How Disney Used Cars in a Theme Park to Blow My Mind

As a newcomer to the west coast by way of beautiful and sunny southern California, I am constantly encountering new and amazing sights. Having visited Disney World many times throughout my childhood, I recently had the pleasure of my first visit to Disneyland. As some veterans of the theme park can tell you, Disneyland is so remarkable that it easily overshadows its neighbor, California Adventure. A theme park that is basically one giant homage to the state of California, you might miss how it also incorporates Disney movies and rides. Among these, I was absolutely amazed by one of its latest additions, Cars Land, which used Cars, the 2006 Pixar film, as its inspiration.

One of the most amazing accomplishments of the Radiator Springs portion of the park is how perfectly it recreates that quaint little town from the movie. From the gas station to the diner, when you step into Radiator Springs, you step right into the movie. Personally, I was not ready for how well Disney used Cars’ buildings to create such a fantastic village.

Having visited Disneyworld and Universal Studios in the past, I am no stranger to how theme parks reference movies in order to create fantastic environments. I still remember how small I felt when I entered a play zone that was modeled after the lawn in Honey I Shrunk the Kids. However, what made my last trip to Cars Land so amazing was that I stepped right into my memory of the movie, so much so that I could almost convince myself that I was a character. Not expecting that level of verisimilitude, I became childlike in my wonder of how anyone could so perfectly transform an animated town into a real life place.

I have been to movie sets in the past, the kind where you could walk up the stairs to visit a house, but I had never walked around in a three-dimensional recreation of an animated movie. I am not sure if Radiator Springs in California Adventure is a testament to how well computer animation has come along, or if that segment of the park demonstrates just how good Disney is at creating a fantasy. I do know, however, that I felt transported to a new land, some other space beyond that portion of California that I had begun to know. Somehow, I felt removed from normal life and could walk around in this world where cars spoke and life was not only simpler but also more innocent.

Unfortunately, my trip to the park had to come to an end, and I had to say goodbye to Radiator Springs. Like all wondrous things, my trip could not last forever. Nonetheless, that experience left a mark on my memory, and I will forever be in awe of how Disney used Cars to send me into a fantasy that I will never forget.

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