WARM GLOW: The Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Glow Party Arena Tour adds a bright new twist to a tried and true tourist attraction. (Courtesy of Family Entertainment Holdings)
Family Entertainment Live has announced the 2023 dates in the United States and Europe for its Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party arena tour.
The U.S. leg of the tour kicks off January 7 and 8 at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee, and ends April 22 and 23 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Florida. 3 at OVO Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, and concludes April 8-9 at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, after playing dates in Belgium, Denmark, Poland and Spain.
The tour, produced in conjunction with toymaker Mattel, owner of the Hot Wheels intellectual property, kicked off to three sold-out crowds over Labor Day weekend at the Toyota Center in Ontario, California, and is now moving at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield, California for a show on 9/11.
The success in Ontario follows three sold-out performances for Family Entertainment Live’s 2022 Hot Wheels Monster Trucks show on August 6-7 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Tickets average $20 and there are special prices for children and a host of discounts available throughout the tour.
The show also includes a premium Crash Zone pre-show party, with arena floor access and autograph signings by conductors, which begins two and a half hours before each performance. Each customer’s ticket comes with an autograph signing card and attendees also receive a souvenir sign and lanyard.
Family Entertainment Live hosts a nationwide Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Tour, which makes approximately 30 stops per year. Another unit travels internationally and did 11 shows in 2022. This will increase to around 20 in 2023.
Family Entertainment Holdings Founder and CEO Ken Hudgens spoke to VenuesNow’s James Zoltak about the tour and how the company is going through the pandemic.
VenuesNow: When we last spoke, you were rolling out a drive-thru attraction in December 2020.
HUDGENS: We’ve been rotating the Hot Wheels show into this drive-thru during the pandemic. It worked really well for us. We did three events, one in Ontario, California, then in January and February at Six Flags in Georgia and we finished in April May in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium. We returned to arena events for the Hot Wheels show in September 2021. It was a nice loadout for us.
What else can you tell us about getting through the pandemic?
Fortunately, the company is made up of two properties. The Hot Wheels Tour is an arena production and the Magic of Lights is a driving vacation light show attraction that is outdoors at various locations. They were poles apart during the pandemic. The Hot Wheels show can’t play arenas at all, but this Magic of Lights 2021 season for us was gigantic. We had four sites that made over 100,000 cars. We were lucky that one property balanced the impact of the pandemic on the other.
When did you launch Magic of Lights?
We started in 2016 around the time I left Feld and we piloted three events to see if we liked the business. We loved the business except for renting the Christmas lights, so in 2017 me and my partners Eric Cole, Tim Murray and Grant Reeves put in our own money and built seven full-scale, mile-and-a-half shows . We have been building this business ever since. They run right before Thanksgiving and run them through New Years and this year we’ll be doing 21. It’s all happening simultaneously.
Is the Glow Tour a brand new show?
I would say it’s better to call it a new theme for the show. It’s still Monster Trucks, car-eating robots, fire-breathing robots, freestyle motocross, but adapting those elements so that they all glow in the dark. It takes what has been a fan favorite and puts a creative new spin on it.
Was this the start of this incarnation?
We did a test last April to see if it resonated and because Mattel is our partner with Hot Wheels, they had to see it. They liked the look of it and thought it was not only a good show but they liked the marketing and we debuted last weekend in Ontario and it’s on for the next 12 months, both at home and abroad. All of our shows between September 1 this year and August 31 next year will be Glow Party shows.
What is Mattel’s involvement in these productions?
Mattel is very involved. Hot Wheels is one of the most iconic brands in the world and we take it very seriously that they have entrusted me and us to represent them in this show. They are very involved not only in the creation of the show, the theme of the event, the narration, etc., but the more normal aspects of the license to ensure that it is represented correctly. We’re basically an extension of their line of Hot Wheels Monster Trucks toys, so we’re as much a marketing engine for what they do as a standalone show. Hot Wheels internationally is very important to us. The international community isn’t necessarily as familiar with Monster Trucks as we are in the United States, but everyone knows Hot Wheels everywhere.
How do you select the locations?
On the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live side, it’s very competitive. We’re out there pick-pick-and-shovel, calling venues, making sure we’re up to date on availability, playing markets that make sense and there’s always demands. We struggled in 2019 when the tour started to prove itself, but whether it’s the venues or the venue management companies, they not only see that it’s a different thing – a more show that gets addressed to children, this is not the case. have some dirt, merchandise per cap is a bit higher than a normal Monster Truck show, (but) we try to do fair deals where the venues make their fair share of the money. By consistently doing great shows and having great people doing the work, we were able to add more venues and we expanded the tour until we were touring almost 11 months out of the year. It’s hard work and relationships. Eric Cole has been booking rooms for over 30 years and knows everyone.
On the side of Magic of Lights, it’s quite different. We are facilities and outdoor spaces. We do everything from the Gillette Stadium parking lot to the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey, to Ottawa, where it looks like a national park. We are looking for good partners, routes that work, markets that don’t have much or no drive-thru product during the holidays.
What are your assembly and dismantling times?
The Hot Wheels show we move in in 10 hours and move out in four hours. Again, no mess, so it’s a clean and simple process. Magic of Lights is a 21-24 day move to erect the mile and a half drive-thru show and it’s probably a 10-14 day move to dismantle everything into trailers and get into storage.
What can you tell me about how you price tickets to stay competitive and have good value for your target market?
This is the fundamental principle of what we do. Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live costs around $20 for an average ticket price. We have a children’s price available at each show, all kinds of discounts. There are many ways to start a business. My way is volume. I want as many people as possible to taste the product because I feel like it will give them a good enough show that they will want to come back. We focus on value. I’d rather be Walmart than Macy’s.
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on VenuesNow.