I managed to get in one ride on Toy Story Midway Mania during annual passholder previews at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this weekend. Overall, it’s a solid attraction for what they were trying to accomplish. Without the 3-D tech it would be a low C-ticket attraction. But the 3-D and interactive effects raise it to a D-ticket.
It was a lot of fun, even the ‘times when the attraction was stalled’ were fun (you can still play, but points don’t rack up). The game play is mostly intuitive and it doesn’t take long to catch on.
Hint: listen to the characters as they talk during each game. They’ll give you hints on how to score better.
TSMM is different than many attractions in that almost all of the themed design elements are in the queue and loading area. Once you are on the ride vehicle and inside the attraction show building, you literally are in the game and that becomes the theme. There is lots to see and do, but almost all of it is directly related to the actions of the game. The only non-game interactive element is the amazing Mr. Potato Head audio-animatronic in the queue area. It’s an odd balance that needs further examination.
I did notice a few operational problems. But that is to be expected during a soft opening. Some of these, I’m not sure how they’ll resolve them. For instance, there is no height limit so they’re letting toddlers on the ride, but they can’t sit on laps. I saw more than one child hit his head on the side of the car seat as it went around a tight corner. Not sure how they can solve this safety quandary.
Also, keep in mind that the single rider queue is no guarantee you’ll get on faster than the standby queue. I actually waited 20 minutes longer than a group that got in the standby line at the exact same time I got in the single rider queue. The problem here is that they load 8 rows at the same time with two people in each row. This gives the loader lots of discretion to choose from the standby queue to fill up the random blanks that appear. Two groups of three takes three rows and no single riders get on.
Test Track seats three to a row which means practically every car leaves with a single rider in it. Expedition Everest hardly a train leaves without one single rider on it. But train after train would leave the Toy Story Midway Mania loading dock without a single rider on it.
To be fair, I inquired about the length of each queue before entering the single rider queue was warned that the single rider queue was not guaranteed to board before the standby queue. However, I think this is an unworkable situation in the long run. Not every guest will inquire about queue length before entering the ride.
Guests entering the Single Rider queue are doing Disney a favor by letting them max out capacity for the attraction and keep the standby queue from artificially inflating due to empty seats. In trade the single rider saves a little time. If this exchange isn’t made the guest will leave with a bad taste in their mouth.
This problem may resolve itself when the attraction opens to the general public. The population of annual passholders might lend itself to groups of 2 4 or 6 members. More groups of 3 or 5 would make the single rider queue move faster.
Finally, there was no fast pass in use during the preview. But there will be fast pass available when it opens for good. Oddly there is no fast pass for the version in California Adventure. I don’t think it needs it out here either. But since it doest have fast pass it will be come the must get fast pass of the day for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Standing still for hours in that queue won’t be fun at all.