It was a red carpet event worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, and in fact it was a brand new, tangible, manifestation of an established Hollywood blockbuster. The ribbon was cut on the $1.1 billion expansion of Disney's California Adventure (DCA) Wednesday night at a celebratory event that included celebrities, executives and festive food, drink and auto-inspired entertainment.
This was the first time the entire renovation of DCA was unveiled, which includes Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and Carthay Circle. The additions bring with them three new rides -- including speed-driven thrill ride Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi's Tires and Mader's Junkyard Jamboree -- and multiple shopping and dining destinations and entertainment venues. (See Suzanne Broughton's extensive video coverage of all the high-octane fun in her continued look at the new DCA.)
The evening kicked off with a walk down the red carpet for celebrities including Andy Garcia, Brad Garrett and Brad Paisley. Young stars of Disney and ABC shows such as Rico Rodriguez and Sarah Hyland of "Modern Family" shared their memories of Disney and their thoughts on the new improvements to DCA. Also on hand was Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, who answered questions for the press and posed for photos with many of the esteemed guests.
The voice talent who brought the "Cars" and "Cars 2" characters to life were also part of the red carpet and dedication ceremony with Disney Pixar's Chief Creative Officer (and resident mastermind) John Lasseter.
Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Bonnie Hunt (Sally) and Cheech Marin (Ramone) were there to help Lasseter and Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, raise the curtain on the 12-acre themed Cars Land, which is a stunning recreation of a painted-desert landscape.
Once the gates to Cars Land swung open, a crowd of several hundred people got their first glimpse at the newest "land" at the Disney Resorts. Humorous thematic touches evoking the vast desert stretches found on historic Route 66 provide the setting for the rides and dining attractions.
Costumed mechanics and roller-skating car hops provided singing and dancing entertainment while food stations offered mini pizzas, deep-fried macaroni and cheese and meatloaf and mashed potato cupcakes on hubcap serving platters. Beer, wine and cocktails were also served, which made waiting in line for the rides a little more relaxing.
The atmosphere was festive and despite high expectations the crowd seemed duly impressed with the humor, production quality and attention to detail of Disney Resorts' newest creation.
Make sure to gas up and check the tires -- this ride is just beginning.