Toy Story Land: Is It Worth Your Time?
If you get two Disney fans into one room, you’ll probably end up with three opinions. Probably the most polarizing park at Walt Disney World right now is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Although almost everyone can agree that the park needs some help at this point, whether or not to visit the park still divides people up into teams. With the upcoming opening of Toy Story Land, there’s a view that it will be worth it to visit the Studios again—but is that true? Here’s the two sides of the debate from Julia and James:
Julia: Skip Studios Now, Skip Studios Later
In my view, if the Studios was a skip before Toy Story Land, it is a skip after Toy Story Land.
I watch a rather large amount of HGTV shows involving tearing down walls for open concept floorplans and adding potfillers to subway tile backsplashes. (I draw the line at shiplap, though.) In these shows, watching the demo day is entertaining, as is the final reveal of the amazing house that you find impossible to believe was done in seven weeks and under budget. When Pandora opened at Animal Kingdom, there was a sense of the park being “finished”. Yes, there likely will be changes in the future at Animal Kingdom, but the idea of the park as being a half-day park has largely disappeared from the modern lexicon.
Once Toy Story Land opens, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which had been a park under construction and a half-day park, it will still be a park under construction and a half-day park.
In many ways, the attractions for Toy Story Land are nothing spectacular. If you have a young child or other individual who doesn’t meet the height and safety requirements, both new rides are off limits. Even if you do meet the requirements, you’ve got an off-the-rack roller coaster (which my family calls Barnstormer, the extended mix) and a spinner type ride, which makes me think of Mad Tea Party 2.0. With this land opening during Florida’s wet season, the Slinky Dog Coaster will need to shut down during the afternoon thunderstorms, and waiting in outdoor queue areas for Alien Swirling Saucer (even if under shelter) may be less than pleasant when that famous Florida sideways rain appears. Even if the weather is good, while you could spend time wandering around Pandora because it was fascinating and jaw-dropping to “visit” an alien planet, how many people will be amazed at visiting a suburban-style backyard where a kid hasn’t cleaned up his toys?
Simply put, if you arrive early and are savvy in your use of FastPass+, you’re still finished with the park’s major attractions (including a stroll through Toy Story Land) in around a half a day. If you want to grab lunch, the menu at Woody’s Lunch Box (although offering tater tots, which is a plus for some people) is limited and I wouldn’t expect to be any more impressive than the current food offerings at the Studios. Keep in mind—the signature desserts are $4 pop tarts.
There’s plenty on the horizon for the Studios, but it just isn’t there yet. Adding a Toy Story-themed version of Dinoland USA (thankfully minus the carnival games at this point) isn’t enough to make me feel I’m getting my money’s worth to fight through opening crowds at Toy Story Land for the cost of a full-day park ticket. So for me, the Studios has been a solid option to skip for quite some time—and the opening of Toy Story Land doesn’t have any wow factor for me to change that view.
James: Toy Story Land Adds Value to a Studios Visit
Here’s the thing. I get it. Studios isn’t currently a full-day park, and it isn’t going to take you half a day to explore a new land, so even with this addition, it STILL probably isn’t a full-day park. Does that mean it’s entirely skippable, however? Nope.
Let’s start with the gigantic plush elephant in the room, Toy Story Land. Rewind briefly, and you may recall that there was a TON of grousing about Disney’s decision to put Pandora in Animal Kingdom because many fans — myself included — didn’t feel a sufficient connection to the subject matter. You know what happened? Disney absolutely crushed it, and created an incredibly immersive land that appeals to people regardless of whether they give a flying banshee about the world of Avatar. I don’t know that I’ll bother to see Avatar 2-12 when they come out, but I always make a point to visit Pandora when I’m at Walt Disney World now. It’s simply incredible.
With that being the case, I have every confidence that when Disney opens this new land that is based upon a franchise that I DO care about, it’s going to be really well done. The subject matter lends itself to the inclusion of lots of details, fun pop culture references, and lots of room for exploration– even if I didn’t have the opportunity to try any of the new attractions, I really look forward to just checking out the new land, identifying all of the games and toys from the movie and my past, and otherwise just soaking up the atmosphere.
There WILL, however, be new attractions. While the ride systems may be “off-the-rack,” Disney has never been the company to rely upon the in-your-face use of bleeding edge ride technology to wow its visitors. For example, if you strip all of the Disney magic away from Space Mountain, you would find a very pedestrian wild mouse coaster that might not turn your head if you saw it on a carnival midway. What Disney does is combine these rides with fantastic storytelling and other elements to deliver an experience that is more than the sum of their parts. These rides are also notable in that they are appropriate for the younger set, which has been a shortcoming of the Studios for a while.
