Disney’s Toy Story Land offers playful new rides for kids

June 28, 2018, 9:04 AM · (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.

But hey, maybe that means the lines will calm down a bit for last summer's must-get, Flight of Passage over in Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom, right?

Replies (29)

June 27, 2018 at 5:48 PM

All things considered, I think it's a nice addition to DHS.

June 27, 2018 at 6:33 PM

Good news for DHS.

June 27, 2018 at 6:44 PM

Fan Boys will scream about it using off the shelf rides and not being immersive enough. Poppy-cock! The target audience is going to walk in this place and make the same sound the little green men make at the prospect of being selected by The Claw. A well rounded park has something for everyone and this will check off a lot of as yet unchecked boxes at DHS. Shame it's anchored by that stinker dark (non)ride, but I've already gone into enough detail about that already.

June 27, 2018 at 8:15 PM

The link, for those wondering: The case against Toy Story Midway Mania

And, BTW, Disney officially now has dropped the "Midway" from the name of the WDW installation. It remains at the DCA version.

June 27, 2018 at 8:45 PM

Robert, can you take pics of the entry way, both sides that leads up to Toy Story Land signage. I hear it's very plain jane and I'd like to see what they did to cover the windows that faced out from the old Roy O Disney Production Center.

June 27, 2018 at 8:47 PM

My nephew watched the videos and said, let’s go right now!

Disney hit the mark, once again!

June 27, 2018 at 11:28 PM

Looks good, should be a winner all told and give some spice the Studios have long needed.

June 27, 2018 at 11:50 PM

Woof! Meh! Whatever term one has for mediocre, one can now use Toy Story Land in its place.

June 28, 2018 at 4:03 AM

Shameful to put in such cheap attractions.

June 28, 2018 at 7:18 AM

I don't understand why people hate on Toy Story Mania so much. Yes it's true that they could release this for the Wii and it would be pretty much the same, but that doesn't mean it's any less fun at the park. We don't wait in the crazy long lines for it, but then we don't wait in long lines for any ride, anywhere. I'd rather do three lesser rides than wait an hour and a half for one better ride. If we can't get a fastpass then we don't even try when the lines are that long. Bottom line is....Toy Story Mania is fun, and at the end of the day the only requirement for any theme park attraction is to be fun, at least for people who are not a stick in the mud.

June 28, 2018 at 11:09 AM

It's good for the kids. DHS needed that. But not being a kid nor having young children I'm not really interested. I'd still much prefer the DCA version, even if the grownup coaster remake over is disappointing. Despite my earlier declaration that I won't be going back to WDW I have to go back to visit family (who work at WDW and USF) so I'm sure I'll be visiting the parks. But its very unlikely I'll be going to DHS for this. In fact, I'll probably only go to DAK for Pandora.

June 28, 2018 at 11:34 AM

Slinky Dog Coaster looks like a genuinely fun kids coaster, with room for adults to have fun as well. A.S.S. does not look to be terribly well done -- I don't think even kids like these teacup type rides. The look of the whole mini-land is good though, and WDW did a good job overall designing it.

I'm not sure that it is entirely on-time, though. When Toy Story came out, it had a huge buzz and good sequels. I think it was 1995 when the original was released. Like Avatar Land, it just seems to be a little too late.

It might be more synergistic if lands were created closer to the time of the hype. The benefit would be two-fold -- the movies would feed into the land and the land would feed into the movies!

June 28, 2018 at 11:36 AM

I must say I’m pleasantly surprised and impressed with Disney’s work here.

They did a great job with the scale and making guests feel like they’re a size of a toy playing in Andy’s backyard.

The full ride video of Slinky’s Coaster also looks like a job well done. I think the theming was executed well with the ride itself being tame and entertaining enough for the whole family- which is what Disney is always known best for.

Not to mention that DHS has desperately needed RIDES for DECADES. This addition, plus Star Wars and Mickey’s Railroad ride next year, and of course the classics Rock n Roller Coaster/Tower of Terror and DHS is back in good shape.

