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Read all about "What's Coming" to the Happiest Place on Earth this summer in this SPECIAL ISSUE  of MOUSE TIME MAGAZINE.


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How Disney California Adventure Was Born

From 2001 to 2012, Disney California Adventure was a story of hit and miss, mostly miss. The park first opened in 2001 as a play on California's many natural attractions. Die-hard Disney fans scorned as a designed themed on the state of  California and not Disney Characters left fans wondering why Walts legacy of creating fantasy and old-world charm was abandoned for Southen California beaches, aviation, and California Sierra Nevada Mountains.


So, from 2010 through 2012, Disney Imagineers did what they do best, build incredible cutting edge attractions. And in the new, reimagined California Adventure Disney Imagineers want all in when in 2012 Disney pulled back the curtain on a new Buena Vista Street, Carthey Circle Theatre, World of Color in Paradise Lagoon and the crowning jewel, Cars Land.


Buena Vista Street opened June 15, 2012, as part of a five-year expansion of Disney California Adventure Park. It depicts a typical Los Angeles neighborhood where a young Walt Disney lived and worked after arriving in Southern California in 1923. This idyllic version of the City of Angels is captured with quaint “mom-and-pop” shops and markets, a big city department store and corner cafe. The two Red Car Trolleys providing transportation up and down the boulevard are a nostalgic reminder of Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s. The architecture draws on Los Angeles Spanish/Mexican roots, inspired by actual buildings of greater Los Angeles.


The entrance to the park is a nod to the old Pan Pacific Auditorium, an L.A. landmark built in the 1930s. Carthay Circle Theatre, the iconic center of Disney California Adventure, honors the place where Walt premiered his first feature-length animation "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937. The Red Car Trolley, inspired by the "Big Red Cars" of the Pacific Electric Railway, provides service between Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land. On Carthay Circle, guests often pose for photos at "Storytellers," a bronze statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. It reflects the beginning of a great partnership between the two, a time of great hope and boundless optimism in the life of the up-and-coming filmmaker and his famous creation.


Crowning the multi-year expansion at Disney California Adventure is Cars Land, inspired by the Disney®Pixar blockbuster “Cars.” Cars Land features three family attractions showcasing characters and settings from the movie, including one of the largest and most elaborate attractions ever created for a Disney park: Radiator Springs Racers! 


Cars is the seventh Disney®Pixar feature film, and Pixar's final, independently-produced motion picture before its purchase by Disney. 


The idea for Cars was born after John Lasseter, Cars Producer, took a cross-country road trip with his wife and five sons in 2000. Upon returning home, he contacted Michael Wallis, a well-known Route 66 historian for some historical insight. To research the film, Wallis was asked to lead a group of eleven Pixar animators on two separate road trips across the Route. The group traveled down Route 66 in rented white Cadillac’s, studying the small towns and meeting the locals who dotted the desert landscape. Seeing a fleet of bright, white Cadillac’s caravanning down the highway certainly must have been quite a scene to Mater, Sally, Doc and the rest of the Radiator Springs car crew!   


"Cars" was almost called "Route 66." However, there was a concern that people would relate more to "Route 66," the popular weekly television show that aired from 1960 through 1964. To avoid confusion in the movie's branding the name was changed to simply "Cars." Also, Lightning McQueen's number was originally going to be 57, John Lasseter's birth year of 1957. It was, however, ultimately changed to 95 to highlight the 1995 game-changing release of famed Toy Story.


Lasseter wanted his car stars to look as much like real cars as possible. This design challenge created daunting new challenges for Pixar technicians. Creating different metallic characters, each with different shapes, meant writing powerful new software that accurately showed reflections off brightly polished metal. Cars was the first Pixar film to use a new technique called "ray tracing," which allowed the characters to reflect their environment credibly. As a result of the increased time to render each scene, Cars took an average of 17 hours to render a single frame. Incredibly, this equates to several days to render just one second of film. Lasseter also insisted on "truth to materials," which meant the animation team was not permitted to stretch or squash the characters, which would make them inconsistent with the heavy metal frames of real cars. To achieve this effect, Pixar animators employed innovative techniques that added bends and gestures, so they remained faithful to the cars' construction. 


Cars the movie premiered on May 26, 2006, at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, and was released nationwide on June 9, 2006. Cars was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Animated Feature, and won the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. The groundbreaking film went on to earn $244 million domestically and more than $461 million worldwide.