Growing up the daughter of a classic car expert (and former drag racer) was not without tales of Historic Route 66. My Dad told me of a time when it was realistic to take off in a large car with fins and cruise West, taking in all the sights and neon of motels, kitschy shops, and a variety of roadside attractions. By the time I was old enough to experience Route 66, all that was left were ghosts of the glory days and skeletal remains of these iconic places. Then Disney released the film “Cars“. Cars was the last film I watched with my Dad before he passed away, and he was not normally a big Disney guy (think more like John Wayne!). He loved Cars, however, and told my children, husband, and myself once again what it was like to have lived the legend.
On my way to D23 in California this summer, I drove the length of Route 66 from St. Louis, Missouri all the way to Cali. We saw a lot of sights along the way- remnants of the tales that I had heard for so long. It was a sad sight. So many abandoned buildings and towns that were barely there. Run down remnants of the past exist, but you have to get off of the “new” highway and actually look for them now. It was a special trip nonetheless, and one my father would have enjoyed. In fact, I could almost hear his voice when I laid eyes on an old truck, car, motel, or attraction telling me “see- I told you about this!”.
It is special that Disney chose to keep the memory of this era alive. When I walk into Radiator Springs at Disney’s California Adventure Park, I hear the sounds of the era in which my father was truly “cool”, get to sip a milkshake at Flo’s V-8 Café, and daydream about a simpler time. No wonder Dad talked about it so much.
Check out what we saw on the trip West, then see the gallery of Disney’s Cars Land.