Once guests half walked into Toy Story Playland and stand between Fort Emery and the Slinky Dog ZigZag Spin area (which we visited in yesterday’s part of our walk through Toy Story Playland) the bright orange race track of the area’s real thrill ride beckons at the far end (and lowest point) of the area, the first ever half-pipe ride in any Disney park worldwide. In fact the (race) track of RC Racer can be seen from various locations inside the Walt Disney Studios, even so it is mostly hidden from sight from Disneyland Park (despite reaching above the berm of the latter) thanks to the fact that it is placed at the lowest point of the land and at the same time among the large trees of the small wood that has been grown for 100 years and longer in the area that is now part of the Walt Disney Studios.
RC Racer seats 20 guests in five rows (of four guests each) in the 8 ton vehicle that has been themed to look like a large version of the RC Racer that has its great moment in the final scene of the very first Toy Story movie. According to Jim Shull, the Imagineer in charge of Toy Story Playland, original concepts only called for a capacity of 16 guests in the vehicle (in four rows) but apparently John Lasseter proposed to add an extra row increasing the capacity of the ride. Nevertheless as RC Racer is the area’s real thrill ride Imagineering expects a large number of guests looking to hitch a ride. So it has come up with a rather long and still uniquely themed queue line…
When approaching RC Racer coming from the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop respectively Slinky Dog ZigZag Spin guests are heading straight to the exit of RC Racer’s station building. For the entrance they have to turn right and follow the walkway for a few meters along the wall of the station building, further into the wooden part of the land. But then, between some of the trees comes up the entrance, designated by a race track themed marquee. The unique twist of the queue line that winds its way between the old trees and newly planted cone shaped trees? It is made to look like a Carrera-style black race track with barely any straight part in the first half. The queue has been designed around the old trees on purpose.
This part of the queue line does not only look like it is puzzled together out of play race track elements, but actually has been puzzled together out of oversized concrete elements that were modeled after the Carrera-style race track elements that can still be found in many boys’ toy collection. Just that the real toy version doesn’t require heavy equipment to get into place. However to make sure guests stay on the track (and don’t try any shortcuts) same railing has been added to the site. Also due to the location among the trees extra lighting has been added along the race track. Also some oversized safety cones that light up as well have been placed here.
One of the special touches in the queue line comes rather early on: a giant “on / off” switch that sticks out of the station building. This bright orange switch actually moves into the proper position depending on whether RC Racer is moving along the ride’s track or standing still for the load / unload procedure. Once the queue line passes next the rear part of the half pipe and crosses to the ride’s other side guests walk past a small building, which houses the electricity station for the ride – however, most probably the majority of guests won’t notice what the small structure really is since it is themed to resemble a gas station (well, a play toy gas station). Fans of Pixar and in particular Toy Story will certainly notice that the logos declare it to be a Dinoco gas station, as seen in the first Toy Story movie (and yes, the proper logo with an Apatosaurus from the Toy Story movie is used, not the logo featuring a Tyrannosaurus that was used in the CARS movie).
Unfortunately the line is not even close to its end at this point as Imagineering expects the crowds to descend on this ride in particular (despite the height requirement of 1.20 meter – so the same as for Rock’n'Rollercoaster on the Backlot) and they did not want to have to deal with a huge overflow of the line into the main walkway (as at Crush’s Coaster). With switchbacks the line continues back down along the ride’s track to the actual building, inside of which even more switchbacks await the guests. Inside the station (and queue) building the walls are adorned with (already partially taken apart) building sets for a toy race car – in fact it seems to be for another version of RC Racer as his license plate is found in one of the collection of building elements on the walls.
When it is finally time to board the 8 ton heavy ride vehicle guests will get a close up look at this version of RC Racer for the first time. And a close look it is worth, with numerous themeing elements not only at the front and back section, but also on the sides. While the vehicle runs on a coaster chasis hidden under the themeing, the four trademark oversized all-terrain wheels of RC Racer can certainly also be found on the car (but will never touch the actual ride structure). It is also worth noting that the seats (equipped with an overhead shoulder restraint and a belt system) are not black as they look on first sight but in a dark purple to fit the character’s color scheme from the movies. At the back of the seats three “storage” compartments are located for small bags and other items of the guests seated in the row behind. Certainly these compartments come with a lid to close as the 27 meter high standing track of RC Racer is called “Half Pipe” but actually goes beyond vertical!
RC Racer is propelled out of the station and up the track by (electro-)magnetic forces that push it to high speeds in a very short time and track length. Nevertheless RC Racer won’t reach the maximum point of the track right away but only after a few swings back and forth through the station. Compared to earlier photos of the ride track it is worth noting in the pictures from the end of last week that the themeing of the track to make it look less coaster-like and more toy like has now been competed all the way up to the top of the track. Until earlier last week the uppermost part of both ends of the track had been without this “cover”.
When exiting the station building after an exciting high speed thrill adventure (lasting about 60 to 70 seconds apparently) riders will pass by a smaller, stationare RC Racer in front of an accordingly smaller piece of fake track – functioning as a photo opportunity (still receiving the latest touch ups in our photo). As this photo set-up is located next to the exit of the ride all guests can make use of it, no matter whether they did go on the ride.
One last fact about the ride: just as the other two rides the operation team plans to operate RC Racer with four cast members - one greeter and grouper each plus two cast members in the station, one of which controls the ride. And also once again it is considered to have a fifth cast member roaming the ride’s area during the initial period of operation starting soon enough.
Even so RC Racer was the final ride to be found in Toy Story Playland there is still more to come in our walk through the area – so make sure to check back tomorrow (Friday)!