My son had no idea what we were doing when we showed up to Veterans’ Memorial Arena in Jacksonville Friday to see Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 3 on Ice.
Then we saw a little boy in a Buzz Light Year costume stroll down the sidewalk. We stepped inside the building and saw girls in Jessie cowgirl hats, complete with the long, red braids. As we made our way to our seats, others sported weird plastic hats that looked like the Pizza Planet aliens. Vendors sold every Toy Story themed-item you can dream of. It didn’t take the little guy long to figure out something exciting was ahead.
When the lights darkened and the show began, he scooted to the edge of his seat, refusing to sit back during the entire show for fear of missing any part of the action-packed show. Well, that, and his tiny booty was too small to keep the chair from folding on him unless he sat on the edge.
The show is designed to retell much of all three Toy Story movies, summing up the first two during the first act, which lasts about 40 minutes, and then — after an intermission — the “on ice” version of Toy Story 3 lasts about an hour.
The stories are adapted to fit the “on ice” format as well as the time constraints of the show, so some parts are different. But the show is packed with familiar scenes. We saw Buzz and the aliens angling to get picked up by “The Claw.” We saw Woody and Bullseye rush to save the day for Jessie on an episode of “Woody’s Roundup.” Army men parachuted in and marched in sync. And Buzz managed to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg after entering the scene from the sky, rocket flames shooting from his feet.
The costumes are amazing, and more than once I was scratching my head, wondering how they even have humans inside them. Throughout most of the show, the toys are the size of adults, like the giant Slinky Dog, who apparently had a person on his front and a person on his back, with the slinky stretching back and forth in the center, just like the real toy. Lots-O’-Huggin’-Bear was huge. They even had Stretch, the purple octopus, and both potato heads, who kept losing and moving parts throughout the show. Each character looks entirely genuine, and their voices are pre-recordings of the same voices used in the movies. So, for example, Woody’s voice is still that of Tom Hanks.
My son, ever the loyalist, said Woody was his favorite character in the show, just like he is when he watches the movie. But for me, I felt like Ken and Barbie were the real scene stealers. They were incredibly good ice skaters, performing all kinds of stunning partner tricks while staying in character. One of the funniest scenes in the Toy Story 3 movie, when Barbie asks Ken to model his many outfits for her, was perfectly recreated for the show.
At the end of the show, Lots O’ threatens the toys with an incinerator rather than forcing them to go to the dump. I had to mention that part, because my son said the incinerator flames were the coolest part of the whole show.
I thought the music and dancing came in at a close second, at least, to that. They set every scene to music, with beautifully choreographed skating and dancing that helped tell the story and kept the kids in the audience engaged (and dancing!).
Toy Story 3 on Ice is now finished in Jacksonville . If you are debating whether to see it elsewhere in your travels, I would tell you it’s worth seeing and that, as long as your child is old enough to sit through the show, it will be time well spent.
* Tips: This show is on ice, so remember to bring a jacket for your little one in case the arena gets too cold. Also, the show can get quite loud if you have decent seats; this was my toddler’s only complaint. If your child is sensitive to noise, a pair of ear muffs or ear plugs may come in handy.
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