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Ready to play hard this summer at Toy Story Land? The latest addition to Walt Disney World — an 11-acre section of Hollywood Studios dubbed “Andy’s Backyard” — is opening to the public on June 30. And we got inside early, on June 28, for a first look.
Three years in the making, Toy Story Land is an immersive adventure through the Pixar classic. Everything in the park is oversized, and designed to make guests feel small again (one might say toy-sized).
A larger-than-life Woody greets guests and stands watch over the park which, like a true childhood backyard, is cluttered with Tinkertoys, Dominoes, Scrabble tiles and wooden blocks.
The army men, a mix of statues and performers, really put things in perspective. After all, the figurines you played with as a child stand just over two inches tall. In Toy Story Land, they’re the height of grown men — or taller.
This weekend, parkgoers will be able to experience the new rides here, too, including the Slinky Dog Dash (a relatively tame, family-friendly rollercoaster) and Alien Swirling Saucers (spinning toy rocket ships patterned after the alien claw game from Pizza Planet).
These two thrill rides complement the long-time favorite and recently expanded Toy Story Mania, a 4D-attraction that allows for some friendly competition while playing virtual games.
When hunger strikes, head over to Woody’s Lunch Box for nostalgic treats (ice cream floats; grilled sandwiches) that even the pickiest kids will enjoy. If you get to the park early, don’t miss the S’mores French Toast on the breakfast menu.
What’s especially cool about Toy Story Land is the way Disney carries out the theme — the attention to the tiniest of details (a four-point Scrabble “W” indicates the water fountain) and the vibrant primary color scheme, for example. There’s also the unexpected, seemingly organic placement of characters and toys throughout the “backyard.” You’ll spot the occasional No. 2 pencil, and a misplaced Sorry game piece. Even the souvenir stand is made to look like a Fisher-Price Play Family Camper.
On Friday, Toy Story Land nodded again to its origins when Tim Allen, the voice of Buzz, showed up for the theme land’s dedication.
If you intend to be one of the first to explore the world of “Toy Story” brought to life, you’ll need to do some serious planning.
3 Tips for Your First Trip to Toy Story Land
Use your Fast Pass for Slinky Dog Dash because it appears to be a favorite. You’ll zoom past alphabet blocks and a lost bouncy ball and zip around cowgirl Jessie as she wrangles Rex (balanced on a precarious Jenga tower) with colorful Christmas lights. Even in the still sets, everything here is suffused with so much movement, it feels as if Toy Story Land could, quite reasonably, come to life at any minute.
Go in the evening when the backyard is all lit up — and when the crowds tend to be thinner.
Watch out for Sarge and his army of men to make random (performing) stops throughout the day. Also, Buzz and Woody will be available for character photos and autographs at specific times, so ask upon arrival to make sure you’re in the right place for those meetups.
All signs point to Toy Story Land being a win with both children, as well as the parents who loved the original film when it was first released in 1995. It’s a refreshing mix of old-fashioned fun that will take your next trip to Disney World to infinity and (you guessed it) beyond.
Featured photo by Matt Stroshane/Disney. Inline photos courtesy of Becky Beall.
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