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Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is now open on a regular basis at Universal – no more "technical rehearsals" – but I haven't made it down there yet to see. For the roller-coaster to move into standard operation so quickly is surprising, and leading to plenty of emails in my inbox detailing ramifications.

But I'm OK with not discussing that ride yet. I'm still plenty backlogged in terms of stuff to write about! There's probably a year's worth of "timeless" topics I keep wanting to get to, but every time a new ride or show opens, I generally offer a review of that instead, so I welcome the chance to be behind the news-reporting curve every so often.

More iPhone Apps

I've decided to stay abreast of the Disney World iPhone apps as they come out, so feel free to suggest still more to me that I'm not finding on my own. I'll keep reviewing them as they trickle out. Here's one more:

Toy Story Midway Mania ($4.99) – this is an official Disney app (a first for the theme parks?), and its status as "official" really shows in the level of glitz, gloss, and glamour brought to the screen. Many apps have a functional, even utilitarian feel to them, which most of the time is quite fine. Some use artwork to impart a sense of whimsy. But this Disney app feels like a fully-produced, completely professional product. The standards of appearance you'd expect in a modern console-based video game are on display here, placing this one lightyears (pardon the Toy Story pun) ahead of the competition for looks.

The game purports to be the same as the screens you see in the eponymous theme park ride, but that's not actually true. The screen is usually situated in portrait orientation (there are a couple of exceptions), while the ride itself is in landscape format, so it's much less "wide" of a playing field. This is not a direct port of the ride's games; this is a recreation inspired by the ride.

As such, the gameplay is different; the objects appear in different places and with unique timing, and the hidden Easter Eggs from the ride don't appear to be here. In the ride, you simply pull on a string to fire your weapon, but here, the method of firing varies by game. Sometimes you slide upward to launch a disk, or you slide downward to draw back a slingshot for your eggs. How much you slide, and how fast you do it, affects how far your projectile goes. Later levels limit how much time you have or how many projectiles you can use.

It's harder than the ride, though it's still fun (and my wife reports that it's hard to do if you have fingernails, something I do not have direct experience with). This app is more expensive than most, but it's got the slick production values to show for it, and those with a theme park hankering can do much worse than this. For the price of a fast food value meal, you've got an eternal chance to play the theme park ride.

A Wii version of the game is due later this year, and no doubt the motion-related elements will make that yet again a new (more fun?) experience, but it's hard to argue with the price tag here, despite being higher than most apps.

(By the way, there's a surprise in the app. If you are at either DCA or the Studios park in Orlando, head over to the ride and get in line. Take out your iPhone and open the game. Go to the Menu button, and when it comes up click on the Gallery Book at the bottom of that screen. You'll then see a 'search' button - hit it. It will unlock nineteen Toy Story Mania wallpapers for your iPhone. They stay on the phone even after you leave the ride.)

Follow up...

I reviewed Magic Kingdom Mini-Maps last time. But reader Doug was dismayed by my review because it didn't take into account the GPS functionality of the map, which he feels is the biggest advantage over the paper maps.

True enough – this is something I hadn't considered, since my family always knows where it is in the parks, and this is true of many of the readers here, too, but Doug rightly points out that it's not true of ALL the readers, and the GPS functionality may well help out quite a bit if the layout of the parks is not already permanently lodged into your brain.

A Few App Giveaways

Two of the iPhone app developers covered recently have contacted me with free codes I can use as giveaways. Please help me thank Gordon, author of the WDW Tour Guide, and David Campbell, creator of Disneyland Trivia and Walt Disney World Trivia.

Now, to give away these prizes, I'll need to run a competition of some kind. How about a photo contest? I will choose the "best" pictures (yes, it will unfortunately have to be subjective) as winners. Let's require a theme – how about any picture taken at a Disney theme park that includes a Disney balloon visible in the frame? It can be the focus of the image, or it can be off to the side… heck, it can be a tiny blip way off in the distance. So long as there is a Disney balloon in your theme park picture, it can enter the competition. I will choose winners based on the overall picture, though, not based on how the balloon is used in the shot.

Photos that convey emotion, have artistic value, or just show off the Disney detail could all potentially win. I'm leaving the criteria open to allow for your shots to just "wow" me, with the only requirement being the balloon somewhere in the frame. Email these to me at [email protected] by noon (Pacific time) on Monday (September 7) and I'll choose the winners from that pool of participants. The winning photos (and your first name) will appear in my future update. Good luck!

Facebook and Twitter

I thought I was being slick and technologically forward-looking when I hooked up Twitter to Facebook, so that my "Where in WDW" photo quizzes on Twitter would appear automatically on Facebook. But because of the way some replies show up only on one side, there is no effective way to respond to guesses in *both* venues without my interjections sounding confusing to either one side or to the other side.

What I've decided to do is uncouple my updates in the two pieces of software, and run photo quizzes primarily on Facebook. My apologies for that dry run. Let the show begin! (Note: you'll need to "add" me if you want to play along!)

Kevin Yee may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally.

2009 Kevin Yee

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Find Kevin on Social Media

Readers are invited to join Kevin's networks on Twitter or on Facebook. The Facebook account features regular "Where in Walt Disney World" photo quizzes.

Kevin's Disney Books

Kevin is the author of many books on Disney theme parks, including:

  • Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member provides the first authentic glimpse of what it's like to work at Disneyland.
  • The Walt Disney World Menu Book lists restaurants, their menus, and prices for entrees, all in one handy pocket-sized guide.
  • Tokyo Disney Made Easy is a travel guide to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySeas, written to make the entire trip stress-free for non-speakers of Japanese.
  • Magic Quizdom offers an exhaustive trivia quiz on Disneyland park, with expansive paragraph-length answers that flesh out the fuller story on this place rich with details.
  • 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland is a list-oriented book that covers ground left intentionally unexposed in the trivia book, namely the tributes and homages around Disneyland, especially to past rides and attractions.
  • 101 Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World follows the example of the Disneyland book, detailing tributes and homages in the four Disney World parks.

More information on the above titles, along with ordering options are at this link. Kevin is currently working on other theme park related books, and expects the next one to be published soon.