'Toy Story' goes 4-D at park

Ride unveiled by Bob Iger and John Lasseter

ANAHEIM -- Disney has unleashed more of that Pixar synergy it keeps boasting of by unveiling Toy Story Mania!

Dubbed a 4-D ride and requiring the wearing of 3-D glasses, it was introduced Tuesday by CEO Bob Iger and John Lasseter, creator of the "Toy Story" franchise, at Disney's California Adventure.

Iger and Lasseter seem determined to push Pixar's CG-animated film characters in ways large and small at its theme parks on both coasts. To wit, Toy Story Mania! represents the first time an attraction was created for two parks simultaneously. The ride opened May 31 at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Toy Story Mania! is an attraction that has riders appearing to shrink to about toy-size so they might scoot through Andy's Room firing virtual projectiles at 3-D targets while collecting points for accuracy.

Lasseter outscored Iger by more than 2-to-1 during the festivities. Then the ride opened for the public, and the line of riders stretched from one end of the park to the other.

Andy's Room figures prominently in "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2," both of which were directed by Lasseter. He is exec producing "Toy Story 3," due in 2010.

"I'm really, really competitive, and I want the high score," Lasseter told guests at the unveiling ceremony, which included video of astronauts conducting experiments with a Buzz Lightyear toy at the International Space Station. "That is awesome -- to see a character you created floating in space."

Lasseter has figured prominently at Disney since the 2006 purchase of Pixar. He's not only chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios but also principal creative adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, where theme park attractions are created.

Acting as carnival barker outside the ride is a giant, high-tech Mr. Potato Head that engages in two-way conversation with parkgoers. Engineers took more time animating Mr. Potato Head than any other audio-animatronics figure ever produced at Imagineering. As in the "Toy Story" films, he's voiced by Don Rickles.

Toy Story Mania! joins a host of Pixar-inspired attractions at the Disney theme parks based on such films as "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc." and "A Bug's Life."

The attractions, though, are a warm-up for the main event: a $1.1 billion Cars Land under construction that will span 12 acres at California Adventure. The five-year project scheduled for completion in 2012 could culminate with a change in the park's name.

"We are going to make this park even more amazing," Lasseter said. "I promise you."