We review the new Toy Story land arena that opened in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in 2018. The good, the bad and the ugly!
Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios opened in June 2018. It is located in the area where the Studio Backlot Tour used to be. The land itself is around 11 acres and features 3 attractions, a quick service location and restrooms.
Many people don't know that there are Toy Story Lands already at other Disney parks around the world (at Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong), but this new one in Hollywood Studios is the largest of them all.
Toy Story Land was announced in 2015 with the below concept art.
For those who have been to Toy Story Land already, you can see the difference between what was finally built compared to the concept image above. For example, some of Slinky Dog Dash’s track being inside trenches, general track changes and reduced amount of props. It also shows Woody on Bulls Eye on an island in front of you, rather than a prop on the side of the path, and some house buildings on the right which never saw the light of day. Whether these changes were because of budget cuts or general reductions to get the park completed on time, only Disney knows. There were some rumours they cut back on Toy Story Land for more budget for Star Wars Land, which I don't mind at all. Disney need something of incredible quality like Harry Potter over at Universal, and as great as Pandora is, it's not quite in the same league.
As you enter the land you are greeted with the giant Woody who shouts out some amusing limericks every now and then. You can then keep on walking and go right for Slinky Dog Dash or carry on straight forward to Alien Swirling Saucers, or go left for Toy Story Mania. Toy Story Mania itself hasn't changed except for the fact you enter the ride from Toy Story Land. And I'm happy they've brought back stand-up Mr. Potato head, he's a laugh while you're waiting in the queue. Let's start by talking about the two new main attractions.
Alien Swirling Saucers
Alien Swirling Saucers is pretty much identical to Mater's Junkyard Jamboree at Disneyland California (Google it if you don’t know), but themed differently. I get motion sickness quite easily when it comes to rides that spin (it's why I can't do the Teacups), but I gave this a go nonetheless, and fortunately, it didn't make me sick. It was actually a lot of fun. It feels like you get a good amount of time on it before it ends, and the funky versions of Toy Story songs that play while you're going around is great. Even though it was fun, it does throw you about a lot. The padding on the sides of the seats aren't all that good, and if you slam too hard into the sides, it does hurt.
It would have been cool if the claw above you actually moved or did something, rather than a static prop. The attraction is definitely on the level of a glorified fairground ride (not as bad as Primeval Whirl though), and even though the ride is still new, the mechanics sort of looked and sounded very old. I'm not sure how well this ride will age. We rode this 3 times on our most recent trip, and it did break down 2 of those times. When this ride is a 20 minute wait, I'd wait and do it again on a regular basis.
Slinky Dog Dash
Slinky Dog Dash is more fun than it looks. To rank it with other Disney coasters, I'd say it is a slightly more intense Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It's also a lot higher than it looks when you're on it. Although I wouldn't wait more than an hour for it, I will in future always look to ride it again. The sad part is that it is very short. It would be even shorter if the stop in the middle wasn't there to increase the ride time a bit.
The queue is probably the worse thing about this attraction. It is a long queue, and the first half is outside in the sun (no shade at all) and the second half is still outside but under cover. It seems this queue was built this way for the purpose of selling water. There is a refreshment stand with a cast member just before you enter the shade part of the queue selling water at $3.50 a bottle. What's distasteful is there are fountains in the queue, but these come after they try to sell you water. A bit cheeky, I think.
The ride itself is great to watch, and Jessie and Rex sometimes do shout out some funny phrases.
Land: The Good
I like the general brightly coloured theme of the land. And although it currently still attracts crowds of people, it'll be good to find out what it feels like when it's less crowded and a little more relaxed. Most of the gates and fences are KNEX pieces. And as someone who grew up playing with KNEX more than Lego I really liked seeing it everywhere. I like that the green army men are always walking around taking photos with guests and putting on a little show here and there. Although I preferred it before when they weren't "Face characters", I know some people prefer the verbal interaction.
Land: The Bad
I know the land is themed around "Andy's Backyard", but it just seems like this land was designed by people who don't live in Florida. There is very little cover or shade, and even the quick service location doesn't have any covered seating. Whether it’s hot (which it is) or whether it rains (which it will) it’s not comfortable.
The meet and greet for Buzz, Woody and Jessie are now outside. They're no longer in the air-conditioned building like before. This is not an improvement for guests or the cast members. It does seems like this land was built to be cheap and not add much to Disney's energy bill.
Overall, it's nice that Hollywood Studios has something new as there has been nothing but closures over the last couple years. At just a few months later, Slinky Dog isn't usually more than an hour wait, while Flights Of Passage over at Animal Kingdom can still have 2+hour waits, and that's an older ride.
There is some land that appears free to the right as you walk in (you can see this on the park map), it would be a good area to come out of "Andy's Backyard" yard and perhaps make an area where they can make a proper Pizza Planet quick service (with indoor seating like in the movie) and an Al's Toy Barn store or something. (Meet and greet with the chicken man maybe!?)
I enjoy the overall environment, even though I don't really care for the Alien Saucer type rides, it's a good addition to Hollywood Studios. I've always loved Toy Story Mania and Slinky Dog Dash exceeded my expectations, even though it's very short. There's a lot I love about the Toy Story movies that I'd love to see come to life, so hopefully they'll expand this further in the future.