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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Exploring Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

By Ron Baxley




Join Disney Avenue contributing writer Ron Baxley, Jr. for a Halloween tale of monsters of a not so scary sort as he explores the Magic Kingdom's Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. It's the perfect way to get in the spirit of the Halloween season...





(c) Disney




When visiting the Magic Kingdom around Halloween time or autumn, there are other places to see non-frightening monsters other than Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. In fact, the monsters of Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor are (spoiler alert for those who've never seen the movie) reformed monsters who no longer get energy for their city from the screams of children but from their laughter.




One of the containers used to store the energy from laughter. This one is in the queue area for the show. (c) Disney




Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, an interactive show, takes place sometime after Monsters Inc. (2001) and, of course, long after the prequel Monsters University (2013) but uses footage from both in the televised pre-show (footage from the prequel must have been added later as the interactive theme park show opened in April 2007 – over a decade ago). The premise is that not only have the monsters converted the scare factory into a laugh factory, but they have also created a comedy club.




(c) Disney




By the way, most of the show and line area are very positive, but the entrance way to the comedy club honestly has one of the more annoying, longest television intro videos I have seen for a show. The tired stock footage pulled from the film, repetitive gags, and narrative become dull quickly. Therefore, I will not discuss that other than to warn about it. If I was getting antsy because of it, I know kids will be, too.

Once you get in the “comedy club”, things pick up and become a whole lot better and more entertaining. Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) starts as your host/master of ceremonies along with Roz (Bob Peterson), who somehow dropped her role with the Child Detection Agency (or perhaps still secretly has it), and supervises the club.




(c) Disney




Roz, from a screen, communicates with Mike on stage and warns him that they have potential to be shut down if they do not get enough laughs from the audience. Her mono-tone droning becomes, as always, the “straight woman” to Mike’s joking, jovial manner.

A gigantic Laugh-o-meter Roz mentions sits off to the side and its indicator lights grow with increasing laughter from the audience.








With a successful show with plenty of laughter, the container is shown as all filled up...








A plethora of comedians can be chosen from the show, and even the Disney website states that shows will vary with different characters. Shown are at least some of the characters from the show in a display in the queue. Different monsters interact with the guests during the show:




(c) Disney




Audience members are randomly selected to participate via a spotlight and they are shown, along with being asked to talk into a mic, on a big screen alongside the monster stage.

One monster does a mind-reading act and does silly things like ask where you are from but then later pretends to psychically figure it out (that kind of shtick). All the while, if you are selected, though, you get to be on screen.




(c) Disney




One running gag is the “That Guy” gag. Someone is asked to wave or just be silly. He or she is recorded. Then, the footage gets used off and on through the show. One of the monsters will say something to the effect of “It’s that guy again” when the footage is shown. A senior citizen gentleman with a big grin and a huge wave was used each time I was there, and it was great fun.

Other people are put on the spot with some mild-mannered heckling by having the spot-light put on them and the monsters asking them questions and improvising a little with their routines. What some may not know (spoiler alert for the rest of this paragraph if you do not like to know the inner-workings of the Disney magic) is that actual voice actors are used in real time behind the scenes. The effect is comparable to that of the old robotic trashcan or other so-called robots in the park.




The show producer tends to his star’s dressing room. (Photo by Jon Leonoudakis)




With that effect, a person stood some distance away with a mic and a speaker that was within the robot trashcan along with a hidden mic within it. When people would interact with thia trashcan or robot, the hidden person controlling it would talk back, etc. This is similar to what is used in this show – only the technology is a little more advanced. The CGI characters in the show are set up, in real time, to have their mouths move to what a backstage watcher is saying, and the backstage watcher playing this CGI character can hear what audience members are saying. They can use what was said by the guest audience member to contribute to their routine or do a little improv. For example, someone was dressed as an Alice in Wonderland character in the audience. The camera was focused on her, and she was put on the big screen up front. The monster asked, “So do you ordinarily dress this way or just on special occasions?” That kind of real-time, amusing heckling goes on.

One of my favorite parts of the show is when audience jokes are used. Audience members can actually text in jokes just before the show itself...




(Photo by TouringPlans.com)




Guests can text in their favorite joke, name, and where they are from just before the show, and if it is used during the show, they will be credited for it by name and location.

At the time, I texted the word “OOZE” to 42319 followed by my joke, but the system may ask you for another “password” and give you another number to text a joke to. I am not sure if my family-friendly joke was used, but it’s appropriate for Halloween as well: “What does a monster drink from? A Franken-STEIN!” (WOCKA! WOCKA!)

Mike Wazowski (really Buena Vista Internet group) replied to my text, “That was so funny milk would have shot out my nose? If I had a nose. We’ll try to use it if we can!”

As you can see, for a funny, not-so-scary, highly interactive experience with monsters around Halloween or even beyond, try Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland. It is a ha-ha-hair-raising experience in a monstrously funny way!






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S.C. native author and former 15-year educator Ron Baxley, Jr. has visited Disney World since he was three in 1978. His mother, Marleen Baxley, was originally from Jacksonville, Florida and had family there who facilitated going to Disney World. Ron has been invited as a guest author at Oz festivals and science fiction cons since 2010 and was recently awarded the honor of a lifetime membership by the International L. Frank Baum and All Things Oz Foundation in Chittenango, New York, birthplace of L. Frank Baum, in June for his lifetime Ozian achievements. Within the past year, Ron posted a social media article with photographs entitled simply “Dad and Disney” in which he compared a lifetime of experiences in the Magic Kingdom in Disney World with his Dad including his first-time experiences in Disneyland after attending as an authorial vendor at OzCon in San Diego in 2015. From having a plush Mickey Mouse as his favorite, earliest toy to watching Disney films, Ron has been a Disney fan as long as he has been a fan of “The Wizard of Oz.” If he is not occasionally traveling to the closest Disney Store outlet in Concord, N.C., he enjoys yearly trips to the Disney Parks and collects different types of Mr. Potato Heads there and elsewhere.

Ron is an Oz, fantasy, science fiction, children's, and young adult author of 25 years and part-time correspondent/reporter for the Orangeburg “Times and Democrat” in Orangeburg, S.C. He has most recently had an article on Eugene and Eulie David, former M.G.M. Wizard of Oz “Munchkin” actors and brothers who lived in his hometown of Barnwell, S.C. published in the August - October 2016 issue of the glossy national magazine “Filmfax” after it appeared in three newspapers. He placed this article and a fictionalization of it as well as stories which followed his previously published Oz books in a brand new Oz fan-fic collection, After Th’Oz, available from Amazon. A full listing of his Oz, co-written Oz/Wonderland, fantasy, and science fiction books (some of which were traditionally published from Maple Creek Press) can be found by clicking here and information on his other projects and updates can be found at his author page, here.

You can find all of Ron's articles here

2 comments:

  1. Very entertaining, as all of Mr. Baxley's articles are! Gives you a real feel of what the experience was like!

    ReplyDelete