This weekend Walt Disney World opens the first new attractions in their complete overhaul of the Hollywood Studios theme park. Toy Story Land is set to debut with two new rides – Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers – along with a Woody’s Lunchbox counter service restaurant. The land will also include the existing Toy Story Midway Mania attraction, reopening after a short rehab that moved the entrance from its former spot in Pixar Place to the new land.
So what are these new rides?
Slinky Dog Dash is a family roller coaster, along the lines of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and The Barnstormer featuring the Great Goofini in Magic Kingdom (probably with a thrill level somewhere between the two.) It is, of course, themed after Slinky Dog from Toy Story. Guests ride “inside” of Slinky Dog as he flies along a track in Andy’s backyard, past scenes and obstacles featuring many of his Toy Story friends including Jessie and Rex.
Alien Swirling Saucers is a reimagining of the Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree attraction at Disney’s California Adventure park and is basically a variation on the carnival Whip ride. The ride is indoors in Florida, unlike California, and includes Buzz Lightyear and the aliens from the claw machine in the films.
If you are going to be at Walt Disney World this weekend expect extreme crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park for the opening of the new attractions. Media, bloggers, and superfans will line up hours ahead of park opening to ensure that they are among the first people inside and lines to get into the new land could exceed five hours, not to mention the actual wait times for the new attractions. If you do not have an existing Fastpass+ reservation for any of the new rides, I would strongly suggest skipping this area of the park and, honestly, skipping the park entirely this weekend and until after the crowds die down from the 4th of July holiday.
If you are going to Walt Disney World later this summer, you should still expect extremely long standby lines for the two new attractions. If the openings of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Navi River Journey in Animal Kingdom are any indication, lines will likely never be below 120 minutes for either of the new attractions with Slinky Dog Dash in particular likely to see 180+ minute waits until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens in 2019. Having a Fastpass+ reservation, preferably made more than 60 days out, will be a necessity. If your trip is within 60 days and you have not reserved a Fastpass+ for either attraction, then you will need to arrive as early as possible to minimize excessive wait times. In order to help facilitate this, Disney will be holding “Extra Magic Hour” Mornings at Hollywood Studios every day this summer, with the park opening at 7am for Disney resort guests. It is unknown what rides beyond the two new attractions will be open for Extra Magic Hours (perhaps none) so lines will still likely be exceedingly long…but at least guests are being given an extra hour to fit the waits into their touring. (On the flip side, if you are visiting as a non-resort guest, you stand no chance of getting into line for the new attractions before their waits climb into the hours.)
If you are more than 60 days away from your Walt Disney World vacation, definitely place these two attractions at the top of your list for Fastpass+ reservations. Disney ranks attractions at Hollywood Studios in “tiers” for Fastpass+ pre-selections with one tier reserved solely for the three attractions in Toy Story Land. This means that in any given day you can only pre-select one of them. I would suggest getting an early morning reservation for Swirling Saucers and proceeding to Slinky Dog Dash first thing in the morning, or if time permits, planning two mornings at Hollywood Studios and getting a Fastpass+ for each new ride on a different day. It is also important to note that only guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels can book Fastpass+ reservations 60 days ahead, all other guests only get a 30 day window and will be exceedingly unlikely to be able to reserve one of the new rides.
In closing, while neither of these attractions are likely to be worth the long waits they will generate in their first year of operation, they are a step in the right direction for a park in transition. As other new attractions open (a re-done Disney Junior show is coming in the fall with the Great Movie Ride replacement Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway set to open in the first half of 2019) the lines should come down to more manageable levels and when the focus shifts to Star Wars in late 2019, these rides should take their spot as middle-of-the-road diversions for most. For kids though, they are a welcome and needed addition to the park.
- Slinky Dog Dash is an outdoor attraction and it is not uncommon for outdoor attractions to close due to lightning during the ubiquitous Florida afternoon thunderstorms. This will likely result in even longer waits for a ride that already has major capacity issues. I wouldn’t even consider hopping in line or making Fastpass+ reservations between lunch and dinner.
- Toy Story Midway Mania should reopen at full capacity including it’s recently added third track. This did wonders to lower the once-colossal wait times for the ride but it is likely that waits will be higher than normal for awhile with so much focus on the Toy Story section of the park and less Fastpass+ selections used on the ride since it was placed in the tier with the other Toy Story Land attractions.
- Woody’s Lunchbox, a counter service restaurant, is also opening in the land. It will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the menu includes such wild items as tater tot nachos (aka “totchos,”) Pop-Tart inspired desserts, a not-quite-Disneyland-style Monte Cristo sandwich, and a “grown-up lemonade” cocktail that Andy’s mom should definitely NOT have packed in her son’s lunchbox.
- Slinky Dog was voiced by the late Jim Varney in the first two Toy Story movies, replaced in subsequent sequels and specials by Blake Clark. Mr. Potato Head was voiced by the late Don Rickles. It is unknown who will reprise the role in the future.
- Toy Story Land, as a name, has to be among the least creative in the history of Disney Imagineering.