Opened on June 30th at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Toy Story Land is a whimsical success. Set in the outdoor backyard of Toy Story’s human character Andy, the attraction features beloved toy characters Woody, Jessie, Buzz Lightyear, Slinky Dog, and the Green Army Men. Guests can experience giant building blocks, Tinkertoys, yo-yos, board-game pieces, dominoes, Scrabble tiles, and a giant roller coaster set.
This area of the resort was designed to provide park guests with a strong family experience, diverging from many of the park’s other attractions that are aimed at thrill rides for older kids and adults.
Bright, candy-colored themes add to the fun here, with the land’s entire backstory leading guests to believe they have been shrunk in size, and have entered a land in which the toys are life-size. The background music is culled from the Toy Story films, adding to the setting.
There are two new attractions, plus a new entrance upgrading an existing favorite. Park guests are invited to jump on the family-friendly Slinky Dog roller coaster, play midway games featuring Toy Story toy characters, or spin away with green aliens from Pizza Planet.
A 20-foot tall Sheriff Woody, welcomes guests to Toy Story Land, leaning on a colorful wooden blocks and tipping his wide-brimmed hat. Throughout the Toy Story Land area, guests can interact with building blocks, Tinker Toy shaped lampposts, and benches built from K’nex pieces and Lincoln Logs.
Bob Capek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products says “With set pieces, staging, attractions and experiences, Toy Story Land represents the best of Walt Disney Imagineering’s collaboration with our storytelling partners at Pixar Animation Studios.” He adds that the new land invites guets of all ages to “experience the joy of being a toy.”
There are large scale Crayola crayons, a Rubik’s Cube, Cooties, and other nostalgic toy creations, including a balsa-wood glider, a Barrel of Monkeys, giant playing cards and jacks. Families are enjoying just taking in the setting, but there are rides here as well.
The Slinky Dog Dash features a story in which Andy has created a roller coaster from a home kit, but uses his Slinky Dog instead of the standard roller coaster car on its track. The backyard-touring ride features two separate launches; tracks and the supports feature bright primary colors. The 2-minute-long ride allows Slinky Dog to bend and twist his coils as the 18-passenger pup cars zip around the curves, allowing riders stellar views of the park as they coast.
There’s a first here: Slinky Dog Dash features a second launch at the midpoint of the ride, as guests dart through a series of rings, spinning lights, and sound effects. In the evening, the rings glow.
Also plenty of fun is the Alien Swirling Saucers ride. This ride, too, has the backstory of being created straight from Andy’s imagination, and designed as a playset Andy won at the Pizza Planet restaurant. Small green aliens as seen in the Toy Story films spin in their toy rocket ships, taking guests with them. Overhead hangs “The Claw,” as two sets of 11 saucer and rocket ship cars spin guests on an 85-second ride that’s set to a fun musical beat.
Those are the new rides, but Toy Story Mania!, already popular for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, has a vibrant upgrade in the form of a new entrance. The entrance evokes the box that Andy’s Toy Story Mania! Game arrived in. Also updated: a third track has been added to the ride, so that guests can experience a richer adventure in the carnival playset, enjoying the use of virtual objects from baseballs to cream pies to hit targets.
Toy Story Land also includes a family-friendly time out for a meal at Woody’s Lunch Box. This is a take-out spot, rather than a relaxing sit-down occasion, but it is one that fully utilizes the Toy Story theme. A toy-themed walk-up window is the spot for guests to order soda floats or a grilled cheese sandwich made with three different cheeses. Tables are positioned around Andy’s favorite toys, including the Green Army Men leader, Sarge; overhead lights twinkle, making the dining area especially appealing after dark.
Naturally, families will want take-home souvenirs, and there are two shopping locations in Toy Story Land, which include small-scale attraction replicas, and headbands with an Alien or Slinky Dog attached.
Toy Story characters make their presence known throughout the area, including the rhythmic Green Army Drum Corps, and of course Woody, Buzz, and Jessie.
The detailed vision of Toy Story Land is just the beginning of a make-over and expansion for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Next year, Capek says, will bring a brand new, 14-acre world to life - Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There, guests will interact with Star Wars characters at Black Spire Outpost, a remote trading port on the edge of wild space. And, 2019 will also bring Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway to the park, a ride that will feature cutting-edge technology for the ultimate in visual effects.
As to the 11-acre Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, it joins other Toy Story-centric lands worldwide, including locations in Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.