One of the amazing things about Disney is how the parks are always innovating new experiences for guests to enjoy. With every visit we can usually count on a new food to try or event to attend, and every once in awhile there may even be a new or updated attraction. But on our last trip there was an entire new world for us to explore: Toy Story Land! The Toy Story movies are one of Andrew’s all time favorites, so we couldn’t wait to see how this franchise translated into a new area in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here are all the details of our first time visit and a very honest review...
Theming and Design
Toy Story Land is located towards the very back of the park (at least for now until Galaxy’s Edge opens). The area is intended to look as though you have been shrunk down to be “toy sized” to explore Andy’s backyard. The Imagineers did a great job at including lots of large pieces that really felt like they were laying around a kid’s play area. We do both agree the land isn’t quite amazingly immersive as some others we have experienced (such as Pandora in Animal Kingdom or Radiator Springs in California Adventure). But overall the design is very fun and there are plenty of details to enjoy.
We loved looking around and finding that the fences were made of K’nex, the lighting above was created from strings of holiday lights, and many toys and game pieces could be discovered as you went by. A lot of the theming is located within the rides themselves, but everything is open enough that it all blends together and makes for good picture opps. We did notice there were also some photo opps with characters available as well as some entertainment such as the Green Army Drum Corps parading by.
It does seem that the land feels fairly condensed. You can pretty much see everything from anywhere you stand, it isn’t an area that you could spend a ton of time wandering around. There also didn’t seem to be any spots to grab a seat and just enjoy the area and take a rest. One thing to keep in mind right now is that a lot of Hollywood Studios is currently under construction, so this tends to make the whole park feel more crowded than it actually is as everyone is condensed into the open areas. When you combine this fact with Toy Story Land being shiny and new, it makes for a really cramped experience. It was super crowded and hotter the day we went, and currently with only one way in and out of the land it could be hard to maneuver.
Slinky Dog Dash
Slinky Dog Dash is a family friendly coaster featuring Slinky the dog as the car that zooms you through Andy’s backyard. Ok so sad story here. At the 60 day mark Julie got online right away to book fast passes. We secured two for this ride, but then all the sudden the site crashed and they were lost. The wait was well over 2.5 hours and we decided we just weren’t in the mood to stand around in the heat. We like coasters, and this looks exciting, but it didn’t seem like it was that ground breaking to warrant our time. We did watch it go by and can say it looks fun. We look forward to trying it another time. Based on what we saw we think we would wait a max of 60 minutes for this ride the first time.
Alien Swirling Saucers
Now we luckily did secure some fast passes to Alien Swirling Saucers. This ride was surprisingly more fun than we had expected. The ride spins around but in longer smooth loops vs a spinning tea cup situation. When the ride started we were shocked to see our car ctually switched tracks to make a large figure eight. The theming with the Aliens was cute too. A fun ride, but once again nothing earth shattering. We would rank this as something we would wait maybe 30 minutes for without fast passes.
Toy Story Mania
Now one attraction in Toy Story Land that actually isn’t new is Toy Story Mania. This ride is really fun and interactive as you wear 3D glasses and play many scenes of arcade games. We have done this ride here and in California Adventure and it is always a favorite. We had fast passes to this as well, but if we didn’t we would probably wait up to 45 minutes. The ride is the same but the entrance has been moved and restyled to blend into the new land.
Andy’s Lunch Box
We had planned on trying out the new quick service restaurant Andy’s Lunch Box. But looking around it didn’t seem like the best idea. The restaurant consists of a walk up order window and a handful of table seats. Needless to say this place was packed. People were everywhere, hovering over trashcans to eat, sitting on the concrete peeling little Babybel cheeses, parents were sweaty, kids were whiny, it was honestly the last place we wanted to hang around and enjoy a meal. And when we looked at the menu it was very meh. We get it, it is themed to be kid friendly and like a bag lunch with simple sandwiches and mini oranges. The most interesting thing to order was a homemade pop tart. But at the end of the day we decide we would much rather spend our money on some more adult food elsewhere (and relax with some drinks!).
…and nothing else
We were a bit surprised that there were no other options. We don’t remember and snack carts, drink carts, or anything. And more shocking is there was no opportunities for souvenir shopping. So when you think about it there wasn’t a single indoor space to escape the heat or rain, and really there were no spaces for guests to sit around and enjoy this area of the park.
So you may be wondering why we chose to write a review about something that we weren’t able to fully experience every aspect? Our goal here is to prepare our readers for what they may encounter when visiting Toy Story Land for the first time as well. We think being honest about the crowds and the size of the area is important, and can paint a more realistic picture than the pretty PR photos with maybe 10 people in them. We wanted to cover what we could, but at the end of the day we would rather head back to the resort pool and enjoy our vacation than do something new just to do it.
Overall we must admit our first visit to Toy Story Land was a little underwhelming. We understand this land was most likely developed with kids in mind, but it should in theory be a place for kids at heart too. There has been a lot of buzz around this area, but at the end of the day we think is a nice addition, but not worthy of the same buzz as something like Pandora. It is a really cute themed area with a couple of new rides. The rides are fun but we would still rank some other options at this park as higher on the must do list. The land seems a bit small, like it was crammed in hastily to add a bit of capacity. (We think it would have been nice to have a large themed indoor restaurant, and are kind of surprised they didn’t develop a kids play area for them to run around while parents could relax in seats.) We are hoping that once the newness calms down it will feel a little more enjoyable. (And who knows maybe when Galaxy’s Edge opens it will be wide open!)
Until then we just want to share with guests going for the first time: know what to expect. Know this land will be busy, decide what things are worth you waiting in outdoor, busy areas. Now there are a couple ways of getting around this. You could go at rope drop or during a night show to drastically minimize the wait. Disney also offers Early Morning Magic packages which allow guests access to Toy Story Land before the park opens. The cost of $80 a person on top of a theme park ticket seemed steep for these particular attractions for us. But we spoke to a guest who had done this and found it worth every penny to take her young grandson with no crowds. You do what you have to do we suppose. So tell us, have you been to Toy Story Land? What did you think?