Cars Land is a themed land in Disneyland’s California Adventure which is inspired by Pixar’s Cars franchise. The focal point of the first Cars movies is a fictional town called Radiator Springs which is modeled after Route 66. The Cars Land in Disney essentially replicates Radiator Springs which has three attractions, dining, shopping plus interactive character moments with the Disney Cars. Cars Land is also known for going all out when it comes to its seasonal decorations for Halloween and the holidays, making this area one of the best for immersive decor.
Keep reading for the full Cars Land review of all the attractions, dining, and shopping plus tips on how to ride the best ride in California Adventure: Radiator Springs Racers.
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Cars Land Attractions
Cars Land includes one of the most popular attractions in Disneyland: Radiator Springs Racers. In fact, this ride is so popular it still hasn’t been outpaced in demand in California Adventure even with newer rides introduced since Cars Land opened. The other two attractions are also popular but not quite on the same scale as the demand for Radiator Springs Racers.
Radiator Springs Racers
The gem of Cars Land is Radiator Springs Racers. This auto-racing attraction takes guests in six-person car vehicles through the winding roads, mountains, waterfall, and town of Radiator Springs. The ride features all the main characters from Cars once you enter Radiator Springs as the ride takes on the style of a dark ride as you cruise around the town. During this cruise around town, you will see Mater, Lightning McQueen, Doc Hudson, Sally, Luigi, Guido, Mack, and Ramone. The ride splits into two tracks before the big race with one car going into Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art. Once you are equipped with a new set of tires or paint job, you will race against another car vehicle with other guests reaching a top speed of 40mph.
This ride is sheer perfection from its combination of beauty as you cruise past the “Cadillac Range” mountains to the immersive quality of a dark ride and ending with the key aspects of a thrill attraction. If you look closely at the Cadillac Range which is the backdrop of Radiator Springs Racers, you will notice the six mountain peaks look like the tail fins of classic Cadillac models from 1957 to 1962. The details in Cars Land are truly unmatched and this commitment to immersion really shines with this attraction.
The technology used for Radiator Springs Racers is similar to the kind used for Test Track in EPCOT. Walt Disney World guests will notice the connection immediately but most are in agreement that Radiator Springs Racers surpasses Test Track with its theming. This is also the only attraction in Cars Land with a ride photo op! The photo is taken right when the car reaches the top speed on the race track before you cross the finish line. With some practice, you can get pretty good at posing before the picture happens.
Radiator Springs Racers is the only attraction in California Adventure that currently offers Individual Lighting Lane access. For popular rides at Disneyland, two lines are available for guests: the standard queue and the Lighting Lane. In order to access the shorter Lightning Lane, you must purchase Genie+ for the day OR purchase individual Lighting Lane access. The Lighting Lane for Radiator Springs Racers isn’t included with the general cost of Genie+ and must be purchased individually. The price for access to this shorter line for Radiator Springs Racers will vary depending on how busy the parks are that day but it often ranges from $15-$20 per person.
If you want to avoid paying for access to that shorter line, you can follow our California Adventure rope drop strategy to see how you can best get on this ride in the morning using the standard queue. If you cannot get on the ride with a short wait, paying for individual access might be worth it as the standard queue is one of the longest lines in the park! Guests willing to split up from their party can also try to ride using Single Rider but even the Single Rider line can get pretty long during busy days. But it will usually be half the wait time of the standard queue.
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is the second most popular attraction in Cars Land. The queue for this attraction goes through Luigi’s Casa Della Tires shop and leads you to ride vehicles that move and spin to the tune of Italian music variations. This ride receives a Halloween and Christmas theme when it is renamed Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl. The music changes to Halloween and holiday themes during these seasonal times of the year which will increase the popularity of the attraction.
The ride vehicles are presented as cousins of Luigi who are visiting Radiator Springs for a dance party. This is a really fun trackless ride that whirls you around quickly but is gentle enough for small kids and adults that do not enjoy thrill rides.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is a ride that whips guests around this Mater themed junkyard to the tune of Mater’s singing. The ride vehicles are the tractors you see in the Cars film which are often portrayed as similar to cows when Mater and Lightning McQueen go tractor tipping! Guests sit in the back trailer of the tractor as it whips back and forth while spinning in a figure-eight pattern. This ride is so much fun and is definitely underrated. This ride is so goofy and fun that you will be laughing by the time it ends.
Like Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, this attraction receives a Halloween and Christmas theme when it’s renamed to Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. The music will change to Mater’s versions of seasonal tunes during these different holiday themes. This is a popular ride style that has since been replicated at multiple Disney Parks around the world with the most well-known being the Alien Swirling Saucers at Walt Disney World.
Cars Land “Sh-Boom” Lighting Moment
You need to plan time to see Cars Land during the day AND at night. All of the land is covered in neon signs and lights that bring the land to life once sunset hits.
In fact, this transformation is so wonderful Disney even has a planned moment for it that mimics the scene in the original Cars film when Lightning McQueen fixes all the neon lights in Radiator Springs. Cars Land at night is the best way to see the land as all the neon lights highlights the immersive nature of the area! Plus riding Radiator Springs Racers at night and seeing all the exterior mountains light up is a great way to experience that attraction.
Every night right at sunset (check your Weather app to see which time sunset is!) the lights all turn on in Cars Land at once to the tune of the “Sh-Boom” tune from the films.
