By Melissa Kinsley

Ever considered Disneyland before for a family vacation but nixed it because it was too far? Never considered Disneyland before? The new Cars Land in Disneyland’s California Adventure Park that opened this past June may just be the driving reason to plan a visit to Anaheim, CA.

Disneyland is comprised of two parks: Disneyland Park (similar to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World) and California Adventure Park. The Disneyland site touts California Adventure Park as “newly expanded and re-imagined” and invites you to “explore 8 lands filled with Disney and Pixar characters and stories.” Cars Land is one of those 8 lands—picture Frontier Land or Fantasy Land in Disneyland Park—with shopping (Sarge’s Surplus Hut, Radiator Springs Curios, Ramone’s House of Body Art), food options (Fillmore’s Taste-In, Cozy Cone Motel, Flo’s V8 Café) and rides (Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Flying Tires, Radiator Springs Racers) all based on the Cars movies/characters.

To that end, the newest land is designed to make you feel exactly like stepping into Radiator Springs. The painstaking attention paid to the smallest detail always impresses me about Disney. For example, orange cones clearly play a central role in the Cozy Cone Motel—from the expected large orange cones that provide snacks and drinks (served in a bright orange cone) to the unexpected small orange cones that light paths, serve as fence posts and are used to create a fun water wheel near the spot where you can have your picture taken with Lightning McQueen, Mater and other Cars characters throughout the day.

The rest of the food stops faithfully tie into their Cars’ characters. Fillmore’s Taste-in offers quick snacks and drinks all served up with a hippie vibe—complete with a 60’s inspired bead curtain for photo ops. Flo’s V8 Café is a drive up diner that offers both outside and inside seating. We opted for inside, as it not only offers air conditioning, but also, has a perfect view of the cars racing by in Radiator Springs Racers. The Lightning McQueen waffles were a hit with my kids and a perfect way to fuel up for a day of riding rides.

While the food is good and the shopping what you’d expect (Disney gifts and gear), the rides are really what matters to my family. There are three Cars-themed rides: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Flying Tires and Radiator Springs Racers.

At Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, you are pulled by small tractors in what Disney calls a “tow-tappin’ square dance hosted by Mater.” And, who could resist, a Disney employee marketing the ride as “the shortest line in Cars Land?” He and the 10-minute wait made our morning.

On Luigi’s Flying Tires, you float in tires and toss very large red, white and green striped beach balls that pay homage to Luigi’s Italian heritage from tire to tire. Getting to the ball is based on how well you direct your tire (you and your tire mate lean towards where you want the tire to go). A word of caution—if you’re wearing a sundress, be careful getting in and out of the tires as the air jets may just transform your G-rated vacation to PG.

Radiator Springs Racers is a fast-paced ride in which you race against another car through the Cadillac Range Mountains. The ride starts with a leisurely drive through Ornament Valley and winds through Radiator Springs where familiar characters help you get ready for the race. Once your car is “race ready” after a visit to either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art, the pace picks up and the race begins. It was hands down the best ride in Cars Land.

As Cars Land is one of the newest attractions, be prepared for long lines. Of all three rides, Radiators Springs Racers is the most popular and had the longest line during our visit. To avoid waiting up to 3 hours, we made it our first stop in the morning. We still waited roughly 40 minutes but it was well worth the wait. You can get a Fast Pass for this ride, which I highly recommend if you want to ride later in the day when the crowds are heavier.

Despite the crowds, Cars Land is a definite “must see” and, for us, a reason to visit Disneyland. Tickets at Disneyland work similarly to Walt Disney World. You can get a 1-Day 1-Park ticket for $81.00 (Ages 3 to 9)/ $87.00 (Ages 10 & Up) or a 1-Day Park Hopper ticket for $119.00 (Ages 3 to 9)/ $125.00 (Ages 10 & Up). If you’re still not sure you want to travel to California, check out a fun virtual tour of Cars Land on Disneyland’s site: