A Photo Essay at
Back from California (Adventure)
Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, Darts, and World of Color

I’m back home in the Land of Lincoln after three weeks in Orange County, California. I took thousands of photos for future Yesterland articles. Looking at my photos, I noticed a few photos you might enjoy now—instead of some time in the distant future.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, May 11, 2010

My final full day in California was Friday, May 7. I had never seen the Pixar Play Parade, even though it premiered more than two years ago. I wanted to see it—and to take pictures because I’ll undoubtedly need them for Yesterland in a few years. So, as our last theme park activity of the trip, my wife and I caught the parade. By coincidence, it was the first performance of a brand new float.

Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear in Pixar Play Parade
Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is pink with a purple nose.

Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is a new character in Toy Story 3. With six weeks to go until the U.S. release date for Toy Story 3 on June 18, 2010, the cuddly plush toy joined his Pixar family on the parade route at Disney’s California Adventure.

Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear in Pixar Play Parade
A Toy Story 3 license plate lets guests know where Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear belongs in the Pixar roster.

Is Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear a genuine toy from decades ago, just like many of Toy Story supporting players? Or is he a made-up toy like stars Buzz Lightyear and Woody?

A YouTube user, MrCrazycommercials, uploaded 14 vintage commercials from the 1980s on April 18, 2010—exactly two months before the Toy Story 3 release date. The commercials included Baby Strawberry Short Cake, Speak & Spell, Sizzlean—and Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear. The image quality isn’t as good as today’s digital films, but when you start with an old VHS tape, what can you expect?

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear in Pixar Play Parade
Is Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear really as adorable as he looks?

So Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is a real toy from the 1980s! Right? Wrong.

MrCrazycommercials isn’t some guy with a VHS tape collection and a gizmo to digitize those tapes. MrCrazycommercials is viral marketing from Disney. When it’s this well done, I don’t mind viral marketing.

Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear in Pixar Play Parade
Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is the object of a viral marketing campaign.

A week later, “user GaikokujinJoe1” uploaded a Japanese Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear commercial. It’s also worth watching, even if you don’t speak Japanese:

Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear in Pixar Play Parade
Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear drives toward Souvenir 66.

I was too early for another update at Disney’s California Adventure based on Toy Story 3. The balloon popping game sequence of Toy Story Midway Mania! is getting a Toy Story 3 makeover. Walt Disney World, which will also get the same update at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, issued a press release with these details about the changes:

Starting in late May, Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head and the gang are joined by a whole new set of characters from Toy Story 3. The new game greeting guests, “Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts,” invites riders to shoot their virtual darts at all-new balloon targets in a primeval world filled with volcanoes and lava balloons, explained Sue Bryan, senior show producer, director, Walt Disney Imagineering.

Game players are welcomed by Rex (the nervous Tyrannosaurus rex) and his new friend Trixie (a blue Triceratops and one of the toy characters from the new film) cheering them on. The new game (it replaces “Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop”) turns up the fun with more hidden surprises and the potential for volcanic levels of excitement. Other changes:

— The “Hamm & Eggs” game will now be hosted by Hamm and Buttercup (a toy unicorn with heart-shaped nostrils).

— In the prize scene, Trixie, Buttercup, Dolly (a doll), Mr. Pricklepants (a lederhosen-clad hedgehog) and one other surprise—all from Toy Story 3—will appear with Woody and Jessie.

“Our number-one goal in creating Toy Story Mania! was to come up with game-play challenges appropriate for all guests, from little kids to serious gamers,” Bryan said. “I love that we are keeping things fresh and new by adding these great new friends and fun to join some of the most popular characters of all time.”

Unfortunately, all this meant the past few weeks was that Toy Story Midway Mania! was down a lot. The ride often didn’t open until noon, presumably to provide more time to test and adjust the new software. Also the ride seemed to shut down more often then usual. It was annoying to wait in a long queue and make it halfway to the load area, only to hear an announcement that all guests must exit from the queue.

Toy Story Midway Mania! dart game posters
Good bye to Bo Peep’s Baaa-loon Pop. Hello to Rex & Trixie’s Dino Darts.

For six nights, we had a room on the third floor of the Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Almost every night, we saw testing for World of Color. One night, we watched what appeared to be the complete show—including audio, projection, and fire—from our balcony. The fountains really are magnificent, with intense colors and massive scale.

Although many of the Villas face Paradise Pier, the views of World of Color include many obstructions. Sure, it’s fun to see some of the show from your own balcony. And it was especially fun to get a sneak preview before the official opening on June 11, 2010. However, watching from a balcony will not be a substitute for watching from Paradise Park.

I leave you now with World of Color testing, as seen from Villa 3508.

World of Color testing
World of Color testing
World of Color testing
World of Color testing
World of Color testing

Jack Wrather, Legendary
Give a Day, Get a Disney Day

© 2010-2012 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated June 8, 2012.

Five photographs of Lots-o’s-Huggin’ Bear in Pixar Play Parade: May 2010 by Werner Weiss.
Toy Story Midway Mania! dart game posters: copyright Disney.
Five photographs of World of Color: April 2010 by Werner Weiss.