Peanut Adventures, Issue 21 (Toy Story Land)
*WDW invited us to try out Toy Story Land gratis. We received dining cards, Fast Passes, and a swag bag. All opinions here are my own.*
It's been a steamy summer here in Central Florida. I've been watching the social media coverage of the Toy Story Land opening... the crowds... the heat... I'd pretty much accepted that we wouldn't be braving Hollywood Studios until at least the end of summer. Imagine my elation when WDW invited us to come try it out and even bring our friends, too. Sweeeeeet.
We managed to arrive nice and early for check-in (my husband's new job has a 6am wake up call... that helped). While we waited for our friends, I tried to get my kid to take a sweet and adorable photo for my Insta feed.
Jeanna and Bella in tow, we headed straight back to check out the new Toy Story Land. The only way in at this time is just past the One Man's Dream building; all the former "Pixar" area (where Midway Mania and Buzz & Woody were) except for the bathrooms right there is now blocked off.
Right away you are shrunk down to Toy size. There are photopass photogs waiting to take your Toy Sized pictures. The heat and sun were already REAL. We walked by Buzz, doing meets on the way in (in full sun). The most common complaint I'd heard about Toy Story Land had been the lack of escape from the sun, and they're right. There's an attempt at shade for the queues of the two rides, and there are a few umbrellas in the dining area for the quick service counter, but otherwise your only escape will be the super adorable bathrooms.
Our first stop in Toy Story Land wasn't even a question: the new Slinky Dog Dash ride. This is the ONLY fully outdoor ride at Hollywood Studios (in other words, it's the only one that has the potential to go down due to weather, heads up).
I'd say about 40 minutes worth of the Standby queue is under cover (not to be confused with indoors), and they've got a pretty long set up of shade umbrellas stretching out into Toy Story Land to try to help out the line that is still pretty long for this new ride. We were there on a Wednesday, and we never saw the FastPass queue extend beyond this entrance. In fact, the area where the FastPass joins up with standby is VERY close to load in, so our FastPass experience was VERY effectively executed.
The cars themselves (as far as load in) are pretty much identical to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train (2 across, each seat has an independent lap bar). If anything (and maybe I'm crazy) the car felt perhaps slightly more roomy? Now, as for the ride itself...
The cars don't have their own independent rocking suspension (like Mine Train does), so the ride itself is a little bit rougher/ more intense. It does, however, address most people's complaints about Mine Train: it's way longer. The ride has multiple parts with speed ups, slow downs, fun bunny hills, tons to look at. In fact the view is pretty great if you want to get a closer look at the construction on Star Wars Land.
The girls absolutely LOVED the ride. D was asking to go on it again before we'd disembarked. She declared it her new favorite ride in all of WDW. Still, Jeanna and I wanted to take a little break before hopping back into the saddle (it really is a bit more intense, especially if you're closer to the back). So we headed over to ride Toy Story Midway Mania. It's not a new ride, but the entrance and queue have all been moved around, so the girls were convinced it was new until we were almost at load in.
It was fun getting to load in differently and check out parts of the queue I'd never noticed before (I'd only ever ridden with FastPass, and they've moved the FastPass queue to a different area). Plus, D and I both managed to make new Personal Best Scores.
Speaking of decor, the theming in Toy Story Land is just incredible.
I'm obsessed with these domino benches.
I really hope that WDW expands Toy Story Land to offer a play area like the Honey I Shrunk the Kids one they used to have, but instead as a Toy Sized play area. The girls just loved all these little details, and a play area like that is something that's sorely missing from Hollywood Studios right now.
I was ready for round 2 on Slinky Dog Dash. The girls, of course, were never NOT ready.
Andy's Lunch Box is the only food offering in Toy Story Land, and it's an outdoor counter service. The line is not covered (only the check out area is).
Breakfast is served through 11am, lunch and dinner have the same menu after that. We arrived at the queue right at 11 and were informed there would be a brief wait while the kitchen turned over. Turned out, this was an unexpected perk, because while we were waiting, CM's came around with free samples of both the raspberry and hazelnut tarts, as well as the signature drink (a blue powerade with lemon/lime flavor... kinda tastes like Baja Blast without carbonation).
I am always desperate for a covetable food option at Hollywood Studios. I'd love to say that Andy's Lunch Box gave me that but... unfortunately it's still a work in progress. I've always felt like the kids' meals at WDW are a great value, with good sized portions and options at a reasonable price (usually around $6). The kids' meal at ALB was half of a grilled cheese sandwich (and one of the cheeses in the sandwich was this weird squishy velveeta-y goo that tasted fine but that my kid was having NONE of and I had to take it off before she'd eat it) with a little cup that had approximately 5 tater tots in it. And a mandarin orange she was having none of. And a juice box. Uhh... ok. Meanwhile my brisket melt tasted pretty good. One of the side options was a creamy tomato soup, so although it was steamy hot, I wanted to give it a shot (cause who doesn't love dipping a cheesy melt into tomato soup?). And the soup was actually the biggest hit, but it was... not a side. It was a teeny tiny cup. Just barely enough to dip your sandwich into. And D stole it from me anyway since she liked it better than her rather unusual cheese sandwich. And that sandwich and tiny cup of soup was $15. So for now, I'm going to declare Andy's Lunch Box a work in progress (we all know that WDW restaurants change and adjust their menus based on feedback ALL THE TIME). And I also hope that they eventually build some proper cover for the tables, too.
We opted out of using one of our precious FastPasses on the Alien Swirling Saucers (since we'd rather use them for one more ride on Slinky). The Saucers are covered, but are basically a scrambler ride from the carnival days of old. Which means D will have to talk Daddy into riding it since those are a NO for me. We asked the girls what they wanted to do. We shouldn't have been surprised...
It was starting to rain, so we escaped into the Frozen Singalong and Path of the Jedi before taking a side trip to visit Olaf.
Olaf jumped out into the hall and startled D, so she put him in time out.
We were on our way back to see if the rain had let up enough for one more ride on Slinky when I noticed that Star Lord and Groot were still in One Man's Dream. I told D they were going to be leaving studios soon, and she surprised me by having zero hesitation to go visit them.
D surprised me even further when she asked Star Lord to be her first ever autograph in her new Toy Story notebook with her new Rocket pen.
Everybody continued to gang up on Star Lord. The peak came when D told Star Lord he was a weirdo and his attendant was laughing so hard he had to hide his face. I'm gonna miss these two so much. (WDW, you could soften the blow by bringing the Dora Milaje here, I know we can't have Black Panther, but we would love to have LITERALLY ANYBODY from that movie come visit).
Finally, cross this one off the bucket list: ride Slinky Dog in the rain. From the front row.
BTW- if you're worried about the physical "intensity" of this ride, it is MUCH more subdued from the front car.
So our overall opinion of Toy Story Land is that, for Slinky Dog alone, it is 100% worth it. The theming is also fantastic, and we loved the Green Army Men marching around and interacting with guests. But it's small. It needs some more areas where you can escape the weather. In the long run, I think there's room for this area to be really stellar in the future. And ride Slinky Dog, it's an absolute blast.