This week, we went to see the long-awaited Cars Land. Now, we liked the movie Cars well enough (especially with its theme of learning to actually care about other people), but we had two problems with it, not related to the quality of the film. First, around about when Celeste got married, for one reason or another, we ended up watching Cars way too many times in a row. We were like, "We like it, but not that much."
See, the other problem with it, the problem that makes Cars a movie that we can't just watch over and over, is that it feels like a road trip. Well, of course it feels like a road trip; it's a movie about cars! But we have mostly negative feelings toward road trips, after all the times we drove eight hours from Southern California to Utah with five girls who only had so much patience for being crammed into small spaces. (It didn't take long to learn that when little Sarah said she was "car sick," she really meant that she was sick of being in the car. At this point, she would get belligerent and start biting people. In a particularly amusing example, I said something that upset her, so she tried to attack, but I fended her off, so she turned around and bit Athena instead. Ah, childhood.)
Also, Arizona and Nevada are hot and dusty, and anything that suggests a road trip through either of those states evokes thoughts of extreme discomfort. Cars (the movie) was no exception, which is a big part of why it wasn't such a good idea for us to watch the movie so many times at once. It was soon after that that we discovered Disney was planning to build Cars Land, and our main thought was, "Great, a land that feels like a road trip. Watch me be the opposite of excited."
We discussed the fact that we're just not into the whole Cars aesthetic with a friend of ours, and he defended it by pointing out how excited he is that there's finally a land just for boys. And we were so glad he pointed that out, because we know how girly and annoying (to boys) rides like Space Mountain, Star Tours, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain can be. And don't even get me started on the estrogen-fest that used to be Tom Sawyer's Island. What were they thinking, adding all those skeletons and pirate treasure? </sarcasm>
So, while we were excited for new Disneyland content, we weren't really thrilled about what that content was going to be. But of course, we know Disneyland does good work (usually), so we reserved judgment until we saw the final product. And now, the final product has been seen.
...And we're still pretty much like, "It's a great place for people who like Cars and the feel of the Cars world, but..." They recreated Radiator Springs almost perfectly, with a lot of attention to detail, though in some cases maybe not quite enough attention to detail. They have the Cars characters actually drive up to the meet and greet area and talk as they go, which is really cool, but McQueen has a sticker on his rear bumper that says "powered by allinol." Has allinol changed since Cars 2 ended?
Anyway, we arrived at Cars Land at about nine-thirty, so it was dark and there was a big crowd, which is not our preferred way to get a first impression of anything Disney, because it's easier to be disoriented at night, and we'd never been there before. But we did get to see all the neon signs, which...we were just never big fans of neon for some reason.
The only thing we really had time for before the park closed (at eleven; an hour before we'd been led to believe) was Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Basically, they have a bunch of little tractors (like in the movies) pulling carts behind them that you ride in. The tractors go in circles, and when they turn, the cart swings around extra fast! It's kind of like a tamer version of the swinging gondolas on Mickey's Fun Wheel. And Mater sings the whole time, which is fun, especially when he sings the song he made up. It goes like this: "Dad-gum dad-gum dad-gum dad-gum♪" (On the other hand, it's country music, but since it's accompanied by Billy Hill, it's closer to blue grass than the more rock style of country music, so it's not quite so bad. It might have helped that it was night, and therefore less of a hot road trip atmosphere.)
After that, we had some tasty sundaes at the Ghirardelli shop, and then headed over to Disneyland (which was open an hour later) to go on the newly refurbished Matterhorn bobsleds. They changed the seating so nobody has to sit in anybody's lap anymore, and we were a little worried that maybe they had lost some of the bobsled feel, but we were happy to see that they were still very bobsled-ish. There was one problem, however, and that's the fact that the Matterhorn track has always been very bumpy and jolty. Before, Athena and I would always sit together and be each other's shock absorber, but now we have to sit by ourselves, so we took the full brunt of everything. That's going to take some adjusting.
I wish we'd gotten to see it in the daytime, because the Disney Parks blog had a video that said they had glass beads to the white paint on the mountain to make it look more like real snow. But after going back to Cars Land the next morning, we were too tired to trek all the way to the Matterhorn; we just wanted to go home.
