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Cars Land grand opening draws traffic, crowds to Anaheim

June 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The grand opening of Cars Land on Friday is drawing crowds and lots of traffic around Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim.

The nearly $1-billion expansion of the theme park is finally complete after five years. Many Disney fans camped out overnight to secure their spot in line.

"It's a big deal. It's a big attraction. You can see it from out here. It's going to be fun," said Nicole McEwen, who camped out since Thursday night.

Cars Land, based on characters and settings from the Disney-Pixar films, "Cars" and "Cars 2," features three attractions. Radiator Springs Racers is the main ride that takes visitors through the mountains of Ornament Valley. It starts out with a nice scenic drive, then you go inside, through a quick car wash, and then it's the race. The ride lasts for about four minutes at speeds of up to 45 mph.

Luigi's Flying Tires makes riders float along while leaning left and right. It's reminiscent of the Flying Saucers from Disneyland in the 1960s. The third ride, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, is a little wilder and similar to Disneyland's Mad Tea Party, aka the tea cup ride.

Neon lights brighten up the park at night. Fans of the animated film will recognize restaurants and shops such as Flo's V8 Cafe, Cozy Cone Motel and Ramone's House of Body Art.

The theme park's entrance has also been renovated. Guests walk through Buena Vista Street, which reflects Los Angeles in the 1920s, complete with red trolleys and entertaining performances.

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger was on hand to cut the ribbon on what the company's hoping would be a new beginning for the park, which has never caught on with the public the way Disneyland has.

"We believe the transformation over the last five years, culminating with the phenomenal Buena Vista Street and Cars Land has created a totally new experience and deserves a grand opening," said Iger.

Guests agree that Disney California Adventure Park is bigger and better in that Disney sort of way.

"It's neat. It's not like it was before. It's just so Disney. It screams Disney this time. It's just really, really pretty," said Renee Barron, a park visitor.

Fellow park visitor Jim Ferguson said it now feels as though Disney California Adventure Park "has a soul."

Cars Land's public debut is just one of a series of events that could create a potential traffic nightmare in Orange County this weekend. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are playing at home, and there are concerts and special events at the Honda Center, the City National Grove of Anaheim and the Convention Center. Transit officials warn visitors to allow plenty of time to get to the events and to use public transportation if possible.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.

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