Day 1 – Entry
As this was a huge event for us to cover, we did some massive planning. Why? Because we wanted to make sure that we got the best coverage possible. That could only occur if we planned our team’s roles meticulously, and so we did.
About 5 months of regular staff meetings lead to June 13, the first day of the DCA grand re-opening events.
Long story short, we had a lot of trouble checking in to the event that day. A lot. That trouble checking in lead to a lot of madness on my part and overall sadness from the team…but no check in problems were going to ruin our day or our coverage!
We arrived at the Resort around 4 PM. Today was all about Cars Land and the first event, which was the celebrity and VIP arrivals on a large red carpet outside of Cars Land, was to occur at 6 PM. I didn’t think we’d take so long to check in, but we did and were unfortunately unable to capture the “celebrity” and “VIP” arrivals that night, but it was OK…it really wasn’t something we were interested in anyways…because the celebrities we a little less than VIP…and visa versa.
But for the sake of making a report complete, here’s a picture of the carpet and other things we saw before setting up for the grand re-opening ceremony of Cars Land.
The first thing we noticed about this event in particular was the overall scale of it. Sure, there is a lot of people and lots to unveil, but when you have the Goodyear blimp circling , gathering aerial shots, and welcoming the VIPs and media to the Resort, you can be sure that this event was to be HUGE – meaning A BIG DEAL.
As our team did not spend a lot of time on the red carpet arrivals, we had the opportunity to rush over to be the first in line to score a great spot to cover the grand opening ceremony of Cars Land!
Long story short, even though we were first in line to set up, a ton of other “more important” media were allowed in before us and we were threatened that we might not be able to enter into the event venue…’twas a scary moment, but…
We were fortunate enough to get a good placement on the large risers that were placed right at the entrance to Cars Land! With our good spots secured, it was time for the ceremony.
The ceremony started a little late. Two things occurred while we were waiting: 1) a small earthquake happened and 2) there was a band that was playing that we thought would be ‘Rascal Flatts’ – in no way did they sound like ‘Rascal Flatts’ and every song they sang sounded exactly the same. The ceremony started a little late and either event was not-so-liked in our book.
It eventually was ceremony time. Now I’m going to speed this part of the report up faster because to be quite honest with you all, it felt as if the whole ceremony was a big pat on the back to all the Disney execs who “…made this dream a reality.” We’ll be posting full video of the ceremony very soon to our YouTube channel, but you’ll know what we mean when you watch what occurred during this grand opening ceremony.
So I’ll speed things up and here’s a recap of what happened during the ceremony…
Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has opening comments that recount the process of what DCA lacked.
Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs and Pixar Chief John Lasseter then made an appearance on stage to awkwardly discuss bringing the animated world of ‘Cars’ into the real world.
The speech by Mr. Lasseter quickly turned more awkward by showing concept art of what each Disney exec (Staggs and Iger) would look like if they were ‘Cars’-ified. Above is CEO Bob Iger as a semi-truck “hauling the Walt Disney Company” off to great success. aka…Cars Land will haul that money from you.
After some awkwardness, more awkwardness erupted. This time with having the voices of the various cars from the movie have a photo op with Staggs and Lasseter…mind you this was DURING the grand opening ceremony. Above is the voice of Mac – Lightning McQueen’s big rig John Ratzenberger. This went on for more than 10 minutes…it felt like eternity.
After all the awkward photo ops, Larry The Cable Guy quickly broke the awkwardness with his awesome voice and intro-ing the ‘grandness’ that was the Cars Land Grand Opening ceremony. Que pyro, cars, dancers, execs, stage-dividing-awesomely!
Staggs and Lasseter opened Cars Land with a battery. Quite impressive.
“Life is a highway…”
And with that, “Cars Land is officially open!” Well, just tonight for the VIPs and media. It was time for the big party inside Cars Land! Don’t worry, we’ll take you along too.
Immediately after the ceremony, people pretty much filed right down Route 66 to enjoy free food, drink, and yes, more of the same music – everything themed around cars. We decided to stay above the traffic jam of people to get some shots of how crowded it was.
This photo doesn’t do justice. It was really crowded, but everyone was smiling. FREE FOOD was a’callin, so once the crowds lessened down Route 66, we began to make our way down photographing along the way. This was our first time seeing Cars Land and we just had to take it ALL in.
As you enter Cars Land, the first thing you’ll see on the “outskirts of town” is Mater’s house and the first new attraction of the new Land Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. Although the ride concept is simple and isn’t too enticing at first glance, we recommend you ride it and feel the great feeling that is whiplash…without the physical consequences.
Continuing down Route 66, you’ll come by Sarge’s Surplus Hut, one of the various shops selling various ‘Cars’ themed merchandise. Sorry, no really surplus.
Next up down the road is the Cozy Cone Motel. Although rooms are not available, many tasty treats are. From awesome drinks like Mater’s Tulsa Tea to a Chili Con Queso, you can satisfy your fuel-food cravings by purchasing your treats in a real “cozy cone”!
Further down Route 66 and in the heart of the town of Radiator Springs is Flo’s V8 Cafe. I honestly think that this place is a new favorite of mine…and for good reason. As the decor and story of the retro-60s feel screams with Flo the character, so too does her cafe with hearty menu items like a pulled pork sandwich topped off with Coca-Cola barbecue sauce. Yes, you saw right.
