Going to Disney World and wondering if your highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids will enjoy Toy Story Mania? Or will it cause meltdowns instead?
Well, you’ve found yourself in the right place!
Here you’ll find a thorough overview of Toy Story Mania, looking at factors like sudden noises, noise level, darkness, bright lights, speed, and “scary” visuals. Sometimes, these seemingly little things can induce meltdowns in our highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids.
Toy Story Mania is a ride found in Toy Story Land at the Hollywood Studios theme park. It’s an interactive 4-D shooting game, which first opened on May 31, 2008. The ride vehicles have a have a pair of mounted pull-string cannons on each side, which means there are 4 per vehicle. It’s a really fun take on classic carnival midway games.
The background story is that you are “shrinking” down to the size of toys to play a carnival game that Andy got for his birthday. Some of the games include: throwing virtual eggs at farm animals, shooting virtual darts at balloons, throwing virtual baseballs at plates, and tossing virtual rings on the adorable Toy Story aliens.
Keep in mind that you need to be wearing their special glasses to fully immerse yourself in the 4-D experience.
While there is no height minimum to ride Toy Story Mania, let’s figure out whether your highly sensitive kids will be overwhelmed OR enjoy their experience on this attraction.
Sudden Noises 3/5
Highly sensitive kids startle easily and don’t usually like sudden noises. Toy Story Mania does have quite a lot of sudden noises as part of the sound effects of the games. There are also various Toy Story characters shouting words of encouragement and cheering you on. While it is quite loud, there’s nothing super startling, and it’s all very peppy and fun. In addition to sudden noises, there might also be an occasional sudden blast of air or a spritz of water.
Noise Level 5/5
Toy Story Mania is a LOUD ride. The auditory stimulation is at a constant high level. While the content of the noise is all fun and games, this could be a problem if your highly sensitive kids get overwhelmed by constant loud noises. The sound effects from the breaking of virtual plates seemed particularly loud in our experience. The instrumental version of the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” is playing on loop in the background the entire time as well.
Some highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids have a really hard time on dark rides. Sometimes it might be the sudden shift between the daylight outside and having no light indoors. Others just feel more fearful in the dark because it’s hard to see clearly.
Toy Story Mania is an indoor ride, so there is a small element of darkness. It’s mostly in the transitions between games where it appears darker. But the bright visuals of the games themselves counteract the slight darkness that you experience from it being a completely indoor attraction. It is definitely not as dark as Peter Pan’s Flight or Space Mountain. Even if your highly sensitive kids are scared of the dark, this shouldn’t be a huge issue on Toy Story Mania.
Bright & Flashing Lights 4/5
Because Toy Story Mania is like an interactive video game, there is a ton of visual stimulation. And this includes bright, flashing, and colorful lights and graphics. One of the qualities of a highly sensitive child is their depth of processing. This is why bright lights and tons of visual stimulation can feel overwhelming. It’s like an excess of information for their senses and brains to process. If your highly sensitive kids are extra sensitive to visual stimulation, I’d be a little more mindful of how your child might experience Toy Story Mania.
Toy Story Mania is not a super fast ride! It’s not a thrill ride by any means, and is clearly the “mildest” ride among the 3 attractions in Toy Story Land. (The other two being Slinky Dog Dash, a rollercoaster, and Alien Swirling Saucers, a spinning ride similar to the Mad Tea Party at Magic Kingdom). While this is not close to Test Track-level speed, the ride vehicle does have somewhat fast and sudden spins as it transitions through the different games. There is a lot of stopping and starting, which could feel uncomfortable for some.
Highly sensitive kids can be more prone to motion sickness and nausea. However, this is not a concern on Toy Story Mania. There are no sudden drops that might make your kids’ stomachs “feel funny”. The ride vehicle does make some jerky motions and sharp turns as you get situated into the various games, but no drops to worry about at all.
“Scary” Visuals 1/5
What I’ve noticed with my kids is that things that are unfamiliar to them is often interpreted as “scary”. Plus, they have wildly creative imaginations, as many highly sensitive children do. So what is considered “scary” is totally subjective.
With that being said, Toy Story Mania does not include really scary visual content. There aren’t any of your typical villains or overt conflict, that you might see on other rides or shows. But if your child is scared of any of the Toy Story characters, like the aliens or green army men, this would be one to avoid. We all know that kids occasionally have seemingly “irrational” fears of even the friendliest looking characters. And some children might also be sensitive to idea of breaking plates or throwing eggs at farm animals.
Proximity to Others 0/5
Highly sensitive children have a hard time in crowded, closed off spaces. Toy Story Mania should be comfortable to most kids, as you get your own ride vehicle without sharing your space with other strangers. They seat two adults comfortably, and you could easily ride with one adult and two kids as well. There is a lap bar, but nothing overly constraining.
Strong Smells 0/5
We know that highly sensitive kids are sensitive to visual and auditory stimulation. The same applies to smells! My daughter can notice changes in scent before anyone else does. And sometimes really strong scents can cause nausea or headaches. Disney often uses the sense of smell to make their rides and attractions more immersive. However, this isn’t the case for Toy Story Mania. There aren’t any strong smells that would be overwhelming to a highly sensitive child’s nose.
Getting wet on a ride or attraction can be extremely unsettling for highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids. It might be because it’s an unexpected sensation. It might also be because the feeling of wetness is uncomfortable in itself. While there is no chance of getting completely soaked like you might on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids, there is a chance for riders to be sprayed by a small spritz of water.
How do we understand the rating? A lower score means less sensory overload, while a higher score means a greater likelihood of being overwhelmed and overstimulated. This is helpful when deciding which rides might cause sensory overload meltdowns for our highly sensitive kids.
Toy Story Mania falls close to the middle of the road when it comes to its rating. It is quite mild when it comes to speed, drops, darkness, and “scary” visuals. But you should keep in mind your child’s tolerance for auditory and visual stimulation, as it is quite a loud, bright, and colorful ride. All of it is really cheerful and fun, but it could definitely be a lot to process for some highly sensitive or sensory sensitive folks.
What has YOUR experience been on Toy Story Mania? Do you love it or hate it? Is it on your list of must-dos for your visit to Hollywood Studios? Join my private Facebook Group to share your opinion, ask questions, and get more exclusive tips on planning your Disney trip with your highly sensitive kids!
Lastly, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of my must-have Disney ride planner tool! Use it so you can easily keep track of which rides you want to avoid and which you want to try with your highly sensitive kids. It will make planning your park days SO much easier! It is an editable and fillable PDF file, but there is an option to print a blank copy so you can fill it out by hand.