Toon Studio: Radiator Springs welcomes travellers (Part 2)

Thursday, 31st May 2007 at 17:10

ImagePart 2. Continued from Part 1. Let's hit the road again and head back over to Radiator Springs, the cutest little town in Carburetor County! And, as we now step inside the 'Visitor Center' of this faux movie set, it looks like the motor vehicle townspeople are quite keen for us to experience the warm welcome of that cute little town. Through information boards, props, and countless 'in-jokes', the spirit of Route 66 is all around...,

When you think of Route 66, you’ll undoubtedly think of glowing neon lights soon enough. Not wanting to disappoint the expectations then, not only are neons featured throughout the little townscape, but the main entrance sign itself is a customised blue neon. Styled to the typeface of the ‘Cars’ logo (Magneto) it glows blue in a metal casing, joining the blue sky backdrop behind to give a nice constrast against the sandy yellow entrance building.

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If the sandstone art deco of the “Ramone’s House of Body Art”-inspired exterior isn’t ‘Route 66’ enough for you, just take a look inside — through the open window panes a collection of highway memorabila and ‘Cars’ characters await. The queue area is a series of buildings with a more industrial ‘backstage’ area, all open at the sides and all joined together to form one continuous space – open and airy just as buildings in the real desert landscape of the USA. The road signage, industrial railings and details such as the star-shaped ceiling lights all give the feeling of motor-obsessed Route 66.

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What? Not ‘Route 66’ enough for you? Well, like the main entrance sign of Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally has also had a few additions since the first previews a couple of weeks ago. Now hanging in the windows of the Ramone-themed entrance are several multicoloured car hoods (bonnets) sprayed in all the colours and fancy stencilled designs you could ever imagine. They’ve added colour to both the inside and the outside — thanks to those large windows, and are just one of the many character-themed details throughout the queue.

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Each character, store or location in Radiator Springs has its own information board inside this ‘Visitor Center’ to advertise their lives and trade to visiting guests. But not only that – many are also joined by additional, real, 3D props, like that gleaming trophy you’ve surely noticed already. For the uninitiated, that’s the Piston Cup — the biggest prize for racing cars in the ‘Cars’ world, and the trophy Doc Hudson – Lightning McQueen’s mentor – has won no less than twice in his time. As far as we know, this is the first and only real-life version of the CGI trophy — only at Walt Disney Studios!

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It’s clear that, for fans of the Academy Award-nominated film, this quaint little attraction will truly be the holy grail of all Disney Park attractions. We’ve not even stepped inside the covered queue area yet, but when we do — another fun detail, already! Covering the entire wall to your left is the map of Carburetor County as seen at the end of the film and during the ‘Our Town’ sequence. These days, Radiator Springs is definitely on the map — the best detail of this one being a huge painting of the famous “Greetings from Radiator Springs – Gateway to the Ornament Valley” postcard.

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Based on a real-life postcard from , the beautiful artwork was originally created by the artists at Pixar as a teaser for the film itself. Unfortunately, you can’t buy the artwork as a real postcard, and the queue contains a fair few other ‘souvenirs’ that would surely sell incredibly well should they become more than just queue props.

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Cue Lizzie, the old-fashioned motor car who runs ‘Radiator Springs Curios’ in the film. Not wanting to miss out on a good sales opportunity, she’s got her own sales stand filled with postcards and bumper stickers — even the famous “U Want It – We Got It” slogan from her billboard-filled storefront in the film. The stand is surrounded by old-fashioned wheels like those on Lizzie herself, old tire sales signs, licence plates and even a few framed pictures of the old saleswoman herself.

And the bumper stickers themselves? Some are advertising Radiator Springs stores and locations, others simply quirky slogans from the world of Cars. Let’s take a quick read-through:

“Tow Mater Towing & Salvage”, “Cozy Cone Motel”, “Luigi’s Casa Della Tires”, “Radiator Springs Curios – Souvenirs, Brick-a-Brack, Trinkets”, “I’d rather be cruisin'”, “Got My Kicks”, “I (heart) Radiator Springs”, “Life begins at the off ramp”, “Honk if your horn works”, “I Auto Be in Pictures”, “Flats Happen”.

It appears even motor cars have a good sense of humour!

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Following the queue around the Piston Cup and then over to the back-and-forth queue on the right, the cars of Radiator Springs begin to plug their trades. First a welcome from Radiator Springs Municipal Court, headed by Red the firetruck, Sheriff and the statue of Stanley…

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…Then an advertisement for ‘Sarge’s Surplus Hut’, for tents, parachutes and all your surplus needs…

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…Followed by Fillmore’s organic fuels. Notice that this one mixes with the exterior of Tow Mater’s salvage outside, including the drums of organic fuel we saw in Part 1 of the tour. Like the artwork hoods of Ramone’s, Fillmore’s area also includes some special props adding to his character and theme. As a hippie Volkswagon camper van, it seems only right that his information board be surrounded by 1960s multicoloured flowers, with beads hanging above illuminated by red and orange lighting — similar to Fillmore’s trippy tent in the film itself.

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Reaching the far end of the double-back queue, we find Doc Hudson’s advertisements and acheivements filling the end wall and a billboard for Sally’s Cozy Cone motel separating two parts of the queue path. Notice another clever detail here? Yes, the metal supports of the board are styled just like the orange ‘Cozy Cones’ of the “newly refurbished” Radiator Springs motel itself!

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Doc Hudson’s wall mainly features an advertisement for his Ornament Valley Mechanic Clinic, including a perfect recreation of its logo signage, but no doubt more interesting to fans of the film are the series of newspaper articles surrounding this, detailing his triumphs as the Fabulous Hudson Hornet racecar.

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Doubling back on ourselves, we head back past the main entrance lobby towards Flo’s V8 Café, passing the other side of Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios stand and getting a nice view out towards the undersea facade of Crush’s Coaster across the ‘backlot’. This side of the Curios stand features more props relating to Lizzie, with a selection of postcards featuring Radiator Springs and its environs on display.

Many of the road signs and licence plates in this area are taken directly from the film, and can be seen throughout the book ‘The Art of Cars’. Though written as a production log of the animated film, the book also now provides a unique insight into the themeing of this attraction.

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Nearing the boarding area under the turquoise canopy of Flo’s V8 Café, more props start to appear for the town’s only gas station — here a petrol pump, cans of motor oil and some signs and logos for the Café, positioned on a checkerboard-tiled floor and a small plinth decorated with black and white tiles. It’s the variety of styles within this Route 66 world which appears to make the attraction special. Outside, there’s a whole series of recreated locales from the film. Inside, each character gets its own space and its own style, as if the cars themselves have been in and decorated their area before guests arrive.

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With so many different details and themes to explore, it’s lucky they thought to provide a map. Despite being a map of the “real” Radiator Springs on Route 66, there have been some liberties with this fantastic wall decoration to render it a little closer to the attraction – or at least to introduce the town a little better to those who haven’t seen the film yet. Off to the right and behind Flo’s V8 Café in particular, you’ll now find Willy’s Butte and the Radiator Springs raceway… which is where we’re headed in Part 3!

All photos by Photos Magiques.

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