Imagineers Kevin Rafferty and Kathy Mangum chat about Cars Land

| July 21, 2012

Following the Grand Re-opening of Disney California Adventure, The DIS, along with other members of the online media, was able to sit down with some of the creative teams that made it happen.  With several conversations going on in the room at once, the audio is not “podcast worthy”, but I’ve been able to sit down and put together some transcripts to share with you.

The first, and the one I was most excited about, is an interview with Cars Land’s Concept Writer Kevin Rafferty and Executive Producer Kathy Mangum.

June 14, 2012
Carthay Circle Restaurant

Q:  Are you two getting any rest?
KATHY:  Three hours a night…
BOTH:  …two and a half. [laugh]

Q:  People have seen it.  Now what? What’s the reaction been?  How do you feel now that it’s live and it’s out there?
KATHY:  Amazing.
KEVIN:  Yeah, I feel wonderful.  I feel happy and proud and tired and just so delighted that our guests are responding so well to this and so enjoying and appreciating the classic, traditional Disney detail and close-ups and long shots and…it’s just exciting for us right now.  It was a great accomplishment, I think, for the company.

Q:  Walking into Radiator Springs Racers, just the queue, last night…absolutely mindblowing and I felt like….first thought that came to mind was, with all the interactive queues going on at Walt Disney World, and I walked into that and I’m thinking…that’s just not needed.  It’s just sort of classic Imagineering.  Is that where you were always going with this?
KEVIN:  Yeah, absolutely.
KATHY:  Yeah…placemaking…we want that to be a comfortable queue, and it’s got this beautiful view of the mountains as you take turns and look out windows.  Cause we know you’re probably gonna be in there for awhile, so we want you to have things to look at, and there’s all that whole layer of storytelling too—
KEVIN:  Lots of storytelling.
KATHY:  —the origins of Radiator Springs, of course it’s being paired up with the release of Time Travel Mater, the short, so we worked really closely with PIXAR on that short…in fact our queue structures really drove the design of Time Travel Mater—
KEVIN:  —and the story of it.
KATHY:  —yes.  So we really want them to, sort of, GET into the whole story while they’re in there.

Q:  Stanley’s Oasis doesn’t exist in the original Cars films.  You just explained some of that, but who originated what, or is there a point at which the overlap becomes impossible to keep track of.
KEVIN:  John Lasseter tells the story about Stanley, the radiator cap salesman, who blew his radiator cap coming across the dessert in 1909—the founder of Radiator Springs—and he happened upon a natural spring, nature’s coolant, and that’s as far as they took the story, that’s as far as they needed to for the movie.
KATHY:  They had some sketches.
KEVIN:  Right, they had a few sketches, and so we were able to take that further: what would Stanley have done when he arrived?   He’s a radiator cap salesman, so he built the Cap ‘N Tap to help travelers coming off of Route 66 just like himself and that became such a successful business that he built the service garage next door.  Back in those days, oil changes were with bottles, so he saved up all the bottles, and being the kind of the Route 66 show car that he was, trying to get people off the road for roadside attractions, he built the oil bottle house and then he built the Comfy Caverns Motor Court, which was right next door to the entrance of Tail Light Caverns.  It was the perfect little place.
KATHY:  You know, it’s real Route 66 story too.  You see little establishments and settlements like that along the road and so it was fun playing with that and getting a lot of inspiration from Route 66.
KEVIN:  It was.  We were able to take the world that PIXAR created and established and we were able to expand on that and compliment that.  I think one of the greatest things I heard last night was somebody was going through that queue area, which is Stanley’s Oasis, and looked around and said, “This is SO Disney!”

Q:  Radiator Springs Racers…everybody says I didn’t expect “BLANK”.  Did you imagine everyone’s gonna take something different out of that attraction?
KEVIN:  We did.  I think when guests first approach it they might think it’s just the race alone through Ornament Valley and what they don’t expect is the classic immersive world with the characters and that’s the biggest surprise…and we love that.  That nobody expects that.

Q:  Several of the people on the red carpet last night said that they went in with a group of kids, and the kids ran up to them saying, “Is this where they shot ‘Cars’?”
KATHY:  Right!  Biggest compliment anyone could pay us!

Q:  Have you talked to many of the creative people from PIXAR and do you ever approach them with any trepidation or do you feel pretty confident by this time?
KATHY:  We had a PIXAR preview day and many of them came up to me and said that when they walked through that arch, they were moved, they were brought to tears and we’ve walked it with a couple people that were just so touched and said that it was twelve years ago that they started that movie and started the first sketches and having no idea that twelve years later they’d be standing in it.  That what they sketched and brought, sort of, to life was now going to live forever….certainly beyond our lives.  Here.  And you know millions and millions of people are going to enjoy it.  It really moves them, so I have no trepidation…
KEVIN:  No not at all.
KATHY: …they’re in love with it. We also did work with the Production Designer and he came when we were in design and helped us with the model, the rockwork model and consulted us on color and sculpting and so he certainly isn’t seeing it for the very first time, but saw it finished for the first time and he was just blown away.  So, the reception, even from PIXAR, and you could consider them maybe our toughest critics, cause they know what it should be, has been over the top.  Crazy.  Crazy good.
KEVIN:  You know it was almost a perfect marriage between our colleagues at PIXAR and what Imagineers do.  They created an amazing world and characters and places in the film and we kinda dimensionalized that for everybody to experience and to step into, so it was almost like the perfect collaboration of two companies.

Q: You [Kathy] mentioned the arch just now, and I’ve talked to so many people who say…walking down Route 66—great…but walking through that archway—phenomenonal!  Did you have that in mind, sort of, when you were designing, that the arch was going to be the WOW moment?
KATHY:  Not really.  [Both laugh.]  We built that arch because you had a beautiful view of the Paradise Pier Hotel from the camel back humps, and that’s the beauty of designing things first in the virtual world, when we were riding the ride virtually and we put in surrounding buildings and we had that view…we can not have that view.  So we built an arch to block the view and then one day with the model, I just walked around and I just looked through the model going the other direction….”YOU GUYS!!”
KEVIN:  “YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!”
KATHY:  It was a really lucky thing that we did.  That was not what it was intended to do, but it’s a beautiful…mistake.


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