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Toying With Us By Land And By Sea

Buzz Lightyear & Dino, during the production of Toy Story-The Musical on the Disney Wonder
by Georgina Cruz

It’s like somebody just handed you the key to a magical toy trunk! Buzz Lightyear, Woody and all their buddies from the Disney-Pixar hit movies Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are now under the spotlight at sea on Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder. And they are playing with you on land too at Disney parks in Florida and California –perfect for those looking for fun pre- and post-cruise adventures.

Youngsters and the young at heart can try Toy Story Mania! a new attraction officially opening on May 31 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and slated to open on June 17 at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim. A five-foot Audio-animatronics figure of Mr. Potato Head welcomes visitors to this interactive 4D attraction, which is a pass to the toy trunk of Andy, the boy of the Toy Story movies.

Like all Disney attractions, Toy Story Mania! has a story to tell: it seems that Andy received for his birthday a new toy, which is a series of fair midway games, and the toys from his trunk rushed to open the box and prepare booths to play and have fun –before Andy returns home.

Disney visitors enjoying one of the fair-style games hosted by Toy Story characters
Mr. Potato Head, who converses with you as you enter the attraction, invites one and all to play. Donning 3D glasses, you get on one of the attraction’s vehicles to enter Andy’s room. Inside, you are surrounded by big toys and gigantic murals, which give you the impression that you’ve shrunk to the size of a toy.

The vehicles proceed to fair-style game booths and you use special spring-action shooters to hit 3D animated objects. Every time you hit a target, you get points to compete for the highest score on several different games. Since this is a “4D” attraction, there are special effects to add to the excitement. For example, you “feel virtual objects” fly past your head as they pop out of 3D scenes hosted by Andy’s toys.

In the first game you throw “virtual pies” at targets. Afterwards, Hamm invites you to play at a Ham And Eggs booth, where you hurl “virtual eggs” at barnyard targets. Bo Peep hosts a booth, “Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop,” filled with sheep-shaped balloons. You shoot “virtual darts” at them –but watch out: a dart may hit a balloon filled with water and another 4D effect kicks in: you get sprinkled! Other games include throwing “virtual balls” to break plates with Andy’s green toy soldiers, and “virtual ring-toss” to encircle those cute green extra-terrestrials in the Toy Story movie. The final game is with cowboy Woody –it is a shooting gallery themed to the Old West.

“It is just plain fun,” said Julia Mendez from Orlando, a guest who received a special dream pass for four to experience the game during a press preview of the attraction in mid-May. “And it’s kind of addictive-–I can’t wait to get back on to improve my score.”
The attraction’s music consists of variations of the Randy Newman Oscar-nominated song for the Toy Story movie, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” with arrangements by Bruno Coon, who often collaborates with Newman.

The lovable toy cast of Toy Story-The Musical
If you want to enjoy an interlude with Andy’s toys at sea, the Disney Wonder inaugurated a new show this spring, also inspired on the Toy Story movies.

The Broadway-style show, “Toy Story–The Musical,” presented during the ship’s three- and four-night Bahamas cruises, is faithful to the theme of the movie: that jealous adversaries—Buzz and Woody—can become the best of friends. And it offers sets, music and costumes worthy of Broadway.

It’s the type of high-quality entertainment that “sets us apart from the rest of the cruise industry,” Tom McAlpin, Disney Cruise Line president. The quality of this type of offering, which McAlpin called “the next generation of theatrical entertainment” at Disney Cruise Line is one of the reasons passengers return to the cruise line time and again, McAlpin added.

The production incorporates the song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and seven new songs by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn of the GrooveLily band. The costumes, by Ann Closs-Farley, is one of the most ambitious at sea and includes puppets and balloon characters.

Children who watch the production are entranced at the sight of the toys come to life. And for adults like me, it is an opportunity to go back to my childhood, even if just for a little while.

IF YOU GO

A good lodging choice is Disney’s Old Key West with villa-type accommodations near Downtown Disney and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For information, visit www.disneyparks.com.

By sea: For details about the Disney Cruise Line, visit www.disneycruise.com.

The cruise line photos are courtesy of Disney Cruise Line; the Toy Story Mania! photos are courtesy of Walt Disney World.


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