We pick our Toy Story Land rope drop back up following Part 1, which covered the Park’s opening procedure along with rides on the Studios’ two newest rides. To quickly recap, things are going quite swimmingly. It’s 9:19am and I’ve already experienced both Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers in standby with a combined wait of only about ten minutes.
At 9:20am, the standby queue for Slinky Dog stretches out well past the attraction’s entrance.
And it continues all the way down back towards the Land’s entrance somewhere. That means rope dropping Slinky isn’t all that much different than something like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. It’s relatively easy to experience Mine Train with a short wait if you arrive early and move quickly, but somebody that’s also there at Park open is going to find themselves at the very end of the queue and wait 60+ minutes.
The line to meet Woody and Jessie isn’t terribly long at this point – maybe ten groups for a wait of 15ish minutes.
Toy Story Mania should be the lowest priority attraction in Toy Story Land moving forward, though its average wait will likely be a little higher than Swirling Saucers. But Toy Story Mania’s queue is 90%+ indoors and air-conditioned versus the all-outdoor, sometimes-uncovered queue at Saucers. And it’s much easier to acquire Toy Story Mania FP+ than any other Toy Story Land attraction as a 4th or subsequent selection.
I actually have a Toy Story Mania FastPass+ that I could use right now if I wanted to, but for this test, we’re going to try standby first and then compare that to the wait time with FP+ immediately after I disembark the first time.
20 minutes is what I expected to wait at this point in the morning.
But it ended up being much longer due to some track downtime.
These days, Toy Story Mania doesn’t close in its entirety very often, but it’s not all that uncommon for there to be problems with the original set of two tracks or the third track add-on that opened a couple of years ago.
Because hourly FastPass+ distribution is based on all three tracks operating, when one or two tracks is down and the same number of FastPass+ users return, the standby wait increases as more of the available capacity is shifted to FP+. In fact, FastPass+ users can take up to 90% of a ride’s capacity when significant downtime is involved. Under those conditions, even if there’s 100 people waiting in both the standby and FastPass+ lines, the 100th person in FastPass+ is going to ride around the same time as the 10th or 11th person in standby has an opportunity to ride.
I was past the merge point with FP+ right at 10am, or 38 minutes after I got in line with the original posted wait of 20 minutes.
And I was on-board at 10:08am for an actual wait of 46 minutes, which is about 25 longer than it should take.
It’s now 10:18am and the wait for Woody and Jessie has climbed to 30-45+ minutes.
On the other hand, the queue for Slinky Dog is now contained and the posted wait is 55 minutes. Like Mine Train and other priorities, if you’re running late, then the absolute worst place you could find yourself first thing is at the end of a very long line for the ride that you were originally planning on waiting a short time to experience.
If you don’t get back to Toy Story Land until 9:10am and the wait for Slinky Dog is 75 minutes, the wait for Swirling Saucers is 10 minutes, and the wait for Toy Story Mania is 5 minutes, then it makes far more sense to ride Saucers and Mania before moving on to Slinky. The wait for the roller coaster will be around the same amount of time at 10am as it was at 9:10am. If you wait an hour at Slinky Dog first thing and don’t disembark until 10:15am, then you’re going to find a 35-minute wait at Slinky and a 45-minute wait at Toy Story and end up waiting 60+ minutes longer than if you had started with the two lower priorities instead.
Here’s the crowd heading down to Swirling Saucers at 10:19am.
The posted wait is just 30 minutes.
I feel like Swirling Saucers’ posted waits are typically about 75% of the actual, but I may need to stand out there for an hour a couple of more times to make sure that theory checks out. But even if the actual wait is 45 minutes, it “feels” short for such a new attraction and particularly one with such a miserable capacity. Say what you will about Na’vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom, but its average wait still pushes 75 minutes. On the other hand, being able to see Swirling Saucers in its entirety may cause people to choose to do something else. If you could see everything River Journey has to offer before getting in line, I have to imagine the wait would be negative-45 minutes or something.
Supposedly, Toy Story Land will be the only path out of Galaxy’s Edge, but it’s hard to imagine that would be the plan.
On the other hand, this is the same company that decided to open Toy Story Land in what was basically July with all-outdoor meet and greets with no cover whatsoever.
I honestly don’t know how he holds that smile.
It’s 10:24am and the posted wait for Toy Story Mania is 35 minutes, which is less than the actual wait I experienced earlier in the day.
With this last room full of standby riders nearly full, it’s going to be at least that long.
FastPass+ is backed up to however far back this is.
With FastPass+, I was on-board in eight minutes with a number of completely empty vehicles in front of me. My total experience time ended up being less than 20 minutes, which is right around average with FP+.
The scene outside Alien Swirling Saucers at 10:45am.
With the Green Army Men entertaining guests.
