Cars 2 vs. Carmageddon: The 3D Movie and Attraction at El Capitan Beats Out the Freeway Fiasco

Stephen poses with lead car Lightning McQueen

Carmageddon is not the only majorLos Angelesevent that highlights the city’s obsession with automobiles, but in the case of Disney Pixar’s Cars 2 in 3D and World Grand Prix Attraction at El Capitan Theatre, at least it comes with some thrills.

If you’ve never been to one of El Capitan Theatre’s after-movie attractions, this one is worth checking out, especially for kids who love cars.

First, there was the movie. Though sequel to Cars did not have much of the charm and heart of the 2006 original, it did introduce some fun new characters, such as Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) as a British spy and the charismatic racing rival Francesco Benoulli (JohnTurturro).

The Grand Prix Attraction did a great job with the character cars which guest could pose with for photos

The plot involved lead car Lightning McQueen’s (Owen Wilson) and his friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) traveling overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix.  Their friendship is tested and prevails as the two get caught up in international espionage intrigue and a scheme to sabotage a new brand of alternative fuel.

The plot was over the head of my four-year-old son, but he did enjoy the special effects in the first-ever 3D he has seen, though the racing scenes and many of the shoot-out scenes were loud and a little scary for him.

One of the great things aboutEl Capitanis that the legendary old theatre has been outfitted for kid movies, so the sound quality is always terrific despite many fidgety, crying and inquisitive kids who ask what is happening every few minutes.  They also have booster seats, which we took advantage to boost my son up so he could see over the heads of the three adults sitting in front of us.  They also have VIP tickets available for preferred, reserved seating, which comes with popcorn in a souvenir plastic tub and a drink, served in a quick-service line, which makes getting kids to a theatre and seated a breeze.

Ready to ride in the tire swing at Tire Town
Swinging around in the tire swing

The main attraction of the day for us was Kodak’s Grand Prix Attraction behind the theatre after the movie.  El Capitan again shows its experience as a kid and family venue by having plenty of friendly, uniformed staff at the end of the show to guide patrons out of the theatre and down the street a block to the grounds ofHollywoodHigh Schoolwhere the attraction is staged.

The 25,000 square-foot outdoor attraction features family fun such as Porto Corsa racetrack, in which kids pedal trikes around a track; Eiffel Tower Bungee Jump, where guests spring on a mini-trampoline in a bungee-cord suspended harness; Tokyo Tower gravity slide, where kids ride down a wavy slide on mats; Rockin’ Race Rally, where guests assemble LEGO cars to race on a downhill track; and Tire Town, a play area with activities such as an oversized tire swing and a climbing wall of Goodyear tires.  Of course there is also a gift shop with lots of Cars 2-themed items.

A very serious Stephen builds his LEGO car for the race
A winning smile after his LEGO car makes it to the bottom

There was a good variety of activities, but a few of them required height and weight minimums.  My 32-pound son was just heavy enough for the bungee jump, though he ended up dangling more than bouncing because the attendant was busy with other guests while my son was struggling to touch the trampoline with his feet; and my son was disappointed not to be able to go down the slide because at 41 inches he was one inch too short.

A bit of bouncing and a lot of dangling on the bungee jump

Despite a hot day, we enjoyed our Cars 2 and Grand Prix Attraction outing.  The simplest activities ended up being the most fun:  the tire climbing pyramid and the LEGO car race were his favorites.

Up to the top of the Goodyear Tire Pryamid

Overall, while the movie itself was not a big winner, the entire experience was memorable and enjoyable for the whole family.  As any parent of a young child knows, we’ll likely end up seeing the movie on DVD many, many times down the road, and we will grow to appreciate once again that Disney Pixar still makes the best movies out there for kids.  Of course, there’s also the merchandise.  My son already wants a “Francesco” car.

Cars 2 and the Grand Prix Attraction are at El Capitan Theatre through August 28.  “CARS 2” screens daily at 10:00 a.m., 1 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. For tickets call 800-DISNEY6 or visit

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