Even setting aside Toy Story Land, however, the truth is that what the Studios currently lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Two of the best thrills Disney World has to offer — Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster — are located at the Studios, and you can expect that they’re going to be easier to ride than ever with most guests directing their attention to the newest addition. Also, as this goes to press, it’s the only park that has TWO, count ‘em, TWO nighttime spectaculars — oh, and one of those spectaculars is Star Wars-themed. Speaking of Star Wars, the Studios is the exclusive home to that franchise and the Disney Junior characters — if you want to meet those characters, you’ve got ample reason to visit Hollywood Studios right there. Finally, the Studios hosts the best in-park place for craft beer available, Baseline Tap House — so if the attractions aren’t your thing, you’ve still got options.
So, in closing, perhaps you STILL won’t be able to spend an entire day at the Studios after Toy Story Land arrives, but that’s frankly not something we typically recommend anyway. Maybe you do it on a day when you’d planned on visiting Disney Springs and exploring. Maybe you do it on a day when you were wanting some extended pool time. But should you make it a point to see Disney’s latest new land during the relative calm before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge arrives? Of course you should.
What do you think? Will Toy Story Land make you feel some love for the Studios or will it still be Disney’s least-loved park? Let us know in the comments where you stand on the Toy Story Land debate.
10 thoughts on “Toy Story Land: Is It Worth Your Time?”
There are no absolutes. Last year, our family preferred Hollywood Studios over both Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Everybody’s mileage may vary.
“a spinner type ride, which makes me think of Mad Tea Party 2.0”
It’s Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree with a roof. No need to be made to think of something, it’s a re-skin of a real existing ride. I think enough of your readership has been to DCA in the last 6 years that there’s value in making that clear.
I agree with James. Disney CRUSHED Pandora and they’ll crush this one too. It’s going to be NUTS next year when Galaxy’s Edge opens. Better to see the new stuff this year and then figure out when to battle the crowds for that. I love DHS. I think there’s something to be said for not having to walk 15 miles a day there. You can actually relax a bit and appreciate the story-telling that most guests miss.
I personally can not wait! I love the Studios anyway but this will be amazing for a fan of these films. Me! But the personalised touring plans suggest I go first to Star Tours (using FPP on the new coaster, RnR and TofT. I am a huge fan of these plans but this is majorly counter intuitive to me. Back to topic. We will be doing a 7am start, leaving after lunch to swim at the Beach Club and going back for Fantasmic and the Star Wars show. Twice. Roll in July 🙂
I never read or considered HS a ‘half day’ park. In fact, I’ve never heard that idea before. We just go there and have fun all day. I use the plan that I build as a guide (you know, unofficial ‘guide’) and if we feel like stopping and watching one of the silly street shows we do, even if it gets us off track. When I’m building my plan if it ends early then I just add second and third visits to things we like to do. How many times should you visit the current Toy Story ride? Ummm, as many times as you can! It’s a blast. I hope folks don’t take these technical analyses of HS too seriously because the idea is to have fun. If it’s fun, do it all day. If it’s not your cup of tea then go half a day. Either way you’re still not getting any news from outside the world, or at least you shouldn’t be 😉
Just got back from Shanghai Disney and Hong Kong Disney where they have Toy Story lands. No big deal and not worth waiting for anything there. Nice to see the big Woody and the variations of Slinky, but it wasn’t worth tearing down Osborne lights.
Glad you posted this, because my original
plan before release day was announced was to head to Hollywood Studios on 6/30 with my 2 year old. I think the two of us will now wait until he’s a little older – and maybe the crowds will be a little less than on opening day.
We’ve spent several 14 hour days at Studios. The shows are amazing, along with the attractions. Studios is our family’s favorite park. We don’t feel exhausted after a long day–sitting down for shows along with smaller crowds (10,000 is a big day at HS, while MK gets closer to 100,000) makes for an enjoyable day including fabulous fireworks!
We have been to Hollywood Studios twice and both times were there from rope drop to closing. Last year when we went there were even a couple of attractions we skipped because we didn’t have time. We did do Star Tours twice. I think the biggest difference right now with DHS is the pace of your day. Yes it is more relaxed because it is smaller area wise and you may find yourself standing around waiting for a show to start. We also enjoy the table service restaurants and burn about three hours of our day enjoying a sit down meal in the air conditioning. We also make sure to show up for Fantastic about 45 min. early. So HS can be a full-day park now. The addition of Toy Story Land and especially Galaxy’s Edge will just make the pace way more brisk like MK. And don’t forget Mickey’s Runaway Railroad will be opening in a year or two. By 2020 HS may be the busiest park at WDW and may require two days to experience it all.
I’ve loved each reincarnation of DHS, but it’s a still a 1/2 park day simply because it closes earlier! The park has been struggling to find its identity for a while when compared to its older and younger Park siblings, but even Epcot was The Nerd Park for forever! DHS will outgrow the Ugly Duckling stage soon and be awesome in its own right!