Radiator Springs Racers is the kind of ride nobody but Disney can do.
The new $200 million attraction in the 12-acre Cars Land at Disney California Adventure brings to bear all the theme park giant's strengths and abilities: immersive storytelling, detailed thematic scenery, life-like animatronic characters and the illusion of speed and thrill.
The E-ticket ride is so amazing that Disney may need to come up with a new attraction designation: F-ticket.
Radiator Springs Racers is one of the best attractions Disney has ever built and stands next to
Officially premiering Friday, Radiator Springs Racers combines a classic dark ride through scenes from the Disney/Pixar "Cars" movie with a thrilling head-to-head drag race around hairpin turns and along high-speed straightaways. I rode the new attraction several times during press and visitor preview events.
Riders climb into an anthropomorphic slot car based on Epcot's Test Track technology before heading out on a road trip through the desert buttes and bluffs of the 2006 film's iconic Ornament Valley.
The first ahh moment comes as we turn the corner and encounter a 100-foot-tall waterfall as the music soars from the onboard sound system and our car actually stops to take in the scenery.
Heading indoors down a dark tunnel, we meet the cast of characters from the movie in a series of surprising and harrowing moments. Unlike most dark rides, the cars and vehicles we encounter look full-size and three-dimensional with animated faces.
The piece de resistance is a trip through the neon-lighted town of Radiator Springs at night, where Lightning McQueen gives us a pep talk just before the big race.
After a quick paint job at Ramone's body shop or new tires from Luigi, we're off on a race around a banked and undulating outdoor course that's fast enough to push us back in our seats around the corners and lift us up out of them on the camelback hills.