Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Buzz Lightyear Flies Home

When is the last time I wrote about amusement park retail goods? I’ll give you a clue. Never! So it comes as a surprise to write about it now, but I feel compelled. I attended the recent Walt Disney World media preview of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney has always been very generous to their media guests, showering them with tchotchke (knickknacks, doodads, or trinkets for those who don’t speak New York English) to memorialize their visit. Souvenirs like trading pins, pens, and clothing.

Toy Story Land features three rides, inspired by toys found in Pixar Animation Studios’ Toy Story films. They include Slinky Dog Dash, a roller coaster, Alien Swirling Saucers, a tea cup ride, and Toy Story Mania!, a 3D shooting game. Disney’s retail organization has come up with appealing merchandise themed to each of these that are available at outlets within the area.

Upon check-in reporters were gifted with a back pack filled with a water bottle, pens, a pad, and some gimmick for my non-existent smart phone. Following a day in the Florida heat exploring the new Land, Disney hosted an outdoor buffet dinner. Upon arrival we were given necklaces strung with eight tennis ball sized Aliens that lit up and winked and blinked in the fading sunset. I felt like a Christmas tree stung with lights. Then when we returned to our room I found a bag of Toy Story themed gifts. There was a catapult for a Slinky Dog Dash car, a headband with Slinky Dog atop that only an idiot would wear, an Alien Swirling Saucer vehicle, Alien socks that I can wear when I’m alone, a Green Army Man that now stands guard over my computer, and a Buzz Lightyear figure pictured here. They were too big to fit in my small suitcase, but I could easily carry the bag of toys onto the airplane for my return home.

If you’ve ever attended the IAAPA show, you know how large the Orlando airport is. Dozens of security check points manned by hundreds of security agents, with long lines winding to the checkpoints. I never have any trouble going through airport security. I know the drill, and I’m clean and green. Approaching the X-ray machine I placed my bag of Disney gifts on the conveyor belt and waltzed through. Then my bag of toys went through the X-ray. “Is this your bag?” They sent it through a second time. Then they removed Buzz Lightyear for closer inspection. Turns out, Buzz is a bubble blowing machine. Who knew? Inside there was a bottle of bubble fluid. They looked it over, read that it only contained 3 ounces (100 ml), and eventually let me proceed to my flight,

But now I’m thinking. There are more than 500 guests from the Disney media event coming through this airport, each with their own Buzz Lightyear bubble blowing machine. I can only imagine the turmoil that evening as the agents found and had to inspect each one. Disney thinks of everything. Did they think of that?

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