One of the perks of running a big Disney fan site is getting to know lots of well connected people in the company and in media. I have spoken with a number of folks recently about the new Radiator Springs Racers ride at California Adventure and have pieced together this scene by scene description of the new mega attraction. Please note, this review is one big long spoiler, so don't read any further if you don't want to ruin the surprise.
Radiator Springs Racers:
We're going to leave the detailed queue out of this discussion for now and focus on the ride itself.
Once you are seated and buckled in to your car, all the vehicles that have just loaded move forward simultaneously (as they did in Rocket Rods and do on Test Track) and you begin to hear the Sheriff’s voice giving you the safety spiel. When his part is complete, Ramone gives riders the Spanish version of the same spiel. Your seat belts are checked at a small control area by a cast member a few feet down from the loading area. Once you are cleared and begin to move forward, a familiar score is heard. The “McQueen and Sally” song from Cars plays as you take a mini scenic tour of Ornament Valley and you catch a nice view of Radiator Springs along with the rest of Cars Land. You begin to go under an arch and the waterfall is revealed. As your vehicle continues, you enter a tunnel into the canyon and make your way into the showroom.
Down the dark tunnel, your first surprise is Mac, honking and blaring his horn as he shines his lights as if you nearly crashed into him. The following scenes are inspired by Lightning McQueen being lost in the desert at night. You swerve out of Mac’s way and dodge characters Mini and Van who are on either side of the track, trying to avoid you in the darkness. You make your way down the road and approach train tracks. The car quickly turns right as you only see the approaching lights of the train but never really see the train itself. You come to a billboard on your left and Sheriff drives out from behind, greeting you and calling Mater to take you on from there. Mater appears on the right and backs away as you move forward, asking if you have ever been tractor tipping. He backs up into the bushes and then appears again (a second Audio-Animatronic of Mater). He tells you to honk your horn as you approach a couple of tractors, the car honks and the tractors begin to “moo” and fall back, their wheels dangling in the air like in the movie. With that comes the warning of Frank, and of course, the 2nd surprise, Frank appears out of the darkness in front of you and raises his blades at your car. Your vehicle makes a quick left and you pick up speed for a moment and drive up the road. Your car slows down again and a full moon in the sky features a silhouette of Mater arching across it.
Here is where you enter Radiator Springs. You drive past Flo’s where Filmore and Sarge exchange words to the right of you. On your left is Lizzie in front of her Radiator Springs Curios shop. As you continue, Red waters flowers with a cool effect similar to Madame Leota of The Haunted Mansion. Water flows on a screen shaped as a water spout arch. Lightning McQueen and Sally are found in the center in front of a forced perspective set of the rest of Radiator Springs. They tell you that you need to be prepped for the big race and split you off into either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires (left) or Ramone’s House of Body Art (Right).
If you enter Luigi’s, you make your way through his tire shop and come to a stop where Guido is to your right in a trap door and Luigi is parked to the left. Luigi takes care of you and Guido drops under as the trap door closes. Your vehicle rocks from side to side and Guido works on your car and you are shown the results on a mirror that is revealed behind red curtains. You then move on to the next room where Doc awaits.
If you enter Ramone’s, one of the first things you notice right away is the smell of fresh paint in the air. You will see two robotic arms that are ready to give your car a brand new paint job. Ramone and Flo can be seen on screens to your right as they watch the robotic arms move up and down and spray you with a mist. At the end of the shop, two angled mirrors on opposite sides show off the work that has been done. Once you’ve been “painted,” you move into a scene where Doc awaits.
Doc has his mic and headset ready as he is adorned with his Fabulous Hudson Hornet decal and rests on hydraulic lifts. He is positioned in the center of the room where the split track goes through and turns to talk to the passing car. With words of encouragement, you are sent into the next scene where you either wait for your opponent or your opponent is already waiting for you.
Luigi and Guido (wearing his colorful Italian afro) are waiting on the left and count you down. Luigi waves a checkered flag with enthusiasm and you take off to the outer portion of the attraction.
Out of the showroom your engine revs and you head towards your first bank turn around the butte behind the courthouse with the letters RS on it. The entire time you either pull ahead of your opponent or your opponent pulls ahead of you. You bank right and you’ll notice the high cliffs on your left and a low rock on the right as if it is almost low enough to hit you. After the turn, you drive straight and through two dips followed by a bigger dip where spectators can see you race side by side. After that dip, you bank left around Willy’s Butte and head straight into a dark tunnel filled with mist. You emerge back up and out of the tunnel and your cars head for the finish line. After you both cross the finish line, you make your way around the last banked turn to the right and slow down into Tail Light Caverns. Inside, you will notice glowing red and orange stalaclights and stalaglights (get it?!) in this colorful cavern.
You continue forward where Mater and McQueen exchange words. As you pass the two animatronics on your left, the 2 tracks become 1 again and you head back into the unload station. Riders exit to the left and head upstairs to where you will see your photo finish. From there, you head back downstairs and out of the cave where you will see the last bank turn you made a minute ago. You exit under two bridges where the ride passes over and are back near the courthouse.
And that my friends is Radiator Springs Racers in a nut shell. By all accounts, it's a stunning attraction.