Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Toy Story Midway Mania

While engaging, fun and entertaining, the new Toy Story Midway Mania attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios is also relatively uninspired and certainly unexceptional. It will no doubt be a crowd pleaser for years to come and it serves as a much needed counterpoint to the Studios less kid-friendly headliners, but it is not an E Ticket attraction by any means.

There is distinctly no WOW! aspect to Toy Story Midway Mania. It more or less duplicates the technology behind DisneyQuest's Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold, which has been around for nearly a decade. In theme and format, it is essentially an enhancement of its Magic Kingdom cousin Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. The ride is buoyed by the presence of the always charming and captivating Toy Story cast of characters and an as yet unrivaled level of interactivity, but as a theme park attraction it remains wholly unoriginal. It is a fast and fun ten minutes, but it doesn't by any means represent state of the art Imagineering. Even the attraction's very sophisticated Mr. Potato Head animatronic seems to fall short of being a true representation of the company's recent living character initiatives.

The attraction also suffers from what seems to be the perpetual Disney World-Pixar curse of disjointed theming. Toy Story Midway Mania was clearly developed for the Paradise Pier area of Disney's California Adventure, and its presence in Florida is likely more the result of bean counter rationale than creative sensibilities. The carnival midway theme in no way relates to a movie studios dynamic, and the attraction's location inside a replica of Pixar's Emeryville headquarters proves somewhat jarring.

All that said, Toy Story Midway Mania is a quite enjoyable attraction that begs repeat visits. It is a solid D Ticket experience.


Hale said...

Yes, Jim, but aren't some of peoples favorite attractions non-technologically stylish? For example: Muppet-Vision 3D, Peter Pan's Flight, it's a small world, Swiss Family Treehouse?

Could it not be that this attraction was meant to be an oppurtunity for Imagineers to be creative in a ride that is fun for the entire family?

But also, what is up with the name? Is it "Toy Story Mania", or "Toy Story Midway Mania?"

David Caffey said...

Great comments again Jeff.

Just back from an eleven day visit and we 'rode' Midway Mania several times.

Didn't think about it before but you're so right about this attraction being designed for DCA and dropped in at the Studios

Anonymous said...

As your son I must dissagree. I believe that the Pixar place theming fits well in a park themed as a movie studio and The idea of a carnival playset, while slightly non-sequitor , is not completely out of place. The technology in place is highly upgraded from pirates and I find the idea of upgradeable and changeable games to be revolutionary. In closing, I found the ride to be fresh with details and as a gamer I found the ride to be both challenging and satisfying from a gameplay standpoint. I would easily give the ride an E-Ticket rating. I would not let this review deter from genuine enjoyment of the ride.

Anonymous said...

It's Toy Story Midway Mania but to shorten it people call it Toy Story Mania

Ryan P. Wilson said...

I have not yet been able to experience Toy Story Midway Mania, so I must reserve judgement, but I have to say, being called out by your son has gotta hurt while still making you proud! You've got some pluck Cody!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you in every way Jeff. Wish it was more then a clone but originality. I really don't think it would've been too hard to tweak the theme to fit the Studios.

At least it clears up the lines for the good rides at MGM!

lorilovestigger said...

Are you on crack? Have you fallen and bumped your head lately?
Toy Story is an amazing ride! It's exactly what The Studios needed. Granted, the Midway theming may fit into DCA better, the Studios needed a ride like this.
Or is it that you don't like it because it's based on a Pixar film? Or maybe I'm just an
uneducated denizen of the Disney online community.

Johnny Jackhammer said...

Jeff, that was a refreshing review. I'm glad for your opinion. Folks will miss a key point - it's still fun and a great attraction.

As someone who loved "If You Had Wings" -- which was a ticketless attraction, if I remember correctly -- I think giving something a "D" ticket rating is high praise.

Jeffrey Pepper said...


Normally I wouldn't even address a comment as totally wacky as yours, but I feel it does deserve some rebuttal.

--No, I'm not on crack.

