It uses technology similar to that used at Test Track in Epcot, with the exception that the vehicles race on two separate tracks. Guests race another vehicle through turns and hills, ending with a randomized race result. The attraction takes up six acres of Cars Land. It is the most expensive attraction to be built in the entire Disneyland Resort, one of the most expensive attractions Disney has ever built and one of the most expensive theme park attractions in the world at an estimated cost of over $200 million, which took up about 18% of the entire cost of the $1.1 billion expansion plan for Disney California Adventure.
The attraction, along with the rest of Disney California Adventure multi-year expansion, was announced on October 17, 2007. However, the first indication of the attraction and the new land was some concept art published in the Dreaming section of The Walt Disney Company's 2006 annual report. By late 2009, construction on the attraction and the land within had begun, taking two and a half years to build. At the "What's Next?" presentation at Disney California Adventure on June 11, 2010, Imagineer Kathy Mangum gave a brief rundown of the storyline for the attraction. Ride testing began in early 2012 with soft openings beginning in the spring. The ride officially opened to the public on June 15, 2012 with lines up to six hours.
Radiator Springs Racers is currently the most expensive attraction ever constructed in the Walt Disney Company's history.
Starting at an archway near the Radiator Springs Courthouse, the queue travels to the oldest parts of Radiator Springs to the original roadside attractions and buildings constructed by Stanley. Signs in the style of National Parks describe the geology of Ornament Valley upon a viewpoint of the Cadillac Range. Also featured are the original Radiator Springs, a natural spring emerging from a rock formation shaped like a radiator that Stanley discovered while traveling through Ornament Valley desperate for water. He built a radiator cap shop, a house partially constructed of empty oil bottles and a small hotel in the Tailight Cavern system nearby. This is where the load area is located. Sheriff provides safety instructions in English and Ramone covers them in Spanish.
After leaving the load, the cars go on a leisurely drive through Ornament Valley, traveling under an arch for a close-up view of the mountain where the waterfall bridge can be seen. Entering a tunnel, and hearing the lost Minny and Van, the cars nearly crash into Mack, avoid Minny and Van and narrowly avoid an oncoming train. Sheriff appears and tells the guests to slow down. He has Mater take guests into town to get them ready for the race, though Mater takes guests tractor-tipping first.
Escaping from an enraged Frank, they enter Radiator Springs, driving by Sarge, Fillmore, Lizzie, and Red. Between Luigi's and Ramone's Lightning McQueen and Sally greet the racers and send one of the two cars to a different building. At Luigi's the vehicles are given white-wall tires by Guido, and at Ramone's they are given a paint touchup by Ramone and Flo. Leaving the pit stops, Doc Hudson appears to give racers advice and sends them to the starting line where Luigi and Guido are excited to start off the race.
At the end of the countdown, the vehicles bolt back outside up to speeds of 40 MPH. Racing around the large radiator cap and Willy's Butte and hitting the finish line, Doc congratulates the racers for a good race and the vehicles enter Taillight Caverns, where Lightning and Mater congratulate and talk to the guests before they disembark.
The ride is randomly programmed to select a different winner each race. You have a 50-50 chance of being in the winning car!
The steepest degree of banking on the track is 45 degrees.
Each vehicle on the track is estimated to do more than 36,000 miles a year, that's equivalent to more than 14 trips down the original U.S. Route 66.
The peaks of the mountain range, from left to right, represent classic Cadillac tail fins from 1957, 1958, 1959 (the Pinnacle), 1960, 1961 and 1962.
Doc's appearance and Lightning being in his original paint job from the first film would mean that the events of the ride take place before Cars 2. This is contradicted, however, when, while Lightning and Mater congratulate the racers, Lightning occasionally mentions having raced around the world, as well as by several World Grand Prix-related posters appearing in Luigi's. As for Lightning's paint job, it is possible he reverted to his old paint job sometime after the second film.
When Mater takes the guests tractor tipping, two Mater animatronics are used. The first one hides behind a bush on the way to the tractor pasture before going back to greet the next car while the other Mater comes out from the other side of the bush, creating the illusion that only one Mater is present. This was done due to Mater having an extended interaction with the guests that one animatronic could not sustain.