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Toy Story Mania (queue) overhaul

Everybody is talking about the announcement made this week, that Toy Story Mania at DCA and DHS will both be receiving a new game(s) featuring characters from Toy Story 3. While this is perhaps good news, and possibly hints at a changing of the times at Imagineering and hopefully trying to keep rides fresh, then again, maybe it’s just marketing pushing the new movie. Regardless, I think TSMM (at DHS, at least) is in need something more than just a new game added. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think the ride/game itself is great. It’s a fun and challenging attraction with a pretty good repeat factor. My problem though, or where I think it needs improving is in the queue. I hate to sound negative or overly critical of someone else’s work, but I think the queue for this ride has to be one of the less enjoyable that Imagineering has created in quite a while. They had a good idea with the toy box concept, but the mix of colors, shapes and the almost boxed-in feeling that comes from the low ceiling makes it a somewhat uncomfortable queue, to say the least. The only thing good about this queue is that it’s indoors and air conditioned. This one has bothered me since first going thru the queue not long after it opened in 2008. It would seem to have a lot going for it, but in reality, it just feels cheap  and cramped for some reason. I haven’t been to see the queue at the other Disney parks, but I wonder if theirs are built the same way as it is at DHS.

I’m not the only one who has a problem with it either. Ian Kay, a guest blogger at Re-imagineering  had this to say about it:

Meanwhile, the queue for Midway Mania is set in a toy box. The space is dominated with clutter, sharp angles, a shock of colors and human-sized product placement for classic toys. It is the visual equivalent of both a sugar rush, and a sugar crash.

While they made an attempt at breaking up the scene a little with the animatronic Mr.. Potato Head, I think they failed in that his material isn’t long enough. Then his routine just gets boring if not annoying when he starts repeating the same corny lines.

I get that the theme here is Andy’s Toy box, and the toys are reminiscent of some of those seen in the Toy Story movies, but still it just has a very chaotic feel to it. Then, there’s the long, slow moving line with periods of not moving very far or changing of scenery. I think this combination has caused some guests to get bored and start vandalizing the queue by scratching their initials and peeling paint off walls and other objects, leading to bad show.

Solution/Suggestion

If any attraction was a good candidate for the new queue-less waiting area concept announced at last years’ big D23 announcement and being implemented for the new Dumbo, this one would seem to work with that concept.

Here’s a few ideas for some interactive activities they could implement using the queless-waiting concept:

  • Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots – fight it out with other players all dueling in an electronic version of this classic game.
  • Speak and Spell – best I remember, this little electronic device was always fun and challenging
  • Army Soldiers – how about an electronic, video game featuring these guys
  • Army Soldier, The Minesweeper – video game with the green plastic army man who has the metal detector and is sweeping for mines
  • Shooting gallery – warm up area where you can practice shooting using the same style guns and screens in the ride
  • Slinky Dog walkthrough – this would be a suspended, springy bridge housed in a large scale version of the Slinky Dog
  • Etch-a-sketch – large size drawing tablet for guests to play with

The characters and the ability to create entertaining games would seem like a pretty natural tie-in here. I’ve thought of a few just off the top of my head using some of the characters and toys from the movies, but there’s plenty more that could be used to create a big playground/waiting area for the ride.

In lieu of the queuless-waiting area, they could do other things as well:

  • Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots animatronics entertain with a match every so often
  • Mr. Spell/Speak and Spell games or just talking to guests in the queue
  • Sarge and the green army men could welcome everybody to the toy box as new recruits.

It just seems that with all the toys/characters from the movies, they could create something that was a little less annoying.

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  1. December 31, 2010 at 2:30 am

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