REVIEW: A Ride on Slinky Dog Dash, First Impressions From Inside Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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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…

PHOTO REPORT: Disney's Hollywood Studios 10/25/17 (Sunset Seasons Greetings, Christmas Shopping, Toy Story Land, Star Wars, ETC.)

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.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

23 Comments

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  • If this description is accurate, then it appears that Disney once again, failed miserably in an attempt to overtake Universal’s Daigon Alley with overall theming and ride quality. Mr. Iger is proving to be nothing more than a penny pinching skinflint, with nothing but contempt for the innocent guests and families that visit Disney. With the addition of this poor attempt at a themed land and the overall poor quality of DWS, my partner and I will continue our boycott of this particular park.

    • This was never trying to compete with Diagon Alley. Pandora and SWL are their big projects. If anything, TSL is comparable to The Simpsons.

    • TSL was built because this park is desperate for “Family Attractions.” All of the rides left in this park are thrill rides and aren’t good for children.
      Arguably, Star Tours has wider appeal but it still lacks the wholesome child-friendliness of Toy Story.
      I’d also bet the reason the entrance is barren and lacking is because we’ve heard rumblings on a 3rd expansion of the park headed in the direction to the right of the entrance.
      It dont think its a mistake that the rumored lands for that final expansion also seem highly “kid friendly.”

      • As a Cast Member who experienced the ENTIRE land yesterday, Woody’s Lunchbox and all, I can and with conviction will say that the new land is NOT lacking in theming. It’s hard for me to understand what made the person whose review this was so unhappy, and what suggestions they have for improving what they find the land lacks (keep in mind the author himself hasn’t been inside the land, this was distinctly the review of someone who was invited to test Slinky Dog Dash). The Cast who were chosen for opening these attractions use great themed language and it ties in so well with the story. I wish WDWNT would have given their own honest review, rather than a secondhand opinion.

  • This does not sound encouraging at all. Kind of felt like this section of the park was rushed in construction. Disappointing!

  • It is unfortunate (and surprising) that there is no “Al’s Toy Barn” retail store in the new land. But I’m sure there will be other places in Hollywood Studios for everyone to get their fill of Toy Story-related merchandise.

    If people think that Toy Story Land is Disney’s answer to the Harry Potter theming in Universal, you haven’t been paying attention… Pandora and Galaxy’s Edge are Disney’s answer to Harry Potter. Comparing Pandora to Toy Story Land also isn’t fair… Toy Story Land offers the same number of new attractions (2) as Pandora, and it took less than half the time to build.

    If you have seen a walk-thru of the other Toy Story Lands on YouTube, I urge you to do so. You’ll see that this land is pretty similar in theming to the other Toy Story Lands. We are all supposed to be the size of a toy in Andy’s backyard… I don’t know about you, but how much theming does your back yard have?!!

    Both new attractions look like fun for the whole family. My wife’s parents are joining us (and our 3-year old, 5-year old, and 7-year old) at WDW this summer, and everyone is looking forward to the new land.

  • The more I hear about the cuts to Toy Story Land, the more it sounds like DW is putting an awful lot of their eggs in the sinking Star Wars basket.

    • “Sinking Star Wars basket”? One under-performing movie (“Solo”) does not make a trend!

      Even if (and that’s a HUGE if) Star Wars doesn’t have a single billion-dollar movie going forward, it’s still a hugely popular franchise. Look at the Cars franchise… the original “Cars” was good, “Cars 2” was one of Pixar’s worst movies ever, and “Cars 3” – while an improvement – grossed even less than “Cars 2”. And yet Cars Land in DCA is hugely successful.

      Cars franchise < Star Wars franchise
      Cars Land < Star Wars Land (aka, Galaxy's Edge)

    • Doug, why do you say “sinking?” From the first word of SW Land (Galaxy’s Edge/Batuu) development I’ve been thrilled and still am. Honestly, my concern is crowds: with much of D’land & attractions having been closed off for over a year, the park feels VERY tight most of the time. I anticipate fairly massive crowds throughout the park and concentrated in GE/B for at least the first year of operation. Am I a big fan of Solo? Not really. Did I love Ep. 8? In a just world Rian Johnson will never touch a SW property again. Do I care that Ep 7 is a cool rehash of Ep 4? No! I could go on, but my point is that I’ve felt a love of SW since I was 5 years old and it hasn’t diminished over the decades, even with the Prequels. As Joseph Campbell said of The Dark Side,”the story has to do with an operation of principles, not of this nation against that.” It’s those ‘principles’ that allow all kinds of people to personally connect with the myths & meanings within Star Wars. That is why a few bad movies doesn’t diminish my love of what Star Wars *is.*

  • Thank you for this report.

    In the description of the S Dog Dash, I see a reference to “guests down on the pathways.” Can people walk through/beneath the coaster track area — on the “backyard path” system I can see in the latest photos?

