Here’s a bit of Olympic/Disney trivia for you: Did you know that the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing actually cost more to produce than it originally cost to build Disney’s California Adventure? It’s true!
Archive for the ‘DCA’ Category
As an adjunct to yesterday’s list of the best things at Disneyland (and to maintain editorial balance), we now list the 10 Best Things at Disney’s California Adventure (also mercilessly stolen from the Web site we mentioned yesterday and then rewritten beyond recognizability).
- Being the first to run to “a bug’s land” and see if Francis’ Ladybug Boogie is actually working.
- Riding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror with an open bucket of popcorn.
- Running wind sprints through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and then visiting Brother Bear’s cave and telling everyone that your totem animal is “a sweat hog.”
- Activating Toy Story Midway Mania’s devistating “atomic bomb” secret target for a million points.
- Eating a gigantic lunch and then endlessly riding one of the moving cars on the Sun Wheel.
- Sitting in Playhouse Disney — Live on Stage! and pretending that you have the mind of a four-year-old.
- Visiting the Mission Tortilla Factory and asking why the tortillas have to be so flat and lifeless when the bread across the street at the Boudin Bakery is so nice and fluffy.
- Seasons of the Vine — possibly the most entertaining and instructional interactive edutainment on any Disney property; a true classic that will surely stand the test of time and be heralded as a delight to young and old alike (now closed).
- Using the computer in Disney Animation’s Sorcerer’s Workshop to see what Disney character is most like Hitler.
- $1.2 billion in upcoming improvements.
It has been announced that after the release of Pixar’s newest feature Wall*E, a full-size animatronic Wall*E will be introduced into Disney’s California Adventure! This specially programmed, completely autonomous automaton will drive, make expressive noises, and pick up trash, just like its movie counterpart. Disney management says that it may even be allowed to interact with guests after it has completely cleaned its area of the park.
Unfortunately, just a few days after this news was released, Disney announced that it would be firing a significant number of its animatronics-department staff. This marks an end to Disney’s tradition of developing lifelike figures in-house or (in recent years) of outsourcing much of its animatronics work but not telling anyone. The released staffers will be replaced by specially programmed, completely autonomous Wall*E-style robots.
A little over a week ago, the Blue Sky Disney blog had an article responding to the question that is on many Disney fan’s mouse-puckered lips, “I’ve heard that because of the economy all projects for DCA are on hold or canceled.” Well, we have been diligently researching this topic and have come to the conclusion that, despite what some may have you believe, this is not a question at all. All it is is a statement about a rumor. According to several experts in the English language that we consulted, if it had been a question the sentence would have had a significantly different form, and there probably would have been a question mark at the end.
Now that this is cleared up, we would like to address rumors that DCA’s improvements have been delayed/canceled due to a downturn in the economy. Fortunately, few things could be further from the truth! It is true that construction at DCA has been delayed a few months, but this has nothing to do with a lack of funds — at least not in a traditional sense. As Peter Exchequer, former head of Disneyland Resort accounting, told us on condition of anonymity, “To make a long story short, I lost the checkbook. We were all ready to go with moving the park’s entrance and recreating 1920 Hollywood or whatever it was that they were going to do first, and I had purchase orders read for all the construction crews, but when I got to the head of the line at Home Depot to buy all the wood and nails and stuff, I couldn’t find the checkbook. It was really embarrassing. Fortunately I found it just yesterday. It was in the pocket of a suit that was at the cleaners. So now as soon as my successor can get back to Home Depot and pick out all that stuff again, we’re back in business!”
Sad but true! This is easily the most embarrassing delay experienced at the resort since a cast member lost the key to the front gate of Disneyland and the park had to stay closed for a week and a half.
One of the benefits of the new Toy Story Midway Mania attraction being largely computer animated is that it can be easily modified to suit current events. For example, beginning later this month, a certain little futuristic robot will be visible in the distance in one of the scenes, cleaning up darts that miss the background and hit targets. And when the new Tinker Bell movie is released directly to video, a certain pixie will appear in one game (and explode when hit with a burst of pixie dust that will make other objects on the screen fly — if they are thinking happy thoughts).
Holidays will also be commemorated as the season demands. Around Christmas time, players will be able to throw fruitcakes instead of pies, and Buzz Lightyear will sport a new red spacesuit and whiskers. You’ll be hurling colored eggs at chocolate farm animals on Easter. On Arbor Day, throwing a dart at a balloon in a tree will earn you double points, as will hitting any target in the Green Army Men scene on Memorial Day.
The attraction is also programmed to react to real-world events. Earthquakes will knock down all targets for a big score, and all on-screen characters are programmed to move calmly toward exits in case of a fire.
In honor of the new Toy Story Midway Mania attraction at Disney’s California Adventure, here are a few tips for maximizing your final score:
- Entrance: As your attraction vehicle moves into the show building, you will briefly turn to face guests waiting in line to experience the attraction. General guests are 100 points, anyone with a Mickey-ears hat is 500 points, and annual pass holders are 1,000 points.
- Practice: If you can bank your pie off the pie of another player and hit Buzz smack in the helmet, your score will not immediately go up, but your hidden score multiplier will be incremented.
- Barnyard: If you hit nothing but carnivores/omnivores during this round, your score will be doubled. Hitting only kosher animals (mainly cows and chickens), your score multiplier is incremented.
- Sheep field: Of you can pop the three-headed mutant sheep’s heads without destroying its body, you receive a bonus of 5,000 points. Avoid hitting the clouds — if you clear their balloons it starts to rain, which may cause a short in your gun.
