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Complete Guide to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy at Hollywood Studios

Complete Guide to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy at Hollywood Studios

Racers, start your engines at Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy!

At this Hollywood Studios experience, you’ll learn what it takes to be a champion racer from the legendary race car. Lightning McQueen demonstrates his expert racing skills, using his brand-new, state-of-the-art racing simulator. But things don’t go according to plan.

With some of your favorite Cars characters like Tow Mater and Cruz Ramirez rooting him on, will Lightning emerge victorious?

Cruise on through our complete guide to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy to find out!

Quick Facts

  • Location: Sunset Boulevard, at Hollywood Studios
  • Height requirement: None
  • Suitable for: Everyone
  • Attraction length: About 10 minutes
  • Do we recommend? Yes, especially for little ones and Cars fans (and as a time filler for everybody else)
  • When to visit: Anytime
  • Lightning Lane available: No
  • Eligible for Early Entry: No
  • Eligible for Extended Evening Hours: No
  • Scheduled Refurbishments
  • Tip(s): This show is inside in the air conditioning and can be a good opportunity to take a break from the heat in the afternoon.

Description: A new show featuring Lightning McQueen and other favorite Cars characters. Watch as Lightning showcases his racing simulator on the wrap-around screen and then takes on a racing challenge.


Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is located at the end of Sunset Boulevard, next to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

lightning mcqueen's racing academy location
hollywood studios map

How to Watch Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy

Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy has a Standby Line, but no Lightning Lane or Single Rider Line.

Do I need to use Genie+ at Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy?

Genie+ is not available at Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.

Rider Switch/Child Swap

Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy does not offer Rider Switch since this show is appropriate for all ages. Plus, Rider Switch isn’t normally offered for shows and reserved for rides.

You can learn more about Rider Switch via our handy guide.

What to Expect when you Watch


Guests wanting to experience Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy must wait in an outdoor queue. There are some umbrellas, but this can be a hot queue to stand in when temperatures are high. Plus, the queue isn’t ideal during rainy or bad weather.

Accessibility Information

Since you are seated in a theater for this experience, those in wheelchairs and ECVs may remain in them.

Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy

As soon as you enter the doors from outside, you walk right into the theater, meaning there are no stairs involved. The seats are hard benches with no backs.

lightning mcqueen's racing academy benches

Handheld captioning is available for guests.

In the Show

If you prefer to experience Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy without spoilers, make sure you skip over this section!

theater for lightning mcqueen's racing academy

As guests take their seats, they’ll enjoy Cars-themed trivia questions, before Mater appears on the screens to sing the story of the three Cars films.

They then find themselves face-to-face with an Audio-Animatronic Lightning McQueen, who appears live on stage. Lightning shares his secret to being a great racer – having a great teacher in Doc Hudson – and that he started the racing academy to share those lessons with the audience.

lightning mcqueen's racing academy

He then introduces Cruz Ramirez who has helped to design a state-of-the-art racing simulator. Lightning plans to use the new technology for this 10-minute show to teach the audience, “rookies” as he calls them, how to race. The entire screen then transforms into a race simulator.

lightning mcqueen's racing academy

But someone has hacked into the simulator system. Cruz attempts to reboot it, but to no avail. Chick Hicks appears on screen to tell Lightning that he hacked in to settle the score between them, for once and for all.

Lightning decides to take him on with the help of the audience “rookies” on Chick Hicks Motor Speedway.

lightning mcqueen's racing academy

While the race starts out poorly for Lightning, and Chick continuously throws curveballs to try and cheat his way to the finish line, Mater and Cruz and more of Lightning’s friends from Radiator Springs, cheer him on to victory thanks to teamwork!

The show takes place on a giant screen that’s almost two stories tall and 205-feet long, immersing guests in the story with new, never before seen animation. This show also features laser effects and smoke.

Is Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy Kid-Friendly?

This show is appropriate for guests of all ages, especially those who love the Cars films. It’s also short, which is great for little ones who can’t sit still for too long.


Strollers are not allowed in most queues or theaters at Walt Disney World. You’ll need to leave your stroller in the designated stroller parking area near the entrance to the queue at Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.


Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy opened at the Sunset Showcase Theater on March 31, 2019, as part of Hollywood Studios 30th Anniversary Celebrations.

It features elements and characters from Pixar’s Cars trilogy and is the sixth attraction based on the films to appear in a Disney theme park.

The attraction began to have technical difficulties on December 28, 2022 and experienced intermittent closures until it officially reopened on January 6, 2023.

Other Fun Details

  • The Sunset Showcase theater where the attraction is located, opened on December 1, 2015, as a venue for “Club Disney,” a family-friendly dance party featuring popular Disney songs and characters. The show closed on February 7, 2016. The theater has also housed special events, including “Club Villain,” a dinner party hosted by Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog (2009).
club villian
  • There used to be a DJ’s Ready! Set! Party Time! dance party in the courtyard outside the attraction.
  • While not an “official” character meet and greet or interaction, Cruz Ramirez and DJ from the Cars films are stationed back by Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy for photo ops.
cruz ramirez hollywood studios
  • When Chick Hicks summons clones to take out McQueen in a virtual race, this is a reference to Chick Hicks Takedown, a level in the Cars 3: Driven to Win game where the player must take out thousands of Chick Hicks clones.