Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is set top open on June 30th, but cast member previews of the new area and the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster have already begun. Luckily, one cast member who got to test the new kiddie-coaster and walk into Andy’s backyard was nice enough to send us a report. Pictures and video were not allowed as it was a preview event of an attraction that is not fully completed yet.
Toy Story Land is a gigantic walkway to seemingly nothing until you reach the giant Woody figure that greets you. Just like the large figures in the other Toy Story Lands, these giant characters do not move and just spout a few phrases from time to time. Jessie and Rex, located in the midst of the Slinky Dog Dash ride, will talk between trains so guests down on the pathways can hear.
As we reported many times, the original budget for this project was cut tremendously, and it shows. The entrance is an unthemed passage between two beige buildings with no transition into the land. Maybe this is temporary until the next phase of the park’s transformation begins, if not it is truly disappointing. The themed elements once in the land are sparse and lackluster, which is something often said of the other Toy Story Lands around the world. There are some thoughtful elements like the FastPass+ touchpoint being made of game pieces from the board game Sorry. Maybe this was Imagineering’s way of apologizing for the product they were forced to produce?
Game pieces from Candyland make up the height requirement poles, giant footprints are painted over the pathways, and K’Nex pieces are used to build fences and light poles topped with Tinker Toys. The backyard fence to Andy’s Backyard actually does a good job of preventing intrusion from the outside world and the height and distance it was built at makes for a good illusion of scale.
Let’s talk about Slinky Dog Dash…
The entire queue is open-air as you pass through toy boxes, including the original box to the Slinky Dog toy. The queue is terribly exciting, consisting of mostly switchbacks, which is going to be pretty brutal in the Orlando Summers. Thoughtful displays inhabit the queue, such as the box of the Dash and Dive play-set coaster track and cars, the pieces Andy has used to build this backyard ride. There’s even cute sketch Andy made of Slinky Dog wrapped around the coaster cars, which explains the ride system to guests. In story, you are in the coaster cars which have been placed inside of Slinky’s coil body. It’s fairly ingenious as this might work with a real Slinky I suppose. If not, at least it’s believable before a real world test.
The coaster play set map is above the queue area, and you’ll even find a “Squeaky Penguin” toy box from Al’s Toy Barn (which warns the owner to not submerge the toy, nor attempt to replace squeaker by yourself).
The Slinky Dog Dash trains consist of 10 rows of 2 seats. Individual lapbars and seats are present just like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but don’t fear, this offers way more legroom than the Fantasyland attraction. The train and ride have some well thought out details as well, such as Slinky’s springy tail wiggling as you travel along. As the trains go around the track, guests hear coil noises that you’d expect from a Slinky and Slinky Dog talks and hollers as he’s riding the attraction along with you.
Both of the ride’s low-speed launches offer lighting effects, with the second in the tunnel featuring lights, sounds, and even some spinning flag devices. The ride itself is just over a minute long and gives the riders a surprising amount of air-time as it travels over many hills. It’s quite fun and more intense than anyone expected, probably to the point where it would be hard for someone to not enjoy the ride (although that could change given a multi-hour wait in an outdoor queue).
Alien Swirling Saucers is still under construction at this point, but what was seen looked cute. Fans of Pizza Planet may be disappointed that they can’t get a pie from the establishment in Florida, but there’s enough references to the restaurant in this area to appease them. Woody’s Lunchbox was also still blocked off as it was not completed yet.
Overall, Toy Story Land is likely what we expected: two fun rides in a fairly barren, lightly-themed land. It’s a regression to 2001-era Imagineering thanks to more budget-conscious management within Disney Parks. It may even be beyond that as they budget-cut a store from the plans. You know, the thing Disney always builds, no matter what? The land just has two merchandise stands, electing to close Sweet Spells on Sunset Boulevard and convert that into a Toy Story Land shop essentially.
Pandora: The World of AVATAR and Toy Story Land opening within one year of each other shows the difference between the Tom Staggs regime and the Bob Chapek regime. While we have more incredibly lavish projects ahead, there will undoubtedly be a higher amount of details cut (i.e. audio-animatronics, themed props) away from them unless something changes soon, but unfortunately the average guest will find no fault with Toy Story Land. Someone reading this website will most likely see the difference in quality, even in a land intended to offer lighter-themed rides aimed towards children only.