Folks are getting in line for Toy Story Mania, and there’s good reason. There’s much to wait in line for—even in the line! Once you pass the new Pixar Studios arches, you come upon the old home for the Backstage Tour and for Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Things are looking different on Mickey Avenue these days. And as you enter this brand new attraction there even more different than before.
If you want to know what’s going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, proceed on. Otherwise, wait until your next vacation.
There are three queues. The first is designed for guests needing wheelchair assistance. From my observation, this was really superb, as there was a separate loading platform for these guests to board. It seemed like a great feature that treated guests with disabilities with respect and dignity while not impacting the theoretical hourly ride capacity.
Another queue is the Fastpass and/or single rider line. The distinctive aspect of this queue is that you miss the appearance of Mr. Potato Head, as well as a significant amount of theming. You also miss most of a very long standby line, so if saving time is really important for you, then by all means take advantage of utilizing a Fastpass or boarding as a single rider. But know, you will miss the real magic that sets you up for the ride experience.
The standby queue has three elements. One is an exterior queue when needed. The second is a themed experience in the very best Disney tradition of theming a queue. The third and final segments straddles alongside of the Fastpass queue as it ascends a stairwell, goes up and down two hallways and then descends to the loading platform.
Simply put, the theming in the standby queue is fantastic. Board games form the ceilings of the room and draw your attention. But don’t miss the flooring, also full of touches. For that matter, don’t miss anything in between. Lori Coltrin of Walt Disney Imagineering explains that there is no specific era around Toy Story, although they did want to draw inspiration from the 1960s and 1970s. The Chutes and Ladders game is clearly from the early-1960s while several Old Maid cards had a more contemporary 1970sdesign.
I decided to make a list of my top 10 details from the queue. Here we go:
A new archway offers promises of a new attraction for the entire family—and a fairly cool queue as well! Photo by Jeff Kober.
The headquarters of Pixar, located in Emeryville, California (in the San Francisco Bay Area) provided the inspiration for the archway entrance of the new Toy Story Mania attraction in Florida. Photo by Alex Stroup.
Most are not familiar with the Pixar Studios out in California, but the front of this attraction where you may first stand in line has been fashioned in a likeness to the studios there. Expense was even paid to matching the color of the bricks. Throughout this corridor monkeys are seen hanging along side of little green army men. Across the way, merchandise, meet-and-greet locations and F&B are being completed to compliment the entire plaza area.
You really feel small in no time at all. Photo by Jeff Kober.
When you first walk in, your size is dwarfed as you come upon a night light high above you. And it gives you a sense of the scale. That means if you are a 5 feet 6 inches tall, you will get the sense of being about just a little taller than a foot.
Pass by the Lincoln Log home for your 3D Glasses. Photo by Jeff Kober.
On the other end of this themed area lies a Lincoln Log House, which is where you gather your 3D glasses and commence moving into final portion of the queue which is more themed to a carnival. Again, if you ever imagined living in a world of toys, you get that full sense here.
The crayons weren’t anything surprising. What was cool was that there were several sizes as well as colors. Some were sharp, straight out of the box, others rounded and used. Some crayons were simply worn down. Fun.
This version of Candy Land harkens to an earlier time. Doesn't an ice cream float made of neopolitan ice cream sound great! My kids don't even know what neopolitan ice cream is. Photo by Jeff Kober.
I personally liked this set of scenery and props because the version of this game was more my era, which served to confuse my children. They weren’t used to the ice cream float or other delectables that were displayed on earlier versions of the game. I also loved walking along the game trail in the queue.
Admittedly, my works of Spin Art were not nearly as colorful—but they were fun! Photo by Jeff Kober.
I had forgotten this device I owned as a little child. You take a piece of paper and place it on a spinning wheel. Then you add paint. A big sheet of paper displaying one of these resides next to the Candy Land game. Very creative.
There was only one of these drawings displayed. I could have used more. Still, very cool.
The same Luxo desk lamp that jumps around as an icon for Pixar provides a spot light for Mr. Potato Head. Only this one is enormous and painted red. Again, the scale is amazing throughout.
A moment of reverence for a truly remarkable place in time—Tomorrowland of 1965. Photo by Jeff Kober.
