Review: Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show with Lightning McQueen at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
By Dave Shute
I review rides only when they are new or after they have changed, on the theory that first time visitors ought to try them all and hence don’t need reviews.
(For those without the time or energy to try them all, there’s a
comprehensive guide to Disney World rides and attractions here and also a list of Disney World rides that might be skipped here.)
Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2005 as a close adaptation of a similar show running at Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris.
Earlier this year it had a minor change–the addition of Mater and Lightning McQueen–which gives me an excuse to review it.
LIGHTS MOTORS ACTION EXTREME STUNT SHOW WITH LIGHTNING MCQUEEN
Lights Motors Action is a show featuring stunts mostly by cars, but also by people, motorcycles, and jet-skis.
It combines stunts with explanations of how they are done, and how movies using vehicle stunts have their stunts designed and filmed.
I’ve had it ranked in the Comprehensive Guide to Rides as “avoid” for little kids but as a “favorite” for older kids and their parents.
For little kids, the issue is that for them, it can be really dull.
For pre-schoolers, the action may be fun, but more likely will be incomprehensible, the interludes between action where stunt principles are explained will be dull, and the long changeovers between sets will drag.
The addition of Mater and Lightning McQueen, if it sticks and is not part of a short-lived Cars 2 promotion, will moderately increase the attractiveness of the show to little kids who are also Cars fans.
If made permanent, I’d shift the little kid rating from “avoid” to “other.”
For first-time older kids and their parents, this is a great attraction.
The stunts are fun, and the explanations interesting.
A BIT OF A DISAPPOINTMENT THAT NEXTGEN MAY HELP
While I rank it as a favorite for first-time visitors, Lights Motors Action has been a bit of a disappointment.
The show was designed to be run as many as six times a day, but most of the year it’s on only twice a day.
There’s a couple of reasons for this.
One is that while first time visitors quite like it, they don’t create any buzz about it.
- The show has no real story (it used to have a bit more of one, using audience members to create a movie that included them)
- It also has no ties to any movie property–either Disney or otherwise (as noted, the addition of Mater and Lightning McQueen may help on this–more on this below.)
- As noted above, the set changes drag–especially for the second set
Second is that repeat visitors don’t make a return visit a high priority.
The issues noted above are part of this–especially the long changeover times.
Another issue for returning visitors is that they know that the 5000-seat metal un-air conditioned seating area can be uncomfortable, especially in the summer, where it takes on some of the characteristics of a broiler. (Thanks to Josh of EasyWDW.com for the heads up on this point!)
The upshot is that the ride is under-attended, and this matters to the park.
If it were showing six times a day at 80% capacity, it would be absorbing the equivalent of ~2,000 people an hour (24,000 people divided by the 13 hours that the Studios is open on a typical summer day). This would reduce the other lines at the park.
But it isn’t, and rather is seeing something more like the equivalent of 700 people an hour.
POTENTIAL FIXES TO LIGHTS MOTORS ACTION
The simplest fix would be to kill the first act. This is the only act that requires a bare stage, and is why the first set changeover drags so much.
Starting with the current second act would allow the set to be dressed for it at the start of the show, and have a huge positive impact on the pacing of the show. Some of the best bits of the first act could be added to other acts.
This will be heresy to some–a recent post on LaughingPlace.com that called it the most under-rated attraction at the Studios praised in particular the first act–but I can’t think of a better way to speed up the pacing.
A more expensive fix would be to go all-in on the Cars re-theming. The current addition of Lightning McQueen and Mater is nice but trivial.
However, the show’s European setting and spy-movie theme have a nice fit with Cars 2 that they didn’t have at all with the first Cars…almost like Cars 2 was planned this way…and the whole show could be re-conceived around Cars 2.
Even before Cars 2 there was speculation that this end of the Studios might be re-themed around Cars…
Moreover, with or without the above fixes, attendance by first-time visitors at Lights Motors Action could be increased by Disney’s NextGen project, particularly if the attraction is labeled as one of the Studio’s “E”-ticket attractions–as it should be.
See the links for the details, but the short version is that NextGen likely will encourage signing up for rides well ahead of a visit, and will label rides as more and less attractive.
Lights Motors Action is a great example of how this approach could help–taking an under-appreciated ride and filling more of its capacity with first time visitors, and as a result lowering waits elsewhere in the park
This would be a win-win for everybody–even those who find the attraction to be a broiler!