cars Land, for once.
Cars Land
Though the ride no longer features giant beach balls, it’s still a whole lot of fun, especially since Disney went through and removed around 20 pounds of unnecessary weight from each tire, enabling them to move even faster. It’s a must-do for me.
Cars Land
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, an equally simple but fun attraction, featured the shortest wait I’d seen since the grand opening – essentially no wait! We only had to wait one rotation before hopping on. And we lucked out finally hearing Mater’s secret song as we rode, in which he bumbles his way through forgetting the words.
Cars Land
The most popular ride across both parks at the Disneyland Resort remains Radiator Springs Racers, for good reason. Not only is it one of the newest, but also one of the most impressive.
Cars Land
Even with smaller crowds, the posted wait time of 105 minutes didn’t surprise me. But under two hours isn’t bad! We hopped in the single rider line, which took around 40 minutes.
Cars Land
But as the temperatures dropped after dark, the wait time decreased rapidly, dropping as low as 66 minutes – a cute nod to Route 66. Actual wait time was even less, with the single rider line taking less than 30 minutes.
Cars Land
No trip to Cars Land would be complete without checking out the merchandise, starting with Ramone’s House of Body Art.
Cars Land
Ramone’s is newly-expanded, adding an outdoor room behind it in what was originally planned to be the Radiator Springs Racers Fastpass distribution area. The mad rush for Racers Fastpasses every day prompted Disney to distribute these passes over by A Bug’s Land instead.
Cars Land
Unfortunately the outdoor area of the shop offers little in the way of unique merchandise, though the added room to explore is nice.
Cars Land
There’s plenty to choose from here, but nothing that isn’t found in other stores nearby.  Replacing some of the grand opening T-shirt designs are others featuring specific areas from Cars Land, including the Oil Pan and Sparky’s.
Cars Land
Inside, this Dave Avanzino-created mixed media Cars Land shadow box is clever, as his pieces always are.
Cars Land
Some of the newest (and most expensive) Cars Land offerings are on display on a center table, including some Jim Shore sculpts.
Cars Land
Those wanting to dress the part may enjoy this array of girls’ shirts, dresses, and handbags, with a distinct Cars Land flair.
Cars Land
Lots of new artwork has popped up since Cars Land first opened.
Cars Land
Across the street at Radiator Springs Curios, even more exciting new T-shirts are available, though most are exclusively in girls’ cuts and sizes. These Cozy Cone Motel shirts are must-haves. I only wish the orange one had been available for men.
Cars Land
This Sparky’s Spark Plugs design is just obscure enough to make people ask what it is when you’re wearing it.
Cars Land
The same is definitely true for The Curb Feeler.
Cars Land
And The Oil Pan.
Cars Land
The Motorama Girls of Flo’s V8 Cafe are featured on T-shirts as well as sweaters and hoodies, and are definitely popular items.
Cars Land
Anyone looking for Flo’s merchandise will want to stop by this store.
Cars Land
Even more Flo’s V8 Cafe designs.
Cars Land
Some leftovers from Christmas remained here.
Cars Land
For the higher end collector, this John Lassetire statue is available, the character version of Cars creator John Lasseter.
Cars Land
A nice Cars logo plaque is also available, designed by Chip Foose.
Cars Land
And this large Piston Cup doubles as a clock, though its small face is just barely cut off at the bottom of this photo.
Cars Land
Finally, the effects of Cars Land have reached even outside its boundaries, not only scattering merchandise throughout stores all over the park, but also influencing a few details here and there. Visitors to the nearby Boudin Bakery tour may notice…
Cars Land
…Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater bread designs tucked away in a corner. Cars Land is where it’s at!

Though crowds are slightly less in Cars Land now that the busy seasons have ended, visitors should still be prepared for a packed area, with plenty of excited guests eager to take a stroll down Route 66 and see its character-filled sights.

More photos from Cars Land:

9 Comments

  1. Nice update Ricky. Just noticed alot of rust on the Radiator Springs Racer sign, from where the neon tubes join the actual sign – has it always looked like this or has it only just been noticed by myself?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      That’s definitely an intended part of the sign. Here’s a photo from even before the grand opening: http://www.flickr.com/photos/insidethemagic/7464272692/in/set-72157630008990579

  2. Jeff Lynch

    Cars Land is a silly place. I love it. My favorite part are the plants that look like tail lights and things. I ate at the V8 cafe and had the pork with the cola BBQ sauce. It was delicious! I told my mom about it.

  3. Brandy C

    thanks so much for the update! We were waiting to visit until the crowds died down a bit, so it looks like now (pre summer) is a good time! thanks for letting us know. I am so getting the cozy cone t!

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