Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Geology in Pop Culture - Radiator Springs Racers

One part of Disney's California Adventure that really screams "Geological Wonder" is the Radiator Springs Racers ride towards the back of the park in what is known as "Cars Land". The backdrop of the ride is an awesome looking faux rock built panorama, evoking a southern Utah feel to it. They even provide a National Park Service type brochure explaining all of the features.

The region is even known as "Ornament Valley", an obvious play of the real life Monument Valley, a Navajo Tribal Park that straddles the border between Utah and Arizona. 

Here is a photo of Monument Valley. This also happens to be the "Forest Gump Hill", where we, of course, stopped for photo ops. 

The "National Park Brochure" for Ornament Valley is pictured above and below. (I tried to do a panorama shot on it but it is really hard to do that on an iPhone for a static picture so I also took an overall picture.) They have fantastic references to actual geologic features like "Pipe's Peak", "Mount Ever Rust", "Lincoln Continental Divide", and "Mount Hood".

As you can tell, several of the name are reminiscent of other features across the country (i.e. Mount Hood, referencing the volcano Mount Hood in Oregon, and Pipe's Peak referencing Pike's Peak another mountain in Colorado). The actual "geological" formations that they are showing are also reminiscent of features in Utah. The Lost Wheel Arch on the right of the brochure, and under which the path goes in the photo above, bears a striking resemblance to the Window Arch at Arches National Park.

The Window Arches as Arches National Park

The balancing rock just to the left of the arch, called Willy's Butte, also bears a strong resemblance to Balanced Rock, also at Arches National Park. 
Balanced Rock at Arches National Park.

Even the background landscape for the entire ride looks so much like the sandstone at Arches that I would say this was just an Arches homage. The sandstone in Arches is known as the Entrada Sandstone, a Jurassic age (~150 million years old) sandstone, formed from a coastal dune environment. The features that are present in Arches are due to the low amount of precipitation that the area receives each year. This sandstone is cemented with calcite, a mineral the dissolves in rain water fairly easily. So when rain water absorbed into the porous sandstone, a little bit of the cement is dissolved and eventually the sand is washed away. Some layers erode easier than others, which is what produces these phenomenal geological features in the landscape. 

And for my last photo, I had to take a photo here while I was actively running the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland, way back in 2015. 

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