LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When Walt Disney World guests “shrink” to the size of the toys they play with at home (or remember from their childhood) and become the star performers in the midway-game world of Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, they are experiencing the essence of Disney Parks: engagement in such an immersive and interactive way that guests become part of the show.
Every day, Disney cast members invite guests to play special roles in entertainment throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Other immersive experiences include such roles as starring in a parade down Main Street, U.S.A., learning dance moves from the Disney Channel sensation “High School Musical 2,” dueling with Darth Vader and many more.
“These experiences transport our guests deep into the magical realms of what Disney parks are all about,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Rather than imagine being in a Disney parade or what it’s like to sail with Captain Jack Sparrow, these transformational experiences put our guests right in the heart of their dreams.”
It’s a Disney tradition that goes back to the very beginning of Disney Parks — the opening of Disneyland in 1955 — and is a consideration every time the famed Disney Imagineers huddle to fathom new magic.
In the latest immersive-entertainment experience, Toy Story Mania! guests are transported into a 4-D world where they compete in virtual midway-style games hosted by characters from the Disney-Pixar films “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” including Woody, Hamm and Rex. Donning 3-D glasses and using spring-action shooters, guests launch virtual darts at balloons, rings at aliens and eggs at whimsical barnyard targets to see who can rack up the most points. Guests may even experience some special 4-D effects during different parts of the game.
And the interactive fun doesn’t stop when guests put down their toy shooters. Here’s a sampling of other immersive experiences happening every day at Walt Disney World Resort:
“Block Party Bash” (Disney’s Hollywood Studios).Â A new traveling show that lets guests play, dance and party with favorite Disney-Pixar characters from smash-hit animated films like “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “A Bug’s Life.” Block Party Bash rocks and rolls throughout the park, putting guests in the middle of an impromptu party during one of the wildest, most interactive street spectaculars ever.
“High School Musical 2: School’s Out!” (Disney’s Hollywood Studios).Â Wildcat fever has guests dancing in the streets in the new interactive show presented multiple times daily. Inspired by the Disney Channel’s record-breaking, original film, “High School Musical 2,”the high-energy cast invites guests to join the fun as they sing and dance along to the movie’s hit tunes, including “What Time Is It?,” “All For One” and “I Don’t Dance.”
Jedi Training Academy (Disney’s Hollywood Studios).Â Taking a cue from the popularÂ Star WarsÂ Saga, the power of the Force and the magic of Disney combine for an original and intergalactic entertainment experience. Young Jedi hopefuls — known in ‘Star Wars-speak’ as “Padawans” — learn lightsaber moves from a Jedi Master before facing off in a final test against the evil Darth Vader. Created with Lucasfilm Ltd., Jedi Training Academy is presented multiple times daily, adjacent to the popular Star Tours attraction.
“Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage!” (Disney’s Hollywood Studios).Â Some of the most beloved characters from the Disney Channel lineup are featured in a singing, clapping and be-bopping show designed for preschoolers. The show stars favorites from popular Disney Channel programs including “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Little Einsteins,” “Handy Manny” and more.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland). Armed with infrared lasers, Magic Kingdom guests join forces with Buzz Lightyear to defend Earth’s supply of batteries from the evil Emperor Zurg in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, a spinning, brought-to-life Tomorrowland spin-off of the hit movie “Toy Story.” The shoot-’em-up fun triggers sight and sound gags, while a lighted display inside toy-spaceship ride vehicles allows guests to keep score.
Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial (Magic Kingdom Adventureland).Looking for new recruits, Captain Jack and his mate Mack lead guests through a series of pirate skill tests to prove their mettle. Who is craftiest at wooden swordplay? Who can flash their most menacing pirate grimace? Faster than you can say “Yo, Ho! Yo, Ho! A Pirate’s Life for Me!” the big moment arrives: getting officially sworn in with the Pirate’s Oath to become honorary buccaneers of Captain Jack’s famous Pirate Crew.
Woody’s Cowboy Camp (Magic Kingdom Frontierland).Â There’s a rootin’ tootin’ good time in store as Woody, Jesse and Bullseye invite everyone to Woody’s Cowboy Camp! Ridin’ in on a wagon are some of their best cowpoke pals, along with Sam the Singin’ Cowboy who leads a rollicking hoedown. Led by Bullseye and saddled up on wooden stick horses, kids giddy-up their way through a cowboy obstacle course — maneuvering around parents donning hats shaped like cacti, mountains and mine shafts. It’s kick-up-your-spurs, hootin’ and hollerin’ fun as the cowboy spirit comes to life on the dusty streets of Frontierland.
“Main Street Family Fun Day Parade” (Magic Kingdom Main Street, U.S.A.).Â For the very first time, guests are able to parade down Main Street, U.S.A. alongside favorite Disney characters. It’s a pennant-waving, drum-beating rush for guests when they join characters and march alongside parade floats, a marching band and an old-timey fire truck. There’s even a stroller drill team to accommodate little paraders and their parents. When the parade hits Town Square, guests join the performers for a flag-waving patriotic finale.
Also happening in the theme parks every day:
“Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor” (Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland).Â Guests laugh, joke and match wits with the beloved animated characters from Disney-Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” in an engaging and interactive attraction created by the Disney Imagineers. “Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor” features one-eyed hero Mike Wazowski, who has opened a comedy club to collect laughs that will generate power for the future. As Monster-of-Ceremonies, Mike recruits two comedian wannabes whose slapstick humor delights and engages audiences. Guests even get to text-message jokes on their cell phones for possible use in the show.
“Turtle Talk With Crush” (Epcot).Â Crush, from Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” has made a different kind of screen debut in The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot — as a chatting, joking quipster who engages guests in conversation from his movie-screen undersea environment. “Turtle Talk With Crush” showcases real-time animation using digital projection and sophisticated, voice-activated animation.
And that’s not all! Coming in winter 2008:
“American Idol” Attraction (Disney’s Hollywood Studios). Starry-eyed Disney guests will get a taste of TV’s pop culture phenomenon — up close and personal — when Disney’s Hollywood Studios unwraps an “American Idol” attraction in winter 2008. Guests will be able to experience the challenge of auditioning, the rush of performing on stage in competition or the thrill of judging the performances in a live interactive setting modeled after the “American Idol” set. There will be multiple show times daily. Guests advancing through the screening process have the chance, in the nightly final competition, to win a guaranteed reservation for a regional audition for the “American Idol” TV show.