Tuesday, September 27, 2011

(Hit the Bulls-Eye: Toy Story Midway Mania)

By now, I'm sure most of you are familiar with Hollywood Studios' newest craze, Toy Story Midway Mania. Our version in Orlando opened officially on May 31, 2008, with another in California opening on June 17 of the same year. Toy Story has long been one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was very excited when I heard the news that Disney was bringing this to life. Fast forward to 2009, the first experience that I had with the interactive carnival game ride.

Along with the introduction of Midway Mania came Pixar Place, a new land of sorts in Disney's Hollywood Studios. I was originally very upset when Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Play It! was closed, because who doesn't love that game? I always used to go in wishing that I would get that spot in the hot seat, and at the same time scared to death that it could actually happen. It was difficult for me to let that one go, but what Disney had in store was so worth the sacrifice. Pixar Place is fairly small right now, but I have no doubt that it will turn into something very special in the years to come. The original Pixar Studios in California was the inspiration for the new addition to Hollywood Studios, and our favorite characters from the Toy Story trilogy have been let loose on the built-to-scale replica. Everywhere you look there are Green Army Men, Monkeys in a Barrel, pieces from board games and other Pixar characters climbing walls and hanging from buildings. Pixar Place currently has one place to stop for snacks, Hey Howdy Hey Take Away. If you're looking for a frozen drink (raspberry lemonade or Coke) and a souvenir bucket of popcorn, this is your place!

Now for the best part! First of all, if you haven't yet experienced Midway Mania, make it your mission to grab a Fastpass first thing in the morning. If you get there early enough in the morning, you can walk right on the ride and get a Fastpass to ride it later. This is by far the most popular attraction in Hollywood Studios right now, and there is no sign of that popularity slowing down. Fastpasses run out quickly and early here!

Upon entering Midway Mania, you are immediately shrunk down to the size of a toy. Don't be bummed if you have to wait in a line here - this place is a feast for the eyes. Disney did a great job of incorporating our favorite games from childhood (like Candyland and Chutes & Ladders) in this toyland atmosphere. Mr. Potato Head fills the position of the Carnival Barker, and as an interactive animatronic, can identify people in the audience while singing and telling jokes. Woody, Buzz and all of their friends have rounded up their favorite games and set up a carnival of midway-style games to test your skills. Aside from the initial practice round (which really helps you get a good feel for how to play), there are five mini games throughout the ride. My personal favorite is Buzz Lightyear's Flying Tossers, a ring-toss game featuring Buzz and his alien friends. Other games include an egg toss game featuring Hamm, a plate-breaking game featuring the Green Army Men and Woody's suction cup shooting game. Bo Peep originally had a balloon popping game, but was replaced with Rex and Trixie's Dino Darts with the release of Toy Story 3 in May of 2010.

The ride is very fast-paced, and the games are incredibly fun and addictive. It's really too bad that the lines are so long, because once it's over all you want to do is play again! Each vehicle features what looks like a cannon, which is operated by pulling its string. The functions change depending on what game you are in; sometimes the cannon shoots darts, other times baseballs, and so on. You arm may get a bit tired after a while, with the fast-paced pulling that you do in a desperate attempt to beat your opponent! Each game is incredibly immersive, with excellent 4-D effects - you may even get splashed with some water!

This attraction by far exceeds Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom, especially due to the fact that I kind of kick butt on this one! Buzz Lightyear's attraction is in major need of an update, and I can never seem to figure that one out. When you hit a target in Midway Mania, it responds very well whereas Space Ranger Spin always feels like a shot in the dark to me. J is very good at both games, and almost always wins. Notice the scores above though - I was way ahead the entire game (right), until the bonus round when he snuck up on me and ended up winning by 100 points (left)! Notice the percentage of accuracy though - it still counts as a win to me!

This ride is just all in good fun to me, and I look forward to it every time I can make it to Walt Disney World. There are some people who take this game very seriously though! Apparently each of the 5 games have what are called "Easter Eggs," which are triggers that allow for you to score more points. There are even websites explaining each of these hidden targets. It's actually sort of interesting, and I'm ashamed to admit that I kind of want to give these a try! So, since I'm certain that many of you have experienced the ride, I'm curious: do you have any strategies for scoring the most points, or do you like to just go and have fun? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Happy Gaming!


  1. Best Strategy: Save you energy for the final round. Where accuracy is no longer an issue, and speed can help you pull ahead in the last few moments.