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"Cars" 's premiere to be held (appropriately enough) at North Carolina racetrack

Jim Hill

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"Cars" 's premiere to be held (appropriately enough) at North Carolina racetrack

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Listen. Do you hear that persistent whining sound?

"What sort of miserable creature could ever make a horrible noise like that?," you ask. Well, that -- my friends -- is the sound that an East Coast-based Disneyana fan makes.

Mind you, the reason that these poor pitiful people continually whine like that is because they're upset. They're upset that most of the truly cool Disney-related events wind up happening out on the West Coast. Stuff like that in-park world premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Which (it is strongly rumored) will be held inside of Disneyland on the night of June 24th.

"Why doesn't the Walt Disney Company ever do anything cool like that out here on the East Coast?," these people wail. "It's just so unfair!"

Well, if you're a frustrated East Coast-based Disneyana fan ... Do I have some good news for you!

Guess where the Walt Disney Company reportedly wants to hold the world premiere of "Cars"? Yep. On the East Coast.

"Where exactly?," you ask. Well, according to what my sources have been telling me, the film's premiere will supposedly be held in the great state of North Carolina. And the venue -- appropriately enough -- will be a race track. At the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, to be specific.

The plan -- as I understand it -- is that, as soon as the Coca Cola 600 is over in late May, that the Superspeedway will quickly be converted into a huge outdoor movie theater. And that several enormous screens will then be erected on that racetrack's in-field.

And then on the night of the premiere ... Well, Disney's keeping a pretty tight lid on that aspect of the event. But it's expected that virtually the entire vocal cast of "Cars" will be making the trek out to that racetrack in Charlotte. And that they'll arrive for the world premiere of this Pixar Animation Studios film not in limousines. But -- rather -- after being chauffeured around the Superspeedway and waving to the crowd while being driven by some of NASCAR's top drivers.

Another fun aspect of this event will be the debut of the Lightning Queen and Mater walk-around characters. Or -- in this case -- I guess I should say "drive-around characters." These almost full-sized version of the characters from "Cars" were built in a scenery shop in Yonkers, N.Y. under the direct supervision of Pixar sculptor Jerome Ranft. And -- thanks to the cast members who are hidden inside -- will almost appear to be alive.

Another vehicle that's expected to make an appearance at the "Cars" world premiere is the Goodyear blimp. Though -- for this very one special occassion -- the "Goodyear" name will be covered up and -- in its place -- you'll see the name "Lightyear."

This sounds like a really fun event, don't you think? One that (hopefully) a large number of East Coast Disneyana fans will be able to attend. Given that the stands at the Lowe's Motor Speedway has a reported seating capacity of 167,000.

Now that may sound like a very impressive number (Particularly in comparison to the estimated 100,000 people who turned out to see "Pocahontas in the Park," when the world premiere of that 1995 Disney animated film was held on the Great Lawn in NYC's Central Park. Or the reported 65,000 people who made a special trip into New Orleans in June of 1996 just to catch "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 's world premiere at the Superdome).

But even if Disney does somehow manage to fill all 167,000 seats at the Lowe's Motor Speedway (And -- no -- I don't have any info yet about how Disney actually plans to go about distributing  tickets to this premiere. Though I'd imagine that there'll be an announcement sometime in the coming weeks) ... Well, that won't even come close to the 3,000,000 who supposedly turned out to see that special version of the Main Street Electrical Parade that rolled through NYC back on June 14, 1997 as part of the "Hercules World Premiere Weekend in New York."

Of course, for that one-time-only event, this old Disneyland favorite was renamed ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

And several new, appropriately themed floats were added to the parade's line-up. First up was a unit that featured a live actor dressed as Hercules standing on the back of a mechanical Pegasus (I.E. Herc's flying horse from the film).


Photo by Jeff Lange

Riding behind the film's title character was a live actress dressed as Meg as well as a Disney cast member wearing a Philoctetes ("Call me Phil") costume.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Directly behind the Hercules / flying horse unit was an enormous mechanical version of Hades. With costumed versions of the Lord of the Underworld's two minions -- Pain & Panic -- dancing directly below Hades's hand.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Now what was cool about this particular float is that the huge hand that the Lord of the Underworld held out in front of him actually cradled a real, live ball of flame. No lie, folks. This was a very cool effect.


Photo by Jeff Lange

After that ... Well, the Manhattan debut of Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade really seemed to win over these hard-hearted New Yorkers. I mean, look at all those people standing in the windows, looking down as Cinderella's clock tower rolls by.


Photo by Jeff Lange

And given the reaction that Dopey got as he rolled along 42nd Street ... Well, you'd have thought this incidental player from "Snow White" was actually a rock star.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Certainly this was the first time ever that there were more lights twinkling in the streets on Times Square than there were illuminating all of the huge billboards that tower over this particular section of the Big Apple.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Mind you, the Walt Disney Company spared no expense when it came to bringing the MSEP to NYC. I'm told that the Disney corporation paid out an estimated $250,000 just to cover city services for that night. This fee included the cost of repaving a particularly bad piece of pavement along the two mile long parade route, as well as the salaries for 2000 New York 's finest (AKA the police) who were out in force that evening to keep the peace and/or crowd control.

Which really makes you wonder how much the Walt Disney Company is going to have to shell out in order to properly pull off this "Cars" premiere at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. However, given all of the free publicity that Disney will get for this Pixar Animation Studios release as a direct result of this East Coast event ... Well, I would imagine that most senior studio officials will think that this money is well spent.

Anyway ... I just wanted to give you folks a "heads up" that this special East Coast premiere of "Cars" is reportedly in the works. As soon as I find out how members of the public can actually go about getting tickets to this one-time-only event, I'll let you know, okay?

Your thoughts?

Did you like those images of the "Hercules Electrical Parade" that accompanied today's article? Well, those photos were actually culled from Jeff Lange's brand-new DVD, "Jeff Lange Remembers ... The Hercules Electrical Parade in NYC." Which -- not-so-co-incidentally -- just went on sale over at Mr. Lange's on-line store. If you'd like to purchase a copy, you can do so by clicking on this link.

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