Written by Joe Lane
Published: May 9, 2005 at 10:23 PM
Back in January, Theme Park Insider's European correspondent Ben Mills wrote a tough article about "Moteurs... Action! Stunt Show Spectacular" at Disneyland Resort Paris.
In the article, Mills questioned whether Moteurs, a show made great by its pitiful neighboring attractions, can "stand up so well in Disney-MGM Studios." Can the extreme stunt show truly be "extreme?"
The Disney-MGM Studios has long been considered the "extreme" Disney park since the opening of the Tower of Terror in 1994. The Magic Kingdom? Too childish. Epcot? Too boring. In the mid-nineties, when teens wanted to have an action-packed time at Disney, the Studios was the place to go.
Things have changed a lot since then. Epcot now features Test Track and Mission: Space, two of Disney's fastest and most limit-pushing attractions ever to debut. The Magic Kingdom once featured the sci-fi terror show Alien Encounter. And now, we also have Animal Kingdom, with rides like Kali River Rapids and Dinosaur.
But as things change around the Disney World, so too do we see change within the Studios. That's why, while WDW's three other parks are receiving "fresh" attractions as part of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, the Disney-MGM Studios is also the proud recipient of a "new" addition, the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show.
This is Disney's second stunt-centered performance, after the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which premiered at the Studios opening in 1989. Like Indy, Lights! Motors! Action! (LMA) gets an edutainment treatment, mixing the high-octane thrills of a live stunt show with educational, behind-the-scenes segments designed to show what goes into shooting fast-paced car chases for big budget feature films.
Armed with an arsenal of 30 vehicles and a cast of 35 stunt drivers and technicians, the show takes place on a 6.5-acre area, including a Mediterranean-themed set, vehicle garage and 5,000-seat stadium. The LMA arena now occupies a portion of the back lot once home to the old Residential Avenue.
The show can be divided into four separate action segments, including the Ballet Chase, the Blockade, the Motorcycle Chase and the Finale. Each segment touches on a different features of stunt driving. Between each session the "director," "assistant director," and "stunt coordinator," talk about the work that goes into preparing each stunt, as well as the modifications that have to be made to each stunt car. At one point during the show, Disney's own car star Herbie makes an appearance.
Herbie's inclusion at WDW holds more importance for Disney now than his original cameo at Disney Studios Paris, mostly due to the upcoming release of his newest film starring Disney's current teen star Lindsey Lohan. Disney's Marketing Department couldn't have asked for better timing.
Of all three attractions that have opened this Spring at WDW, it is this theme park enthusiasts opinion that LMA lives up to its classification as an E-Ticket. Granted, ones enjoyment of the production might hinge entirely on whether or not one gets a kick out of watching stunt cars spin in circles, drift around tight set pieces at high speeds and jump through the air backwards.
Yes, I said backwards.
According to the piece written by Mills, Moteurs suffered in that it was incredibly long for too little action at 45 minutes. Disney says the new LMA clocks in at 30 minutes, although by my own accounts, it appeared as if the show lasted nearly 40 minutes. As for the filler portions between takes, they have become a necessary evil: part of the formula for progressing the show. The best improvement that could be made would be a tightening of the script, and an attempt to keep it smart. To the actors credits, they do their best to make their dialogue sound as genuine as possible, although some of the jokes are a little lame.
Walt always made a point never to dumb stuff down for his target audience. He was once quoted as saying, "Adults are interested if you don't play down to the little 2 or 3 year olds or talk down. I don't believe in talking down to children. I don't believe in talking down to any certain segment. I like to kind of just talk in a general way to the audience."
If you plan on checking out LMA soon, be advised that crowds start to form near the entrance an hour before show time.
Disney currently offers FASTPASS for the show, and it comes highly recommended, as recent performances have seen near to full capacity audiences. FASTPASS tickets generally issue a return time of about thirty minutes prior to show time, and Guests are well advised to be at the LMA FASTPASS entrance as soon as possible to ensure seating.
One more thing to note: every seat is not always the best seat in the house. The biggest nuisances in the LMA arena seating are the I-beams that support the stadium overhang. In just the wrong spot, these can obscure your view of the action. For a clearer view, arrive early and grab a seat towards the front.
On a TPI scale of 0-10, I give Lights! Motors! Action! a 9-Outstanding for good execution and honest excitement. Kudos also to the stunt men and women who have trained daily with these vehicles, and to the mechanics and technicians who keep them running smoothly. I hope to see a positive track record in Guest and Cast Member safety for years to come.