Now that it's 2008, we're getting ever so close to the opening of Toy Story Mania. This attraction has been in the works since Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It! closed back in August of 2006 and when you hear something is opening in a couple of years, it's easy to wave your hand in the air and dismiss the idea until it's a little closer to the opening date and it becomes more tangible. So I thought I'd take some time to kind of give the "State of the Union address for Toy Story Mania.
The first question on many guests minds is, "When will it open?". There is no official date yet. The only answer has really been "summer 2008". Does that mean early summer or late summer? The word I've been hearing is early summer, in the ballpark of June. That would be the official opening. If you're familiar with Disney parks, then you know most new attractions open to the public before the official opening date in preview form and are known as "soft openings". This means the attraction could be open to guests, but could also close at any moment in the day. The latest I've heard is soft openings could begin in April. The ride is already well into it's "test & adjust phase", which means Imagineers are riding it and adjusting things as needed to make the ride better.
So what is the ride exactly? This is going to be different than other Disney rides. It's going to be an interactive shooting arcade ride that can give you random games to participate in and the difficulty of the ride adjusts to the player's ability. Many label Toy Story Mania as "Buzz Lightyear 2.0" or a Men In Black clone or a multitude of other condascending names. That's like calling Splash Mountain just another flume ride or Pirates of the Caribbean as just another dark river ride. We all know Disney takes what would be "just another ride" and makes it into a classic attraction that many of us love. Disney is very secretive until now about the exact ride, but certainly the details will emerge once those soft openings occur.
Given the theme of the attraction is based on Toy Story, there will be a lot of Toy Story characters both on and off the ride. In the queue there will be a life-size version of Mr. Potato Head that will interact with guests in line. This alone is going to get me in line for this attraction. Inside the ride, you will find your favorite Toy Story characters like Hamm or Woody or Bo Peep and others. Fans of the films are sure to be pleased.
The characters are not just plastered on the wall. They will be your guide to the scene you´re about to go into and will give you an idea of how to play the next scene. After that, you´ll have your 3D glasses on and you´ll use your ¨toy cannon¨ to aim and blow away whatever targets you see. During the games, you will have not just what you see, but feel wind, get sprayed by water, smell various smells and be subject to the motion of your ride vehicle.
Remember that Disney touch that seperates Disney parks from other parks? Well, Disney is already at it. The theme for the exterior of Toy Story Mania is going to replicate (on a smaller scale) the Pixar Animation Studios building in California. To be even more convincing that the faux-pas building will loook like it's real counterpart, Disney brought in the company that made the bricks for Pixar´s building to make the bricks for Toy Story Mania. It´s subtle, but that's the sort of thing that seperates Disney from the rest of the pack.
If everything stays on the schedule that´s been rumored to be in place, we could see the first soft openings in just three months and we´ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect as guests start to go in. Disney has a lot of anticipation for this attraction and the moxy of the Cast Members and Imagineers who have worked on this exudes the aura that something special may just be in store your next visit to the Studios later this year.