Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened on 30th June 2018 after much anticipation and excitement, with visitors wondering how closely it would fit Disney’s brief of entering a world of the character of Andy’s garden as a toy. Toy Story Land is the second “land” venture for Walt Disney World and their Imagineering team, having already opened Avatar Land in 2017, and with Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge due for completion in 2019, and for our tribe who have grown up watching all three of the Toy Story films avidly as little ones, there is a special connection to them and their generation to the characters, the relationship between Andy and his toys, and the overall belief that toys can bring fun and happiness to all children and make their lives better. We still haven’t got over the end of Toy Story 3 when Andy goes to college, even writing about it makes us blubber like babies!!! (similarly, we are the older generation who grew up watching the original Star Wars trilogy – we’re showing our age now!!!).
So, we got on the Disney Bus and got our little tribe up pretty early (which for teenagers we understand isn’t always the easiest thing to do!) to get into Hollywood Studios for opening time. It seems that since Toy Story Land has been open, the park has had Extra Magic Hours every morning from 7-8am for Disney guests, and in practical terms it probably helps with the numbers of visitors, we heard stories of people who had arrived at Hollywood Studios at 5am, to ensure they were there for opening hours – now that’s what we call Disney dedication!
In terms of location, Toy Story Land is behind the old entrance to Toy Story Mania, near Star Wars Land – Galaxy’s Edge, which is now taking up space where the old Streets of America/Backlot Tour were located. When we first turned the corner to go into Toy Story Land on a warm and sunny August 2018 morning, the first thing which struck us was the colour………..it is so vibrant and colourful, you really can’t criticise the use of colour, it is an absolute triumph! When walking in, it was so lovely to see the familiar sounds of Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie all welcoming us, and already within a few seconds, you really did feel as though you were at home. There is also a Disney Photopass person there at most times of the day, ready to take your photo with an awe-like expression on your face which says “Wow, this looks like so much fun.!!”
The two new rides at Toy Story Land – Slinky Dog Dash Ride and Alien Swirling Saucers are of course the main attractions, and being new rides, they are definite ones for Fastpass+ selections (we found that at the 60 day mark we could get both Slinky Dog and Alien swirling saucers, so it’s definitely worth booking them at this point if you can.). Toy Story Mania (one of our tweens and teens’ favourite rides) is still busy, but if you can get into the park for Extra Magic Hours, you will probably be able to walk onto it, as the obvious subject of most people’s affections is the new attractions. We personally think that Toy Story Mania is still a great ride for all of the family, and its new entrance has great theming throughout, and never disappoints. It may be a bit of a poor relation at the moment, but still holds it’s place as one of the best rides in Walt Disney World (in our tribes’ opinion!)
So, what can we say about Slinky Dog Dash??!!!!! We had some preconceived ideas about what type of ride it was going to be like, and having read quite a lot about it, we knew that it was going to be somewhere in between Big Thunder Mountain (a tribe favourite) and Expedition Everest, but maybe closest to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. You have to really experience the ride to understand how sheer and utter fundabidosi it is (we can’t think of a superlative to describe its utter fun-ness!!) Disney have really surpassed themselves in the Imagineering of this ride, you are completely immersed into the world of Andy and his toys, and the nuances of detail whilst waiting in the queue – the pictures on the wall, the references to childhood toys, the big pot of Elmers white PVA glue, but mostly the idea that you are in the middle of the toy itself – the Slinky Dog Dash toy kit, which you know is Andy’s toy he has begun to open up especially for you all to enjoy! Having been in many Disney queues over the years, and having seen some clever moves in more recent times by Disney to make the queuing area of their rides more interactive and engaging, this one really hits the mark. Slinky dog is a triumph in that you start smiling as soon as you get on it, when Slinky arrives you almost greet it with a familiar smile, and carry smiling all of the way round, almost urging him to go faster! There were times when we actually laughed so much, we could hardly breathe! It is a thrill ride, the speed at times even reminded us of the acceleration you feel on rides like Rock N Roller Coaster, and the turns and twists are almost comparable to the now long gone but always a classic Corkscrew at Alton Towers Theme Park. You can really tell you are on a brand-new ride, it feels sturdy, moves effortlessly and smoothly throughout, and the view whilst riding it gives you a real feeling again that you are riding with Andy and his toys. We spotted Rex, Jessie, and Wheezy, who at the end of the ride delivers a very soulful “You’ve got a friend in me.” The only disadvantage to Slinky Dog Dash, and we are really splitting hairs here, is that like many rides with long queues and countless numbers of people constantly wanting to ride it, it is too short. We would certainly have no qualms in telling the Disney powers that be, if given the opportunity, to make it longer as we definitely want more time for Slinky dashing!