--Did I not state in my review that TSMM was a "much needed attraction" for the Studios? You echoed that same point in your comment.

--My feelings about Pixar have long been evident on 2719. Your comment in that regard was either a poor attempt at sarcasm or just simply without merit.

--I'm somewhat taken aback by your very hostile reaction to the fact that I essentially gave TSMM a B rather than an A+.

I always welcome differences of opinion and well informed feedback presented in a polite manner. My son's articulate and well thought out response is an excellent example of just that.

Doc Terminus said...

Gee Lori, Tell us how you really feel...

PaulBunyan said...

For my boys ages 8 and 10 this was their favorite ride during our recent WDW visit.

Anonymous said...

Gee Lori, Tell us how you really feel...

In other words, you mean "please tell us that you really hate it just as much as other anti-Disney folks, because we're intolerant of positive views."

Anywho, I must agree that this article does seem a bit negative for 2719 Hyperion and contains quite a few opinions that I'm going to have disagree with.

For example:

1) I don't see anything disjointed here at all. The attraction fits in perfectly with the Studios, especially since it's in the new Pixar Studios area. The carnival midway theme is completely hidden away inside the building anyway, so no jarring theming or destruction of the studio dynamic there in my eyes.

2) The Potato Head AA IS awesome and the most technogically-impressive AA to come from Disney to date and doesn't "fall short" in any respect.

3) Originality and "WOW" factors are most definetely present in this attraction, IMO.

4) I think it's VERY inspired, exceptional and an E-Ticket attraction that will remain a hit for decades to come.

Of course, you're still entitled to your opinions and I greatly respect them.

Doc Terminus said...

Kingcrab, I wasn't chastising Lorilovestigger for having a positive review. I am a friend of hers and Jeff's. I was having fun with the feistiness of the response.

I think my praise of TSMM is prominently out there... In fact I have ridden TSMM with lorilovestigger...

Princess Fee said...

I am looking forward to riding TSMM when I get over there in September, and in all honesty I'm not expecting anything too fantastic (because I'm a pessimist) but to me, an E-Ticket attraction is anything I would want to ride every time I go to the park. From what I've heard, while TSMM may not be a classic E-Ticket, it will be one that I will want to ride each time I go, just because it's a different kind of ride.
It's always good to hear from different opinions in relation to a new ride - and, for people like me who only get to go to the parks once a year or so, it helps build the anticipation!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree about the ride since it's nothing new and it doesn't fit the Hollywood theme. But I do like the decorations(sic) in the waiting room from the pictures I've seen. What eye candy!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree about the ride since it's nothing new and it doesn't fit the Hollywood theme.

I disagree with your view as well, nic.

I think it is something new and DOES fit into the Hollywood Studios very well for what it is.

These "theming" arguments become more and more annoying to me all the time.

Jay Hart said...

I respect everyone's opinions and I won't hold your opinions against you Jeff. I have yet to ride Toy Story Midway Mania for myself, but I'm going to ride it just to gain my own opinions.

To each his own, as the saying goes. It is good to see different thoughts on the attraction though, and thanks for sharing your experience Jeff.

disneynorth said...

Ok, so I have to jump in on this conversation.... I am avid fan of Jeff's blog and read it daily. I think you have a great writing style and give a good perspective of all things Disney.

I will say I was taken aback by your commentary of the ride, as you are usually not that negative. None the less, it was an interesting commentary.

I think the bigger discussion is what we each define as an "E" ticket ride. For instance, before I got to ride Soarin' in EPCOT, I read some commentary that some fans didn't think that the attraction was "re-ridable" and wasn't an E Ticket. Now that I have been on Soarin', it is one of my favorites.


Jeffrey Pepper said...

I'm somewhat surprised at the perception of negativity many seem to be having with this review, considering that I used wordage such as "engaging, fun and entertaining," "a fast and fun ten minutes" and "a quite enjoyable attraction that begs repeat visits."

In terms of concept and design, I think that TSMM is a great fit for the Paradise Pier area at DCA.

