28 June 2012

Home sweet road

There has been a lot of park news revolving around the world of Cars lately, hasn’t there? While Cars Land has blown the socks off of anyone that has been able to get a toe into Radiator Springs, there has been some who say it should have happened sooner. Of course, if you believe in Henry from the Country Bear Jamboree, “It takes a little doin’ to set these things up.” On the Walt Disney World side of things, a new wing of the Art of Animation resort, also dedicated to Cars, has opened its doors to guests. Not nearly as jam packed full of guests as Cars Land, I was lucky enough to sneak over and take a peak last week.
For starters, I like the new design of the value buildings at Art of Animation. Previous value resorts had walkways along the exteriors of the buildings with decor relegated to the handrails, rooftops, stairwell coverings, and courtyards. By turning the halls to the interior gives the artistically-minded Imagineers a much broader canvas to work with, literally as the case happens to be.

Setting the Cars section in Radiator Springs means that there is no Finn McMissile or Holley Shiftwell, guests have gone back to the original feature film. The main entrances to the three buildings are designed upon Tow Mater’s, Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, and the Wheel Well Hotel, while the pool is modeled after the Cozy Cone. Flo’s V-8 Cafe and Ramone’s House of Body Art may not have permanent structures here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find this couple cruising up and down Route 66, alongside the rest of the Cars convoy.
Getting back to the buildings themselves, the outer walls of the area, that is any wall that doesn’t face inward towards Radiator Springs, are covered with character sketch sheets. Meanwhile the sides facing in on Radiator Springs have monuments from Carburetor County, such as the Cadillac Range. The landscaping was obviously completed with an eye towards the dusty, dry wilderness of the west, complete with rocky soil and spiky desert-type blooms.

One of the lesser realized pieces of the Cars section of the resort is the walkway. Oh sure, we’ve all seen that it’s a road, or the mother road, Route 66, but have you really stopped to look at it? Just as the road moves in the move, so too does this sidewalk. It isn’t a straight shot directly to your resort building as is commonplace at most resorts in Walt Disney World or the interstates of the roads outside, it flows with the land and gentle curves through the landscape. It may take a few more steps to get to wear you’re going, but it is a beautiful touch!
There are many Disney enthusiasts who complain that California received the touchstone of land development when Cars Land opened, whereas Florida received the red-headed stepchild in terms of the Cars projects. I can see their point, there is no food in a cone, no Radiator Springs Racers, and I would absolutely love to have those elements in Walt Disney World. However, the Cars area of Art of Animation, like the Finding Nemo section before it, has shown that the fabrication of economy resorts have grown in leaps and bounds since Pop Century opened in 2003. We could accentuate the negative and focus on what we don’t have, but for me I prefer to look at what we do have, and Walt Disney World’s Radiator Springs is as nifty a place for kids to stay in as I’ve seen in the Vacation Kingdom!

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