This past June, Disney’s California Adventure evolved from a pit stop on a Disneyland vacation to a destination. The often overlooked sibling of Disneyland became a full blown attraction with the unveiling of Cars Land and the new park entrance, Buena Vista Street. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as visitors experience the new rides and attractions.
It’s 1923 on Buena Vista Street
Buena Vista Street is California Adventure’s new Main Street. Visitors will find shops and restaurants and shade! The architectural style of the buildings is from the 1920’s and 30’s and looks like what Walt Disney saw when he arrived in California in 1923. Don’t miss Walt’s statue in Carthay Circle – it’s a good photo op and interesting to see Walt Disney as a young man before he was famous.
It’s tough to shop with kids but check out Oswald’s Gas Station on your left as you enter the park. It’s named for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, one of Disney’s first creations and my kids got a kick out of seeing this rather odd looking very long-eared rabbit which has resemblances to Mickey Mouse.
It’s also tough to pass by the treats and candy at Trolley Treats and the hand-scooped ice cream at Clarabelle’s but keep going – the food in Cars Land is a highlight. If however, you want fine dining then stop at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. It has a healthy kids menu and several organic items on the adult menu. Reserve ahead if possible, plan to spend an hour and ask to sit in one of the side dining rooms which are more comfortable with kids. The strawberry-lemon roasted organic chicken salad is the bomb.
Experience Route 66 at Cars Land
Disney is known for incredible attention to detail and Radiator Springs delivers. It’s vintage Route 66 and the atmosphere is welcoming and fun, right down to the food options.
The backdrop for Cars Land is a massive 280,000 foot rockwork that’s 125 feet tall at its peak. This is the Cadillac Mountain Range in Ornament Valley. Take a look at the peaks of the mountains which represent Cadillac tail fins from the 1950’s and 60’s!
Start your day at Radiator Springs Racers, the most popular ride in Cars Land. Two six-person cars race side-by-side through Ornament Valley. It’s a four minute ride that thrills all ages and leaves you wanting more. The ride begins with a tour through Radiator Springs at night and then the cars veer off to Ramone’s body shop or Luigi’s tires before coming together again to start their race. Listen carefully at the end to see if your car won.
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree doesn’t look like a thrill ride but this little ride packs a punch. Kids and adults squeal with laughter as Mater makes sharp turns and riders slide in their seats.
The one ride that isn’t garnering rave reviews is Luigi’s Flying Tires. Riders sit in a large inflatable tire that hovers above the ground and use their body weight to “steer” the tire while throwing mammoth-sized beach balls at each other. The ride is entertaining but it’s not worth the wait time.
The Food – Themed and with Views
There are several fun options for a meal or a snack in Cars Land with healthy options available.
Flo’s V8 Café is a diner with a view of Ornament Valley. Depending on where you sit you may catch a glimpse of a Radiator Springs Racer zooming by. Comfort food is the theme here with items like roast pork and gravy but they also offer a tasty citrus chicken salad and the cheddar apple pie is dessert worthy.
My favorite dining in Cars Land is the Cozy Cone Motel which serves “cone-coction” take-away snacks. Standouts include interesting flavored popcorn like dill pickle and sweet and spicy, Red’s Apple Freeze (frozen apple juice, toasted marshmallow syrup and passion fruit foam) and the pretzel bites. This is also the place to get the traffic cone soda cups you’ll see all over.
If you want something lighter head to Fillmore’s Taste In which has fresh fruit, cold water and snacks in a 1960’s flower power setting.
There is always something fun and sometimes unexpected going on in the twelve acre Cars Land; a free “car wash” on a hot day from a water bottle fan (smart marketing!) or a Lightning McQueen photo op. After two visits we still haven’t seen it all!
Kristi received complimentary admission to California Adventure for review purposes but all opinions are her own. Kristi was not compensated for this post. Photos by Kristi Marcelle.
Kristi Marcelle is a travel writer and regular contributor at Ciao Bambino. She loves planning travel adventures with her family, a good glass of wine at the whining hour and the Green Bay Packers. Follow her on Twitter.