In all of Walt Disney World, one of my favorite attractions is Toy Story Mania located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Since opening in 2008, this attraction has proven to be popular with the majority of guests visiting WDW, frequently having some of the longest wait times on property. Shrinking guests down to a toy’s size and dizzily spinning them through several different 4D midway style games, this attraction is sure to get everyone smiling and wanting to return time and time again to beat the high score.
Located in Pixar Place, Toy Story Mania is a relatively short distance from the front of the park, usually to be covered at a leisurely pace. However, if you arrive for rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you will be sure to encounter what I jokingly refer to as the “running of the tourists.” It seems as though every single person in the park beelines directly for Toy Story Mania in hopes to beat the long lines and score a coveted Fast Pass. My personal plan of attack in terms of this attraction occurs only on mornings that feature Extra Magic Hours for Hollywood Studios. Immediately at rope drop, I hurry along with the crowd, secure a Fast Pass, wait on the stand-by line once (sometimes twice depending on the estimated wait time after exiting from the first ride), then leisurely wait around and explore before being able to utilize my Fast Pass. I find that this plan usually works out really well, as by the time you are able to use the Fast Pass, the park is open to the public and the line swells exponentially. If you are not able to be there first thing in the morning, try to obtain a Fast Pass if possible, as midday wait times can easily exceed 100 minutes on crowded days. However, I will caution you that since the attraction is so popular and there are only a limited number of Fast Passes offered a day, the Fast Passes will run out by early afternoon on crowded days. So be sure to get your Fast Passes earlier in the day to experience this attraction with minimal wait times!
Now that we’ve talked about when I think is the best time to visit the attraction, let’s focus on the fun stuff! Be sure to take your time exploring Pixar Place and the immediate area surrounding the entrance to Toy Story Mania as there are some great props and Toy Story characters that you won’t want to miss. Be sure to keep an eye out for Mr. Spell and any messages he may be sending your way. Another great Disney touch of detail includes the green army men and the message that they are spelling out using Scrabble letter tiles. Any Toy Story fan will certainly recognize the reference of “you’ve got a friend in me.”
Once you begin to walk the queue of the attraction, you’ll quickly become immersed in the over-sized props and toys. Shrinking down to a toy’s size gives a great perspective on some classic toys and board games including Candyland, decks of cards, Tinker Toys, and a Barrel of Monkeys. Some of my personal favorite details from the line include the Chutes and Ladders board on the ceiling, the pictures drawn by Andy of Mr. Potato Head and Hamm, and the Viewfinder film reel featuring classic pictures from Tomorrowland in Disneyland. Those are some great details, but they are only several things in a highly impressive queue. Be sure to notice the crayons scattered around…does one seem different than the others? If you noticed that the pink crayon seems to be the only one that looks as though it was never used, then you’re right! When designing the queue, Imagineers took into consideration that Andy was a boy and probably would use the color pink the least in all of his drawings. Just another great example of Disney detail!
As you work your way further into the queue, you will come face to face with a large audio-animatronic of Mr. Potato Head. Acting as the Boardwalk Barker of the midway games, Mr. Potato Head directly interacts with members of the line that are passing him by and displays some of the most advanced technology that Disney has ever created. He is the first audio-animatronic to be capable of removing a body part (his ear) and reattaching it moments later. He is also the first to be able to form words and vowel sounds with his mouth and to feature animated eyes that are able to focus on the person he is interacting with at any moment. All in all, Mr. Potato Head is not only a technological novelty, he is also really entertaining to listen to and interact with. Anything that can make a line seem shorter and more entertaining is great in my book!
As you continue working your way through the line, you will soon find yourself in Andy’s room, or the boarding area, complete with the classic blue sky and clouds wallpaper. When you reach the bottom of the stairs right before the loading area, be sure to take notice of a book titled “Tin Toy” written by Lasseter. This actually refers to John Lasseter, head of Pixar and a creative advisor for Imagineering. The title of the book refers to an animated short of the same title created by Lasseter in 1988 which was a pre-cursor to the development of the Toy Story plot and franchise. Look for another mention of Tinker Toy on the side of the loading bay that you exit on.
Once past the stairs, you finally board your ride vehicle and are off to the midway games! You will find yourself competing in a series of mini-games featuring most of the beloved characters of Toy Story. The first mini-game is a target practice round featuring Jessie, Buzz, Woody, and Rex who help you get the hang of the pull and shoot system in your ride vehicle. The second mini-game is called Hamm and Eggs, hosted by Hamm and Buttercup, and requires you to fire eggs at targets like pigs and horses in a farm like setting. Up next is Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts mini-game where you must fire darts at target balloons in a volcanic setting reminiscent of prehistoric times. The fourth mini-game, Green Army Men Shoot Camp, features everyone’s favorite little green men offering targets of plates to be broken with flying baseballs in a desert like setting. Up next is Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers mini-game where you have to fire rings on your way to victory. The fan favorite aliens from Toy Story are your targets are they nestle inside rockets and a space background. Finally, you will get to play Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery where you fire at large targets of different values in the Wild Wild West. At the end of this mini-game there is a bonus round where you can really rack up the points if you are quick!
In each of these mini-games, be sure to be on the lookout for “Easter Eggs,” or hidden reactions in the games caused by hitting special targets. These Easter Eggs can be anything from a blast of air to the unveiling of more targets. See if you can find them all! Also be sure to try and pay attention as you are whizzing around between mini-games as there are some great details to be found inside the attraction room itself. My favorite detail here is strongman Rocky Gibraltar’s taffy stand. See if you can find him!
When your shooting is done, you are faced with a screen where you can compare your score with others in your ride vehicle as well as the high score of the day. This alone is enough to fuel competitive players to return and try and beat the high score! Finally, as you disembark your ride vehicle, take in the last few great details of the ride. In front of you is the second reference I mentioned before to the Tin Toy story and to your right is a great photo op with the larger than life bucket of green army men.
Despite the seemingly ever-present long lines, Toy Story Mania is one of my favorite attractions in Disney World as it both highly immersive and so much fun! I love going back time and time again to try and beat my own score as well as continue to take in some great examples of Disney’s attention to detail.
Do you love Toy Story Mania as much as I do? Ever have the high score of the day? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.