You would totally not see me gushing about Toy Story III without my experiences at Disneyland this April past.
First, let me tell you about me, my family, & Disneyland.
I'd wanted to go to Disneyland my whole life but lived on the east coast and had parents that were not at all interested in the idea(!) Even though I knew a fair number of kids that went to what we then called "Epcot," an adjunct to Disney World in Florida along with Disney World, I hadn't wanted to go there anywhere near as much as I wanted to go to the original Disneyland.
When I was 19 y.o. I moved to Southern California, eventually settling in Huntington Beach and as often as I could afford it I went to Disneyland and a few years later I married a guy whose Mom worked for Disney and who could bring her family to the Disneyland Park for free--anytime!
Dream come true! I went often and solidified my love for the Disneyland Park.
Life circumstances forced a move to the Chicago area, which though a great place to bring up my kids left us way too far from Disneyland. Also, I did not bring my then spouse, whose best qualities it turned out, began and ended with a mom who worked at Disneyland (j/k but only slightly).
Since I've lived in the Chicago area I've again met lots of folks who've travelled to Disney World which I still have zero interest in, and few that have been to Disneyland. They don't realize that it costs the same or less to vacation at Disneyland as it does Disney World.
Why? Because often, it is nearly the same airfare from here to Disneyland as it is to Disney World and definitely the configuration of Disneyland being in the center of a regular suburb where you can run out and get all of your day-to-day necessities and save a ton of money-- eating out less often (for example, continental breakfast at the motel, pack sandwiches, snacks and drinks in your backpack for lunch, a nice dinner--and a chance to rest in the park) versus Disney World which was plunked way out where you pretty much have no choice or need to be very inventive about saving money on meals and anything else you need to run to the store for.
So to the point, I'm sort of on a fixed income due to heart failure and so we really, really pinch pennies to be able to go to Disneyland so it is a really big deal $$$ to go but it's been a priority of mine to expose my sons to it as it is truly magical in the realm of man-made wonders. My now-17 y.o. gets excited about very little but Disneyland is one place that he honestly loves and even his like-minded father loves going. I gave them the opportunity to get hooked--which once inside the gates took no effort at all. We spend about 4 days in the park and break it up with trips to the beach or San Diego or L.A. or Hollywood--tons of stuff to do in So.Cal.
This time--April 2009, as you probably recall, the economy was going down the tubes fast. The airlines had increased fares and fees and overall, it was a much bigger challenge to pull off this trip but it had been tradition to go every two years and this time we stretched it to 2.5 years and I just wasn't waiting any longer.
I'm so glad we went (though that is my normal reaction)! They've done a bunch of things to add spit and polish to Disneyland proper (ongoing) and all the main attractions were open. It's the adjoining park to Disneyland that is going through a really radical change and based on the blueprints I've seen--and they are proudly showing off plans that will continue for years--the park is going to be what Walt Disney himself would have imagined.
I'd thought California Adventure was just fine and really love some of its awesome attractions both big and small. Soaring Over California--not to be missed, Grizzly River Run--my son's favourite ride in the park and way fun as long as you wear your swimsuit under whatever else you don't care about getting wet. You also need to go on it at least 10 times in a row or more. Crush! Turtle Talk with Crush is awesome, dude! All of the sometimes-overlooked Disney Animation section is great--and constantly being updated.
But!The biggest surprise and the most satisfying ride in California Adventure was one of the first of many changes to come, with a name that needs more zing, Toy Story Midway Mania!
OMG! This is the "funnest" ride since I stumbled across Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in the Fantasyland section of Disneyland. To call Midway Mania a "4-D attraction" really gives you no clue about how immersed you get in it and how incredibly fun and addictive it is.You really feel a part of the game-ride which involved all the characters from Toy Story in different settings that look straight out of a Toy Story movie and has you trying to take them out with a paint gun whilst in a car moving along, making it way more difficult to do so. As per usual Disney, there are little tricks and shortcuts that you can find and utilize to your advantage though some not so easy to pull off--you must be very quick and accurate.
Midway Mania is perfect for gamer people with their stellar shooting accuracy, but it pulls in a complete non-gamer like me because of the interactiveness and because I'm shooting paint balls, not clicking a keyboard, though I admit my hand got sore after a couple of days of going on it. It encompasses everything the Imagineers and the Pixar people have learned and turned it into an experience that is fun every time. The original Toy Story attraction in the adjacent Disneyland is somewhat similar but on a bigger scale and utilizes "laser" guns. I had actually passed it up the first time out there--didn't go on it once, decided 2 years later to give it a shot and it immediately became my favourite Disneyland attraction. I went on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters a bazillion times.
So this is a long-winded way of saying that the Pixar people and Disney Imagineers just keep getting better and I'm truly looking forward to Toy Story III as a way to get a taste of the fun of the rides and to appreciate the continuing evolution of Disney/Pixar animation.
I've added on the current promo materials for Toy Story III (premiere: June, 2010) but plan to incorporate Disney's near complete re-thinking of California Adventure and the progress of the changes in the next few years with an additional photo album.
I have all the "blueprints" that were on display at Disney and I'm putting them together and will include them in a post to come so you can have a better idea about how Disney is able to integrate the worlds of our reality with the brilliant minds of Disney Pixar and their resulting mind-blowing interactive creations.
Cont. after Jump: Toy Story 3 - Footage Revealed