It is no secret that the Cars movie took a lot of inspiration from the historic highway known as Route 66. My dad and I got a chance to drive it over 14 days in 2019, so I figured it would be fun to head to Disneyland’s California Adventure and walk Cars Land to see how it compares to the actual Route 66. These comparisons are based on my own time driving the route, and some research I did online at some of the sites below. Anyways, here are some of the comparisons I made between Cars Land and Route 66 and let me know if I left any off in the comments
Here it is Sign
Right when you walk into Cars Land, you will see the sign with a silhouetted car, which says, “here it is.” This sign is iconic on Route 66 for the Jack Rabbit Trading Post in Arizona. The sign has a jackrabbit instead of a car, but you will see many variations of it along Route 66 today.
Cozy Cone & Wigwam Motel
Next up, right next to the sign, is the Cozy Cone Motel. While it is a restaurant in Cars Land, it is inspired by the Wigwam Motels along the route. There are only two remaining, with one in San Bernardino, CA, and the other in Holbrook, AZ. They are fun places to stay on the road trip, and it is fun to see them here as well.
Radiator Springs Curios & Sandhill’s Curiosity Shop
Next to Cozy Cone is the Radiator Springs Curios Shop, which resembles the one in Erick, OK, run by the eccentric Harley. The signs all outside the shop are a lot like the signs outside his spot. Plus, he is the person that supposedly Mater was based on in the Cars movie. My dad and I paid him a visit when we were driving the route, and he sounds a lot like the movie character and is a blast to hang out with. It was a fun connection to make and to see in Cars Land. Also, there are other shops along the route like the Hackberry General Store that this curios shop could be inspired by as well.
Fillmore’s Taste Inn & Meteor City Trading Post
Filmore’s Taste Inn in Cars Land is based on the Meteor City Trading Post in Arizona. This place was rundown when we went, and the freeway exit was closed, so that is the only photo that I got of it. The VW van (Fillmore) from the movie is supposedly based on Bob Waldmire, who was the famous artist and character who lived and drove on the route. You will see a lot about him if you drive Route 66.
Car’s Mountain Range and Cadillac Ranch
Moving on to the Car’s Radiator Springs Racers ride, the mountain range behind the ride and behind the city in the movie, resembles Cadillac Ranch with the Cadillacs buried in the ground. It is fun to see how they implemented them into the mountain range. Also, supposedly the mountain range is based on Tucumcari Mountain, which I didn’t get any photos of unfortunately. Still, I thought it also looked a little like the Yellowhorse area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as the Black Mountains outside of Arizona.
Burma Shave Signs
Outside of the Car’s Radiator Springs Racers ride, you will find five signs that make a sentence as you walk past them. These are the famous Burma Shave signs that were all over Route 66. They were fun to read for early travelers since the cars went a lot slower then they do today, and they told little stories or funny sayings as you drove past them. There are still many on the route and in museums along the route today.
Tractors & Donkeys
Next, on the ride and around Cars Land, you will see the small tractors that they tip in the movie. I was told that these were inspired by the donkeys in Oatman, AZ that roam the streets. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it makes sense to me.
Flo’s V8 Restaurant & Midpoint Cafe
Flo from the V8 Restaurant is supposed to be based on the owner of the Midpoint Cafe from 1990 to 2010. The exterior doesn’t look a lot like the exterior of the cafe in Cars Land, but the inside is like the diner.
Luigi’s Tire Tower & Leaning Tower of Texas
I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but to me, the leaning tower outside of the tire shop seemed like it could have been inspired by the leaning tower in Texas. It is pretty iconic, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it inspired something, or it could just be a leaning tower of tires.
Ramone’s House of Body Art & U Drop-In Cafe
Lastly, the Café Ramone’s House of Body Arp was inspired by the U Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. This building has been there since 1936, and even Elvis stopped by for a meal. It really does look like the Cars Land equivalent.
Lastly, Cars Land is full of neon signs and fun to explore at night. Neon signs are one of the highlights on Route 66 as well. While I didn’t see a lot that were directly inspired by a design on the route, I thought it was a lot of fun to see how Cars Land embraced the neon.
That’s it for my comparisons of Route 66 and Cars Land. Let me know what I left off in the comments.