July 20, 2012

Radiator Springs Racers Review

Radiator Springs Racers Review Cars Land
The hype's settled down, we've ridden Radiator Springs Racers many times, and it's time to take a clear-eyed look at Disneyland Resort's new headliner attraction.

As an E-Ticket, does Radiator Springs Racers compare well to other Disneyland Resort classics? Does the initial excitement hold up through repeat visits? In short, is it really all that great?
Yes. Radiator Springs Racers is amazing. It's become our all-time favorite ride, and the more trips we take around its winding track, the more it  astonishes us.
How and why does this newcomer deserve the "King of Disney Rides" crown? Let's take a closer look at the specific reasons this adventure works so well.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Radiator Spings Racers is unique; it combines setting, story, motion, characters, humor, sound,  special effects and thrills smoothly into one great, perfectly-paced and emotionally uplifting adventure. Its mix of attraction styles keeps guests engaged, wondering what's going to happen next.
Radiator Springs Racers Loading station Cars Land

The Perfect Ride Story

The story works brilliantly and flows naturally with the speed and motion of the ride vehicles. You start with a scenic road trip through the wonders of Ornament Valley, but soon take a wrong turn into a tunnel.
 After a few near-disasters, you stumble onto Route 66, where Sheriff slows you down, assumes you've come for the Big Race, and asks Mater to lead you to town to get ready. Mater takes you on a tractor-tipping detour, which naturally leads to a frantic run to escape Frank the harvester.
Red Radiator Springs Racers Cars Land
Safely reaching Radiator Springs, your arrival's noted by Sarge, Filmore, Lizzie and Red. At the town's main intersection, Lightning McQueen and Sally -- also assuming you've come for "Race Day" -- welcome you and send you to either Luigi's or Ramone's to get spiffed up. Afterward, Doc Hudson knocks you down a peg for your vanity and introduces himself as your new Crew Chief while ushering you toward the Starting Line. You line up with a second car as Guido cheers you on and Luigi counts down to the start. With a screech of tires, the race begins. As you hurtle along the outdoor course, Doc gives you advice over the radio. You roar across the finish line and Doc congratulates you on your win (or -- if you've lost -- your outstanding performance). Entering spectacular Tailight Caverns, you find Lightning and Mater waiting with some parting words.
Their dialogue, along with Sheriff's closing safety advisory, are written to remind you that there's still much to see and discover out in Radiator Springs, and so the good nature of the ride follows you out the exit.
Tail Light Caverns Sign Racers Cars

Continuing the Experience Beyond the Ride

That last bit matters a lot, and helps explain what makes Radiator Springs Racers so effective. On most rides, the adventure ends as you step back out into the park. Here, however, when you exit the ride, you're still in Radiator Springs. You're still immersed in the Cars World, the races continue and the whole town is bustling with excitement and activity. The entirety of Cars Land extends the ride experience.

Cars Land Radiator Springs Racers Review
Imagine how cool Pirates of the Caribbean would be if you were the main character in the ride story and, after the ride's conclusion, you stepped out into a huge, live-size pirate seaport full of more pirate rides, activities and sights connected with the main ride. Imagine if Space Mountain dropped you off in a life-size, believable spaceport where you could dine and shop at your leisure without ever breaking the space station illusion.

That's what happens with the one-two combination of Radiator Springs Racers and Cars Land. The two are intertwined and enhance each other to a degree never before achieved in a theme park. It even goes beyond what Universal's done with Harry Potter in Florida, as the outdoor portion of Radiator Springs Racers -- with full-size cars zooming past spectators -- forms a living, kinetic part of the whole picture.

The illusion of life

Radiator Springs Racers represents the most successful instance of bringing beloved animated characters to life in a theme park. The audio-animatronic characters on this ride are absolutely phenomenal, and the way they're gradually introduced to riders works brilliantly. After a beautiful drive that feels like a life-size version of Autopia, guests follow a cave into the show building. For the first frantic moments of swerves and near-collisions in the dark, it feels like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on steroids. Then, however, you hear Sheriff's siren and you slow down.
Sheriff Radiator Springs Racers
Then comes the big "Wow" moment as Sheriff -- the first full animatronic character you encounter -- pulls into view to speak to you, and...everyone's jaws drop open. At that instant, you really feel like you've crossed into another world; a full-size automobile is speaking to you and giving you directions...and he looks completely alive.
The surreal fun of this moment only increases as Tow Mater -- full size and fully in character -- rushes up to your vehicle and chats at you with all the expression and enthusiasm you've seen in the films. Riders find themselves speechless with amazement -- it's one of the greatest moments Imagineering's ever created. By the time the hapless field tractors start mooing and tipping over backwards, the effect is complete; riders are completely immersed in the Cars world, and the experience is fun beyond belief.

The thrill of the race

The race section of Radiator Springs Racers blends thrills, voice acting, music and the amazing surrounding rockwork into a perfectly-designed finale. The steeply banked turns, dips and rises make the cars seem to be going much faster than their 40 MPH cruising speed, and you get a nice sense of weightlessness as you top the camel back hills. The overall effect of racing another car through the rocky landscape is fantastic, and the final swoop/banked turn/tunnel dive/finish line combination always elicits shouts of joy from riders.
Radiator Springs Racers hill


The final scene in Tail Light Caverns, where Lightning and Mater share some parting words with your group, ties the whole experience together beautifully, putting riders in a happy, mellow mood. Any thoughts about who won or lost the race are instantly forgotten, as everyone's had a great time. In keeping with the tone of the films, the race isn't about winning or losing, it's about taking part.

Radiator Springs Racers Cars Land review


Of course, racing to the finish line does provide a great goal for the ride's high-speed finale, and adds a sense of spontaneity to the adventure. When you board the ride, there's no way to know ahead of time if you'll win or lose. In the same manner, you don't know if the ride will send you to Lugi's Casa Della Tires or Ramone's House of Body Art. Combined with varying lines of character dialogue and the live interactions of waving to the folks in the opposing car, Radiator Springs Racers is a bit different each time you ride. Throw in the beautiful outdoor lighting after dark and the hundreds of details you won't catch on the first several trips, and you've got one of the most evergreen attractions in theme park history.
Radiator Springs Racers Butte mountains
Technically amazing, thrilling and full of heart, Radiator Springs Racers is a masterpiece. It tells its story with clarity and humor, and the experience carries over as guests disembark into the bustling town of Radiator Springs. Everyone involved in the creation of this attraction should be very proud; it's going to delight and inspire guests from all over the world for decades to come.
Radiator Springs Racers mountains sunset

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