Pixar Place has been a tremendously well received area of Disney's Hollywood Studios by park guests and part of its success has to be related to the great decor the area enjoys. The area features a lot of Toy Story film references including characters such as the Green Army Men, Monkeys in a Barrel and Mr. Spell.
Mr. Spell is of particular interest because what we see today isn't what Imagineers had originally intended and yet he remains in place. So why was Mr. Spell included in Pixar Place?
Mr. Spell is a character that was a supporting character from Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 films based on the Speak and Spell toy by Texas Instruments. On Pixar Place, he is being used by the Green Army Men and is being lowered from the roof by a jump rope.
The fact of the matter is Mr. Spell was added not to just be additional decoration, rather, he was designed to be operational and a means of entertaining guests. When Pixar Place opened to guests, Mr. Spell was not functional, however he was turned on for a short time following the official opening of Pixar Place. Unfortunately, Mr. Spell lasted just a few days before permanently being turned off.
So what happened? From the stories we heard, there were electrical issues related to keeping Mr. Spell functioning. In the early days of Pixar Place, Mr. Spell and the now-defunct Luxo Jr Audo-Animatronic suffered from electrical issues that prevented them from working at the opening of Pixar Place. Eventually Luxo Jr's issues were fixed but Mr. Spell continued to experience issues with intermittent days where Mr. Spell worked mixed in with a mostly "off stage".
As to why Mr. Spell hasn't been repaired yet is another classic Disney mystery. The story I had heard once upon a time was a nearby lightning strike damaged the electrical aspect of Mr. Spell but I wouldn't necessarily bet my paycheck on that. Regardless of how, we do know that Mr. Spell could work but doesn't. The next time you walk by Mr. Spell, know that there's more there than what we see (or read).