Alien Swirling Saucers is in contrast, a ride which we can imagine will not become as popular or as well loved as Slinky Dog Dash as the years go by. Whilst it is great fun, big smiles on faces again as you and your tribe drift around each other whilst in your Alien car, accompanied by some Euro-style upbeat techno Alien dance music (it is a hoot, honestly!) it certainly doesn’t have the thrill factor for our teens and tweens, which for us is OK, Disney as always is clearly trying to cover all bases and appeal to all tribes, be it very young or old, but we didn’t feel that there was so much of a desperate need or want to head straight there at 7am in the morning for park opening. Having said this, again the theming of the queuing area is great, and you again feel completely immersed in the ride and the idea that Andy’s toys are again trying to give you an ultimate experience. Nearby, there is also a great photo opportunity, when you can be photographed with the Aliens behind you, by a Disney Photopass photographer.
When you and your tribe are hungry, there is also the option of going to Woody’s Lunch Box, a counter service restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we were peckish one morning, we decided to try out their special Box Tarts which we’d heard so much about. We decided to have the Chocolate-Hazelnut Box Tart, with crispy bacon, which although may sound a bit of a strange combination was actually really nice, and not too big for a morning snack. You can also use your snack credits with the Box Tarts too, which is always a bonus! There are other selections for breakfast, with a good choice generally for both Lunch and Dinner too. We’ve included the links here to the menu at Woody’s Lunch Box for you to look at –
Woody’s Lunch Box continues the theme of Toy Story Land in an outdoor seating area. Sponsored by Babybel, you even get to sit on stools which literally look like little Babybel cheeses!!! You are able to really look around and take in all of the sights in, as if you really are in Andy’s garden and have shrunk down to the size of a toy. You do feel small in comparison to everything else, except the toys of course! Sit and take it all in, we would advise you spending some time really looking at the details of this land, you really have to look closely to admire the work on Imagineering that Disney have done, and they have achieved a great look at feel to Toy Story Land. Even the benches are made of lollysticks!
Is Toy Story Land a place for teens and tweens then? Overall, we would say our tribe thoroughly loved being there, and we had a few great mornings, and evenings spent at Toy Story Land, and it is certainly a place where big kids will like to play. The land itself has certainly brought a new dimension to Hollywood Studios, in the past our tribe have not enjoyed the studios as much as some of the other parks, but with the creation of Toy Story Land (and Galaxy’s Edge next year), Hollywood Studios has a different feel to it, and we liked it. A lot. The colour, vibrancy and fun element of the land is undeniable, the theming is some of the best we’ve seen at Disney, and the rides are both fun and thrilling at the same time. In our opinion, Toy Story Land is welcoming, warm and puts a big smile on even the most cynical of faces – but hey, that’s Walt Disney World all over One thing we would say however, is that in comparison to the awesomeness of Avatar Land, Toy Story Land does feel smaller and more intimate (perhaps that’s what Disney was trying to create), so calling it a “land” is perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it is down to interpretation and perhaps size isn’t everything! There does really need to be another dining option too, as Woody’s Lunch Box certainly doesn’t have the capacity to feed everyone who visits, and the selections may not suit everyone in your tribe. Maybe this is being a bit picky, and we are really trying not to be here, but if you did want a decent feed, you may have to find food elsewhere. We really enjoyed our time at Toy Story Land, and look forward to visiting again as Mickey says “real soon.”