One of the most popular rides at Disney’s California Adventure is Radiator Springs Racers.
Similar to EPCOT’s Test Track at Walt Disney World, it is a high-speed ride with Guests sitting in a vehicle designed after the characters from the Pixar movie Cars (2006). Riders race each other as they travel through the idyllic Radiator Springs, including scenes such as Ramone’s House of Body Art, Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, and tractor-tipping with Mater. However, there are a lot of secrets that go into making this ride.
Disney is well known for using letters or numbers in their parks and in their films as nods to various people who had a hand in making some sort of Disney magic. Continuing this tradition, the letters and numbers on the license plates of the ride vehicles represent the names and birthdates of some of the Imagineers that helped make the ride.
Test track at EPCOT is one of the fastest rides in the park, even though it only taps out at a speed of about 66 to 69 miles an hour. Part of this feeling is due to the way the track is built, making it feel like riders are going faster than they actually are. Radiator Springs Racers does a similar trick when riders are on a certain part of the track. The track is curved and angled, working with gravity to make riders feel like they’re going much faster than the top speed limit of 40 miles an hour.
With two ride tracks on the course as the vehicles race each other, they do end up splitting at one point. One side takes riders through Ramone’s paint shop, while the other side takes riders through Luigi’s tire shop. The riders on Ramone’s side get a quick paint job while the riders on Luigi’s get new tires. The ride vehicle is lifted into the air as Guido does a quick tire change. The mechanical noises coming from under the car are actually a recording of sounds from when the ride was being built. The Imagineers rode the ride dozens of times with different sound effects until finally deciding to use the sound of their own construction to make it just right.
In order to really make Guests feel like they’re in Radiator Springs, Imagineers and designers worked hard to make sure the desert mountain range was just right. The Cadillac Range is not only the largest mountain range in a U.S. Disney Park, but the mountain peaks are actually the tail fins of Cadillac models from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. The mountain range is inspired by the famous Cadillac Ranch installation on Route 66.
There’s a lot that goes into making a ride memorable and magical, some that many Guests may never even know about. It’s all in the details and it all comes together to create a story to be shared with generations of visitors for years to come.
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