The public is about to get a first look at the revamp of Disney’s 11-year-old California Adventure — including the Pixar-engineered Cars Land and other upgrades. The face-lift, which took five years, aims to fix what Disney CEO Bob Iger once called a “brand eyesore.” The company also hopes to boost attendance at the underperforming venue, which is situated across from Disneyland in Anaheim. Disney reportedly spent $1 billion on renovations. Goofy’s Sky School replaced the Mulholland Madness roller coaster. An animatronic attraction, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure ride, replaced the Golden Dreams audio tour of California. And the Golden Gate Bridge was replaced by Buena Vista Street, which attempts to re-create the Los Angeles of the 1920s when Walt Disney first came to town and lived and worked in Los Feliz.
Celebrities got an early peek at Cars Land last night at a red-carpet unveiling (see video below). It’s designed to replicate the Cars films’ Radiator Springs setting — complete with three new rides, food and shops. At night, neon lights will illuminate the 12-acre venue and surrounding artificial mountains. With the upgrades complete, Disney and its investors will look to see whether enough additional visitors show up to justify the investment, as well as the likely immediate headache: the approximately 1 million annual Disney passholders will have eight days to visit California Adventure before the start of the seven-week summer blackout period, so a crowd crush is expected right away. Still, “It has exceeded my expectations, which were considerable,” Iger told the Orange County Register during Wednesday’s event about the revamp. “I feel very confident about it.”
Here’s a look at the new Cars Land venue with a cameo by a certain Cars gearhead: