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Hundreds camp outside Disneyland for new Cars Land attraction

June 15, 2012 |  8:04 am

Disney

At least 500 people camped outside Disneyland on Thursday night in anticipation of the new Cars Land attraction that opens Friday at the California Adventure theme park.

Park officials have hired traffic control officers from the city of Anaheim and freed up additional parking for an onslaught of visitors this weekend for the new 12-acre attraction based on the popular "Cars" animated movies.

In addition to the opening, Anaheim is also the site this weekend of sports and cultural events that will bring heavier-than-usual traffic to Orange County. Officials are urging people to use public transit to reduce congestion from the convergence of sports and cultural events.

Transit officials fear that Orange County’s own version of Carmageddon could occur because of Angels home games, concerts at nearby Honda Center and the Grove of Anaheim plus a series of events at the Anaheim Convention Center. (For the uninitiated, Carmageddon was the temporary closure last summer of the 405 Freeway on L.A.'s Westside.)

Some of the campers outside California Adventure had traveled from as far away as Fresno and Atascadero to be one of the first to see Cars Land when it opens Friday morning.

Disney officials also expect a number of Southern California passholders to flood the park during the next two weekends.

“We expect it to be very popular,” said Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown. “We know that in Southern California and particularly in Orange County, we have a lot of annual passholders ... who have been anticipating this for five years, just like we have.”

Transit officials said they only realized the convergence of events earlier this week and are scrambling to get information out to commuters on potential delays, alternate routes and Metrolink schedules.

“With all these different events happening all weekend long, and with their tight proximity to each other, there are going to be impacts,” said Ted Nguyen, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Nguyen says anyone traveling to Anaheim for these events should plan ahead and leave plenty of time to get there.

“People understand that they’re living in Southern California, and traffic is always an issue,” says Nguyen.

The transportation authority is urging residents to use public transit to avoid the thick traffic expected on the 5, 57 and 91 freeways in the Anaheim area.

Special Angels Express train service from Laguna Niguel and Union Station to Anaheim station will be offered Friday evening for the baseball game, but beyond that no additional trains or buses are scheduled to run.

The Angels are facing the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which will coincide with concerts all weekend at the Grove of Anaheim and the Honda Center.

City officials say they’re no strangers to juggling a full calendar.

“We are adept at handling these types of occurrences and the city having events nearly at the same time,” said Anaheim police spokesman Sgt. Bob Dunn, who added that the various venues and agencies were coordinating their logistics. “We’re excited to have everybody.”

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-- Dan Weikel

Photo: Campers outside California Adventure wait for the gates to open on Disney's latest attraction. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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