The best place to watch this moment from is in front of Cozy Cone Motel or Flo’s V8 Cafe. The “Sh-Boom” will happen about a minute or two after sunset. This is a quick moment but it’s still one worth taking the time to see!
Cars Land Dining
The dining in Cars Land is all quick-service options which means you do not need a dining reservation and all the food options are grab-and-go.
Cozy Cone Motel
The Cozy Cone Motel is wonderfully themed after Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel from the Cars films. You will see larger-than-life cones with five major cones serving different food menus. There is seating all around the cones and the general area for guests to grab their food and enjoy.
Cozy Cone Motel 1 – Churros
Cozy Cone Motel 2 – Ice Cream Cones
Cozy Cone Motel 3 – Chili Cone Queso
Cozy Cone Motel 4 – Frozen Cone-Coctions
Cozy Cone Motel 5 – Popcone
This cone offers “PopCone” with flavored popcorn choices like pickle, buffalo ranch and cheddar cheese!
The Cozy Cone motel office in front of this area is not accessible to guests and serves as the backdrop for Cars meet and greets. The cars greeting guests here often include Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Cruz Ramirez.
Flo’s V8 Cafe
Flo’s V8 Cafe offers the most options in Cars Land for dining with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. The food here is all in the style of traditional American homestyle. The theming for Flo’s V8 Cafe is some of the best in the land with tables outdoors underneath the gas pumps and tables behind the restaurant that offer a view of the Radiator Springs Racers track. The inside of Flo’s V8 Cafe is themed like a traditional diner with inside decor paying tribute to the “Motorama Girls” story from the Cars books and displays the Fabulous Hudson Hornet’s Piston Cup titles.
Fan favorite foods here include the Ka-Cheeseburger with a 1/3-pound angus beefy patty, Flo’s Famous Fried Chicken, and the Impossible burger. You will find plenty of food here for kids like traditional classics like mac & cheese, small burgers, mashed potatoes, and more.
Fillmore’s Taste-In is a quicks service stand where you can quickly grab snacks like fresh fruit, veggie snacks, and chips along with a wide selection of beverages. This is a great spot to grab a healthy snack if you need a break from the heavy theme park food.
Cars Land Characters
You can meet a variety of Disney Cars characters in Cars Land. These animatronic cars actually drive and talk! Kids will go nuts over those characters. Even though y son is now a teenager, he still gets excited whenever he sees any of these Cars characters. The Cars films have had such an impact on popular kids’ movies and these characters are fan favorites because of that.
Before you enter Cars Land, there is a large Cars billboard at the entrance that changes seasonally and sometimes there will be a non-animatronic car positioned there to take photo ops with.
The characters you can expect to see on a regular basis include:
Lightning McQueen– in front of Cozy Cone Motel
Mater– in front of Cozy Cone Motel
Red– in front of Cozy Cone Motel (this character is a bit harder to find!)
Cruz Ramirez– in front of Cozy Cone Motel
DJ frequently led dance parties through Cars Lands but has not been seen at the parks for some time. This experience may return in the future.
Most of the character meet and greets take place in front of the Cozy Cone Motel and there is always a PhotoPass photographer positioned there. One way to beat the lines for character ops in Cars Land is to check the Disneyland app for what time characters will appear and line up BEFORE they get there. Once guests see one of the cars outside the Cozy Cone, the line builds quickly.
You will also see characters wandering the land at opportune times. DJ often does small dance parties as he cruises past which kids love
Cars Land Disneyland Halloween
Cars Land receives the best seasonal decorations in California Adventure. Halloween is especially great with details all over the land. If you are visiting Disneyland during Halloween, taking some time to explore Cars Land should be at the top of your list.
In addition to themed Halloween decorations, you can also see the Disney Cars characters dressed up in Halloween costumes:
- Lightning McQueen – Super Hero
- Mater- Vampire
- Red- Clown
- Cruz Ramirez- Pirate
- DJ- Punk Rocker
You will see most of these meet and greets during the Halloween-ticketed party, Oogie Boogie Bash, as Disney will have more than one car out at a time in their Halloween costumes. This is a great chance to meet them with smaller lines and pose for photo ops.
You can also expect to see the billboard on the entrance to Cars Land set up for the Halloween season with a photo op. This is one of my favorite places to get pictures in Cars Land.
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is transformed into Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween with the dance music and theme changing to a kid-friendly Halloween theme.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is transformed into Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree in a similar style to Luigi’s with Halloween music and themes taking the place of the original music track.
You will see ride times rise a bit for these two rides because of these Halloween themes. Halloween at Disneyland can be busy so make sure to read our guide to crowds at Disneyland to plan when to come.
Cars Land Disneyland Christmas
Just like Halloween, Cars Land receives a top-notch overlay for the holiday season with holiday lights all over the land and holiday overlays. If you are visiting Disneyland during the holidays, taking some time to stroll around Cars Land is a must-do activity.
You can expect to see Mater in his Santa Clause outfit at certain times during the day in honor of the season. This is a popular meet and greet so plan on lining up quickly if you spot him! There will be plenty of small touches around the land to look for too such as all the Cars “movie posters” changing to holiday themes.
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is transformed into Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl with the dance music and theme changing to a holiday theme. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is transformed into Mater’s Jingle Jamboree in a similar style to Luigi’s with Christmas music and themes taking the place of the original music track.
Cars Land is the best area in California Adventure, although some might argue the newer Avengers Campus might be close, and was the turning point of improvements for the park since it first opened. Even if you are not a fan of the Cars films, you should spend some time in this land during your visit.
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