27 January 2021

The Big Finale

By the time you reach the end of Slinky Dog Dash, you are likely to be wind-blown, full of giggles, and excited by the sudden appearance of Wheezy. Maybe you will take note of Mr. Mike on the right-hand side of Slinky, but you could be forgiven for not immediately scanning through The Big Finale scene to catch the Pixar and Toy Story nods hovering just around Wheezy himself. That’s what I’m here for!

For starters, Wheezy’s shelter from which he croons is a songbook featuring his favorite standard, You’ve Got a Friend in Me, but is covered by a picture book entitled Partly Cloudy. If Partly Cloudy sounds familiar, you’re right. This is the title of, and the brief glimpse of this book’s cover confirms, the 2009 short from Pixar. Partly Cloudy was released in front of that year’s Pixar feature, Up. Its story is one of a solitary grey cloud named Gus who creates baby animals for a stork, named Peck, to deliver. While most of the clouds make cute humans and other cuddly creatures, Gus’ animals are cute, but crocodiles, porcupines, and sharks cause Peck more than a little trouble. Peck leaves, Gus is upset and creates a thunderstorm, but Peck soon returns having procured a football helmet and set of pads to keep him safe and still deliver his friend’s creations. Given the storyline, utilizing Partly Cloudy to keep Wheezy dry is a bit of ironic humor that I enjoy.

The second nod is more Toy Story specific, and helps form part of the stage for Wheezy. Beneath the letter blocks sits a box for a RC Wireless Remote Control Car, which prominently features an image of RC. RC’s largest role in the Toy Story world is, without question, his inclusion in the original film. It is here that RC is used by Woody to rescue Buzz and, once Woody has been thrown out of the moving truck and RC’s batter dies, is carried back to the truck by Woody and Buzz after the pair decide to light the rocket strapped to Buzz’s back. RC is also heavily featured in a flashback sequence in Toy Story 4 when he is rescued from road gutter where he is being swept away by a deluge of rain. While we may have learned in Toy Story 3 that RC had been donated, Toy Story Land lives in Andy’s backyard in the years between Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4, meaning that we still have many more years to enjoy RC.
Regardless of the land or attraction, there are always tons of nods and homages to catch throughout the parks and resorts. Some of them can be puzzled out from their surroundings, and in places that you can take your time to enjoy and unravel. Then there are the blink and you’ll miss them moments, such as those presented in The Big Finale of Slinky Dog Dash. That doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to appreciate them now and again though!

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