Toy Story Land just opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. I attended the press previews this week to get a sneak peek at the land in the days before it opened to the public.
As always at any Disney grand opening, I’ve made it my mission to report back with actionable tips that you can use for your own visits. Toy Story Land will be very popular for many months to come. Here is what you need to know to make the most of a visit and dodge the long lines. Plus, learn what experiences, food, and more you can’t miss (as well as what you can!).
Toy Story Land Basics
First things first – if you don’t follow Disney news as closely as I do, let’s talk about what Toy Story Land is. It’s a new section of the park in Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida that opened on June 30, 2018.
Toy Story Land in Walt Disney World is the fourth such land to open at a Disney park. The first was in Disneyland Paris (in Walt Disney Studios Park), followed by one in Hong Kong Disneyland (check out my Hong Kong Disneyland tips and guide here), and followed very recently by a new land that opened in Shanghai Disneyland earlier this spring.
Like those two lands, the one in Disney World is very well-themed. Guest shrink down to the size of a toy to enter Andy’s backyard. Bright primary colors and life-size toys like crayons and tinker toys loom large.
I have always thought that Hollywood Studios is a excellent park for preschoolers, and Toy Story Land makes it even more so. Of course, there is still plenty to appeal to parents like me who saw the Pixar movies back when we were kids and teens.
Toy Story Land is located almost in the very back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You enter in the park down Hollywood Boulevard and pass to the right and behind the Chinese Theater. You turn right just before Pixar Place. The entrance to the land has giant blocks and a huge Woody figure to greet you, so you can’t miss it!
Toy Story Land Ride Guide
So what is there to ride in Toy Story Land? There are three attractions so far – one old favorite and two that are brand new to Disney parks.
Slinky Dog Dash
Slinky Dog Dash is a family-friendly roller coaster and is definitely the headliner attraction that has everyone buzzing about Toy Story Land. It offers an incredibly smooth ride with a couple of dips and turns that make for a thrilling time without being too scary.
Look for a special effect in the middle that makes you feel like you are really riding aboard a slinky dog. The coaster is particularly unique at night, decorated with colorful flashing lights.
With a height minimum of 38 inches, it is a ride that you can probably do with most kids by the time they are 3 or 4. But if your kids are thrill-ride averse, however, I would screen it first. My 4.5 year old son wasn’t quite ready to tackle it despite our best attempts at selling him on it (we did, however, coax him on Soarin’ and Star Tours). I’d say it’s pretty similar in thrills to either Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Big Thunder Mountain. It is a legitimate coaster in spite of the childlike theming. My adventurous 9 year old daughter thought it was very well done and just her speed.
If you want to check Slinky Dog Dash out in action first, don’t miss my full ride video with my Disney Deciphered podcast co-host Joe Cheung of As the Joe Flies. (Have you subscribed to our podcast yet?!?!)
Alien Swirling Saucers
The second of the two new Toy Story Land attractions is Alien Swirling Saucers, which offers some thrills for the younger set not quite ready for Slinky Dog Dash. With a height minimum of 32 inches, pretty much everyone but babies can take a spin.
These saucers rotate on two figure eight tracks, with the back part of the vehicle being flung outwards as they round the figure eight. The ride very similar to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, with very different theming of course!
Toy Story Mania
Last but certainly not least is the returning favorite, Toy Story Mania. This attraction has been in Disney’s Hollywood Studios since 2008. The ride has been expanded with a new theater to accommodate more guests per hour. It also has a brand new colorful entrance within the land, on the other side from its old entrance within Pixar Place. There is a new queue as well, full of colorful murals and even a talking Mr. Potato Head.
Toy Story Mania is a 3D ride that works for all ages. Guests are in ride vehicles with slingshot-like devices to use to compete in virtual boardwalk games. It can spin quickly around corners so hold onto little ones (it’s certainly not unsafe for them but the movements can be a tad unexpected).
Toy Story Land Fastpass Strategy & Wait Time Tips
Any new ride or land is always incredible popular in its first few months, and Toy Story Land is no exception. Reports of crazy long lines are already coming out of opening weekend. The posted wait time for Slinky Dog Dash on opening day, for example, was 300 minutes. And that is on top of the reported 4 hour wait to enter the land at all!
For that reason, it’s really important to have an informed strategy to tackle Toy Story Land, beat the crowds, and dodge the lines. I don’t wait in Disney lines, and neither should you.
So how to best tackle Toy Story Land? It’s important to note that in anticipation of the land’s popularity, Disney has revised its Fastpass tiers within Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The three Toy Story Land attractions are now Tier 1 Fastpass+ attractions, meaning that you can only get a Fastpass+ for one of the three. That means you are going to have to wait in line for two of the three attractions if you want to do them all. A smart Fastpass strategy as well as arriving well before park opening time to take advantage of “rope drop” are both very necessary.
My pick for the best Fastpass+ to get of the three is Slinky Dog Dash. It is certain to be the most popular for a long time being new (and also being a moderate thrill ride that families can do together). If you can snag a Fastpass+ for Slinky Dog Dash, make that your Tier 1 choice. Note that Slinky Dog Fastpasses are currently “selling out” quickly, so it’s unlikely to be able to get them unless you are staying in an on-property hotel and have access to the 60 day Fastpass+ window.