As a high profile Pixar-themed attraction for DHS, I was a little disappointed. My very personal and subjective opinion. Having experienced both Buzz Lightyear SRS and POTC Battle for Buccaneer Gold quite frequently over the past decade, I just felt that there wasn't anything terribly new or original about TSMM.

As for the Mr. Potato Head--I was expecting something more akin to other recent living character initiatives, as that seemed to be what was being promoted. In the four times I have been through the queue, the same scripts/jokes/songs keep replaying.

Carlos Fins said...

Great review on the ride, Jeff. I was able to ride Midway Mania and really had a lot of fun on it. Your argument about it's placement within the replica of Pixar Studios is a good one; however, I think outside studio and the lettering looks great, even if maybe the two together don't quite make sense.
I think people are totally taking your review wrong.. you're just saying that Disney didn't knock it out of the park with this one, and maybe they could have. Either way, it's still a hit and very enjoyable. :)

Carlos Fins said...

Sorry for the double post.. just wanted to clarify by "lettering" I mean the Pixar Studios signage that's a replica of the actual studios.

Anonymous said...

Long time reader, first time poster.

I think the "negative" your readers might be responding to is in reality the very presence of a review on this site.

Generally your posts, as well as you contributions to WDW Radio, have been commentaries on Disney items you are familiar with and love. I've read every post you've had here and I have to admit I sensed a streak of disappointment in the tone of the review. Which is completely appropriate, but somewhat incongruent, maybe a little jarring when compared to the majority of your posts.

Anyways, just my 2 cents. Thanks for everything you do.

Anonymous said...

I think that TSMM is a fabulous ride, fabulous theming...

It's DHS that's the problem!

Come on, that park makes no sense. It's got some very cool facades and artwork and that's about the extent of it. I'm kind of annoyed that the ride is there, because now I have to schlep over to a park that ordinarily I would never go near. . .

I went twice yesterday, in fact. Before it rained, and afterwards. :)

If this ride is totally themed to Paradise Pier, then give us some Paradise Pier over here at DHS. It's way more interesting than a playground based on an 80s kids movie.

Anonymous said...

Oh and you should check out Mr. Potato Head at shift change.. he suddenly stops motion and until another Cast Member goes running backstage, does absolutely nothing. Then the new Cast Member has to figure out how to get him rolling again. Happened last night at about 10 p.m. Funny times. I can just hear the manager going "What do you mean no one is Mr. Potato Head Trained? We have a 60 minute queue out there! Go learn it!"

Anonymous said...

I think the difference in appeal that this ride has may be dependent on how competitive you are about the score. I think there's a great deal of repeatability if you want to work on getting a higher score, but probably not much elsewise to the experience.

To my mind as well, it seems like a lousy fit for the Studios, but then I can't remember the last time they put something in there that I didn't think was a lousy fit for the Studios. Alas for the glamor days of Hollywood!

I also think Cody is just the coolest minor I've heard of in a long time, and I only love the concept of him as Lou's sidekick. "Mr. Trivia, and Cody--The Sensational Character Find of 2008!"

Anonymous said...

I don't see why everyone is getting so up in arms about this. It's just a ride. Some people like it, some people don't. Take it or leave it please. I personally just liked the progression in the ride, how you were moved from game to game. The way that the booth format was put into place as pretty cool, and I thought that the graphics were way better than pirates which might I add, I experienced the night after I rode it (my parents didn't want to go so me and my brother jake went ourselves to disney quest this year). Also I notice that a lot of you are discounting the fact that disney world (sadly) is not made for the hardcore fans that go all the time. It is made for the average family of mindless consumers who are looking for a generic family vacation. As such, I think that Disney really realizes the fun and broad appeal that a ride of this sort has, especially to children (like myself or my little brother) and the other issue is that you keep comparing this to pirates when most people visiting the parks will not/have not experienced disney quest and as such this is something completely new.

P.S. - calm it down dad and lori, Nobody is on crack (at least I don't think so) and I think lori was playing around dad.