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Dos and Dont’s of Disney’s Cars Land with Kids

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Whether your family merely enjoys Disney’s Cars movies or you’re all-out fanatics, these Cars Land tips will help you make the most of your Disneyland theme park visit. Follow these dos and don’ts for visiting Disney Cars Land with kids.

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Meeting Tow Mater at Cars Land Disney theme park

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

Do get a FastPass to ride Radiator Springs Racers.

Radiator Springs Racers is the star attraction in Cars Land. To secure FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers, you may want to pony up some cash per rider for Disney MaxPass. Available via the Disney app for an additional fee, MaxPass enables guests to reserve FastPasses via their smart phones while in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park.

You may also want to arrive at Disney California Adventure Park when it opens for the day since FastPasses for each ride are limited. Popular rides like Radiator Springs Racers run out of FastPasses quickest.

Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disneyland theme park

Radiator Springs Racers (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Do prepare kids for possible race time disappointment.

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 ever time…it’s all awesome. For a peek at the excellence of this ride, watch my Radiator Springs Racers video below. (You can hear my son, Leo, worrying about me dropping my smart phone throughout!)

Even with a FastPass, you should know a couple of things before you go. Keep in mind, Radiator Springs Racers 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. During our first Cars Land visit, my then 4-year-old son was able to ride. He was terrified throughout the race, though. Some kids at this age might not mind the speed and dips, but it is something to consider when planning to visit Cars Land with kids. Now that he’s a tween, this is one of Leo’s favorite rides!

Additionally, this ride breaks down. A lot. I know because I researched on my iPhone how often Radiator Springs Racers breaks down while waiting in line for 2.5 hours. This is a big chunk of time to keep children entertained. Plus, it eats up your precious Disney park time. You are not guaranteed the ride will ever get fixed during your visit, so it’s a gamble.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in Disney Cars Land theme park

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Don’t look for Mater at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.

This spinning hoe down of a ride can be a whole lotta fun for anyone 32 inches or taller, but Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree was a bit scary for my preschooler as we whipped around in circles. My then 7-year-old daughter, however, adored it.

When we came to a stop, my son 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. Mater’s voice sings the ride’s square dance songs, but he does not have a physical presence here. For that, you’ve got to go to the character meet-and-greet spots along the main drag in Radiator Springs.

YoMater's Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land with kids

You won’t find Mater at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Do meet Lightning McQueen and Mater.

The highlight of Disney Cars Land theme park for my Cars-loving children when they were wee was meeting Mater, the 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. Be prepared to wait a long time to meet these popular characters. It’s worth it to watch kids attempt to converse with the cars and for the darling photo ops.

Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen in Radiator Springs Cars Land theme park

Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Do get a bite to eat in Cars Land.

Cars Land offers one quick service restaurant and a few fun snack options. Flo’s V8 Café is a kitchy Cars-themed diner, serving up comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Expect such dishes as fried chicken, a tuna fish sandwich, and a vegetarian pot pie.

Meanwhile, the Cozy Cone Motel offers different treats at each of its five cone-shaped stations. Look for flavored popcorn (dill pickle is my favorite!), root beer floats, and chili “cone” queso.

For light snacks and beverages, stop by Fillmore’s Taste-In for bottled drinks, fresh fruits, trail mix, chips and more.

Cozy Cone Motel at Disney Cars theme park

One snack spot at the Cozy Cone Motel (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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. Although it’s not a thrill for teens and adults, 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)

Do wander the shops.

Cars Land is one of the most extensive recreations of a Disney movie at any Disney park. Take some time to wander through the stores and get a behind-the-illustration glimpse into the make-believe town of Radiator Springs. There are Cars-themed toys, clothing, pins and other tchotchkes you can’t find anywhere else but in the Disney Cars Land theme park.

Disney Cars Land theme park souvenirs

Cars Land souvenirs (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Don’t miss cruising Cars Land at night, preferably at dusk.

Cars Land is fun during the day, but it is downright magical at night. After exploring the rest of Disney California Adventure Park, head over to Cars Land just as the sun is starting to set. Then you can walk through Radiator Springs as it comes to life with neon lights. You’ll feel like a member of the Cars gang as you cruise down the strip. Whenever my family wanders through Cars Land at dusk, I always feel all thankful and mushy and full of “wow.”

Cars Land at nighttime at Disney California Adventure

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

Do stay at a Disney hotel property.

Gain early entry to Disneyland and/or Disney California Adventure on select Magic Mornings as a guest of  one of the Disney hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, or Grand Californian) . 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.

All three Disney hotels offer fabulous pools and special Disney touches, like Disney character phone calls, room charges, and delivery of your park purchases to your room so you don’t have to lug your bag of goodies around all day. Plus, you never have to leave the magical world of Disney when you stay at one of these hotels.

Disneyland Hotel at night

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

Don’t underestimate the magic of Cars Land.

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, I worried it couldn’t possibly meet his expectations. Boy, was I wrong!

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Disney Cars Land attractions and tips

Don’t forget these Cars Land tips.

Be sure to save this list Cars Land dos and don’ts for future reference. Just pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

If you liked this story, then I bet you’ll love this list of the scariest rides at Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure. They’re ranked specifically for families.

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

A Note from The Travel Mama: My family and I received complimentary tickets from Disney’s California Adventure Park when this story originally posted in 2012. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. Allison Holm says

    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)!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Allison- So glad you and your little one had fun at Cars Land! My family CAN’T WAIT to go back!

  2. This sounds like Disney has hit it “out of the park.” What a great way to vacation.

  3. Isn’t Cars Land FUN? We visited in October and absolutely loved it. It felt like we were walking right into the movie!

    P.S. Try Flo’s V8 Cafe for breakfast next time: http://disneyed.com/theme-parks/what-to-eat-at-flos-v8-cafe-in-california-adventure/. 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Stephanie – I love Flo’s V8 Cafe for lunch/dinner & hadn’t even thought of going there for breakfast. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Skiorganizers says

    I think this is so cute. Not only the kids can enjoy but also adults! Everybody loves Cars! Thanks for the wonderful post Colleen

  5. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Skiorganizers – Glad you found the post helpful – thanks for the comment! 🙂

  6. Amber's The Mile High Mama says

    Fun, fun, fun! We went to Cars Land a few months ago and my kids can’t stop raving about it. And they’re not even big Cars fans!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Amber – I bet your kids will be big fans of Cars now that they’ve visited Radiator Springs in real life! 🙂

  7. Jamie Shoufelt says

    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.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      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!

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