I really love Halloween specials - it's great to see beloved characters in different, spookier circumstances, and I'm happy that Toy Story of Terror was able to be made with all of the original voice actors. The Tom Hanks/Tim "The Toolman" Taylor duo has been a hit with me since 1995 (gods, that's a long time ago). I'm putting in some spacers so that no SPOILERS show above the cut:
Toy Story of Terror takes place after Toy Story 3, after Andy's toys have been adopted by Bonnie and welcomed into the fold of her other toys. It seems like Bonnie and her mom are on a trip and need to spend the night at a creepy hotel, which Mr. Pricklepants helpfully tells everyone is one of the most common horror movie settings. Because the toys have passed the time by watching scary movies in the trunk of the car (really great homage to the old black-and-white horror films, by the way), this sets everyone on edge. Jesse is still a little traumatized after accidentally being locked inside a toolbox in the trunk of the car, which brings back her old fear of being shut into a box and put away forever (which would have been her fate as a collector's item in Toy Story 2).
Why Would a Potato Need Hotel Amenities?
Once Bonnie and her mom have settled in their hotel room for the night, Mr. Potato Head decides that he wants to see what the hotel has to offer in the way of free toiletries. Woody advises against this, given that hotels are common places for toys to get lost, but Potato Head and Trixie the Triceratops are bored. Mr. Pricklepants remarks that this is exactly how horror movies start to pick off their characters, one by one.
Indeed, the toys start disappearing. Jesse, Woody and Buzz huddle together after they follow some of the missing toys down an air vent or sub-floor, and try to use Buzz's "laser" on whatever thing keeps whooshing past them in the shadows.
Once Woody and Buzz have been snatched, Jesse finds herself in the company of Combat Carl, who has lost a hand in his efforts to evade the lightning-quick thing that lurks in the dark corners of the hotel. Unfortunately, Carl is taken almost immediately, leaving Jesse to try to hide in the shower - but then, she is also taken.
The Iguana and the Thief
The shadowy menace turns out to be the hotel manager's pet iguana, which has been trained to steal the toys of the guests so that the manager can sell them on "eBid." Jesse is reunited with her friends when the manager locks her in a glass cabinet, and they see the manager placing her on sale along with all the other toys the iguana has stolen.
Woody, of course, immediately fetches a prices of $2,000, and is boxed up and left on the counter for the carrier service to pick up first thing in the morning - which is fast approaching. Jesse is the only one who can save Woody after she is the next toy sold, and to do this she must face her fear and close herself into a box to rescue Woody from the carrier truck.
Things look desperate as Bonnie and her mother prepare to check out of the hotel right in the middle of the rescue operation. Jesse is locked in a struggle with the toy-stealing iguana as she desperately tries to draw Bonnie's attention to her stolen toys. She reaches into the iguana's gullet and pulls free one of Mr. Potato Head's arms and Combat Carl's missing hand. Potato Head's arm grabs onto the curtain hiding the toys from view and pulls it down, just in time for Bonnie to look up in amazement to see the toys she had believed she'd lost.
Bonnie's mother angrily confronts the hotel manager, who squirms as she calls the police and Bonnie collects her beloved possessions as the other stolen toys make their own escapes. Jesse is brimming with confidence after having acted so bravely, and all is well. The hotel manager attempts to evade justice by stealing the cops' car, but ends up smashing into a light post.
What Could Have Really Made It
We don't get the perfect little coda that would have made this special even sweeter, and that would be if we discovered that the "eBid" buyer for Woody (and, probably, Jesse) was none other than Al McWhiggin, the Chicken Man.
I would have loved to see his face as he eagerly ripped open the package he thought would contain Woody, to discover nothing but packing peanuts.