Psst…we’re hearing it might get bottled and sold in-Park sometime soon…we’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, go to Flo’s just for that sauce! Your fuel tank won’t regret it.
Straight across from Flo’s and at the crossroads with the ever-blinking broken stoplight is the Radiator Springs Curios Shop. Although many other Disney blogs have said that this store is lame, we don’t think so. Although the merchandise selection is fewer than places like Sarge’s, we still think this place has a lot of charm by the fact that it is indeed a curios shop, not a Wal-Mart serving up trinkets like postcards and magnets – all the things you would like to get if traveled down the real Route 66.
As we approach the Radiator Springs Courthouse/Firehouse/Other things house, we are greeted with the last two new attractions inside Cars Land. First you have Luigi’s Flying Tires – a take on the old attraction that once used to be in Tomorrowland. It’s basically bumper cars in its concept, but hovercraft in its execution. As one of our writers bluntly put it, it’s basically the “dark horse” attraction in Cars Land. Although it may take some time getting used to how to move your flying tire around, just read and follow the signs around you before riding and you’ll do fine.
Don’t complain if you don’t get it the first time…just try again. It’ll be worth it. OUR TIP is to just barely lean. You’ll go far.
The last attraction located at the very end of Route 66 and tucked behind and hidden almost is probably the most fun attraction that we’ve experienced to date. As most hard-core Disney fans call it an “E-Ticket” attraction harking back to when Disneyland used to use individual tickets for each attraction, Radiator Springs Racers was the attraction you used the “best ticket” on. Why? Because it was awesome. And Radiator Springs Racers is awesome.
As this was pretty much the only ride that our team was able to enjoy during the night’s festivities, let’s take a closer look at this attraction. For those of you who haven’t ridden Radiator Springs Racers (RSR) yet and want to keep the whole attraction a surprise for yourself, feel free to read this section! We won’t spoil a thing.
Just like any other attraction, guests must first begin their journey in a line. And the line for RSR is quite detailed…like the rest of Cars Land.
The one thing that you might notice right off the bat is that all the elements inside the queue for RSR seemed meaningless to us. What does it all mean? Well, we found out later on that everything inside the RSR queue tells the story of how the town of Radiator Springs came to be. It all started with a Model T named Stanley who loved to sell radiator caps to cars who lost theirs due to overheating. That’s just part of the story! There’s a lot more but now you have some context that will hopefully help you see the full story as you wait in line…it’ll pass the time for sure as wait times to ride can often be upwards of 2-3 hours!
If you’re more of the “I-want-to-know-the-story-fast-and-now” kind of people, I recommend buying “Time Travel Mater,” a new Pixar animated short that pretty much tells the story of Radiator Springs and Stanley through the eyes of Mater and his time traveling adventures! It was debuted behind a screening of the movie ‘Cars’ the night Cars Land opened, but it can now be purchased via iTunes or Amazon! I recommend buying it. You’ll want to know the story of Radiator Springs as you walk through the queue for RSR.
After your wait in line, you’ll come across the loading area for RSR (yes, Comfy Caverns is also part of the Radiator Springs story). The detail in here is gorgeous, but just wait till you get on the ride and outside.
Again, pictures don’t do justice. The waterfall looks real. Because it is…just a smaller scale.
After passing the waterfall, you’re taken through the dark scenes of the ride. As you’ll see when you ride the attraction yourself, the audio-animatronics in this attraction have been taken to the next level. They really look as if they are alive. No, really. Alive.
You can’t tell from this picture, but Doc’s mouth-bumpers really move. Like lips on a human. You just have to ride it and see it for yourself. But as Doc is saying in this photo, “It’s time to race!”
Literally after this scene, you begin your almost 2 minute race around Ornament Valley and Willy’s Butte. Again, the detail as you round the valleys and dip the dips is incredible. For that whole moment, the whole city of Anaheim and reality escape you and you are literally thrown into a Grand Canyon of sorts.
See what we mean?
Although we can say so much about this attraction, RSR really needs to be experienced by all. Words can’t fully describe the feeling of racing or the immerse detail Cars Land puts you in. It’s all incredible and we are so pleased that this place has come to our backyard here in Southern California.
It was about time to call it a night. The party was slowing down, guests were returning to their hotel rooms, and food and drinks were being put away.
We got some last shots in of some of the details that Cars Land brings at night. As we ventured back into Cars Land for Day 2 of the press event, we felt the real effect that daylight and moonlight have on such an immerse place. The effect is that of mood and permanence. The mood that Cars Land brings at day is totally different from the mood that comes at night. Just imagine yourself driving down a long stretch of road during a family road trip somewhere during the day and night. The feeling of wilderness. That feeling of taking in God’s beautiful creation. That feeling has been taken, compressed, and laid out in a former parking lot.
Although a parking lot once stood on the grounds of Cars Land, the mere fact that the attention to detail in this place has never been seen before leads to another fact that this place feels like it has been here forever. From the immersive rock work to the grainy pavement, everything tells a story and the Imagineers did a great, GREAT job at telling a story that was once told already in a movie about a car and his journey in finding humbleness, friendship, and the road less traveled.
Cars Land is open, folks. The road and Radiator Springs is waiting for you.
It’s on to the second day of the press event and everywhere we looked, there was always a “buena vista.”
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Go back to our Wrap-up Introduction.
Go on to Day 2 – Buena.
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