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Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy Opens In Hollywood Studios

March 31, 2019

Disney has described Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy as “a high-octane, first-of-its-kind show that puts Guests in the middle of the “Cars” universe.”

But, although it debuted in March 2019, we just recently had a chance to check out the show. Unfortunately, it’s one of the downfalls of not being a local.

So, here’s the scoop on the show and whether or not you should check it out the next time you’re in Hollywood Studios.

All You Need To Know About Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy

About the Show

Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is a 10-minute show located near Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The story of the show is pretty simple. Taking a bit from “Cars 3”, Lightning McQueen hops on his simulator to defeat Chick Hicks in the big race.

Apparently, he’s finally learned how to use it.

Tow Mater, Cruz Ramirez, and other friends from Radiator Springs help Lightning McQueen out, while also briefly interacting with the audience.

What did we think about the show?

As a fan of Lightning McQueen and the “Cars” movies (with the exception of Cars 2), I was looking forward to seeing it. And although I had heard some criticism about it, I went in with an open mind.

Animatronic

First things first, I thought the animatronic was amazing.

Lightning McQueen is large enough for the entire audience to get a good look at him. So, even if you end up with a seat in the back, you should have no problem seeing him.

We sat in the middle/left of the theater, with a taller person sitting directly in front of me. While this did cause issues trying to get a good picture, I was still able to see the show.

Personally, I am not a fan of the projection effects Disney uses to simulate facial movement, but it works well here. They use the same technology on rides like Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Instead, I prefer the more realistic facial movements, like the Shaman on Na’vi River Journey and even the old-school animatronics, like Spaceship Earth.

But, Lightning McQueen is a large animatronic, so the fact that he moves as much as he does, is amazing.

Lightning McQueen on stage for Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy
Photo Credit: Disney

Screens

As you can tell from the photos, this show relies heavily on screens. In fact, with the exception of Lightning McQueen, the show is all done on the screens.

Because the storyline does have Lightning McQueen racing on his simulator, he had to spin around to look at where he is racing.

So, for a good portion of the show, all we get to see is the back of him.

Lightning McQueen racing his way to the finish line at Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Would we see Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy again?

I wouldn’t make it a priority to run over to Hollywood Studios for the sole purpose of seeing Lightning McQueen. But, if I was already in the Park, I wouldn’t rule it out, either.

With the convenient location of being situated right next to Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster, I am going to be in that area of the Park anyway. Because if you know me, I don’t pass up a chance to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

So, I could see myself heading to the theater from time to time. I always welcome the chance to could get some air conditioning and get off my feet for a few minutes.

And it’s a short show, so you’re most likely only going to have a wait if there is already a show in progress.

Final Thoughts

All-in-all, it’s not the greatest show Disney has ever put on. But, I don’t think that was ever its purpose.

The show is housed between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. And having children who do not ride either attraction makes it hard for parents who want to use Rider Switch.

While Hollywood Studios does have a Disney Jr section and Toy Story Land, they’re all the way across the Park. This means that young children are being entertained inside gift shops or the hot pavement outside these rides.

Having a show like Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy gives families something entertaining to do in the area out of the Florida sun.

Once the show lets out, there is a mini-dance Party and other “Cars” characters outside the theater. While it’s still outside, it’s a lot more children’s entertainment than they previously had in the area.

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