Over the holidays, I finally got to revisit "The Happiest Place on Earth." It has been several years since my last adventure at the Disneyland Resort, and I was excited to see as much of the new attractions as I can. I was, perhaps, most impressed by Cars Land, the brand new area in California Adventure, based upon the Pixar Cars franchise. The layout of Radiator Springs is replicated in such a true-to-the-film fashion that I actually felt like I was in the movie set! It was such a treat see Sally's Cozy Cone Motel and Flo's V8 Cafe before my eyes. The figurehead of Cars Land is Ornament Valley, where the Radiator Springs Racers attraction is housed. Looking at the automobile shaped rocks was stunning. I knew the rock walls were fake, but the forced perspective work is done so well, I felt dwarfed by the setting. The careful work that Disney put into Cars Land inspired me to be just as thoughtful in my own craft. Of course, writing for theatre and Imagineering an attraction are different things. But they both involve telling a story. Having created a unique and quirky universe in the films, Disney/Pixar went to great lengths to make sure the audience buys into the story at the park. The minor details make a difference, even if the audience doesn't quite perceive them. In a similar way, I should remember the importance of imagining the worlds of my musicals, making decisions about details so the audience buys into the reality of the story I'm trying to tell, especially if the story is fantastical or mythological. I would love to visit Cars Land again (when it is not crowded by holiday visitors) and just take in its handiwork.
Oh, and be sure to catch a glimpse of Cars Land at night to catch the neon lights, which appear at a poignant moment in the first film. They are just as poignant in person.