So after my detailed explanation about the queuing experience at Disney Hollywood Studio’s newest attraction, Toy Story Mania, how was the ride?
Let’s talk first about the ride vehicles first. They really are cool. In my view, a fault of The Disney Hollywood Studios is that there are not enough rides. I like rides. Not to belabor the point, but if you head over to the Magic Kingdom, you get a count of the following:
Now look at the Studios:
Compare that with thenumber of shows or films:
Don’t miss me—I enjoy many of those shows—it just seems show-heavy. So the opportunity of having a new ride is very cool to me. And the ride vehicles are great. They add to the ambience of the experience. There are two vehicles to each set. Each vehicle has two benches back-to-back, each sitting two passengers. They are known as midway trams.
The journey heads out to a virtual midway filled with high-tech game booths offering games of skill. Initially , it begins with an introduction where you participate in a pie throw where you splatter targets with virtual pies. Afterwards, you head on to five formal gaming experiences:
First, your ride vehicle heads off to “Hamm & Eggs” hosted by Hamm himself. Here you launch plastic virtual eggs at various barnyard targets.
“Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop” presents a landscape full of balloon sheep, trees and other objects at which guests can launch virtual darts. Persistence pays off here because upon conclusion of this round, balloons drop in abundance and you can score quite a few points right at the end.
From there it’s on to “Green Army Men Shoot Camp” where the challenge is to break plates with virtual baseballs. Green army men abound.
Next Up is “Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers,” a ring-toss game hosted by everyone’s favorite space ranger, with Little Green Aliens as the targets. This for me was the hardest, as you have to estimate your throw so that it rings the target as opposed to just hitting the target. Clearly the most difficult.
For the grand finale game, we meet "Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery.” Here you are launching virtual suction-cup darts at targets. But unlike the other games where the game ends once your vehicle commences to move on, keep shooting here. That’s because this has two parts in it. Your midway tram slides over to an adjacent booth where you play in a bonus “roundup.” Here, guests are encouraged to fire their spring-action shooters as rapidly as possible at one last super target for extra points.
Remember that each bench includes two cannons and a shared monitor in the center. The monitor displays not only your points, but how efficient you are with your shots. So how many points you get depends on three factors:
At the end of the attraction you’ll see how you fared with others. And you’re assigned a stuffed animal based your point total. Wherever you land, the ride is enjoyable for everyone. Wearing your 3D glasses, it’s visually stimulating. Hit the right targets and the board comes alive with wisps of air or drops of water. But if you love video games like Wii, you will love this ride. This is the ride for the next generation. And it’s as interactive as it gets.
For me, the experience takes me back to the early days of Disneyland where the shooting galleries in Frontierland and Adventureland were filled with excited shooters ready to play. Do you remember the days before infrared targets? The same dedication that would ensure those targets were painted and made fresh and ready the next day has gone into creating a virtual experience that comes alive every day. Just consider that in order to create a show that responds not only to every pull of a guest’s spring-action shooter but also every move their midway tram makes, there are more than 150 computers communicating over multiple networks throughout the attraction. Think about it—it has been estimated that, each day, guests may break over one million virtual plates using the spring-action shooters. That would be a lot of daily paint and repair if we were back in the days of those early shooting galleries.
And like the queue, there’s plenty of attention to theming, where artists had to wear 3-D glasses to art direct all the black-light elements. The mural in the loading area alone is the longest built since Epcot was created. And watch for loose change in the prize scene—Hamm is carrying more than $6 in coins when his cork pops.
Like Mr. Potato Head says: "It’s a ride that’s a game. It’s a game that’s a ride. Step right up and see what’s inside!”
See you at the parks.
(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.