I remember the first time I rode Toy Story Midway Mania. My favorite detail of the ride had nothing to do with the board games or references to “Tin Toy,” Pixar’s animated short.
To understand the reference, you need to know a little bit about one of my favorite comedy legends. Rickles started his career as a standard stand-up comic.What he quickly realized was that his responses to hecklers got far bigger laughs than his prepared material. People would come to his show just to be insulted and Rickles never holds back.
An “equal opportunity offender,” he will make fun of anyone, from black people to Jews to Muslims and yes, even white people. Keep in mind that back in the ’50s and ’60s, a comedian cursing on stage wasn’t exactly hip, like it has been for the last 30 years thanks to comedians like George Carlin and Sam Kinison. Instead of calling hecklers “dumb ass,” Don called certain audience members “hockey pucks,” which is basically his word for idiot or dumb ass.
Fast forward to 1995 when he was cast as the voice for Mr. Potato Head in the animated hit, “Toy Story.” Towards the beginning of the film, Mr. Potato Head rearranges his face where all the pieces are in the wrong slots and turns to Hamm and says:
Mr. Potato Head: Hey look Hamm, I’m a Picasso!
Hamm: I don’t get it. (Turns and walks away)
Mr. Potato Head: You uncultured swine! (Looks to his left and sees a hockey puck action figure) What are you looking at, ya hockey puck!?
This hockey puck action figure was only seen in the movie once during this scene and then again briefly in Toy Story 2. However, it’s not the only time Disney used it for one of their projects.
In May 1998, Disney updated the Enchanted Tiki Room, this time it was Under New Management. As the story goes, Iago from “Aladdin” flew in and determined that the show needed to be more “hip” and was coming in to spice things up. The pre-show featured two birds that sat atop an animated tiki statue known as William and Morris (which is known as one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies in real life).
Morris was voiced by the late SNL veteran Phil Hartman, while William was voiced by Don Rickles. These two birds had just flown in from Hollywood and wanted to see if they could scout any new talent to bring back with them. Here’s a segment of that script:
Morris: Anyway, babe, I’ve gotta fly this coop and migrate back to Hollywood. My birds’ll call your birds. We’ll do lunch.
William: What’s the rush?
Morris: I’m about to sign Donald Duck.
William: Oh yeah? Big deal, you hockey puck! I’ve got the Mighty Ducks in the wings.
As if that weren’t enough, I was thrilled when I rode Toy Story Midway Mania for the first time in 2008 and noticed a little something about halfway through the ride. If you blink, you’ll miss it, but there is a small stand selling Hockey Pucks as Ice Cream Treats. Indeed, if you look closely, this is the same hockey puck Mr. Potato Head sneered at in the first “Toy Story” film.