Celebrate Hilton Head_toyland

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Every trip to Walt Disney World comes with a mix of magical anticipation and anxiety-ridden trepidation, especially when young kids are in tow, and those competing emotions ramp up even more when a new attraction opens.

As Disney devotees, my family braved the opening weekend crowds last summer to check out the new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and both the magic and the anxiety lived up to our expectations.

Two new attractions, a new quick-service dining option, and some of Disney’s finest “imagineering” to date bring Andy’s backyard to life, adding even more fun to what was already our family’s favorite of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World.

The concept—namely that guests are “shrunk down” to toy size upon entering Andy’s backyard (for the uninitiated, Andy is the toy owner from the Toy Story franchise)—is nothing new to regular visitors to Hollywood Studios. That was the idea behind the popular Toy Story Mania attraction— an interactive ride-through a 4D arcade game in which passengers compete against one another in carnival-style games like ring toss and target shooting. Toy Story Land expands that theme from one attraction to 11 acres of glorious fun, giving visitors the sensation that they’re walking around in a world created by Andy’s imaginative play, complete with massive Tinker Toys and blocks, as well as Christmas lights strung throughout the area.


The star of Toy Story Land, as evidenced by the wait times, is the new Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster, and it immediately claimed a place among our family’s favorite Disney attractions. Visiting on opening weekend, we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we might not get to ride Slinky Dog Dash, recognizing that wait times would be well over an hour. After seeing the ride in person, we decided we couldn’t wait and chose to brave a twohour wait in the name of new adventures. (Pro tip: Download the “Heads Up” smartphone app for a fun way to pass the time in long lines. If you check in at a Disney park, you can get a free Disney deck that’s appropriate for even the youngest players.)

This was a big leap for our family, because as (now former) annual pass holders and master FastPass manipulators, we are not long-line-waiters. Nonetheless, we found Slinky Dog Dash worth the wait. The newest coaster can’t match the sheer thrills offered across the park at Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster, but it’s a whole lot of fun—and with a height requirement of only 38 inches, it’s a much-needed addition to the list of attractions the whole family can enjoy at Hollywood Studios. In fact, our five-year-old rated it the most fun coaster she can ride at Walt Disney World (she’s excluded from Space Mountain, Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest—the three coasters that still rank ahead of Slinky Dog for our eight-year-old son). As thrills go, it slots just below Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and just above Seven Dwarves Mine Train, but the overall experience (including the cuteness factor) moves it even higher up the list.

First off, you’re sitting aboard the adorable Slinky Dog, and ostensibly riding a coaster built by Andy himself. Slinky Dog shoots out of the gate and around a corner before hitting his first big drop, whooshing past the crowds entering Toy Story Land. At the midway point, the ride comes to a stop and begins backing up for another launch, which sends riders hurtling up the ride’s biggest hill, seemingly launching into space before cresting the hill and heading into a series of smaller humps. The ride finishes off with a fun twist as Wheezy the penguin serenades you with “You’ve Got A Friend in Me” as you glide back into the station.

We had so much fun on our first ride that we immediately got back in line. Luckily, it was nearly time for the park to close, and the Fantasmic show had attracted much of the crowd, so we were able to get back through the line in less than 30 minutes.

Less popular, and less thrilling, is the new Alien Swirling Saucers ride, which is reminiscent of the carnival favorite, the Scrambler. Although Alien Swirling Saucers did not earn an immediate spot among our family’s favorites, it was enjoyable and another nice addition for smaller kids who previously didn’t have many options at Hollywood Studios.

Even Toy Story Mania got an upgrade, with a second track and a new entrance and exit that build on the experience of being “toy-sized” and hanging out in Andy’s room.

Concept art and miniature on display before opening AlienS wirling Saucers Slinky Dog Coaster

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