Keep it up and keep pushing Disney!

June 28, 2018 at 11:56 AM

I’m going next week with my all over 30 freinds who needs kids, This looks good, Slinky Dog looks fun and it looks so much better than the cheap Pixar PIer coaster upgrade

June 28, 2018 at 11:58 AM

Uh, okay? Look: the Mater tractors and dancing cars are fun for the younger kids, and California Adventure desperately needs more younger kids rides, but the raison de etre of Carsland is the Radiator Springs Racers. What good is a new land if it doesn't have at least one E-ticket (or even D-ticket) ride?

I guess Disney would argue that Toy Story mania is that E-ticket ride, but come on: we have the same technology in a Wii, so the ride is increasingly obsolete. It doesn't even have high-def digital screens.

Disney makes more money than god; why are they trying to skimp on the new attractions?

June 28, 2018 at 12:04 PM

This installation is everything Pixar Pier is not. It's original, it's immersive, it fits in perfectly with the park's goals and (new) theme, and it has a strong centerpiece attraction in Slinky Dog Dash. Complaints around Toy Story Land seem to center on it not being "good enough" for a top tier Walt Disney World installation when that's not nearly the intention; Galaxy's Edge is clearly the main event and Sunset Boulevard and even Mickey's Runaway Railway are designed to be higher in the pecking order as well. Toy Story Land is a well done addition to a park that desperately needs a successful kids area.

June 28, 2018 at 2:02 PM

This looks to be a solid, though perhaps underwhelming, appetizer for the main course which is set to arrive next year (Galaxy's Edge). Imagineers appeared to have done a lot better here than was done with Pixar Pier, but the limited size and scope of the attractions will fail to live up to the pent up demand for things to do at DHS. Installing a viable area for smaller children was a necessity at DHS, but the coaster is on a fine line that may leave older guests disappointed in the wait times for a ride that is slightly more than Barnstormer, but less than Everest. I'd also say that TSL probably would be served with another flat ride (similar to how Carsland opened with Luigi's and Mater's Junkyard) just to keep the lines manageable for ASS, which is more or less a throwaway ride. I also think Imagineers should have taken some of the limited space to create a playground for little ones not quite reaching the 38" requirement for SDD. They probably should have added another eatery in the area as well with no other food options anywhere close to what is liable to be an incredibly crowded dead end.

All in all, this appears to be a step in the right direction for a park that was careening into oblivion. Disney appears to have done a much better job here than in California, but DHS is still a long way from being a complete park, and still not worth visiting without park hoppers.

June 28, 2018 at 1:59 PM

This looks amazing, it's exactly what I want from a world class Disney theme park. The rides are wildly original and have story seeping out of them. Best of all Andy's lunch box is filled with booze and with all the bright colors at night this land is a winner. Yes it's got blinking lights and people will tell you carnival rides have even more blinking lights but these are done so much better and blinkier. Sure they could have gone the Radiator Springs Racer route but imagineering and the Disney corporation aren't cheap nor lazy, they went above and beyond to give us humble visitors a ton of quality entertainment for our vacation dollars and I will argue this is much better then that, also great but lesser than this, carsland ride. This sure is a hit and can proudly be stamped with the Disney seal of approval.

June 28, 2018 at 2:59 PM

Shocked they only have one eatery in this area. This is a much needed improvement but nothing to scream and shout about.

June 28, 2018 at 3:00 PM

I mostly agree with Russell's take, especially about the likely insane lines for the useless people eater ASS and Woody's Lunchbox. It's really only 18 months of this (and probably 10-12 without Mickey and Minnie to start hauling in guests), though, and then Galaxy's Edge will swallow the crowds and likely turn Toy Story Land into the least-visited area of the park.

June 28, 2018 at 3:18 PM

I think this is the best version of a Toy Story land as of yet. Shanghai and Paris have the theme but only the carnival rides. Tokyo's Toyville Trolley park is probably the best themed Toy Story land (or mini land rather), but with only MM is lacking in attractions. This is a well rounded land with several attractions as well as the very popular Mania. In a park that is severely lacking in attractions, in particular family attractions, I really don't see how anyone can see this as a negative.

