For today’s entry into our celebration of Freeform’s 30 Days Of Disney, we’re going back to 1995 (and 1999 and 2010 and 2019) to the enduring and immensely successful franchise, Toy Story. A series that has left its mark in the cinema and the Disney theme parks. Is in any property more represented in Disney’s parks than Toy Story? From “it’s a small world” to Alien Flying Saucers and from Pizza Planet to Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Toy Story is everywhere in Disney parks. Here are what I believe are five of the more interesting ways Disney has brought Toy Story into the theme parks (and cruise line) over the past 25 years:
Slinky Dog Dash
Last year, Walt Disney World added a new coaster to Disney’s Hollywood Studios that far exceeded my expectations. Apparently, I’m not alone as the Slinky Dog Dash wait time regularly exceeds 60 minutes. The overall themeing, unexpected “relaunch” and thrills that are more fun than intense make it enjoyable and very re-rideable. But how, you say, with wait times so long? Well thanks to Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I was able to experience Slinky Dog Dash seven times in one night. I’ve always thought of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as the perfect family coaster, but I’ve now switched my vote to Slinky Dog Dash.
There’s a reason Disney Cruise Line is regularly selected as the best family cruise. Their kid's clubs are well-staffed, full of activities and themed like no other thanks to Disney’s ability to use the most popular characters in the world. Long before our son Gideon was old enough to even go to the kids club, he would visit during the open house hours and his favorite place was Andy’s Room. Some of our best Disney Cruise memories are of watching him sit in Andy’s race car, crawl through Slinky Dog and put coins into Hamm. And even now when we cruise, the thing he most looks forward to playing with isn’t the Millennium Falcon or Iron Man simulator, it’s going down the Slinky Dog slide.
Toy Story Funhouse
This video brings back great memories! When I bit the Disney bug in 1995, the second film I saw was Toy Story. Being in Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to see it at the El Capitan, where Disney movies always came with some extra. In this case that something extra was the Toy Story Funhouse. The Funhouse featured a meet and greet, props, video games, activities, an obstacle course and a show – Hamm’s All-Doll Revue, which I have almost no memory of, but I’ll never forget the name. Later the Funhouse and show were brought to Tomorrowland at Disneyland.
In 1999, with the release of Toy Story 2, Disney put a very unusual show into the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland. If you recall, as pointed out in Toy Story 2, Woody’s Roundup is the name of the TV show Sheriff Woody was once a part of as were his horse Bullseye, Jessie and Stinky Pete the Prospector. Being a rather old show, it was of course in black and white. So in doing the show live, Disney decided to make it black and white as well (for the most part). Unusual, indeed!
Toy Story the Musical
In 2008, we were lucky enough to be invited onboard the Disney Wonder to see the premiere of Toy Story the Musical. Expectations were not high, to be honest. While I loved Toy Story, it did not seem like something that would lend itself to being a musical. And the songs it did have I was not a fan of at all. But Disney had Valerie Vigoda and Brenda Milburn create six new songs for the Musical, and I fell in love. I’m a particular fan of That’s Why We’re Here and One Toy and I played them into the ground when I got a hold of the soundtrack. They take what’s already a touching story to the next level and made this my favorite Disney stage show at the time (later surpassed by another Pixar gift – Finding Nemo The Musical).