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Cars Land preview: Wacky, retro look invokes nostalgia

June 14, 2012|By David Colker
  • One of Cars Land's seemingly wooden buildings is embedded with antique bottles that decades ago were used to hold engine oil.
One of Cars Land's seemingly wooden buildings is embedded with antique… (David Colker / Los Angeles…)

Cars Land, the giant new attraction at Disney California Adventure, looks in many ways like one of those retro diners that try to invoke nostalgia for what seemed like an easier era.

There is lots of neon, wacky sign shapes, bright colors and coffee cups as a design motif.

This could all seem very tired, except that Disney craftspeople put it together and money seemed not to be much of an object (Cars Land is the major piece of a $1.1-billion upgrade of the park).

The storefronts and objects show off painstaking attention to detail, even to light fixtures – one eatery sports a chandelier fashioned out of exhaust pipes. One of the wooden buildings (at least it looks like wood – sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s real here) is embedded with actual, antique bottles that decades ago were used to hold engine oil.

And there are plenty of surprises – a metal storm drain cover on an out-of-the-way pathway looks to be standard issue, but a closer look reveals that it was obviously designed just for Cars Land, with stylized depictions of the park’s Radiator Springs ride etched into the metal.

No matter what people end up thinking of Cars Land overall, it would be tough not to admire the craftsmanship that went into its creation.

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