Dos and Dont’s of Disneyland Cars Land

Whether your family merely enjoys the Pixar Films “Cars” movies, or you are all-out fanatics, these Disneyland Cars Land tips will help make the most of your Radiator Springs visit. To maximize fun and minimize wait times, follow these 20 dos and don’ts for visiting Disney Cars Land in Disney California Adventure Park!

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Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen in Radiator Springs Cars Land theme park
Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen in Disneyland Cars Land (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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1. Don’t skip Radiator Springs Racers.

Radiator Springs Racers is one of the most impressive and beloved Disney rides of all time. Sitting in race cars from the “Cars” movie series, riders take a low-key spin through the fictional town of Radiator Springs and past a beautiful waterfall, Firewall Falls, set amongst red desert rocks in Ornament Valley.

Then, your ride vehicle will take a detour through either Ramone’s House of Body Art or Luigi’s Casa Della Tires. (You never know which pitstop you’ll make!)

Finally, it’s race time. Zip along a winding road with stomach-tingling hills. You compete against another “Cars” vehicle filled with parkgoers. A different car crosses the finish line first to win each time. Ka-chow!

This popular ride closed for 10 days in the summer of 2022 due to a smoking vehicle. Worry not, Cars Land fans! Disney assures all is safe and the ride has since resumed operating.

Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disneyland theme park
Radiator Springs Racers (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Do use Genie+.

As the star attraction at Disneyland Cars Land, Radiator Springs Racers almost always has a long wait. Add a long ride time (4 minutes) and a loopy track from which fallen items often need to be retrieved, and the queue grows even longer.

To ensure a spin on Radiator Springs Racers, you may want to pony up the extra bucks for Genie+ via the Disneyland app. Replacing MaxPass and FastPass, Genie+ is an optional upgrade at Disneyland that offers electronic access via smart phones to make shortened queue wait-time requests. Use Genie+ to skip the standby line and gain quicker access to select popular attractions via the Lightning Lane.

Reserve your spot by using Genie+ upon entry for the day to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. Radiator Springs Racers should be the very first Genie+ ride you request for the day. (Yes, it is that popular!) Note: you can reserve each Genie+ ride or attraction just once per day.

Firewall Falls in Ornament Valley from the Radiator Springs Racers ride
Firewall Falls in Ornament Valley from the Radiator Springs Racers ride (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort)

3. Don’t arrive late.

You may also want to arrive at Disney California Adventure Park when it opens for the day since Genie+ passes for each ride are limited. Star attractions like Radiator Springs Racers run out of Genie+ spots quickest.

Radiator Spring Racers ride
Radiator Spring Racers ride (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort)

4. Do stop by Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree can be a whole lotta fun for anyone 32 inches or taller. It features a bunch of adorable baby tractors spinning this way and that in a dance of sorts. The sweet theming of this spinning hoe down makes this a fun attraction for all ages.

Plus, it’s a short ride with typically manageable wait times. Even if it’s not your cup of motor oil, at least it’s just 2 minutes long.

Some riders might find being whipped around in circles a bit jarring, however. Stop by and observe the rousing ride to see if you’re up for it. Those with conditions like pregnancy or neck, back, or heart problems might want to pass.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in Disney Cars Land theme park
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Don’t look for Mater at his Jamboree.

Tow Mater’s voice sings the ride’s square dance songs, but he does not have a physical presence at his namesake ride. For that, you’ve got to go to the character meet-and-greet spots along the main drag in Radiator Springs.

The first time my family rode Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree many years ago, my preschooler wandered around the ride platform asking, “Where’s Mater?” He would not leave until a Disney cast member assured him Mater was not available to come out and play.

YoMater's Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land with kids
You won’t find Mater at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Do meet “Cars” characters.

Be prepared to wait a long time to meet popular Cars characters like Lightning McQueen and Mater. It’s worth it to watch kids attempt to converse with the cars and for the darling photo ops.

The highlight of Disney Cars Land theme park for my “Cars”-loving children when they were wee was meeting Mater, everyone’s favorite tow truck.

Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to meet Lightning McQueen because we kept thinking we’d come back when the line was shorter. Well, the line never got shorter, my friends. To meet your favorite characters, you will likely have to wait.

Meeting Tow Mater at Cars Land Disney theme park
Meeting Tow Mater at Cars Land (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Do eat in Cars Land.

Cars Land offers one quick-service restaurant plus a few fun snack options. Flo’s V8 Café is a kitschy Cars-themed diner. Go here for comfort foods for lunch and dinner. Expect such menu items as Flo’s famous fried chicken, burgers, a club sandwich, and cobb salad.

