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‘Cars Land’ opens in Disneyland with wheels, grins and fun

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shawn McCaughna may only be 6 years old, but he knows a good slot car race when he competes in one.

The youngster had nothing but praise for the Radiator Springs Racers after he finished zooming around Ornament Valley in a Lightning McQueen lookalike car that's part of the new $1.1 billion "Cars Land" expansion on the California Adventure side of Disneyland.

"It's great. It's good, scary," Shawn said after he and his younger sister Sydney and his parents ran the race. "We won!" he announced.

The siblings from North Carolina wanted to know two things when they were done: When does a "Cars 3" movie come out and could they go again?

They can if they have time to wait for another turn. The Fast Passes for the Radiator Springs Racers sell out early in the day, and the average wait time in the stand-by line is usually more than two hours.

The lines for the other two Cars Land rides are not as long, but the rides are a lot more low-key.

"Luigi's Flying Tires" is a kind of hovercraft bumper car ride that is very gentle and not for the thrill-seeker, more for the toddler.

"Mater's Junkyard Jamboree" is a whirling, twirling ride in trailers pulled by small tow trucks that's great for kids 3 and up.

Both work okay for a mild good time, but the racers rock. The racetrack runs through a realistic-looking desert canyon that mimics the romantic ride where Sally Carrera and McQueen drove outside of Radiator Springs in the first "Cars" movie.

At first, it's a leisurely ride with beautiful scenery right up until it takes off at high speed with squealing tires flying around hairpin turns and steeply pitched corners.

Add that to the detail everywhere you look in Radiator Springs, and it makes for an excellent visit to the imaginary Disney/Pixar hick town where McQueen meets Tow-Mater and a host of new best friends in the 2006 movie.

Flo's V8 Café serves up homestyle turkey and pork with gravy and potatoes and pie. The Cozy Cone Motel offers ice cream and popcorn in all flavors. Filmore's Taste-In has fresh fruit and juice.

Then there's the oddly finished part of Route 66 that McQueen had to work on after he ran into trouble in Doc Hudson's courtroom plus the signed picture of international spy Finn McMissile from "Cars 2" and a rubber tire jungle gym.

Cars Land is basically a 12-acre expansion that breathes new life into the California Adventure side of things complete with a Cadillac mountain range that features tail fins 125 feet long and 300,000-square-feet wide.

There's a hood ornament that stands high in the sky, and the cars use a technology known as Test Track introduced and tested at the Epcot Center in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

McQueen and Mater make regular personal appearances. Mater even has his own petting zoo.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: haddoc@desnews.com