Earlier in April, the opportunity to visit Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater and Finn McMissile (Cars 2) arose during their "Agents on a Mission" Cars Tour 2011 (Presented by State Farm). Since I know how much my daughter loved meeting McQueen and Mater on our most recent trip to the Studios, I thought it would be worth checking out. After all, how often do you get a chance to visit these beloved Pixar characters in your hometown? As this tour is travelling through the U.S. until June 24, I thought it might be helpful to discuss whether or not it's worth the trek and the long lines to see these characters on tour.
So I loaded my two kids up in the van, along with my friend and her daughter, and off we went on our half hour drive to the mall where our Cars friends were going to be appearing that day. The first thing that we noticed when we walked through the doors was the hour long line! Wow, I've never even waited that long to see the Cars at Disney World! Nevertheless, we made the drive, so we were going to stick it out. Now, let me say that if you haven't yet had the chance to visit Mater and McQueen at The Studios, you and your kids will enjoy meeting these life-size characters on tour. If your kids are already used to seeing the Cars characters at the Studios, then please read on.
After the long wait, we were at the front of the line, and were pleased to see that some free gifts were waiting for the kids! Each child received a draw-string backpack and a color-changing pencil. Not bad! Once these were doled out, we proceeded to get our photopass-equivalent card and another card for which we could enter a sweepstakes online. Next in the line were some backdrops from the Cars 2 movie, which children could pose in front of for pictures. Our close-to-2.5 year-olds weren't interested in this. Video games or videos of the movie in a kiosk for the children followed. Not quite sure what was on those screens, but, again, no interest from our kids. Finally, time to meet the characters - and they had new paint jobs for their roles in Cars 2! Just as in the Studios, they had photographers set up to take pictures of you and your loved ones with the Cars. This is where the photopass-equivalent cards come in. Please note: when you go online to retrieve your photos, State Farm has a number of insurance-related questions for you to answer, first!
Here's where the meet and greet experience differs. As soon as my daughter saw Mater, she wanted to run up to him as she did in Disney World. Only, much to my daughter's dismay, she was not allowed to touch these Cars. In fact, you had to pose for pictures with the characters in front of a ROPE! This did not go over well with my daughter, and, actually, I was disappointed too. If your kids were mesmerized by the noises the Cars made at the Studios, as my daughter was (even 4 months after our last trip, she still likes to tell us what noises Mater and McQueen make!), expect a little more dissapointment. These characters don't make noise. The next thing my daughter said to me was "eyes no turn around". Ha! Obviously to me she was referring to the fact that the eyeballs on these Cars characters didn't move. I guess something else that really stuck with her about her visit at the Studios, was that Mater and McQueen's eyes actually "look around". My poor daughter! She's been so spoiled by Disney World, that any old meet and greet with the Cars characters just wouldn't do. Anyway, it's all very orderly. First we took a picture with Mater, then the new character, Finn, and lastly with McQueen, and then... we were done! So, a half hour drive and an hour wait for a 10 minute meet and greet!
I hope I'm not sounding too negative. Firstly, this event is FREE! Even though they weren't the Cars we were used to, my daughter and my friend's daughter still had fun. I'm glad I went because, well, I love to do anything Disney-related! Would I recommend going when the tour hits your town? Maybe. If your kids have seen the Cars at the Studios, you may want to prepare them for the differences. If your kids haven't had the opportunity of seeing them at the Studios, then I'm sure they will enjoy seeing life-size versions of their favorite characters! Would I personally go again? No. I think I'll wait for my upcoming trip to the Studios instead! ;-)
Side note: If you are interested in visiting the Cars characters on tour, please visit http://disney.go.com/cars/#/events for more information on when they'll be appearing in your hometown. The Cars characters at the Studios are currently undergoing a makeover for their new movie, but will be greeting guests again in their usual location (near the exit of the Muppets 3D attraction) on June 5. If you'll be in Disney World before then, however, and want to see McQueen and Mater, the "Agents on a Mission" tour will be at Downtown Disney May 13-15, and Mater will also be at Test Track in Epcot on May 13-15 for Pixar Weekend!