The Hot Wheels Ultimate Drive-Thru is drawing crowds in Ontario, Calif. (Courtesy Raycom-Legacy Content Co.)
Live tour spins off new event, debuting at California’s Toyota Arena
Raycom-Legacy Content Co., producer of the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live tour, launched a new attraction based on the iconic Mattel toy brand, the Hot Wheels Ultimate Drive-Thru, last week in the parking lot of Toyota Arena in Ontario, Calif.
The drive-through experience, which is more than two miles long, is due to run through Jan. 2 but could be extended another week depending on sales, which are reported to be strong, according to Raycom-Legacy President and CEO Ken Hudgens, who said 25,000 cars and over 100,000 guests are expected to take in the experience.
Tickets, priced from $45-$60 a vehicle, went on sale Oct. 30.
Though additional cities have not yet been announced, the family attraction — with more than 50 life-size Hot Wheels vehicles and monster trucks, a custom soundtrack and numerous photo opportunities — could well have a life beyond the initial run at the ASM Global-managed Toyota Arena, at least until the coronavirus pandemic recedes, at which time the producers expect to resume focus on touring Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live once again.
That show, which sold out both events it played at Toyota Arena in September last year, debuted in January 2019. Raycom-Legacy put on 25 events in the U.S. in January and February of this year and the event played five shows in Europe, three in England and one each in Denmark and Poland, Hudgens said. The dates in Europe, done in partnership with Live Nation, which sold tickets and helped with marketing, “were unbelievably successful,” Hudgens said.
The rest of 2020 was looking positive, with a half-dozen or so shows added to the route, before the pandemic struck. The show returned from Europe and had most recently played a sold-out date in Rockford, Ill., on March 1 when the live business came to a halt.
Hudgens is in the drive-through attractions business with another company, FunGuys LLC, that is producing 11 Magic of Lights holiday-themed attractions at venues across the country, including Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. He said the idea for the Hot Wheels Ultimate Drive-Thru was inspired in part by the Pinnacle Production Group’s Dinosaur Adventure attraction he saw at the DuPage County Fairgrounds outside Chicago in early September.
“I thought to myself, ‘Well, we can do this,” he said. “Talked to Mattel and Hot Wheels and they liked the idea and they were enthusiastic about contributing their Garage of Legends vehicles, the iconic Hot Wheels cars like the Rip Rod and Twin Mill and Bone Shaker. So that was kind of how the idea was born and we’ve really attacked it. The entire company worked hard on it from Sept. 3 until the Dec. 3 opening, and we think we have a great product.”
The Drive-Thru audience skews a little younger than the live show, with greater appeal for 3- to 5-year-olds rather than children a few years older, Hudgens said.
The attraction could put 500 cars an hour through the course “if we were really rocking and rolling, but we haven’t gotten there yet,” he said. At busy times it takes about 30 minutes to get through, but people want to take their time “without throughput pressure” and stop for photo ops with nearly every vehicle displayed.
“It’s a more enjoyable experience if you are not pushed or pulled,” he said.
Merchandise sales have been strong, with more than 50% of the vehicles adding at least one of two preordered merchandise bundles — either Hot Wheels or Bigfoot monster truck — for $30 apiece.
“We just fulfill it on site,” he said. “We scan it and hand them their merchandise bundle. I’m in the drive-through business. I’ve never seen anything like that (conversion rate). I think it’s a testament to the Hot Wheels brand.”
Venues seeking to accommodate the Hot Wheels Ultimate Drive-Thru need enough space for the two-mile course and the ability to queue up 200-500 vehicles off main roads, which local authorities will not want to be blocked with traffic.
“We get in trouble when we back traffic up onto main thoroughfares,” Hudgens said. “It’s more akin to a parking operation than a normal operation in the building.”