You see, I grew up in the Los Angeles area. As I kid, my family went to Disneyland on a regular basis. My father, who worked seven days a week delivering milk and newspapers, would come home from throwing the Sunday paper and somehow take us all to Disneyland for the day. I’m not sure how old I was when I finally cleared the “you must be this tall” sign to get the chance to drive the cars in Autopia, but it was a momentous occasion. I could sit behind the wheel and hit the gas. It didn’t matter that the car rode along a rail, had incredibly sloppy steering and a complete lack of speed, I was driving! Until I finally got my learner’s permit, Autopia was the closest I could get to hitting the highway on my own.
Disneyland fed my need for mechanically driven thrills in other ways as well. From the thrill of the Matterhorn bobsleds to the manic cars in Mister Toads Wild Road as well as the futuristic Monorail, it gave me tastes of what I’d only want to have more of as I got older. Even the antique cars and fire engines on Main Street got my attention.
My friends know it doesn’t take much to get me back to Disneyland. My wife and I have annual passes and are always ready to drive 400 miles to hang out at the magic castle. Ironically, I don’t drive Autopia much anymore. Great for kids, it lost some of its thrill when I finally got my license to drive real cars. It’s like I left my childhood toys behind.
But now, the folks at Disney are giving gearheads a new home. This month they will open Cars Land at California Adventure (which sits right next to Disneyland). It’s all based off the hugely successful Cars movie franchise. They’ve built an entire town called Radiator Springs (from the movie) with an automotive twist. You can enjoy Flo’s V8 Cafe, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Flying Tires and the big ride, Radiator Springs Racers. Yes, it’s all based on a cartoon, but it’s still all about cars.
So far, all I’ve been able to do is peak over the walls, and I’m dreading the long lines when it finally opens. But I’m thrilled that the Disney folks have somehow figured out a way to reach back to the kid who loved Autopia, and give him his own Cars theme land.
Incidentally, you can read a preview of Cars Land written after the park held a friends and family day at MiceAge.com.
You can also take a virtual tour of Cars Land.