When we left off last time, we had driven an hour, gotten lost, and trekked nearly two miles in an attempt to get into the Cars 3 Road to the Races Tour Stop event. Apparently, someone had vastly underestimated the number of Disney-desperate northerners that would show up and even those with tickets (like us) could not get near the place.
But we trudged on, determined…despite the mysteriously missing Disney attention to detail and cast members that appeared to be MIA.
Finally…we were in! We had made it!
Missing: Disney Wow Factor
But what had we made it to?
We looked around the corralled area. Two Cars 3-wrapped tractor trailers bookended a lot about the size of a baseball field. “Life is a Highway” blared from invisible speakers. The biggest show stopper appeared to be the three Cars 3 “stars” parked in front of one tractor-trailer. We got in line…Cruz Ramirez, Jackson Storm, and…(drum roll please!) Lightning McQueen! The photographers’ efficiency was impressive as they moved families quickly from one car to the next.
Around the edges were 7 fair-like tents. People stood in undefined lines for each activity, most of us unsure if where we were standing was really a line. Kids napped in strollers, some cried, and others entertained themselves on their parents’ phones.
As we neared the front of the line at the first tent, Big Brother Mousketeer took the marker he was offered and colored on the already-scribbled-on wall featuring a black-lined scene from Cars 3. Mouseketeer added his scribbles in record time.
At the second tent Big Brother Mouseketeer picked a Matchbox-like car to race, as instructed.
“I’ll race it for you,” said the friendly “cast member,” taking the toy and placing it at the top of an incline of about 18 inches. Mouseketeer’s smile drooped a bit. Unlike at Disney, where cast members are trained in ways to make kids feel like stars on a stage, kids here just observed the action. As Mouseketeer’s car crossed the finish line, it landed near a small Cars playset, not unlike the playsets he had at home. And just like at home, he engaged quickly in a Cars-scenario of his own imagination, which occupied him until Baby Mouseketeer started to fuss.
Heather tended to Baby while Daddy and Gemma took Big Brother to the next tent.
And then we spotted it. Off in the corner.
Ka-chow! A Dole tent! Now this is Disney!
Could it be? After the 1.7 mile trek with two mousketeers, flopping backpacks, and the uncooperative stroller, it would all be worth it for the frosty pineapple-y goodness of a Dole Whip!
Heather’s Prince Charming came back bearing 2 small plastic cups half-filled with green stuff. We looked at each other, puzzled. Surely this could not be a Dole Whip? But in the spirit of all things Disney, we downed this newfangled concoction.
Liquid bananas and spinach, perhaps? A glance at the sign we had failed to read indicated it was liquid bananas and spinach. At room temperature. Dad-gum. Not even a spoonful of sugar would have helped that medicine go down.
On to the tents on the opposite side of the corral.
Big Brother Mouseketeer spun the wheel to win a toothpaste, toothbrush or tattoo. He was hoping for the toothbrush but seemed happy enough with Cars 3 tattoos.
After a photo in front of a McQueen backdrop we moved on to the color-and-cut a poster station. We quickly decided to pass on the cut-outs. The “rrrrttt…rrrtttt” of the power tools next door was far more enticing. Obviously other people thought so too. We got in the long line so Big Brother Mouseketeer could attach a wooden tire to a wooden car. That was a hit. In fact, it was so much of a hit we got in line again.
Only one thing left. A giant, Cars 3-wrapped 18-wheeler bordered the side of the corral opposite the first exhibit where we had visited with the 3 “Cars Stars.” Parents with strollers and preschoolers formed a line alongside the mystery truck. Brother Mousketeer was as anxious to see the surprise inside that big Cars truck as a princess is to see inside the castle!
We joined the line. After waiting quite some time, we began to inch forward. As we neared the entrance, we tried to peek inside. But just as they keep you searching for the castle as you enter the Magic Kingdom, the big surprise was hidden.
Finally, we stepped inside the doors. Movie-theater lights guided us up a small set of stairs. A big screen with Cars logo enticed us forward. Along with about 40 other guests, we settled into comfy theater seats, anxiously anticipating what would appear. The familiar Cars soundtrack started. A mud-covered Lightning McQueen filled the screen. Action!
Fifteen minutes and lots of nudges and smiles later, we filed out of the big truck. “June 16th…We’ve got to see this!” That opinion was unanimous.
To be sure, the things that keep us coming back to Disney time and again—Disney’s attention to detail and cast members who know how to say, “Be our guest” without even using words—were missing in action.
But there was some pixie dust here. And we had found it.
“Mommy, can we come back here tomorrow after I wake up?” said Big Brother Mouseketeer.
For us, that’s the Wow Factor…Disney had delivered.