Flo's V8 Cafe in Disneyland Cars Land
Flo’s V8 Cafe (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort)

Meanwhile, Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel offers different treats at each of its five cone-shaped stations. Look for cones filled with flavored popcorn (dill pickle is my favorite!), soft serve ice cream cones, and a chili cone queso.

For light snacks and beverages, stop by Fillmore’s Taste-In for bottled drinks, fresh fruit, trail mix, chips, and more. This is one of my family’s favorite spots for healthy snacks in Disney California Adventure Park.

Cozy Cone Motel at Disney Cars theme park
One snack spot at the Cozy Cone Motel (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. Don’t expect big thrills on Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters.

Now replaced by Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters, Luigi’s Flying Tires was a verrrrry slow-moving air-powered ride. Riders (32 inches or taller) leaned from one side to another to make the suspended “tire” float this way or that. When I first rode this ride at the Cars Land Grand Opening, there were red, white, and green beach balls that riders tossed to one another that added to the fun but those disappeared soon thereafter.

Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is an equally ho-hum ride with cars moving about at a slightly faster pace than the original ride. The darling cars waltz about on a dance floor. Although it’s not a thrill for teens and adults, it is pretty. Plus, young “Cars” fans will want to take a spin on this ride.

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters in Cars Land Disney theme park
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort)

9. Do browse Cars Land shops.

Cars Land is one of the most extensive recreations of a Disney movie at any Disney Park. Take some time to wander through its themed stores. You’ll get a behind-the-illustration glimpse into the make-believe town of Radiator Springs. Plus, you’ll find special souvenirs not available anywhere else but in Disneyland Cars Land.

Disney Cars Land theme park souvenirs
Cars Land souvenirs (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Ramone’s House of Body Art was designed to look like a custom paint and body shop. This store celebrates car culture with clothing, accessories, collectibles, and artwork. Be sure to check out the original works by American automobile designer and reality TV star, Chip Foose.

Sarge’s Surplus Hut will appeal to kids and kids at heart. Look for “Cars” movie and Cars Land toys, apparel, hats, pins, and more. In the films, residents of Radiator Springs can buy military gear.

Radiator Springs Curios, a recreation of Lizzie’s shop from the “Cars” series, is closed indefinitely.

Ramone's House of Body Art in Disneyland Cars Land
Ramone’s House of Body Art (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort)

10. Don’t miss cruising Cars Land at dusk.

Cars Land is fun during the day, but it is downright enchanting at night. After exploring the rest of Disney California Adventure Park, head over to Cars Land just as the sun starts to set. Then walk through Radiator Springs as it comes to life with glowing neon signs.

You’ll feel like part of the “Cars” gang as you cruise up and down the strip. Whenever I wander through a glowing Cars Land in the evening, I feel full of Disney “wow.”

Cars Land at nighttime at Disney California Adventure
Cars Land at nighttime (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disneyland Resort)

11. Do choose the right rides.

I’d rank Radiator Springs Racers among my top five Disney attractions of all time. The theming, music, characters, speed, desert scenery, and the race with a different winner every time…it’s all awesome.

Fast rides not your thing? Radiator Springs Racers go up to 40 zippy miles per hour. But there aren’t any huge drops or creepy elements. Watch the video below to see if you or your child can handle this ride. (You can hear my son, Leo, worrying about me dropping my smartphone throughout!)

Whether you want to hit all the Disney thrill rides or avoid them, take a look at the scariest rides at Disneyland. Then you can decide which attractions are right for your family.

YouTube video

12. Don’t ignore height requirements.

Make sure kids meet the height requirement before investing in a very long wait for Radiator Springs Racers. For safety reasons, this ride is only for those 40 inches or taller. Don’t try to sneak a shorter child onto the ride or you’ll be disappointed when you’re turned away.

Radiator Springs Racers auto race through Monument Valley
Radiator Springs Racers auto race through Monument Valley (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disneyland Resort)

13. Do opt for the Single Rider Line.

If you don’t mind going solo, then go for the Single Rider Line for Radiator Springs Racers. Then you can use Genie+ for a different ride or double up so you can ride the star Cars Land attraction more than once.

You can wait with your family members and friends in line but when you reach the front, hop in whichever car you’re assigned. Who knows? Maybe you’ll race against your travel companions!

Halloween decorations at the Cozy Cone Motel
Halloween decorations at the Cozy Cone Motel (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock, Disneyland Resort)

14. Don’t miss Cars Land at Halloween.

When it’s Halloween Time at Disneyland, Cars Land gets a spirited makeover. Look for giant jack-o-lantern traffic cones, a witch car, a sugar skull car, tires filled with orange flowers, costumed “Cars” characters, and beyond.

