Cars 2 came out yesterday on Blu-ray and DVD. I saw this movie in the theater with my nephews, and while it certainly doesn’t have the emotional impact of a Toy Story or Up, it was a perfectly pleasant way to pass the time. I particularly enjoyed seeing the car-version of London, one of my favorite cities.
I know there are those of you out there who love everything car-related, whether it’s part of the Disney-Pixar Cars franchise or not. While Walt Disney World is missing out on Cars Land (opening in Disneyland in 2012), there are many car-themed experiences to be had in Florida.
So, here are six things to do in Walt Disney World if you love cars.
1. Meet the Stars of Cars 2
We’ll start off with something that everyone can participate in and that may only be around for a limited time: taking your photo with Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater at Team McQueen Headquarters near Streets of America in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Team McQueen Headquarters replaced the previous Cars meet-and-greet location, Luigi’s Garage, pictured below.
2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
This is another experience everyone can participate in: eating in a “car” at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. I love drive-in movies, and so I can’t believe I’ve never actually eaten at this restaurant. You sit in cars that hold three rows of seats (two across), and there is a counter in front of you, so you don’t have to balance a tray on your lap (an advantage over real drive-ins). Check out the menu on AllEars.Net (there’s also a kids’ menu).
3. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
If you like car-related stunts, this is the show for you, and since June 2011, Lightning McQueen makes a cameo! There’s lots of driving really fast, going forward and backward and turning and such. (Can you tell I’m not really a car person?) All can attend, but it’s really loud, so don’t expect to use this show for baby’s naptime.
4. Tomorrowland Speedway
Not quite everyone can participate in this one, but little guys (32 inches or taller) can ride if an adult is with to handle the pedal. Yes, there’s only one pedal: press it to go (max speed: 7 mph) and lift your foot off to stop. The kids are then free to steer, or not steer, to their hearts’ content. I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite memory of this attraction was riding with my then three-year-old nephew, who said afterwards, “I was driving so crazy I almost went somewhere!” Kids at least 54 inches tall can drive themselves.
In case you’re wondering, it is OK to ride Tomorrowland Speedway without a child. In fact, here I am on its equivalent in Disneyland Paris:
5. Test Track
This one is for bigger kids, because you go a lot faster, up to 60 miles per hour! Kids must be 40 inches or taller to ride. First you experience different car safety and handling tests, and then you head to the outdoor track, where things speed up a bit. If you enjoy learning about how cars are designed and tested, you’ll find the queue and post-show areas interesting.
6. Richard Petty Driving Experience
Here is the fastest car ride you’re going to get in Walt Disney World! The Richard Petty Driving Experience allows you to drive or ride in a real NASCAR race car, with top speeds up to 140 miles per hour! Reservations are required for the Driving Experience but not for the Ride-Along. To do the Driving Experience (starting at $449), you must be 18 years old and have a driver’s license. For a Ride-Along (starting at $99), you must be 14 years old. Friends and family can come along to watch. While I can’t imagine ever doing this one myself, I have to say it is one of the more unique experiences available at any Disney resort.
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So, are you up for a car-themed day? If you’re going to do the Richard Petty Driving Experience, I’d suggest doing that first thing in the morning (the track usually opens at 9 a.m.). If not, I’d suggest starting at Epcot and getting on Test Track. Then, take the boat over to Hollywood Studios. Check the Times Guide and work in lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater between Lights, Motors, Action! and meeting Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater. Then, head over to Magic Kingdom and take a leisurely drive around Tomorrowland Speedway.
So which car-themed experience is your favorite?