05 February 2019

To Infinity and My Foot

Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Land are the new shiny toys of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, at least until the arrival of Galaxy’s Edge and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Every attraction has its day and then it settles into its routine after a couple of years or the next big attraction comes along. That’s not always a negative, Space Mountain has been around since 1975 and still draws some of the biggest crowds in the Magic Kingdom. It is the lifecycle of attractions, but on rare occasions an attraction can reemerge in its popularity, and we’re all the better for it.

The toys are back in town in a big way right now, they have a new land of backyard wonder that opening in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2018. It reversed how guests enter one of its headlining attractions, Toy Story Mania, the Midway portion of the name vanished in 2018, while adding to the dining and attraction offerings found in this corner of the park. Toy Story Land is the area of the park that guests flood into first thing in the morning and Slinky Dog’s Dash has become the Fastpass to acquire ahead of your trip. And all of this means it’s time for Toy Story Mania to up its game, literally.

When Toy Story Mania first opened in 2008 it included six carnival style 3D games, Pie Throw Practice, Hamm & Eggs, Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop, Green Army Men Shoot Camp, Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers, and Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery. Just two short years later, however, Bo Peep got the crook and was replaced by Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts in May of 2010. This change was to include characters from the upcoming Toy Story 3, which would be arriving in theaters in June of that year. Trixie wasn’t the only addition from the film, Buttercup, Lotso, and others appear as either in-game characters or in artwork visible throughout the attraction.

I’ll be completely honest, I’m not big on screen-based attractions as a whole. Certainly attractions like Star Tours and Flight of Passage have their places in the world of theme entertainment, but I really love tangible environments. Toy Story Mania is fun, aside from the arm cramp it gives me, but there’s something special about Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin that Toy Story Mania doesn’t have in my book. There is a way in which Toy Story Mania is superior to Space Ranger Spin, and we alluded to it just above, it is in its ability to change out games.

The ability to incorporate characters, thematic elements, and new types of games is a wonderful way to keep Toy Story Mania fresh. It’s been almost ten years since the last refresh and with Toy Story 4 hitting theaters this summer, I’m willing to bet that a new game is on the horizon, but maybe not as soon as everyone thinks. With the new land being such a hit, there isn’t anything driving Disney to keep attendance up at Toy Story Mania. Give it another year or two and then I believe we’ll see a plussing of the current offering of games.

Could Bo Peep make a triumphant return, as she appears primed to do with the film series? It’s possible, but I’m willing to put my money on two other grizzled carnival game veterans, Bunny and Ducky. The game, which there are still plenty of carnival type games not currently found in the attraction, could slot in where Green Army Men Shoot Camp is, or possibly even in place of Hamm & Eggs. I think Buzz and Woody are definitely safe from any upgrades, as would be Rex & Trixie’s Dino Darts, considering it was the most recent addition.

The pair of Bunny and Ducky, portrayed by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key respectively, have made two appearances so far. Light spoilers ahead for anyone wanting to not see anything toy Story 4 before they get to the theater. In one it is a reaction to the teaser trailer that had been released and an argument around what exactly is said in Buzz Lightyear’s “To infinity…” catchphrase. In the second, the tv spot that aired during the Super Bowl this past weekend they get up close and personal with Buzz on a carnival prize rack.

I don’t know when, or even if, Toy Story Mania will be rotating in a new game anytime soon, but it was one of the selling points of the original attraction, the ability to slot in a new game with relative ease. With Toy Story ramping up in popularity again, it would only make sense to begin planning for a possible exchange of games. Especially when you have a dynamic duo perfect for making the jump from the big screen carnival to the game screen carnival.

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