Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Attractions - Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

One of my absolute favorite WDW attractions is located in Tomorrowland.  Though some hardcore Disney fanatics might reminisce of the days when the location served as home to The Timekeeper, and while other real WDW historians may recall American Journeys, Magic Carpet ‘Round the World, or even America the Beautiful (if you are really old school), I think the current occupant of the location in question is the best by far.
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is an interactive experience that will surely tickle your funny bone.  For those expecting to hear a Disney version of the Improv, where you may catch a glimpse of some up-and-coming comedians who stop off for a night of two before they move on, well, you’re a little out of luck.  In fact, if you are hoping to be witness to an ever changing array of one liners, humorous observations, or sharp witted tales, you may be slightly disappointed (because in WDW, the words highly and disappointed cannot be used together).  But, oddly enough, this isn’t the purpose, or the fun of the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.  To be honest, the regiment of semi-stale jokes and running gags is precisely what my kids, my wife, and I enjoy the most about it.  But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  Allow me to tour you through this Disney delight.

Upon entering the outer-queue, located directly next to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, you will notice – along with the normal Disney design details - a few signs urging you to text your own jokes for potential use in the show.  This is the first hint as to what you will encounter; a fully interactive experience made possible by Disney Imagineer Magic.  Please allow me to double down on this invitation – go ahead – text something.  Although my kids have had some of their jokes used, I have yet to be selected – though it may be due to my joke; “What do you call a fairy who hasn’t taken a bath in weeks?  Stinkerbell!”

After a few moments in the outer-queue, you will enter the inner-queue.  This is when your journey into the world of Monsters Inc. truly begins.  Take time to read the posts on the wall, look at the pictures, and enjoy what the Imagineers have prepared for you as you wait.  If you take the time to notice, you’ll find that there are a lot of hidden treasures and good humor in all the attraction queue areas.  A short video will welcome you to the Laugh Floor and provide an overview of what this attraction is all about.  In short, once the Monsters learned that laughter provided more power than screams, the occupants of the Monster world set out to harvest as much laughter as possible – thus, the Laugh Floor Comedy Club. 

A short wait later and the doors to the comedy club will open.  Here’s a tip – don’t just run to your seat as you become or remain preoccupied with your souvenirs, tickets, park map, etc.  Pay attention to what is going on around you.  Your host – Buddy Boil – spends some time greeting you as you enter the room, and this is worth your attention. 

For a brief moment, thanks to the fact that Disney has mastered the art of fully immersing you in fantasy, you might not even notice that Buddy is an animated character who fully interacts with living individuals.  Listen as he speaks directly to guests and even answers as they speak back.  More impressive is the fact that he, and the other Monster Comedians like Sam & Ella, and Marty Wazowski not only interact, they do so with expressive faces and wonderful comedic timing.  This bit of magic is known as digital puppetry, and began in WDW as a part of Disney’s Living Character Initiative.  Live actors perform voices while the digital renderings of the Monster personalities appear on screen.  Only Mike Wazowski and Roz are pre-programmed not to interact directly.  It is nothing short of magic.
Now, take a look at the screen to the left of the stage.  Buddy is a Grade-A heckler and wastes no time getting the audience involved in what is going on.  The object of his humor will be shown on this screen during the pre-show moments.  In the interest of full disclosure, this is my kids’ favorite part of the whole show.  Each time we try to find the magical location (still not sure if there is one) which guarantees your selection by Buddy.  So far, I’ve danced on screen, I’ve played Mike “with One eye/I”, I’ve been selected to buy Churros for everyone, and I’ve even had the honor of being “That Guy” (which by far is the best treat for my youngest son Joshua). 

There may not be magic seats for being selected, but I’ve noticed a pattern after my few hundred visits.  The first seems to be about 1/4 of the way back and on the left side (if facing the stage) of the crowd – if you want to be Mike, Sully, of Boo.  Closer to the front – about the third or fourth row in the right side of the audience (again, facing the stage) seems to be the location where “That Guy” usually is, or the guy who offers to buy churros.  Lastly, the back of the crowd is best if you want to be selected to dance on screen.  Although reflected in the name of the attraction next door, this attraction is the absolute blast in my opinion – which starts from the moment the doors open.

Roz takes a minute to introduce the container that holds captured laughter, and then notes how you are off to a “great start” before giving the show over to the stars.  The show follows the same interactive setup as the pre-show.  The next 10 minutes are filled with stories, gags and jokes by Buddy, or Sam & Ella.  It varies slightly on occasion, but still follows the same basic outline and gag list.  Nevertheless, it’s still funny to me.  Finally, Mike Wazowski’s nephew Marty arrives to tell a few jokes that also include a few which were texted from the audience during their time in the queue. 

Whether you’ve been selected to participate in the show, or whether you are simply taking in the sights – don’t just sit there.  Laugh, scream when the comedians say “Hello Humans” and enjoy it for what it is.  Watch the canister fill with laughter and see how well the comedians, and you are doing - after all, Roz is "watching, always watching".  But, remember, when you go to the Laugh Floor have a good time and don’t be stingy with the laughter – or they may have trouble opening the exit door! 

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