June 28, 2018 at 3:23 PM

Perfect addition for Disney Studios. Needed another attraction but c'est la vie. Phase 1 in the complete transformation of the park. It will augment well with future phases. How can you go possibly go wrong with Toy Story any way?

June 28, 2018 at 4:00 PM

"I really don't see how anyone can see this as a negative."

I think a lot of the negativity is because of the limited capacity that this land brings to DHS as a whole. ASS will maybe push through 700 people per hour, and SDD might get 1,200 pph, so the land as a whole is woefully inadequate to handle the demand generated by the popularity of the IP. Disney is attempting to manage demand by lumping all three TSL attractions into Tier I FP+ attractions, but that's unlikely to keep lines manageable over the busy summer months and holidays to come before Galaxy's Edge finally opens. The ongoing popularity of TSM demonstrates the draw of the Toy Story IP, and guests are likely to be frustrated with 120+-minute lines for a glorified whip and junior launched coaster. It's great to see Disney finally addressing the issues with DHS, but their hype machine will inevitably lead many guests to frustration as they wait in seemingly endless lines for rides that are fun and entertaining, but not anywhere close to the top of their class. Neither ride appears better than the best rides currently at DHS (ToT, RnRC, TSM, or Star Tours), yet the pent up demand for ANYTHING new at DHS will give Disney the false impression that this type of addition is enough every 10 years.

June 28, 2018 at 4:08 PM

And WDW maintains its vice grip on the family demographic. TSL is another victory.

June 28, 2018 at 6:49 PM

I've said it a million times but will say again, i'm very happy that Disney realized that stupid RC Racer ride wasn't good enough for Florida. Its way too low capacity and the ride sucks. Slinky Dog looks like a really nice multi generational coaster that the kids can ride with the grandparents, which is exactly what suits this IP's demographic.

I've been in all the Toy Story Lands at every Disney Park (including Shanghai when it was soft opening) and while it's my least favorite area of all of those parks, the main reason was because of the lackluster attractions. Considering this area has Toy Story Mania and Slinky Dog Dash I think it is fine. It's exactly what it needs to be.

June 28, 2018 at 8:03 PM

Lack of shade here is a killer.

June 28, 2018 at 8:39 PM

I mean, they know this type of addition isn't enough. Galaxy's Edge is coming and is going to feature what appears to be the most technologically advanced dark ride in the history of themed entertainment along with a top class Millennium Falcon simulator ride. Mickey and Minnie appears to be a top class dark ride with an all-new trackless system too. They're getting this right. That TSL is opening first is the only shame, because this is the least important phase and it's going first.

June 28, 2018 at 8:47 PM

I think it's fantastic, very well done and immersive.

July 1, 2018 at 3:33 AM

Long time reader, first time poster here. Really loving the look of TSL, a great addition. Loving all the detail from the photos and videos I’ve seen. However, with the addition of two new fairly low capacity rides (and still not much else to do at the park) crowds are going to be unjustifiably crazy.
If you look at what some of the smaller UK parks are doing like Paultons park with Peppa Pig World or Drayton Manor with Thomas Land they have done a far better job in my opinion. Yes they haven’t got the same crowd levels or the immersive detail (nor the Disney budget). But they have a variety of small scale themed rides (10 or so) to keep their younger visitors occupied. Disney should and could have thought about this, a few more flat ride additions would hardly blow the budget and add more to do for the younger guest.
I get it, this is the warm up to next years main event, but it shouldn’t be the case. This should be the place younger guests should want to head to to experience their first rides and while away a few hours. Instead, they will while away a few hours standing in lines getting bored.
It’s a shame, what TSL has looks great, but is a real missed opportunity and will be frustratingly busy at least for the time being. I’ll save my trip from the UK for a few years once galaxy’s edge has had time to settle in.

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