Fun Facts About Toy Story Midway Mania
Visiting a Disney theme park with your family is a joy. Sometimes, they get on your nerves, though. You need a way to put them in their place, to remind them who the crown jewel of the family is. Thankfully, such a place exists at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Your fam can have a wonderful time while you prove your superiority. Here are several fun facts about Toy Story: Midway Mania!, the place where all smack talk must be backed up.
A Super-Powerful Hamster Wheel
To you, Toy Story: Midway Mania! is a charming but simple ride. Your carnival cart takes you from set to set, giving you the opportunity to shoot imaginary plates and other carnie games. Your cart has a trigger, a ball that you pull to “fire” your projectiles. The whole experience takes about five minutes, and you spend all of that time obsessing on your accuracy.
To Imagineers, Toy Story: Midway Mania! is one of the most impressive technical achievements ever. It’s an indoor ride where people stare at walls that they’re deluded into believing are scenes involving their favorite Toy Story characters. How does Disney pull off this trick?
To a certain extent, Midway Mania is the modernization of premises that began with Space Mountain. I know that sounds crazy, so please hear me out. Disney couldn’t physically build Space Mountain for several years, because they lacked the processing power. The coaster tracks rely on sensors to verify that vehicle carts are in the correct spots on the track.
Midway Mania operates similarly, only on two levels. Some of its computational calculations go toward verifying the location of the game carts. At times, you’ll experience delays, particularly toward the end of the attraction. These slowdowns happen due to the sensors, which recognize that other carts haven’t moved out of their designated areas yet.
Most of the processing power goes to something else, though. Those images that you see on the giant monitors are artificial constructs. Disney’s got 150 computers talking to one another to guarantee that you’re seeing what you’re supposed to see. Have you ever sat in front of a monitor while the audio tells you that there’s an unexpected delay? That’s not the other ride carts causing it. Instead, your system isn’t projecting images as expected or receiving inputs from your “controller”, the cannon that you fire by pulling on the cord. Midway Mania is quietly one of the most computer-intensive rides ever built!
The First Double Attraction
No, I’m not talking about the twin ride tracks of the attraction. I mean something grander in scale. The 1997 movie, Contact, includes this quote: “Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?” I mention it because that’s basically what Disney did.
The company knew that they wanted a Toy Story presence at two of their lesser parks, Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Both gates needed an E Ticket attraction to elevate their status among diehard theme park fans.
In December of 2016, Disney revealed their plans for a carnival game-styled Toy Story attraction, and they also acknowledged that they would construct it at two different parks. At Hollywood Studios, it would become the first major new ride of the 21st century, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith having debuted in 1999. At Disney California Adventure, the interactive ride represented the premiere attraction during the park’s first major expansion.
For once, a corporate plan played out almost exactly as projected, too. The Walt Disney World version of Midway Mania debuted on May 31, 2008. The Disneyland Resort duplicate attraction arrived on June 17, 2008. Here’s hoping that the timing works out similarly for Star Wars Land.
3-D Shrink Rays!
When you visit Andy’s room, you’d never notice the activities of the toys at your regular size! They only move around when no humans are present. Imagineers faced a challenge in creating a plausible scenario for players to interact with the various objects. And the best idea that they came up with is stolen straight from supervillains…or Rick Moranis.
The conceit of Toy Story: Midway Mania! is that you’ve shrunk down to the size of the toys. Had you ever realized that? Yes, a man of average height is about 15 inches tall during the ride while an average-sized woman is a bit under 14 inches. Curse that malevolent Shrink Ray!
Actually, the idea is a lot of fun. You get to spend a few minutes living among the toys, partaking in their unique shenanigans. Apparently, they break a LOT of plates when Andy’s not looking. The most amusing part, at least to me, is that the toys aren’t in any way bothered by the sudden addition of several shrunken humans to the toy menagerie. What an inclusive bunch!
To achieve the shrinking effect, Disney needed to design the ride in historically unprecedented fashion. They needed 3-D elements to sell the background imagery as “alive” to viewers. Without the interactivity, the games wouldn’t have the same level of immersive entertainment. Unfortunately, Disney had never built anything like this before.
Imagineers had to take an unusual step to bring Midway Mania to life. The cast members constructing the ride had to wear 3-D glasses, too! Otherwise, they wouldn’t get the black-light effects right. Guests would have noticed the inaccuracies, taking them out of the illusion and thereby ruining the ride. Just imagine if your job required 3-D glasses to complete tasks. Imagineers really do go all out to create the best possible attractions.
Theme Park Ride Easter Eggs!
In 1979, videogame designer Warren Robinett achieved permanent notoriety. He became the first person ever to include an Easter Egg in one of his games, Adventure. When players performed the correct action, they unlocked a secret, a room that spelled out his name. Over the past 40 years, other videogame developers have copied Robinett by hiding secrets within their games.
Since Toy Story: Midway Mania! is a videogame at heart, it too features Easter Eggs. Unlike most videogame secrets, however, you should learn these to get better at the game. You’re playing for pride and bragging rights, after all! You want to maximize your score whenever possible. The Easter Eggs are the best way to do it!
According to Imagineers, every game in Midway Mania contains at least one secret. Should you uncover it, you’ll open up a wealth of potential scoring options. For example, one scene features the Little Green Men. It’s a ring toss game that includes several high value targets.
You may notice a rocket that’s difficult to target. There’s one on each side, allowing both players to get a crack at a high point enemy. Should both of you put a ring around the two rockets at the same time, a wealth of other enemies will appear in the mouth of a robot, each of which is easy to hit but gives a high score. Players who aim fast and are accurate enough can score even more. By hitting all the targets, you can replenish the supply enemies, this time at higher point totals!
By doing a little YouTube homework, you can unearth several Easter Eggs that will give you a tremendous advantage the next time you play the game. Here’s a good (albeit poorly filmed) guide on bettering your score.
PS: Tying two of these fun facts together, there’s another Easter Egg at this attraction. As you prepare to board the ride to play the game, you’ll notice a Toy Story Midway Games Play Set. Once you know to look for it, you’ll see one cheeky inclusion. The bar code has the number of 121506 or December 15, 2006, the date that Disney announced that they were building Toy Story: Midway Mania!
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