Most of the present-day site of Cars Land had been used as the "Timon" parking lot since 2001; the lot had been designated as future growth space for Disney California Adventure when it was originally designed in the 1990s, and was partially built over with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Flik's Fun Fair section of A Bug's Land.
A small portion of Cars Land was built over the site of the Bountiful Valley Farm, one of the park's original attractions.
As revealed in The Imagineering Story, initially the park was going to be called "Carland" and would be themed after the automobile in general. It was not until after Cars was seen as a viable franchise that it was rethemed and renamed "Cars Land".
Concept art for "Carland" appeared in the "Dreaming" section of the Walt Disney Company's 2006 Annual Report, released on December 12, 2006, six months after Cars was released in theaters. The concept art depicted a racing simulator ride, but provided no specifics; Disney CEO Bob Iger stated at the time that the concept art depicted projects at various stages of development, and that some of the projects depicted "may never be built."
On October 17, 2007, Disney announced a 5-year, $1.1 billion renovation and expansion plan for Disney California Adventure. The plan included a major overhaul of several existing areas of the park and the addition of Cars Land, an area themed to the 2006 film; Cars Land would be anchored by Radiator Springs Racers, a Cars version of Test Track, a ride at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. Cars Land along with the re-designed entrance plaza, Buena Vista Street, were the last features of the 5-year project to be completed, and opened on June 15, 2012.
Radiator Springs Racers
Radiator Springs Racers – a slot cardark ride. The attraction takes guests in six-person vehicles through the winding roads up the mountains outside Radiator Springs and by the waterfall scene in the first film. The cars then enter the mountain and take a semi-wild ride through the outskirts of town where they encounter a number of characters. Eventually, they enter Radiator Springs at which point the track splits into two: one goes into Ramone's while the other into Luigi's. From here, the cars enter a briefing room where Doc gives guests some advice for the upcoming race. The two tracks come back near one another and two cars stop side-by-side. The race begins as the vehicles accelerate out of the mountain and through hairpin turns and steep banks, ending with a randomized race result and then a brief trip through Tail Light Caverns. The technology used is similar to Test Track at Epcot in Walt Disney World in Florida, and Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea.
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (renamed Mater's Graveyard JamBOOree during Halloween and Mater's Jingle Jamboree during Christmas) – an attraction in the style of a whip ride themed to Mater's Junkyard. Mater is the Master of Ceremonies of the Jamboree. The vehicles are baby tractors which pull trailers attached to them that move around with the music.
Similar attractions to Mater's Junkyard Jamboree have been built since the ride opened with Cars Land in 2012. The most recent example is Alien Swirling Saucers, a whip ride which opened in Disney's Hollywood Studios version of "Toy Story Land" in 2018.
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters (renamed Luigi's Honkin' Haul-O-Ween during Halloween and Luigi's Joy to the Whirl during Christmas) – Guests queue in Luigi's Casa Della Tires shop and ride in vehicles that move and spin around to Italian music. The attraction uses a trackless ride system, similar to Aquatopia at Tokyo DisneySea. The ride vehicles are depicted as being Luigi's cousins who have come to Radiator Springs for a dance celebration. The attraction, which officially opened March 7, 2016, replaced Luigi's Flying Tires, the original attraction in this location.