Disney Parks are big places. In the shadow of Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, Grizzly Peak, or the Tree of Life, it's only natural that guests might begin to feel small. But some Imagineering experiences around the globe take that to the extreme!
In fact, it may feel that a day at a Disney Park simply isn't complete without suddenly becoming the size of a toy, rat, or ant at least once. But just how small can you get? Join us as we progressively shrink down through ten miniaturizing Disney Parks attractions that make guests smaller, and smaller, and smaller. Which of these attractions succeed most at transporting guests to an oversized world? We'll leave that for you to decide... Just let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
SMALL: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Size: Action figure
Location: Magic Kingdom
Believe it or not, the 1998 opening of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Magic Kingdom represented one of the very first instances of Pixar properties finding their way into Disney Parks - a story we told in-depth in a special DISNEY•PIXARLAND feature. Technically based on Toy Story 2, the ride introduced the evil Emperor Zurg (the series' Darth Vader spoof) and expanded on the mythology of Buzz Lightyear's Star Command intergalactic police force.
Space Ranger Spin soon spread to every single Disney Resort on Earth (though today, it's missing from one). In each Tomorrowland, the blacklight dark ride recruits guests to Star Command themselves on a mission to stop Zurg's plans for world domination. Even if you considered that the ride may take place in Buzz's standalone Space Ranger reality, the fact that guests are blasting toy aliens to rescue AA batteries proves that this is well within the toy-sized Toy Story universe.
While shrinking to the size of a toy may sound small to us, Disney lore has it that Buzz Lightyear is nearly 12 inches tall! That means that we've got a long, long way still to shrink before we see just how small Disney Parks have made guests go...
SMALLER: Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy
Location: Walt Disney Studios Park
When the infamous second gate opened at Disneyland Paris in 2002, the park was bad enough to earn its own in-depth Declassified Disaster: Walt Disney Studios feature here. A gradual commitment to turning around the tired “studio” style reached a high point with the 2014 opening of the Modern Marvel: Ratatouille - L'Aventure.
While waiting for the attraction atop the roofs of Paris, guests turn the corner to find they’ve suddenly shrunk to the size of a rat without much pomp or circumstance! Fittingly, the 21st century dark ride sees guests board trackless rat-shaped ride vehicles to scurry along the rooftops, ultimately scampering through the kitchens and dining rooms of Gusteau’s fine-dining restaurant.
The ride - which is on its way to Epcot’s France pavilion as Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure - will play the role of a fun family adventure at both parks (even if it’s not the technological headliner fans had hoped for). It even ends with a look into the attached Bistro Chez Remy restaurant, where still-shrunk guests sit on seats made of bottle caps beneath drink umbrellas in the warm glow of giant Christmas light chandeliers in what must be an elegant restaurant... for a rat.
Cleverly, as guests exit, they’re restored to full size in another artfully plain way… Walking down the exit corridor of massive kitchen tiles the width of the hallway, an archway acts as the transition point where the floor pattern suddenly returning to normal size. Voila! Though a rat is smaller than an action figure, we'll need to get even smaller to fit inside a board game...
SMALLER STILL: Toy Story Midway Mania
Size: Board game token
Location: Disney California Adventure
Toy Story Midway Mania opened in June 2008 as part of the billion dollar redesign of the Declassified Disaster: Disney’s California Adventure. Since guests criticized the park for lacking rides, characters, and things for families to do together, the interactive and competitive Toy Story dark ride was a triple threat and a major milestone in the park’s transformation.
On board, guests in rotating game vehicles travel from screen to screen, pulling poppers to play classic boardwalk games like break-the-plate, ring-the-bottle, and pop-the-balloon… just with Toy Story characters as hosts and the midway-melody of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” on repeat. Setting Midway Mania among the real games of the park’s boardwalk was brilliant.
In one of the cuter details we’ve yet seen, guests exiting the attraction climb a set of stairs into the ballroom tower that serves as the attraction’s marquee only to find a simple seaside Victorian living room... with the Midway Mania box they just left on a woven rug on the floor. It’s a charming and thoughtful unspoken detail that adds to the ride’s whimsy.
Three Toy Story Mania attractions exist, each dressed differently. Like California Adventure’s West Coast Victorian ballroom, Tokyo DisneySea’s version is housed in an elegant East Coast electric trolley park; at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the attraction’s original “soundstage” style showbuilding got a makeover and was incorporated into the next stop on our shrinking tour...