(Updated) After years of construction projects claiming more and more of Walt Disney World's least-visited park, Disney is hoping that its new Toy Story Land will help reestablish its Hollywood Studios as a reason to come to Disney World, rather than just one more thing to do while you are here.
At least, that's what Disney is hoping fans will thinking about the new land, which features two new attractions, a counter-service restaurant, and a host of Instagram-worthy photo opps, in addition to a new entrance to the always-popular Toy Story Mania ride.
The main new attraction in the land is Slinky Dog Dash, a Mack Rides launching family coaster on which you ride on the back of Slinky Dog as he rolls across of track that Toy Story's Andy built in his backyard. Let's take a ride, facing front:
And facing me:
That we are shrunk to the size of toys and playing in Andy's backyard is the narrative conceit of all of Disney's Toy Story Lands, of which Walt Disney World's is the fourth worldwide, following Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios Park (Paris), and Shanghai Disneyland, which just opened its land in April. Slinky Dog Dash is the largest and, frankly, most ambitious attraction in any of the Toy Story Lands, occupying the majority of the footprint in this Florida installation.
It's a buttery-smooth ride, with gentle launches, dips, and bunny hops — all designed to entice early-elementary-age children to take their first step into the world of thrill rides. With a 38-inch height requirement, Slinky Dog Dash isn't a baby ride, and that's the point. It's got just enough excitement to reward little kids who ride without so much intensity that it scares them into swearing off "big kid" rides for another year or more.
And, by that standard, Slinky Dog Dash works, perhaps better than any other Disney coaster. With individual lap bars, this coaster offers safety and comfort for both parent and child. My only knock would be that the decoration around each seat will make it difficult, if not impossible, for small children to see anything straight ahead of them. But with smart use of sweeping curves and design elements set to the side of the trains, Slinky Dog Dash still provides even its youngest rides with plenty to see.
The second new attraction in Toy Story Land, Alien Swirling Saucers, is the same carnival spinner whip ride that Disney fans on the west coast have been riding since 2012 as Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in (the also Pixar-themed) Cars Land in Disney California Adventure. Disney has installed another version of the same ride system in Shanghai's Toy Story Land, where it is themed as Woody's Roundup.
Yeah, it's a spinner. But if you haven't ridden the Mater ride before, Alien Swirling Saucers offers a fun drifting sensation, as if you were sliding your flying saucer around a figure-eight track in space.
Again, it's a gentle ride, and relatively short — just 90 seconds. It's just enough to make a kid smile... and not scream.
(The drifting sensation did make me wonder how many fans who have been complaining about Universal's Fast and Furious ride over the past two months would have felt if Universal had built a scaled-up version of this ride system instead, replacing the saucers with muscle cars and sending us on a drifting "race" around a gritty San Francisco back street.)
In addition to Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers, Walt Disney World's Toy Story Land is the home of the new entrance to Toy Story Mania, which switches from its former entrance in Pixar Place, on the other side of the ride building. In case you caught it, yes, Disney has stricken the "Midway" from the name of this popular interactive ride, though the full "Toy Story Midway Mania" name remains on the Disney California Adventure installation.
Disney has made all three attractions in Toy Story Land "Tier 1" selections for its Fastpass+ ride reservation system, meaning you can book only one of the three (Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, or Toy Story Mania) for your advance selections. Since Toy Story Mania has been around for years, pretty much everyone booked into a Disney hotel starting booking FP+ for Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers a month ago, making them the toughest "gets" in the system now. That's going to mean long stand-by wait times for both rides well into summer.Tweet
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