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Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy Media Event at Walt Disney World

Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! On Wednesday, April 3, my daughter and I were given the opportunity to experience the new attraction with a group of invited members of the media. I had no idea what to expect, so I was excited that Disney had offered to host us.

First off, let me tell you how to get there. To my knowledge, nothing closed down for Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. It’s in a part of the park that you might think is only backstage. It’s held in the Sunset Showcase building. Head towards Rock ‘n Roller Coaster and walk past it. The area is behind it. There are signs, but make sure that you are looking for them.

The fun for Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy starts before you enter the theater. If you are a fan of the walls craze, there are plenty of places where you will want to take a picture. You can also have your picture taken with Cruz Ramirez. There was a PhotoPass Photographer on hand to capture the perfect shot.

There is another must-do opportunity outside of the theater. DJ’s Ready! Set! Party Time! is a dance party that will have you moving your feet. The kids in the audience are encouraged to participate, and there are games for them to play as well. There were a few shy children in our group who decided to join in on the fun when they saw what a good time the other children were having. The first dance party of the day is currently held at 10:00, and you can find the others listed in your Times Guide.

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When you enter the theater, you will hear a familiar voice. John Ratzenberger has reprised his role as Mack, and his voice is there to give the audience instructions and also to ask trivia questions. Ratzenberger has of course been in every Pixar feature film, and it feels natural to hear his voice as part of the new attraction.

There is a wraparound screen for Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. The Imagineers went to great lengths to make sure that each seat has the perfect view. The screen is quite wide, but it’s narrower than I expected it to be. The show also uses a state of the art racing simulator. Of course Lightning McQueen hasn’t always had the best of luck with racing simulators, but maybe things will finally turn around for him.

The show starts with a song from Mater. Lightning McQueen will then appear. This is animatronics at their finest. Each move was fluid. One of the things that I found fascinating about Lightning McQueen was the way that his wheels moved. They matched the actions of the movies perfectly.

I’m not going to give away the plot of the short show. Suffice it to say that many of your favorite Cars characters make appearances, and there is a race involved. I also will not tell you who won the race, although it isn’t really all that hard to figure out. Let me put it this way, you aren’t going to walk out of the theater with a pile of cash.

Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy uses mostly animation, but Lightning himself is animatronic. You do not need 3D glasses, and there’s no real feel of movement like you’ll find on a ride like Soarin’. I doubt that anyone except the extremely sensitive would experience motion sickness. The show is for all ages, and there is no height requirement.

I would like to thank Walt Disney World for gifting my daughter and me. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is a great addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The actual show lasts around ten minutes, but you will want to spend more time than that in the area. The dance party and the photo opportunities are great additions that you won’t want to miss.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.