By Diane Ako
On our second day of vacation we spent part of the day at Disneyland, and the other half at Disney California Adventure Park. The newest attraction there is Cars Land, which opened in June 2012, featuring 12 acres of freewheeling fun as it brings the town of Radiator Springs to life, just as guests remember it from the Disney●Pixar movie “Cars.”
“The crown jewel of our Disney California Adventure expansion, Cars Land is the extraordinary result of a close collaboration between the gifted filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios and our talented Imagineers and cast members,” said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “It’s also a spectacular example of our ability to take our characters and stories and bring them to life in new and unexpected ways.”
This wasn't here on my last visit and I was very impressed with all the thought and attention to detail that goes into a Disney production. Rides include Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions created for a Disney theme park- the last so popular we never did get to ride it, with wait times of up to two hours. (This just means we have to return.)
One of the first rides we encountered as we entered the park was The Red Car Trolley, based on Los Angeles’ historic Pacific Electric Red Car Line, which transports guests from Buena Vista Street down Hollywood Boulevard, to the footsteps of the famed Hollywood Tower Hotel, home to The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror.
Olivia enjoyed the trolley ride, and more so after the very friendly conductor let her toot the horn and paid her in stickers.
Since the end of the trolley line was at the Tower of Terror, and since Olivia met the height requirement, I took us on that attraction. It's basically a free fall in a cursed elevator of a decrepit hotel.
She had been complaining that some of the rides at Disneyland were too kiddie for her, because she's a big girl, so I thought she might want to do an adult ride. She was kind of on the fence, put off by the spooky decor of the "hotel" and all the dimly lit, creepy sound effects.
We strapped into the elevator "car" and dropped about four times. I don't know if she screamed... because I was! I enjoyed it - it's my new favorite ride - partly because it's nice to experience something totally new after all these decades, and partly because it's nice to get on a grownup ride.
As soon as the ride ended she stated, "I hated that! I hated that! O-M-G I hated that!" Claus and I were laughing and agreeing how much we liked it, and by the time we had exited the building Olivia had changed her mind to say she wanted to go again. After Tower of Terror set the new bar for excitement, I'm not sure she will return to anything at Fantasyland!
A visit to this theme park is not complete without a meal at Ariel's Grotto, where you can meet and take photos with the characters during your dining experience. All the mothers of little girls know that this is a must-do. On this visit, we met Belle, Cinderella, Show White, Ariel, and Tiana.
It might be a very expensive lunch, but when you think about the 60-90 minutes you could be standing in line - in possibly hot weather- it's worth it. Just know that you can't get in to the restaurant without a park ticket, which is a mistake I made by booking reservations for our friends to join us, then we figured out their season passes didn't include admission to Disney California Adventure Park.
The other thing about the cost is, it became worth it when I saw the look on Olivia's face when her favorites came out. It is seriously brilliant to build a business model around this simple concept. On this, Disney made his fortune.
Olivia brought a journal and had them autograph it (it's the in thing with the kids), and spent days after the encounter drawing each princess' image on the page with the signature. I liked seeing how happy it made her.
We spent three hours in the afternoon at this park, and we got lucky in that the weather was cool and the lines were relatively short because it was a weekday. There were a number of lines that were just three or five minutes long.
The last ride we took was the Grizzly River Run, which is something I've seen for two visits previous and wanted to but couldn't try. The last time I was here it was too cold in October, and the time previous, Olivia was too short to get on.
It was twilight when we ran up and got on in three minutes. It was great (Olivia's new favorite), but we got wet and it was chilly out- high 60s. Time to call it a day. Claus and I agreed this was the best singular day we've had at Disneyland in our recent visits as parents.
We hate to leave so we'll just say, Until our next trip to Disney!
If you go:
Published rate for ticket prices start at $92 per day for this park. For more information go to https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disney-california-adventure/.