Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Official: Cars Land Will Open June 15

Cars Land at Disney California Adventure
Yesterday, after months of speculation, Disney finally made it official.

Cars Land and Buena Vista Street will open at Disney California Adventure on June 15. They'll be the final additions of a 5-year expansion and re-theming of the once-maligned park. Disney has spent over a billion dollars to make DCA stand out on its own with new shows and attractions including World of Color, Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Silly Symphony Swings, Goofy's Sky School and a general face lift for the Paradise Pier area.

It's a series of improvements that even John Lasseter (wearing his Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering hat) acknowledges was much needed. In an interview last year, he said "There's a magic to Disneyland, the original park. And, when California Adventure opened up (in 2001), it was not a Disney Park. It was a Disney park on a budget."

That is changing.

The faux-Southwest vistas of Cars Land take up 12 acres on the south end of DCA. Its E-ticket attraction, Radiator Springs Racers, a Test Track-like high-speed spin through Ornament Valley, will be one of the largest single rides Disney has ever built. Other attractions up the street include the kid-friendly tractor ride, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, and the ride I'm looking forward to the most, Luigi's Flying Tires. It's patterned after Disneyland's iconic Flying Saucers of the early 1960s, the one attraction that as a child I was too small to go on. By the time I would've been big enough, the ride was torn down to make way for Tomorrowland 1967. To a four-year old who thought the Saucers were the coolest thing ever, it was devastating. I've waited over 45 years to finally get my turn. I can't wait.

A few months ago, Lasseter took Luigi's Flying Tires for a test run. He seemed pretty excited:

When the temporary walls that have been lining the entrance to DCA come down in June, they'll reveal a brand new Buena Vista Street, an entrance plaza that will capture the spirit and style of Los Angeles in the 1920s, the time when Walt Disney first came to Southern California to seek his fortune. The centerpiece of Buena Vista Street will be the Carthay Circle Theatre, patterned after the famed site where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937. The building will house the Carthay Circle Restaurant, a fancy restaurant and lounge.

Carthay Circle Theatre
Traversing Buena Vista Street will be two Red Car Trolleys, modeled after the transportation system that once serviced Southern California. Other additions that will round out DCA Redux are the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop at Pacific Wharf and the Mad T Party, which will replace ElecTRONica as the Hollywood Pictures Backlot's hopping night spot.

Here's a sneak preview, courtesy of Disney, of all there is to see and do in Disney California Adventure starting June 15:

To make final preparations for the grand opening and to allow for a media preview, DCA will be closed on June 14.

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