Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Toy Story Stringy Pull

Since Jim Dandy asked, I thought I should deliver. One of the hot, new attractions at DisneyWorld's Disney Hollywood Studios is Toy Story Mania. Let's explore at length:

By hot, I mean you cannot see the end of the line. No joke - at 15 minutes after a 9am park opening one fine day, the wait time for this thing was over 1 hour. Fastpasses were being distributed for a Noon return. The wait time to even get a Fastpass was close to 15 minutes.

The line to get in (called the Stand-by Line in Disney parlance these days) was mostly populated by the usual assortment of fanatics - their bodies and electric scooters dripping with Disney merchandise. The minority of line dwellers appeared to be zombie parents - always betrayed by their bewildered stare that cries out 'I have no memory of coming here...'. And there was the usual assortment of little kids - fidgeting, screaming, comatose, perched on weary parental shoulders, sucking on breakfast candy - all in some manner of 60-minute stasis to be rewarded with 6 minutes of high-tech interactive entertainment.

One elderly gent I befriended in the Fastpass Distribution line confided he was only there to enable his wife's addiction. She had somehow ended up near the front of the Stand-by Line for an early go-round with Buzz, Woody, and friends. She was already back in line for another shot while her devoted husband awaited his Fastpass for a 3rd ride later in the day. He looked a little hollow-eyed to me, but proud of their 'system' nonetheless.

Since waiting in line for an hour was not going to happen, we elected to do the Fastpass thing and return later. In all, we experienced this attraction twice during our Christmastime visit. So would it measure up to waiting in line for an hour or more?

Theming: It's Disney. You are in Andy's room and you are toy-sized. The immersiveness, the colours, and the attention-to-detail are the hallmarks of a Disney attraction.

Queuing: It's Disney. You stand in line for awhile, you look at lots of interesting stuff, and soon you're sure you're near the front of the line. Then you realize you're not as the line snakes around another corner and the process begins anew. Like I said, it's Disney.

Highlights: In the queue you'll be entertained by an audio-animatronic Mr. Potatohead. He moves, he tells jokes, he seems to talk to the audience - all very, very well-done. The various shooting-gallery stages of the ride, itself, are very well animated and cleverly funny.

Lowlights: It's just a series shooting galleries displayed (in 3D) on large screens. Your ride car takes you from gallery to gallery, and these transitions 'break the magic' by giving riders too much of a glimpse into the ride mechanisms. For all the theming in the queue and loading areas, it's mostly lost inside the ride, itself. As well, the 3D effects are minimal since everything is happening so quickly at each stage.

Overall: It's a fun ride. You ride around in little vehicles, you wear 3D glasses, you score points by shooting Toy Story cartoony things with a string-pull gun/canon device. While it may be one of the most technologically expensive attractions at DisneyWorld (something like $80 million to design and build), it really doesn't break any new ground from a entertainment perspective. It's simply a virtualized take on the traditional shooting gallery game. I suspect that the degree-of-difficulty was in designing something that could provide a fun experience while moving tourist bodies through a continuously loading ride platform. In short - it's not worth a long wait.

And now - pictures!

Outside theming in Pixar Place. Everyone loves monkeys.

Ride entrance. Notice the Stand-by Wait (click to enlarge).

Queue theming.

Nice detail on a giant videogame package.

More queuing.

I had one of these.

Big-ass Candyland box.

Contemplating the ceiling.

Entertaining spud-man.

Going upstairs. Must be getting close.

Ride queue overlook area. Definitely getting closer.

I see the loading area!

Down we go - ever closer to 6 minutes of fun.

Yes! That's it! We're next!


David said...

The queue looks fantastic. But, I can't see waiting an hour in any line. Big WOW for the balsa glider though.

Thanks for the update.

Crazylegs said...

The queue *is* fantastic, David. I only provided a few glimpses here so as to avoid the spoiler effect. However, there's a lot more in there. It definitely resonates with us tail-end Boomers who can remember Lincoln Logs, Viewmasters, TinkerToys, etc. etc.

In hindsight I probably sounded lukewarm on the ride. It really is a fun experience. These days I just seem to be much more interested in the theming details than the ride attractions, themselves.

I'm not a thrill-ride kind of guy, but attractions like Disney's 'Mission: Space' and Universal's 'Amazing Adventures of Spiderman' have really set the bar for what a ride attraction can be. And I'd give my left arm to spend some time at Disney Seas in Japan - their attractions looking amazing.

David said...

"I just seem to be much more interested in the theming details than the ride attractions, themselves."

I am completely on board with that idea. That, and I don't have the patience for hour-long lines. But I may change my mind if all the fast passes are gone by the time I get my butt back there.

As for Disney Seas, I still can't believe that such a place exists. It seems unreal.

Adam Kantor said...

What does shooting things have to do with Toy Story? I don't seem to remember anything in the movies where guns were used.

Anonymous said...

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David said...

Nonny makes some good points, but man oh man, I can't believe you're letting coco's comments stay. A braver man than I are you.

Crazylegs said...

Adam - Did you watch the extra bits after Toy Story's closing credits had rolled? I won't spoil it for you, but think: Sam Peckinpah.

David - I was willing to give Coco a free ride. Then I clicked the link and was deeply disappointed in how chaste the whole thing was. I had no choice but to banish her. And don't be fooled by Nonny. She just wants approval - at any cost!

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