- Army maneuvers: Hit enemy forces (in green) and avoid friendly forces (in slightly lighter green) for 5,000 points and an increase in your bonus multiplier.
- Aliens: Ring all of the aliens in the central rocket target area to get the “chest burster bonus” and activate “alien autopsy” high-scoring mode.
- Cowboy: You can increase your bonus multiplier if the total number of shots you fire on this screen is divisible by six (as if you have a six shooter).
- Mine: Hit the bat and then hit the target behind the leftmost moving foreground target to release the invisible gas leak. When the canary (in the shadows in the corner) dies, hit it on the way down approximately six inches from the bottom of the screen for a 10-point bonus!
- Final score: When your final score is announced, multiply it by your bonus multiplier for your actual score (this isn’t displayed, but it’s still completely official — just ask anyone).
- Closed curtain: After the curtains close at the end of the game, continue firing your weapon to release a torrent of adorable animated tapeworms.
The point of Toy Story Midway Mania is to score as many points as possible. Targets are marked with point values — from 100 (simple targets and balloons) to 1,000 (moving targets and other guests) to 1,000,000 (the Eisner-reminiscent “Executive Salarybot” boss character). Some combinations of shots make special bonuses available. For example, shooting all of the balloons on a raincloud might release the “torrential downpour” bonus that provides big points even as it washes the rest of the targets away.
At the end of the game, players receive their official score as well as a “prize.” The prize is simply an icon depicting the player’s skill level. During one ride, we set a record with one player’s gun and let the other player’s gun sit unused so that the best and worst prizes would be awarded.
The Toy Story Midway Mania attraction itself was very entertaining — simultaneously playful, enchanting, and horribly violent. At one time or another you throw darts at mutant sheep, knock over barnyard animals, participate in military maneuvers, and try to hurriedly score points before a bundle of dynamite goes off, ending the game (presumably because everyone was killed). Ride vehicles are robotically controlled omnifacing military battle transports, armed with a quartet of manually operated ballistic cannons and seemingly endless ammunition, delightfully themed with characters from the Toy Story films.
Gameplay involves speeding from one target-rich environment to another, earning points every time you whack a chicken with its own egg, trap a harmless alien in an escape-proof ring of power, hit a bar to release the alcohol, or break some of your mother’s good china.
Although the attraction was worth riding a second time, there were a few areas in which Imagineering frankly could have done a much better job. For example, all of the characters depicted in the attraction seemed to be from Toy Story — I didn’t spot a single character from the other movie mentioned in the attraction’s name, Midway. That may have just been a marketing decision, so it might be overlooked.
Not so easy to overlook is the fact that the computer-generated content for this attraction is neither crisp not clear. In fact, the images are so bad that riders are supplied with corrective glasses so that they can have a satisfactory ride experience. Wouldn’t it have been better to spend a little extra money getting everything in focus and doing away with the glasses entirely?
The Toy Story Midway Mania queue was really quite enjoyable. The walkway was smooth and free of any significant potholes, as if it had been built only months ago. Interior areas sported fans mounted to the ceiling to move air about and keep everyone cool — a neat innovation that we hope Imagineers export to other locations, and perhaps even private homes.
At one point, as the queue is approaching the ride’s loading area, guests pass immediately behind the attraction’s control panel. Glancing at the panel, guests who have detailed knowledge of Disney’s ultra-secret covert corporate intellectual capital protectorate guidelines (volume 2, chapter 6, subsection 3, paragraph 2, second bullet, sentence beginning with the phrase, “Devastating breach of security or confidentiality”) will notice something interesting — this attraction’s self-destruct button does not have a double-action safeguard, meaning that only a single button push is required to wipe the computer core and set off charges in unique or proprietary equipment.
Why might this be? Apparently, the competitive heat between Disneyland and other entertainment destinations in Southern California has increased significantly in recent months. Disney has seen Legoland sign an exclusive contract with a company that makes robotic arms that can be used either as ride vehicles or valet parking attendants, Universal Studios Hollywood just opened its new Simpsons-Themed Disney Parodizer (and closed its short-lived but highly publicized Giant Flaming Kong attraction), and Knotts Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain are both still not bankrupt for one reason or another. This means that the potential for corporate espionage and spying is currently quite high, and explains why those of us attending the attraction preview were photographed, fingerprinted, and asked to verify that we were not associated with anyone on the “Mickey’s Enemies” list.
Yesterday, the DisneyLies.com staff was invited to a special pre-opening view of the new Toy Story Midway Mania attraction, open only to members of the press who were Disneyland Resort annual passholders who were chosen in an online drawing. We took advantage of the opportunity to ride the attraction repeatedly, making note of its subtleties and setting high scores that will be forever etched in the annals of history.
Security was high at the preview. Guests were given special tickets that allowed them to visit the attraction…
…and the tickets contained language that made it very clear that they were nontransferable…
Because we were members of the select elite, we received a number of additional perks, such as preferential seating (in only forward-facing cars) and a complimentary fruit basket for each score in excess of 100,000.
We found the Midway Mania queue to be nicely themed and largely linear, aside from a few turns designed to optimize space usage. Guests were generally either children or former children, and all who did not have a morbid fear of talking toys or implied shrinking seemed to have a great time.
Over the next few days, we will describe more of our visit to this excellent attraction. Please keep your Web browser tuned to this site so that you do not miss anything.