TOP 50 STL Economic Development Idea of the Week: Cars, The Movie in Pacific, MO

My son loves the movie Cars. He’s a pretty big fan of Cars 2 too. I’m hearing rumors that a third installment is slated to debut sometime in the Summer of 2017 and I have no doubt that we’ll probably go see it. In his defense, they’re actually pretty good movies. I should know, I’m guessing I’ve seen both over 100 times. So, I’m very familiar with the setting, plot, characters, etc. Larry the Cable Guy plays Mater the tow truck and Owen Wilson plays Lightning McQueen, the racecar. The movies are fun and I’m glad that my son is a fan because there are plenty of kid’s movies out there that are terrible!

I have a friend who owns a collection of caverns in Pacific, MO located on Route 66. It’s really a unique space. The caves have been the setting for weddings, haunted houses and concerts. For years, we’ve played the game of what to do with the caves in order to create a longstanding business. The ideas have ranged from motor home storage to a minor league baseball stadium to a hotel. It was the hotel idea that got me thinking.

In the original cars movie, Sally (the Porsche) fell in love with the setting overlooking grand canyons below the Wagon Wheel Motel. The setting is beautiful (albeit an artists rendering) but what caught my eye was the rendering of the hotel itself. There is a giant wagon wheel carved out of rock with a cavern behind it. To me, it looks incredibly similar to the caverns in Pacific that just so happen to be located on Route 66!

So, my imagination got the best of me and I started writing the plot for Cars 3 (which will now have to be Cars 4 since production on Cars 3 is underway). So, here goes: Radiator Springs experiences a massive earthquake tearing up the town beyond repair (not a happy thought but imperative to my plot). Because their home has been taken away from them, the characters from Radiator Springs must go on a quest to find a replacement. This quest of course must happen along the current route of Route 66 exploring long forgotten towns with their own set of characters and unique spaces. In the end, they settle on a little town in Missouri (Pacific) where they can rebuild the same shops, businesses and motels they had in Radiator Springs.

Just outside the caverns in Pacific where I would build the Wagon Wheel Motel, there is an empty business park that needs shops, businesses and perhaps a motel. I’d like to rebuild Radiator Springs just as they have done at Disney Land (we took our son there last year). There would be an influx of tourism dollars and improvements to the local infrastructure. The surrounding economy would certainly experience a boon and nearby Six Flags would be an ideal partner. Hey, Walt Disney originally looked at St. Louis to build Walt Disney World. Shouldn’t we grant the man that wish, posthumously of course?

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