Dad’s Review: Disney’s Toy Story Land

We are just back from a quick trip to Disney World in Orlando, FL, where we spent the bulk of our time at the new Toy Story Land, which opened earlier this summer. Here’s an unvarnished view of the much-anticipated section of Hollywood Studios from a dad who spends way too much time and WAAAYYYY too much money satisfying my family’s Disney habit. 

Toy Story Land is an imagining of the backyard of Andy, the boy from the “Toy Story” movies. Once you walk into the new section of the park, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of the design. It is incredibly impressive. Using rich, bright colors, you are made to feel like a “toy” because of the over-sized nature of everything around you. There are classic toys from the movies everywhere you look — Tinker Toys, building blocks and classic games, among other items. The details, like most things Disney touches, are outstanding. I didn’t even recognize it at first but my wife pointed out to me that there are giant shoe prints all over the ground, presumably Andy’s. 

As soon as you enter Toy Story Land, there’s a stop to take a photo in front of the main sign. Once you pass that, you are immediately confronted by one leg of the new roller coaster, Slinky Dog Dash. It’s a great spot to view the coaster, take pictures and see what you’re about to enjoy. The rushing by of one of the vehicles appropriately teases and excites the waiting crowd. During our visit, the wait time for the coaster ran between 90 minutes and 2 hours. Contrast that with another recent Disney arrival — Flight of Passage in Pandora — where wait times routinely sit in the 3 hour range. The difference is the Slinky Dog ride clocks in at about 2 minutes and I saw a total of 3 separate coaster vehicles working during our visit. In other words, if you don’t have a fast pass, the line is not that long. 

The ride itself is a lot of fun. It’s not as big and fast as coasters like Everest in Animal Kingdom or Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios. However, it’s perfect for the crowd attracted to Toy Story Land, a crowd which includes my elementary age children. Slinky Dog was just intense enough to satisfy them and make them feel a big rush of excitement. 

One thing I liked about the ride is that it pauses in the middle to reset, which is a cool feature and adds to the uniqueness of the ride. Another thing I liked about it is there is no gift shop to exit through. In fact, throughout Toy Story Land, which is actually quite small, there are no gift shops, per se. There is only a pop-up gift area with a smattering of toys. 

Another minor benefit of the roller coaster is that you can grab a sneak peek at the new Galaxy’s Edge area being built at Hollywood Studios. The new sections border each other and as we crested the back end of Slinky Dog, you can make out some of the buildings and other items under construction. It’s a fleeting glimpse, however. 

The other ride at Toy Story Land is the Alien Swirling Saucers ride. It’s basically the Mad Tea Cup ride from Magic Kingdom with a Toy Story theme. My kids enjoyed it but as soon as we were done my 6-year-old looked at me and said, “Daddy, that was so short.” It is brief but, for the young crowd, it’s probably just enough spinning and swirling. Also, the ride is big to accommodate large numbers of people so the wait usually hovers in the 20-40 minute range. 

The other ride in Toy Story is the long-running Toy Story Mania ride, which remains one of my family’s favorites. It’s a carnival type ride where you have to shoot at bullseyes, balloons and plates to rack up points. (Full disclosure — the undisputed champion in our family is my wife. She is not only accurate but she has dead aim.) At Toy Story Land, they’ve made a new entrance to Toy Story Mania, in order to keep everything in the same area. 

Toy Story Land is congested. There is one way in and one way out and all traffic flows through one thoroughfare. The only branch is off to the entrance to Slinky Dog, so it can feel a bit claustrophobic. 

Another standout moment for us was the live performers. A group of Toy Story soldiers periodically walk through the section and perform a “Sergeant Says” routine that is funny and engaging. They also bring a group of kids up front to perform with them and my kids enjoyed every moment of it. The group of performers brought a levity and mirth to our visit. While in the section, you can also meet Woody and Jessie and I thought they might have more performers show up as well. Maybe in the future…

Finally, let’s talk about the food. There is a new quick serve restaurant called, Woody’s Lunchbox. The options are limited but what we did eat was quite good. We enjoyed the brisket sandwich and totchos — tater tot nachos. In fact, many of the items on the menu feature tater tots in some form or fashion, a nod to a child’s infatuation with the food. For breakfast, the scramble was tasty and the s’more’s sandwich was an unexpected treat. 

Overall, Toy Story Land is amazing to look at and a lot of fun for the kids. It’s a notch below Pandora in terms of size, scale and mystique but it’s a worthy addition to Hollywood Studios, which is in the midst of a major re-do with Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge and the Runaway Railway coming in the next year or so. The new rides at Toy Story Land are average or better and the designers did a good job of making the lines move quickly to make the rides quickly accessible to the masses. 

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About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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