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Ka-chow! 10-year-old Disney movie driving young tourists to Arizona

A scene from Disney's "Cars" is shown. The 10-year-old film is driving millennials who grew up watching the film to Route 66 in Arizona. (Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — Who says millennials don’t appreciate history?

The phrase “get your kicks on Route 66” is taking on new meaning for several towns in Arizona that are enjoying a tourism boost thanks to a Disney movie released 10 years ago.

“Cars” takes place in the fictional town of Radiator Springs on a real road — Route 66. Young people anxious to see the real places from a childhood movie are driving to towns like Flagstaff and Kingman and other places along the famous route.

“It took elements along all of the route — Kingman, Holbrook, Williams, Flagstaff — and it kind of brought back the romance of Route 66,” Sean Noble with the Kingman Visitor’s Center said of the film.

Radiator Springs isn’t an actual place, but it is believed the town is based heavily on an interview of Angel Delgadillo, a barber from Seligman, Arizona. The fictional town and its inhabitants serve as a kind of composite of the nearly 2,500-mile road.

While some newer films have sent tourists to other Arizona towns — like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” did for Yuma — “Cars” was released a decade ago. Noble said the uptick in tourism is mainly millennials, who watched the film growing up.

“We’ve seen a lot millennials taking Route 66 doing road trips while they are taking breaks from college or going back and forth,” he said. “Prior to that movie, we really didn’t see it.”

Another town along Route 66 saw an upswing in tourism last week, though it had nothing to do with a film.

Winslow, made famous by the Eagles song “Take it Easy,” held a special memorial for Glenn Frey. The band’s founding member passed away Jan. 18.

KTAR’s Brian Rackham contributed to this report.

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