    David Schroeder

  • Wow did we go to the same place? I also got to preview Toy Story Land and the Slinky Dog Coaster and found it INCREDIBLE! The themeing and amount of details that surround you literally overwhelm you with so much to see. Toy props all over, benches made out of used Popsicle sticks, fences made out of k’nex game pieces, light poles made out of tinker toys. I enjoyed being in the queue and seeing all the props to look at. Was the original budget cut, well yes but I dont think it was enough to ruin the land for anyone. This is a great addition to studios and is going to have long wait times for months and years to come. I was pleasantly surprised with the overall land and cant wait to see the rest of it. I personally found Toy Story Land more visually pleasing and exciting then I did Pandora but I also love Toy Story in general.

    • Negative reviews are always more fun to write than positive reviews… you have to keep that in mind as you read many of the articles on this website…

    • You know the low budget actually was enough to ruin the land.
      Not to be offensive or anything, but since it was not up to quality of the original idea, that ,rant the park didn’t get a lot of detail, it’s small, and much of it is shadeless, leaving people out in the scorching sun when they shouldn’t suffer like that.

      People are getting baked there and it only gets worse with long wait times like for Slinky Dog Dash, which is a “roller coaster” that lasts no more than 2 minutes, and people wait hours, getting sweaty, dehydrated and baked, for a 2 minute ride.

      I do not recommend this place for people prone to dehydration or heatstroke.
      Hopefully, before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, this place improves.
      Though I know and read that SW Land is gonna be packed and go crazy, with wait times to reach record breaking levels, both to get into the land and ride the new rides, and that lots of the wait, especially to get into the land, will be outside in the scorching sun, leaving everyone baked by cancer-causing UV rays from the Sun.
      Yet possible riots and stampeding would only add to the nightmare.

      Disney is supposed to be a fun, happy and comfortable place, but they really failed with Toy Story Land(though we give credit for the awesome idea of shrinking guests down to the size of toys to explore “Andy’s backyard toyset”).
      Hopefully Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge gets perfect execution, though we don’t want suffering or danger.

  • Another Disney Fail. Disney needs to just sell WDW to a theme park operator. Or Comcast. Disney only has interest in putting out cruddy movies to make a quick buck and selling cheap toys now a days. No interest in creating something impactful, that would cost a penny, and they’re not going to do it.

  • As another cast member who got to ride Slinky, I had the complete opposite impression. I thought the details were great and any additional decoration in the theming would have been overkill and felt forced and out of place. The story is that we are in an area of Andy’s creation in his backyard, not just everything anyone might want from the Toy Story IP. Al’s Toy Barn and a ‘real’ Pizza Planet do not fit that story, additional decoration does not fit that story. Articulating animatronics where the current stationary characters are would break so fast. The plants were carefully selected to look like grass at a tiny scale, each piece of the whole land looks remarkably like the toy it is mimicking, the coaster was appropriate thrill for the more kid-focused audience. An indoor queue would have been nice but as the initial hype wears off and Star Wars opens, I don’t forsee this being a highly popular area so I think it was a good long term decision. Sometimes I think y’all forget that in the end, Disney is here to make money, not impress people who need billions of dollars to say “eh, it was okay, but I wanted a better walkway into the land”

      • AMEN. And Six Flags is now cleaner, better staff, safer, better value. Who would think Disney would be the worst theme parks in USA? It’s happened though. We like them for legacy. But WDW is a dump.

  • “…unfortunately the average guest will find no fault with Toy Story Land.”

    I feel like that mindset is sometimes a bit too evident among the posts on this site, which overlook at times that the widest band of guests, the range of people entertained in Disney Parks wholesale regardless of whether they still think FPs are made of paper or if they’re planning their trip in detail months in advance, doesn’t necessarily hang its hat on evaluating Disney based on its ability to prove it did everything in its power to blow their minds. I have to believe that many/most guests are happy to do those new things regardless of how groundbreaking they are, without this critical mindset that those on the more intense (the Orange Team of Disney life, if you will) end of the Disney spectrum come in with and assume is the best/most appropriate context for all to evaluate the experience. I feel like the evaluation of TSL has been that, if it isn’t going to push the envelope like Pandora or GE, then it’s a failure by 2018 theme park standards. In a park where the next 10 years seem to be about attracting a more adult population by pushing for growth towards an incredibly progressive theme park experience, why can’t TSL be a midway-style area for kids, like the original ride theming suggested, without that also having to be a failure…”because money?” In the end, the land lives and dies by people loving the Toy Story IP, which enough people do, at least proportionately, to give it a pass and ride 1.5 decent rides, eat a sundae out of a boot, and call that part of a pretty great day at a park that is going to quickly re-establish itself as a 1 or even 2 day park rather than a half day.

    Moral of the story: if I smiled at a report that Slinky Dog hollers as he goes around twists and turns, even though I realize that sitting in the car doesn’t give me the effect of riding a real dog through a VR backyard full of army men, then I am OK with being an unfortunate average guest.

    All that being said, thanks for great work on this.

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