The Walt Disney Company has been quickly working on a replacement for the ill-fated Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction which opened with Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in 2012, and closed permanently in February this year. It doesn’t happen too terribly often, but once in a while, Disney does have a misfire with attractions for any number of reasons. We saw it happen with Rocket Rods in Tomorrowland (May 1998 – September 2000), and before that, the predecessor of Luigi’s Flying Tires – the Flying Saucers (August 1961 – August 1966).
As curious as it may be (and yeah – there’s always been a lot of head scratching over this one), Walt Disney Imagineering pushed forward with the Flying Tires concept – a charge reportedly led internally by John Lasseter, Principal Creative Advisor for WDI – regardless of the fact that arguably the finest Imagineers of all time couldn’t get the smaller, earlier version of the attraction to ever operate adequately in the ’60s. Typically, you duplicate and plus successful attractions – however, the story goes that John had very fond memories of the Flying Saucers at Disneyland as a child and so, he insisted on a bigger, bulkier (heavier) design for Cars Land. As predicted, the bigger, slower brother of Disneyland’s Flying Saucers attraction opened and closed with little fanfare at Disney California Adventure – the minute we took our first lackluster ride when Cars Land opened, we knew without a doubt that the clock was ticking for Luigi’s Flying Tires; the writing was on the wall.
When Flying Tires closed earlier this year, word spread quickly that a new attraction would replace it in the near future, which means that Imagineers were scrambling in Glendale to figure out what they could put in the existing footprint that would perform much better, and likely, cost substantially less than Luigi’s Flying Tires.
Disney has finally given us the name and a glimpse of the new attraction coming to Cars Land: Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. According to the Disney Parks Blog, the attraction’s story is that Luigi has invited his entire family from Italy to come visit his shop in Radiator Springs. To help celebrate Race Day in Radiator Springs, Luigi’s relatives are performing traditional village dances for Cars Land guests.
When Luigi’s Flying Tires closed this year, we published an article outlining the speculation that the new replacement ride system would be similar to that used at Tokyo DisneySea for their Aquatopia ride. It’s a guided system that allows for “close calls” as ride vehicles approach each other, without any real danger of collision. This remains one of the strongest rumors to date, and is the front runner in our opinion for a new ride system powering Luigi’s 2.0. What the new ride system actually is remains to be seen.
Fans are also guessing that it could be a flat ride system virtually identical to the one used by Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. While Disney has been known to duplicate ride systems in its theme parks (Adventure Thru Inner Space/The Haunted Mansion, Dumbo/The Magic Carpets of Aladdin), putting in two systems that are pretty much the same right next door to each other in the same land – that would be really odd and honestly, something that I don’t suspect Walt Disney Imagineering would find acceptable. I digress – the double Dumbo attractions at The Magic Kingdom in Orlando don’t count – they’re simply duplicated for capacity, not two separate experiences.
For now, we will wait and see what Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters has in store for us. Whatever the system, it’s got to be a better experience than Flying Tires ever was. It will be more apparent in the months to come as to what the mystery system is for Roadsters. In the meantime, we will wait and continue to speculate among ourselves.
It makes sense that the theme remain Luigi’s something – that way, WDI doesn’t have to alter the layout and look of Cars Land, saving substantial cost to Disneyland Resort. The footprint for Luigi’s is decent enough for a large-scale flat ride, or even a small dark ride – although Radiator Springs Racers pretty much has the dark ride element zipped up in that case.
We’re waiting and watching – it’ll be nice to have a new adventure in Cars Land next spring. Here’s hoping that it’s fresh and exciting – different than Mater’s and complimentary to the attractions that already exist in the area. Our fingers… er.. bumpers are crossed and tires trembling with anticipation!
– Rick West