If you do manage to snag a Slinky Dog Dash Fastpass+, I’d recommend rope dropping Toy Story Mania and then moving next to Alien Swirling Saucers, which is what will probably be the least popular of the three once the dust settles.
If you aren’t able to get a Fastpass+ for Slinky Dog Dash, try for a Fastpass+ for Toy Story Mania (and rope drop Slinky Dog Dash, with Alien Swirling Saucers coming next).
Remember also that in these very early days of Toy Story Land’s opening, you may have to wait to enter the land as it can reach capacity very easily due to its smaller size. Arrive at least an hour before park opening to make the mad rope drop dash into the land for the best odds.
Toy Story Land Character Meet and Greets
Pixar movies like Toy Story are full of memorable characters. Naturally, being able to meet and greet your child’s favorites is a big part of the Disney experience.
I talked to several cast members about the meet and greets planned for Toy Story Land. They told me that the plans were very much in flux and might change as Disney studies crowd patterns and choke points.
The current plan is to have Buzz Lightyear near the entrance to the land. Expect also to see Woody and Jessie as well as the Green Army Men marching for more informal interactions.
Toy Story Land Food
Enough rides and characters. What many Disney fans really care about is THE FOOD! All major openings at Disney these days come with lots of treats and eats, and Toy Story Land is no exception.
There is one quick service restaurant in Toy Story Land – Woody’s Lunch Box – so all your food offerings can be found in one place.
I didn’t get to try everything at Woody’s but I did get a pretty good sampling of quite a few of the menu items. The two highlights for me were the “totchos” (tater tots topped with chili and cheese) and the raspberry lunchbox tart. Although I didn’t try the BBQ Brisket Melt, it was a hit with several of my fellow press event attendees. And everyone is talking about the S’more French Toast Sandwich for breakfast.
The only miss I tasted was the grilled cheese. The third cheese layer was a cream cheese spread that was too liquid in texture for my palate. The kids version of the grilled cheese is unfortunately the same recipe, and I can guarantee my kids would not eat it either.
I didn’t love that there was not much real shaded seating by Woody’s Lunch Box, so prepare accordingly if you are there in the hotter months. There are umbrellas over the tables, but they provide limited coverage and there is no indoor area to cool off.
Woody’s Lunch Box offers mobile ordering, so definitely take advantage and skip the lines by using the Disney World app to place your order in advance. (Check out this full guide to mobile ordering at Disney World from my Disney Deciphered Podcast co-host As the Joe Flies).
Toy Story Land Merchandise
Given that Toy Story Land is based on a franchise all about toys, it probably goes without saying that toys dominate the merchandise offerings. There are Buzz Lightyear bubble blowers, model ride vehicles from Alien Swirling Saucers that can pull back and go, and even a Slinky Dog Dash playset.
The runaway hit from the land’s opening is probably the slinky dog ears. The little green men headbands were pretty cute as well, and the very popular Alien Light-Up sipper that debuted at Disneyland’s Pixar Fest is available too. My kids especially loved the Alien light up necklace which is really fun to wear in the evenings when the land is lit up.
What Toy Story Lands Means for Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Avid Disney watchers likely know that Toy Story Land isn’t the only big news coming out of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Another big change is coming in the fall of 2019 – the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. This new Star Wars land will radically transform the park and its crowds.
In the meantime, the addition of Toy Story Land helps to turn Hollywood Studios back into a full day park. After the closing of the backlot and then favorites like the Great Movie Ride, it has been the park many avid Disney watchers recommend skipping. I’ve always been a fan thanks to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror (as well as the many Disney Junior offerings for my young kids), but Toy Story Land helps to make the park a fit for many more guest ages and stages.
Toy Story Land Tips
Before I sign off, here are a few more Toy Story Land tips to make your own visit a success:
1. Beat the Heat: Be aware that Toy Story Land has very little shade and can get very hot (especially with the crowds). Even some of the queues (as they get longer) are in the full sun. Pack sun protection and hydrate. Avoid the heat of the day during summer visits.
2. Find a Seat: Seating at Woody’s Lunch Box is limited (and all of it is outdoors). Consider using mobile ordering to beat the crowds and taking your food elsewhere if you need to in the busy first months.
3. Look for the Details: The land is so well themed and that means lots of little Easter eggs and details to find if you look closely. My son, for example, immediately spotted that some of the benches were shaped like his favorite wooden train tracks. Take the time to look for those and really appreciate the Disney and Pixar artistry.
4. Listen to Buzz & Woody: Both the Woody statue at the land’s entrance and the Buzz Lightyear statue near the entrance to Alien Swirling Saucers talk! Buzz even enters Spanish mode like he does in the films, so stand close to overhear this surprise.
5. Go at Night: The land at night is a totally different scene. The Christmas lights hanging from tinker toys over the land light up, along with lights on Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. It isn’t quite Pandora-level (what is?) but it’s one of the better themed lands in Walt Disney World after dark.
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Disclosure: Walt Disney World hosted me at the Toy Story Land media preview event, providing tickets, accommodations, and other complimentary experiences. My family extended our trip to Disney World for several days at our own expense. All opinions are my own.