Additionally, listen for Halloween songs on Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-o-Ween. You can also taste fall flavors at Cars Land restaurants like a Fruity Sugar Churro tossed in fruit cereal and topped with a purple and green glaze.

Cars Land festive holiday decorations at Disneyland
Festive holiday decorations in Cars Land (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

15. Do visit Cars Land during the Christmas season.

Cars Land is one of the most exceptionally decorated areas of the Disneyland Parks during the Christmas season. Enjoy wrench-inspired snowflakes and a “snow car” welcoming you to Route 66. 

Cozy Cone Christmas trees
Cozy Cone Christmas trees (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland)

Look for Christmas trees made from tires, Route 66 signs, and more. Not to be missed are the unique holiday trees made from orange traffic cones in front of the Cozy Cone Motel. As the sun sets on Buena Vista Street, gather around for a joyous Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

Cars Land’s home park is my favorite place in the world to ring in the New Year. Find out why by reading my tips for celebrating New Year’s Eve at Disney California Adventure Park.

Disneyland Hotel at night
Disneyland Hotel at night (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland)

16. Do stay at a Disney hotel property.

Guests of Disney hotels gain entrance to the theme parks 30 minutes early as part of Entry. To take advantage of this benefit, book a room at the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, or Grand Californian. You never have to leave the magical world of Disney when you stay at one of these hotels.

This is especially convenient if you want to increase your chances of riding Radiator Springs Racers and other popular rides without waiting a long time in line. Although Radiator Springs Racers is not available during this bonus half-hour, you can book your Genie+ upon early entry.

Plus, other rides are available in Disney California Adventure Park during this time period including Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Incredicoaster, and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.

All three Disney hotels offer fabulous pools and special Disney touches, like Disney character phone calls and room charges. You can even request delivery of your park purchases to your room, so you don’t have to lug your bag of goodies around all day.

The 12-acre Disneyland Cars Land
The 12-acre Disneyland Cars Land (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disneyland Resort)

17. Don’t underestimate the magic of Cars Land.

Cars Land opened back in June 2012. At the time, Disney CEO Bob Iger called it, “The Crown Jewel of our Disney California Adventure expansion.” The 12-acre addition was the biggest Disney expansion since California Adventure opened in 2001.

As we counted down the days to our family’s first Disney Cars Land visit, my then 4-year-old asked me daily for weeks, “How many sleeps until Cars Land, Mama?” He had built up Cars Land to such an extreme in his head that I worried it couldn’t possibly meet his expectations. Boy, was I wrong!

Many years later, Cars Land remains one of the most beloved and thoroughly themed lands in all the Disney Parks. It’s truly a magical place for Cars films fans of all ages.

Book Your Disneyland Trip

18. Do save money on your Disneyland vacation.

Want to save money on your Disneyland vacation? Of course, you do! Use discount code TravelMamas to get $10 off any two-night or longer Southern California package (hotel and 2-ticket minimum) when you book through Get Away Today. Just want tickets? Buy discounted Disneyland Park tickets now!

Williams, Arizona - Inspiration for Disney's Cars Land
Williams, Arizona – Inspiration for Disney’s Cars Land (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

19. Do get more Disney inspiration.

Walt Disney Imagineering embarked on an epic road trip through America’s Southwest to develop the right scenery, rides, shops, and cuisine for Disneyland Cars Land. Get a glimpse of some of the Route 66 inspiration with my tips for visiting the Grand Canyon with kids.

A wonderful hotel pool adds even more magic to a Disney vacation. Take a look at the best hotels with pools near Disneyland.

Which Disneyland character meal is best for your whole family? Find out in this guide to Disneyland character dining.

If you’re visiting theme parks with children, then be sure to read my tips for Disneyland with kids.

Disneyland Cars Land Tips

20. Don’t forget these Disneyland Cars Land tips.

For the best possible experience, save this complete guide to Cars Land. Just pin the image above to Pinterest. Follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Do you have any questions or suggestions for visiting Cars Land? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: I was invited to attend the grand opening of Disneyland Cars Land as a member of the media in 2012. I have visited Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park numerous times on my own dime since then. All opinions are mine, as always.

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  1. My son loves the cars movies he owns cars outfits I would love to take him here but its all depending on my funds hopefully I can though cause he wants to see a live lightning mcqueen and I think this might be the way to do it.

    1. Jamie – Oh! I hope you can bring your Cars-loving son to Cars Land. It really is a magical place to bring little ones who still believe in the magic of a talking Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen. Sending good thoughts your way that this will work out for you & your son!

  2. Great tips, Colleen! We went to Cars Land this past September and had a blast! We didn’t do Radiator Springs Racers but did try just about everything else. My 3-year-old had a ball (as did I)!