“Oh, to be a kid again!”
Have you ever caught yourself saying or thinking that? I’m hesitant to say how many times it’s crossed my mind. But the cool thing about Toy Story Mania at Walt Disney World is that it actually lets us feel like that, even if it only lasts for 7 minutes. Maybe that’s why it’s a must-do for me every time we visit the parks.
Read on to learn more, or if you want to skip to the meat of the matter like where to find the ride and whether there’s a Lightning Lane, go straight to the Nuts and Bolts section.
1. The queue is packed with nostalgia and fun!
Toy Story Mania has one of the best-themed queues at Disney World. As you wait in line, you’ll wander through the box of Andy’s Midway Games playset, built from other toys, board games, crayons, and more. It may be a trip down Memory Lane for adults as you pass by a larger-than-life Etch A Sketch, UNO cards, Lincoln Logs, View-Master reels, and more. A six-foot-tall Mr. Potato Head acts as a carnival barker who often interacts with guests in real-time. There are so many classic toys here, ones that you’ll remember playing with and your kids might still have in their toybox! (Straight talk, there are a few that they might not recognize; I had to explain some to my kids and grandkids. It’s OK, don’t let it make you feel old.)
There are Easter Eggs, too, for those in the know. Show off by pointing out this one at the boarding area: Guests pass under the box the midway games came in. At the bottom left of the archway, there’s a bar code with the number “121506”. It stands for December 15, 2006, the day Toy Story Mania! was officially announced.
Throughout the attraction, you’re treated to the music and voice talents from the films. (Extra trivia point: for this attraction, Jim Hanks, Tom’s younger brother, voices Woody!)
And remember, if the decor isn’t enough to keep everyone entertained, you can use the Play Disney App to play the “Playset Party” game while you’re in the queue. You might just get to see Stinky Pete himself!
2. Andy has a new game and you’re invited to play!
Toy Story Mania! is a dark ride through a 4D shootin’ gallery; you’re playing the “games” in Andy’s Midway Games Set. Near the end of the queue, you’ll grab a pair of 3D glasses and board your ride vehicle. Each holds 4 people, but the unique twist here is that two riders are seated back-to-back with the other two passengers.
Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear act as your hosts as you ride through five different games where you use a spring-action (pull string) shooter to hit virtual moving targets, like at a carnival midway game. Your vehicle spins around as you go, so no matter which side you’re facing, you’re always pointed at the next game.
A screen showing your score is located between the two “cannons” so you can check your progress and keep an eye on the competition. The object of the game is to get the highest score, which is no easy feat when you’re competing against younger folks whose arms don’t get tired as quickly as yours. At the end of the ride, you’ll pull up at a screen showing the scores of everyone in your car.
3. There are five arcade-style games to play
- Hamm & Eggs – Egg that poultry! Er, the pigs! No, the ducks!
- Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts – the classic ballon and dart game against a volcano backdrop.
- Green Army Men Shoot Camp – shoot balls at plates to break them. Smaller plates = more points.
- Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers – ring toss, with a Buzz Lightyear vibe.
- Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin” Shootin” Gallery. – suction tipped darts are the ammo here.
You’ll find many websites and videos devoted to helping you get the highest possible scores on each of these games. After I combed through many of them (so that you don’t have to!) these are the tips that stood out.
- Don’t waste your muscle on the practice round; save it for the real games.
- Generally speaking, and as you might guess, the harder-to-hit targets in each game are worth more. Smaller targets give you more points than the larger ones toward the front.
- Don’t pull too hard on the string, it will tire your arm more quickly. Instead, focus on speed.
You and your partner are shooting at the same targets. Depending on your level of skill, you may choose to try hitting “their” targets … you know, the ones that are for anyone, but are on “their” side and easier for them to hit. Or, this article on Disney Tips does an excellent job of telling you how to work with your seat mate to “unlock secrets that may be inaccessible alone.”
4. The ride has changed a bit through the years – even the name!
Is it Toy Story Mania!, or Toy Story Midway Mania!? The Disney World ride opened at Hollywood Studios as Toy Story Midway Mania! on May 31, 2008. (The Disneyland version opened at Disney California Adventure on June 17, 2008, and Tokyo DisneySea got a version on July 9, 2012.)
When it opened, Toy Story Mania! was the most technologically sophisticated attraction developed by Walt Disney Imagineering, costing an estimated $80 million to design and build. The game is built on a simple concept (midway shooter games have been around for a while!) but the compute power needed for realistic accuracy between the vehicle’s shooter and the screen-based targets is substantial. There’s an incredible amount of automation going into the animated effects.
Speaking of those animated effects, the screen-based nature of the ride means that the games can be swapped out. That’s only occurred once so far: “Bo Peep’s Baa-loon Pop” was replaced by “Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts” when Toy Story 3 was released in 2010.
Toy Story Mania! was incredibly popular after its opening, in part because it’s one of only a few rides at Hollywood Studios with no height requirement. That’s still true today; Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the other one. In the last years of paper Fastpass, the queue for a Fastpass at park opening grew quickly and they were frequently gone within an hour. In 2016, Disney opened a third track to help decrease wait times.
The most recent change occurred in June 2018. The original ride entrance was in Pixar Place, but Toy Story Mania! is one of the three rides in Toy Story Land. To fit in with the new land, the original entrance was closed off and a new entrance inside Toy Story Land was built in June 2018. The Midway Games theme was always part of the ride (the picture above is from 2016), but the new entrance was designed to reflect the backstory of entering the box that the games had come in.
So what’s the deal with the name? Which is it? It’s been called both Toy Story Midway Mania! and Toy Story Mania! at all three parks where it exists. Somewhere along the way the word “Midway” was permanently dropped at Disney World and Tokyo DisneySea. Disneyland is the only park still using the name Toy Story Midway Mania!
5. The Nuts and Bolts.
Toy Story Mania! is in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can board in one of two ways: wait in the standby line or purchase a Lightning Lane via Genie+. This attraction is indoors so weather shouldn’t be an issue. And unless the queue extends outside the building, guests waiting to ride will be out of the weather as well.
The entire ride experience is about six-and-half minutes long. There are some short bursts of swinging and spinning as the cars move between the games, but you’re stationary for 30 seconds at each of the five shooting galleries. For this reason, guests rarely have motion sickness issues, but they have been known to occur.
Guests must transfer to a standard wheelchair to ride. Boarding requires taking a step up into the ride vehicle. Disney’s website says that service animals are permitted with caution; cast members will be able to provide instructions.
There are no height restrictions for Toy Story Mania, nor any health and safety restrictions. To make the attraction accessible to as wide an audience as possible, the following aids are available from Guest Services for a refundable deposit: Video Captioning and Audio Description.
Lastly, Toy Story Mania! is open for Early Theme Park Entry.
The Bottom Line
Toy Story Mania! remains one of the most popular attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios. We think it’s not-to-be-missed! The folks at Travel and Leisure seem to agree, recently ranking it #20 of the 58 rides they rated. It successfully combines the pull of nostalgia with the technology of today to create an immersive, fun ride the whole family can enjoy over and over again.
Let us know in the comments what you think about Toy Story Mania!