Thursday, June 17, 2010

'Toy Story 3' Fun Zone Rocks at El Capitan

"Toy Story" fans will not be disappointed when they head to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for the Disney/Pixar franchise's latest adventure.

And don't forget about the Fun Zone!

CC and I were invited to attend an advance screening of "Toy Story 3" in 3-D with the added bonus of checking out the 25,000 square-foot kiddie wonderland after the movie.

It was truly amazing and much bigger than I'd imagined. Big enough to hold a live stage show with Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Jessie the Cowgirl; a Toy Zone, complete with a larger-than-life Time Out Chair, foam blocks, Legos and Super Slinky Steps; tricycle racing (yes, kids racing on a colorful track with trikes!); a Ferris wheel, bounce house and, well, that's just for starters. (And with individual ticket prices for the movie and Fun Zone ranging from $16-$20, it's a bigger bargain than most theme parks.)

The movie itself was yet another slam-dunk for Disney/Pixar. (Really, has Pixar gone wrong at all so far?)

While admittedly a little darker than the original (I haven't seen "Toy Story 2," but CC did get a tad frightened at one point), the characters in "Toy Story 3" are spunky and endearing, and the story is an original take on how children eventually come of age -- and often leave their toys behind with childhood.

Andy is going off to college and has to decide which toys (if any) to take with him, store in the attic or just throw out. Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the gang are understandably on edge, thinking that they're all headed for that great toy chest in the sky -- well, actually the dumpster.

When they end up at a daycare filled with unruly tykes and other toys harboring questionable motives, that's when things really get going.

The "Toy Story" movies are all about adventure and plotting an escape back to their home base -- Andy's room. But when the toys believe that Andy doesn't want them around, they wonder where exactly they should escape to. Where do they belong?

This presents an opportunity for the Pixar whizzes to explore honestly how people -- kids as well as adults -- move on.

And it is touching. (Read: Bring tissues.)

"Toy Story 3" and Fun Zone
El Capitan Theatre
June 18-Aug. 29
Admission: Adults ($20); Matinee ($18); Children ages 3-11 / Adults ages 60+ ($16)

Tricycle racing photo credit: © 2010 Disney/Pixar. All rights reserved.

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