Toy Story 4 Review – The toys still have it

When rewatching Toy Story 3 in the lead up to seeing Toy Story 4, you have this sense that it was the perfect ending to a wonderful franchise, how could you top that? We had, with those final scenes, a bow being put on top of the franchise when the torch was passed from Andy to Bonnie.

Toy Story 4 doesn’t quite top Toy Story 3, but it does a very good job at telling an emotional story that also feels like a logical next step in this series – and yes, you will need tissues because the ending will break you.

The Toy Story franchise is an odd one in where it sits itself, having been around since 1995 it has found itself grappling with the audience and its adolescence and now young adulthood; and, much like the previous outing, it manages to balance this wonderfully. The plot isn’t overly revolutionary – toys start off happy, something happens, toys go off on an adventure, then the film serves up an emotional kick at the very end. It’s simple and it works.

This new installment introduces interesting new characters with Gaby Gaby as well as Ducky and Bunny (who provide the comedic relief) and Duke Caboom. Of course the star new character of the film is Forky and, whilst I did enjoy watching the character, I do wonder what larger role Forky could have played, it does feel that there is some lost potential. Bo Peep returns, and with it the explanation as to why she was not in Toy Story 3; it is very clear that she is not the same character as she was, and with it she has become a much more developed character with a good deal of depth and the Toy Story franchise is all the better for it.

For all the Pixar fans out there (myself included) keep an eye out for a number of really quite brilliant references and throwbacks to previous films and shorts including Up and Tin Toy. These hit a brilliant sweet spot and fans will really get a kick out of these moments.

The thing that really works for the Toy Story films is the emotional connection we have to the characters, and that is the genius of the original creators of Toy Story: taking inanimate objects that we can all connect to, and giving us an emotional connection to them. Here we are, 24 years on and it still works.

Toy Story 4 is not the best of the Toy Story films (for me, that’s still the original Toy Story) but it does do an excellent job of being a funny, emotional and enjoyable film. These Toy Story films are very likely the closest we have to a perfect film franchise, they don’t skip a beat.

Toy Story Playdays snacks revealed by Disneyland Paris

Toy Story Playdays snacks

The Toy Story Playdays run from 18th – 28th June 2019 in Disneyland Paris and to celebrate a special range of snacks have been created for the event. These snacks will be on sale throughout the Walt Disney Studios Park and feature highlights such as a Jessie cookie sandwich filled with Nutella and a candy apple featuring the famous Luxo Ball.

Woody Biscuit – €4.29

Woody biscuit filled with a chocolate and Hazelnut spread

Woody is a sandwich biscuit filled with a chocolate/hazelnut spread (it’s not Nutella, but it totally is).

Jessie Biscuit – €4.29

Jessie biscuit filled with a chocolate and Hazelnut spread

The Jessie biscuit is the exact same as the Woody one – except it’s Jessie, of course!

Bo Peep Shortbread – €4.29

Bo Peep shortbread

Get your JPEG food-suitable printers ready because this shortbread is basically that. But it’s Bo Peep, the star of Toy Story 4!

Candy Apples (Hamm and Luxo Ball) – €5.99

Hamm Candy Apple
Luxo Ball Candy Apple

The stars of the Toy Story Playdays snacks, these two Candy Apples both look fantastic, and the Luxo Ball one is a genuine delight for all Pixar fans.

Forky Shortbread – €4.29

Forky Shortbread

Let’s face it, you want this because it’s Forky and Forky is awesome! Other than that, yeah it’s another shortbread with a sticker put on top.


The Toy Story Playdays snacks are not particularly inspiring – but then again, what did we expect for a festival that is just over a week long? They look fun and they cover every major character in the film, and that’s all we could really hope for.

Disneyland Paris and the promotion of new Studio releases

Olaf and Sven in Disney Stars on Parade at Disneyland Paris

Much has been made of the ‘new’ development of Disneyland Paris taking advantage of film releases in the parks. Many hailed the arrival of Moana in Disney’s Art of Animation as the first step and a step that Disneyland Paris needed to take. But is it really that new? The short answer is no, Disneyland Paris actually has a rather rich history of the promotion of new studio releases within its parks. This article focuses on a few of the bigger tie-ins, but there are a good number of examples that could be used.

Hunchback of Notre Dame

The most prominent example of film tie-ins is the Hunchback of Notre Dame (1997) which was used in order to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Disneyland Paris. For this celebration the castle was given an overhaul as part of the ‘Festival of Fools’ in order to look like a jester, this castle decoration was striking and whilst it was on brand, it was perhaps less tasteful than decorations that have been used for other celebrations (such as the 15th anniversary).

This promotional season also featured a parade that also took on the ‘Festival of Fools’ idea which included perhaps one of the most bizarre set of parade costumes in resort history as performers became dancing Parisian buildings. nevertheless, this 5th anniversary celebration of all things Hunchback was certainly effective; the promotion for the new film was difficult to avoid.

Toy Story

Toy Story was celebrated very much like Hunchback with a short special parade. One of the curiosities of this parade was seeing Woody ride a real horse up Main Street USA. This type of parade was a perfect way to introduce guests to the Toy Story characters and allow fans of the franchise to see all the Toy Story characters in one spot. This was a complete parade and is really something that could make an extremely successful return.

Chicken Little

Chicken Little was promoted in the Walt Disney Studios park in 2005 as the film was released. The characters of Chicken Little and Abby Mallard was included on the Disney Cinema Parade. Chicken Little himself was available as a Meet and Greet and a giant billboard poster was placed on the front of Studio 1. More on this can be found by my good friend Steve on Dedicated to DLP who wrote a great piece on Chicken Little in Disneyland Paris.

Frozen

Prior to Frozen being released in cinemas in December 2013, Disneyland Paris introduced a Frozen float to the then-parade Disney Magic on Parade. This float involved re-imagining the princess float to remove The Little Mermaid and add in Frozen with characters including Anna, Elsa and Olaf.

Frozen in Disney Magic on Parade at Disneyland ParisDisney Dreams! of Christmas was also introduced in November 2013 which featured Let it Go and a storyline which was very much driven around Josh Gad’s character of Olaf. This show was developed in subsequent years to include more Frozen.

Moana

Moana was welcomed to Disneyland Paris during a special pre-parade during the Christmas 2016 press event which was followed by a daily meet and greet in the Art of Disney Animation building. This meet and greet lasted until March 2017 and returned during the summer months. It is widely anticipated that Moana will make her return to Disneyland Paris during the Pirates and Princess Festival in the spring of 2018.

Coco

Coco officially entered Disneyland Paris during the 2017 Christmas season with special decorations at the Fuente del Oro restaurant. Miguel is present in puppet form.

Promoting films is not a new thing

Disneyland Paris do have a rich history of promoting new Disney releases, this article has proven that. But what is new, and undoubtedly so, is the intensity of promotion. The synergy between Disney’s European resort and the Walt Disney Company marketing machine is really beginning to be felt as each film is arrives. This intensity is to be applauded and continued! Well done Disneyland Paris!