This is my personal favorite. There are two reels in the queue, the other displaying scenes from Peter Pan. But this was truly a surprise and delight. So you understand, let me say that as a child I collected Viewmaster reels. I earned money mowing my grandmother’s lawn, and then I would pedal my bike to Walgreens and buy out every viewmaster of Disneyland and Walt Disney World that existed. I didn’t collect the movies, but I did collect the parks. This reel shows images such as the original Peoplemovers, the Coca-Cola bandstand, and Adventures Through Inner Space. I loved it! In talking with Imagineer Lori Coltrin, I found that she and her brother had Viewmasters as well as a child.
Mr. Potato Head is the real star of this attraction! Photo by Jeff Kober.
If you think animatronics has gone the way of the Country Bear Jamboree and Horizons, look again. This is an amazing creature that takes the very best in animatronics and mixes it with the technology found in Turtle Talk with Crush. Mr. Potato head marks the first time an audio-animatronics figure has a mouth that can form words and vowel sounds. It’s highly expressive, with eyes that can look directly at you. And most amazing, he can pull his ear off and put it on again. I almost think they should have created it as a show in and of itself, the same way you receive a show-type experience going into the library of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
By the way, in talking with MousePlanet staff member Lisa Perkis, the queue is very different at Disney’s California Adventure. We can suppose that the theme really takes its cues from the Midway concept as opposed to being about Andy’s bedroom.
Note that you miss much of this if you go in either of the special access or Fastpass queues. One thing you do get in those two queues—and this was significant—was a sneak peak of the boarding area. You don’t get this in the stand-by line, which would have offered some anticipation, and would have prevented a problem I ended up encountering. Let me explain. I have a 5-year-old son who is autistic. There are many attractions at the Hollywood Studios he will not do. In fact, other than the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground and the walk-through portion of One Man’s Dream, he doesn’t do anything else. He doesn’t even do shows or characters. But he does love Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom, so I thought he would like this attraction as well, and the Studios would be a place he would like to go again. I was wrong.
For the 60 minutes we stood in the stand-by queue, he did fairly well. That doesn’t mean his guard wasn’t up for Mr. Potato Head. He was a little anxious about that. But he kept his eye on him, and he stayed with it. Then we ascended the stairwell to the loading area. No problem there, either. But when we descended that stairwell and he could see the ride vehicles, he panicked! Actually, panicked is probably too mild a word. He went ballistic. It was awful. It was embarrassing. He raised a noise like you wouldn’t believe and pulled as hard as he could to go the other direction. Unfortunately, the queue was very difficult to go back through, as it was a very long line. I turned to the cast member directing guests to their seats and asked where we could go to get out. Because we were on an island surrounded by ride vehicles, he gave a blank look and then guessed that we should cut through the ride vehicle. And exit out the other side.
Let me just say, that when you have an autistic child going crazy, it’s difficult to explain to the child that the way out is through a ride vehicle. In short, the entire experience was painful. And people observing this quickly probably concluded that I was a pretty lousy dad to make my child go on the ride, when in reality all I was doing was trying to find the quickest way out.
Of course, this is not an article about autism. If you find this at all peculiar, understand that with futism, no child is the same. The range of what they like and don't like is unique for each. That's why I don't necessarily fault Disney. But it is a lesson to all of us to walk in the shoes of others, as unique those pair of shoes may be. By the way, everyone can play—that is of course if they want to. There is no height or age restriction for guests to experience Toy Story Mania, creating a multi-generational experience the entire family can enjoy together. I even saw children as young as six months buckled in. So go for it, unless you have a child with unique needs like mine.
First, the bad—it’s a long wait. No, not a wait like the subs in Disneyland. But not like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin either. It’s more like the length of time you wait in Soarin’. You can stand waiting around for some time when there are a lot of Fastpass guests.
The good news is that the stand-by queue really does work hard to occupy your attention. The better news is the ride is really fantastic! Maybe it didn’t work for my autistic child. But it was wonderful for my 9- and 12-year-old. And in observing the looks and smile on everyone’s face, most seemed to agree! So in my next article, I’ll take some time to comment on the ride experience itself.
(Send an email to Jeff Kober)
J. Jeff Kober, (@MousePlanetJeff) president of Performance Journeys and CEO of World Class Benchmarking, is also a thought leader on best-in-business practices at the Walt Disney Company. He brings those ideas to organizations via keynotes, seminars, and workshops to organizations around the world. He has authored "The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney" as well as a "Disney at Work" series of apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, available via DisneyatWork.com. You can find out more about his newest book, "Lead With Your Customer: Transform Culture and Brand into World-Class Excellence" at LeadWithYourCustomer.com.