After a couple more girly Fantasyland rides (Dumbo and It's A Small World (we'll give you that Small World is girly--it's a bunch of dolls--but on the other hand, it takes a certain kind of courage to go on that ride without being creeped out)), it was off to the hotel for a few hours of sleep and an early morning. We wanted to get into California Adventure ASAP so we could beat the lines to Radiator Springs Racers, the e-ticket attraction for the new Cars Land.
We made it to the park at about 7:45, fifteen minutes before opening. We didn't have time to look around Buena Vista Street (the new California Adventure version of Main Street); we had to position ourselves to get to Cars Land super fast, especially because we discovered that the hotel guests had been let into the park early, which meant no hope of a short, beginning-of-the-day line for the Racers. And of course, there was already a mob waiting to go straight for Cars Land as soon as they let the ropes down.
But as we explored the layout of Cars Land the previous night, we discovered that, naturally, there was an alternate route through the Hollywood Backlot. So we stationed Gaston with all the other Cars Land hopefuls in the south, and Athena and I waited by the Hollywood Backlot entrance in the east. This way, whoever made it to Cars Land first could grab a spot in line for Luigi's Flying Tires, while Athena could race ahead to check the line for the Racers. There were so few people waiting by the Backlot entrance that we were sure we'd win the race against Gaston, but our hopes were crushed by evil crowd manipulation.
First, when the clock finally struck eight, a security guard took down the regular rope, but three bellhops from the Tower of Terror took its place, holding up a velvet hotel rope. They instructed all the people waiting to go on Tower of Terror to follow them; this way they could prevent running. Well, Athena and I weren't waiting to go on Tower of Terror, so we went around them and speed-walked all the way to the Tower of Terror Red Car Trolley stop, where there was another bellhop preventing all traffic from passing him. We were instructed to wait for the other bellhops, and he made some comment about how that's what people get for trying to cut. We told him we weren't waiting for Tower of Terror, we wanted to go on ahead, but he said we still had to wait, and I still got the feeling that his comment about cutting was meant for us, too (though perhaps I was being overly sensitive).
Finally the three bellhops arrived and we were allowed to move forward, where we discovered that we did, in fact, have to go through a Bug's Land. No problem; the Bug's Land entrance to Cars Land is right over there! So we speed-walked toward it...and ran into two more cast members in Car's Land attire, shooing people away to the other Cars Land entrance. You know, the one everyone else had to go through. Or I guess we could have gone on some Bug's Land attractions if Gaston hadn't been waiting for us. Again, we got the feeling it was to prevent running, but we weren't running, and at that point there were only four people anyway.
We're sure it couldn't have been only to prevent running. Our best theory is that they justify it as a way to make things "fair" for the people who waited at the Cars Land entrance. First, that's dumb because any one of those people could have read the map and found that there were alternate routes to Cars Land, and second, they already made the whole thing unfair by opening the park early to a select group of people. So we can't help but think there's some kind of odd control-freak thing going on or something. It might make sense if all they were doing was telling people to stop running, but they were specifically blocking the way. Ugh.
Anyway, we finally got to Luigi's Casa della Tires, and of course, Gaston was already there, in a line that claimed to be 90 minutes long at park opening. Fortunately, it wasn't really that long. We waited maybe about forty minutes. Then again, Athena and I got to cut a little because Gaston was already in line. The ride itself was kind of fun, I guess. You ride in these tires that hover around, and you steer them by shifting your weight. There's also a bunch of beach balls floating around, which you can play with if you can manage to grab one. We never did, because they were always just out of reach. The ride had a very picnicky feeling to it. Kind of nice.
After that, the only ride left to see was Radiator Springs Racers, but I have a lot to say about that, and this post is long enough already, I think. So I will talk about that tomorrow.
Today I'm thankful for getting our shiny new video games today, getting our manga (we just ordered it yesterday!), free shipping, getting to try Pizza Hut's new garlic bread pizzas, and getting to see the new stuff at Disneyland.