Disney California Adventures strives to show its guests the very best of California, but how accurately do the lands inside the park portray their visions of California? First up: Cars Land and its similarities to the real Route 66.
Cars Land is a triumphant feat of Imagineering — there is no other way to put it. Once you enter this land you are instantly transported back to the heyday of the Route 66 that never was and always will be. Cars Land matches up to the movie 100%. But how does it match up to the real Route 66?
Let’s take a look at Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel. It’s a near perfect match for the Cozy Cone of the Cars movie. Sally’s office is here and there are several cones. Instead of hotel rooms, these cones serve up snacks like churros and ice cream.
The Cozy Cone is based on the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona. The Wigwam Motel was actually a chain and had as many as seven motels across the country. Only three remain today, the one in Holbrook, another in California and one far away from Route 66 in Kentucky.
The following are pictures that I took on a Route 66 road trip of the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook.
All the old cars are parked in the lot just for show, but it sure does remind you of some of the older models of cars in Cars Land, doesn’t it?
Here is another photo from a motel that is right across the street from the Wigwam Motel. I think the pool area looks a lot like the front yard of the Cozy Cone.
Flo’s Diner was engineered to resemble a Ford V-8 engine. The restaurant is not modeled after one particular restaurant along Route 66. The 5 & Diner in Oklahoma and the 66 Diner in New Mexico may be the closest to Flo’s. The Midpoint Cafe in Texas was also an inspiration for Pixar. The former cafe owner, Fran Houser, is said to be the inspiration for Flo.
I’m going to show you a few pictures from another very important restaurant, Joe and Aggie’s Cafe located in Holbrook Arizona. John Lasseter stopped here when he was on a road trip with his family. He later returned and spent hours speaking with the elderly owner of the restaurant about the bygone era of Route 66. In an interview, the owner’s son claimed that Lasseter first heard the phrase “the town got bypassed just to save ten minutes of driving” from his mother at this restaurant.
Fillmore’s unique looking shop is based off Ortega’s Indian Market in Arizona.
Sarge’s Surplus Hut could be based on any number of roadside Army surplus stores built from Quonset huts.
One of my favorite details in Cars Land is the difference between Sarge’s lawn and Fillmore’s.
Roadside signs, tourist trap shops and curiosities were and are a big part of Route 66.
Cars Land’s Curio Shop is said to be based off Sandhill’s Curiosity shop in Oklahoma.
If you’ve ever wondered about the tractors that wander through Radiator Springs in the movie, they were most likely inspired by the town of Oatman, Arizona. Wild burros roam the streets.
The Cars Land “Here It Is” billboard is based off the Jackrabbit Trading Post billboard from Arizona.
If you’ve ever used the secondary entrance to Cars Land, the one that leads to Pacific Wharf, you’ll have been treated to some great views.
I love this area because it is exactly like driving along Route 66 and coming upon some roadside markers that tell you about the history and geographical features of the area around you.
So there you have it. How do you think the Imagineers did? Does Cars Land live up to the real Route 66?