When we see construction walls at Walt Disney World we know that change is on the horizon. Some changes are small, and sometimes unnoticeable, or simple refurbishments to bring renewed life into something that needed it – a fresh coat of paint can work magic. Others are larger than we might have ever dreamed. Over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where space is often at a premium compared to other parks, I find the construction walls tend to be more noticeable. Earlier in the year there had been a few that went up, and it was evident that they were for some new meet & greet encounters based on posters and signs. Previously I’ve discussed two of these: Winnie the Pooh and Phineas and Ferb.
Now with the arrival of the new movie Cars 2, a third new meet & greet has opened in the Studios that stars the characters Mater and Lightning McQueen. For the past several years these two characters have been found driving along the Streets of America or over by the Studio Backlot Tour for meet & greets. They also used to appear in the now departed Stars and Motor Cars Parade. More recently, Lightning McQueen can now be found at the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.
When you walk up to the meet & greet it’s evident that Mater and McQueen are there to put on a show. Lightning is fresh back from winning his fourth Piston Cup – that is the newly renamed Hudson Hornet Piston Cup. Mater is wearing a number 95 decal indicating that he is part of McQueen’s racing team. This is not a winners circle as it’s clearly an area dedicated to Lightning himself. It’s got his name emblazoned along the wall, his Piston Cups depicted, and his number 95 (for the year Toy Story was released) flying above the stage adorned by racing flags.
There is a simple sign that marks the start of the wait queue. It depicts both Lightning and Mater, and declares their names in case you didn’t recognize then. It has a simple “Enter Here” along with a small sign underneath indicating that what you are seeing has something to do with the new Cars 2 movie. When my wife, Cheryl, and I walked up around noon, the sign indicated that the meet was opened from “9:00 – 10:00”. There were people currently in the queue and meeting with the characters so we got in line – we figured that either it meant 9 AM through 10 PM or someone forgot to change out that part of the sign.
The wait in the queue was not terribly long, about 15 minutes. Compared to the 45 minutes we waited for Phineas and Ferb, that’s pretty good – and that line was definitely much longer still. During that time I wandered around and took some pictures and spent some time chatting with the castmembers. There were only two on duty, one to control the flow of guests and the other was a PhotoPass photographer. Mater and McQueen, being machines, don’t need handlers – there are no swap outs, this is a constant flow meet & greet during, I was told, “daylight hours”.
When it was our turn we walked up, and posed for our pictures, and the PhotoPass photographer was perfectly willing to use my iPhone to take them. There was no rush or pressure to move through quickly and no sense of urgency to get in and get out. In fact, I asked if I could linger a bit and take some pictures before they moved to the next guests and was allowed to do so. Likely this is because the line itself was not very long as I indicated above.
Disappointingly missing was the amazing mural that adorned the construction wall that had been up. It’s a shame that they didn’t try to incorporate that into the meet & greet somehow. The colors of the stage are very muted and dull and lack the vibrancy and eye catching nature of the nearby Phineas and Ferb meet. Having the mural in there would have helped greatly with this. Or add in Sally Carerra, after all she’s got this great blue color that plays well against Lightning’s red.
The two characters themselves are awesome, they both look fantastic and so real – I wish Disney would bring all the characters from the Cars movies to life and give them their own parade. They appear to be the same two physical characters we’ve seen previously in the Studios, however now they appear to be bolted to the floor preventing them from taking a walkabout. While they make a lot of rumbling and noise (decibel levels are not bad for those concerned), they don’t seem to move or shake anymore, and their eyes don’t move either.
If your kids love love the Cars movies, then this is a must see. If you’re an adult like me who loves the movies, walking by and taking a peek is likely enough. Working this into a Touring Plan would not be difficult – if there’s any downtime or something else you’re skipping go here. Or just do it when you walk by as the line seems to not be very long.
I honestly wish there was more to say about this meet & greet, but there’s not. Of the three new meet & greets it is the most disappointing. It’s connection to the new Cars 2 movie is tenuous at best. You’d think that with all the fanfare surrounding the characters, the new movie, and the advent of the new Cars Land at Disney California Adventure that this would be the greatest meet & greet ever. But alas I can’t say that.
What about you? Do you love the Cars movies? Have you seen the new Cars 2? Are you excited about this meet & greet? Have you already seen it? What did you think? Instead of going ka-chow he’s going ka-boom!