The posted wait at Saucers has actually gone down, now at 25 minutes at 10:47am.
Unless virtually nobody arrives with FastPass+, that wait is going to be longer.
Woody’s Lunch Box, which has more words in its name than it has registers out in front of it, is already getting busy. I’ll run a couple of reviews when you might actually want to find yourself eating hot soup and grilled sandwiches outside while standing up in Florida. I’m assuming there will be a time for that, even if I’ve never experienced anything like it myself.
These pictures are from Tuesday, September 4th, which is a day that should prove to be in the lowest 10% of crowds and wait times.
And this is before 11am. There’s no way that they’re going to be sending thousands more guests fleeing Galaxy’s Edge through here, right?
Mania is at 50 minutes, Slinky is at 55, and Saucers is at 25. That doesn’t seem bad at all for a Land that hasn’t even been open three months.
Relatively few people are headed in at this point in the morning.
I booked late morning FastPass+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, so the only ride at the Studios that I haven’t experienced is Star Tours.
Star Tours is an easy 4th FastPass+ to procure in the afternoon, particularly on a “less busy” day like today, but I was still curious to see what I would experience at 11am.
This was the first 9am regular open with the Annual Passholder event going on in Toy Story Land, so we’re mostly checking out how things are looking.
I arrived at 11:05am to a 15-minute posted wait.
I was standing in front of my starspeeder waiting to board in less than half that time.
And I was flying high somewhere outside of Galaxy’s Edge at 11:15am.
So my actual wait to board was right in the vicinity of ten minutes.
It doesn’t get much better than that, especially considering the Park has been open for over two hours.
I was back out front at 11:26am for a total experience time of 19 minutes, which is less than the 20 that we expect it to take with FastPass+. That is one of the nice things about new attractions – they typically pull people away from older rides. Moving Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster down to a Tier 2 FP+ selection also increases Star Tours FastPass+ availability throughout the day as people are far more likely to book the roller coaster and Tower of Terror in advance. We may have some time to see if wait times are up this year at attractions outside of Toy Story Land compared to the same time last year. You could probably make a strong argument that Toy Story Land has not moved the needle at Hollywood Studios, but then I think we all know that it doesn’t have to given what’s still on its way.
Outside Star Tours, crowds are light.
It’s just before 11:30am, which means wait times at the priorities should be approaching their peaks.
That makes it a good time to use FastPass+.
Incoming crowds on Hollywood Boulevard just before 11:30am remain light.
And over to Sunset Boulevard.
Tower of Terror was experiencing technical difficulties, resulting in only half of the elevators operating for most of the morning, and in turn pushing wait times up.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is our first FastPass+ stop with a posted wait of just 45 minutes at 11:35am.
While waiting to board, I received an email that Tower of Terror was down. That means I can either ride Tower of Terror with my FastPass+ after it reopens at any point later in the day, or use that FP+ at any attraction on this list, which is basically anything outside of Toy Story Land. Each hour of Tower of Terror downtime means almost 1,000 people are potentially going to be looking at using their FastPass+ elsewhere. Disney appears to think that offering as many additional FastPass+ attractions as alternatives will help spread these people out, but you’d think anyone even remotely in the know is going to wait to use the FP+ at Tower of Terror or immediately head to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
With FastPass+, I was already in the pre-show four minutes after I scanned my MagicBand at the first touchpoint.
And I was on-board at 11:47am, or 12 minutes after originally getting in line.
At 11:54am, the posted wait is still 45 minutes and it certainly doesn’t appear like there’s a deluge of people coming over from Tower of Terror and elsewhere.
If Tower of Terror actually went down, then it was only for a brief moment, as I had no trouble heading over and getting in line five minutes after I received the email that the ride was unavailable. With the downtime, the FastPass+ queue is backed up considerably and the actual wait to enter the library pre-show will be about 20 minutes. Standby will probably take the full 65 minutes.
After riding Tower of Terror, I can continue with my day by grabbing lunch, booking additional FP+ experiences, and working in the various shows that I’m interested in seeing.
While it’s still early, experiencing Toy Story Land along with the rest of what Hollywood Studios currently offers looks to be entirely manageable.
It’s true that late morning wait times were relatively low, but the rope drop crowd was sizable, backed up all the way to the entrance. And I was still able to ride Slinky and Swirling Saucers in about 25 minutes without much hassle.
For the easiest overall experience and assuming you can’t get FP+ for Slinky Dog or Swirling Saucers, then it makes sense to use FastPass+ at Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror. I could have used my Toy Story FP+ around 9:30am before heading to Star Tours to ride in standby if I didn’t want to return to Toy Story Land later in the day when crowds are much heavier. Or if I was interested in grabbing lunch at Woody’s Lunch Box, it would make sense to head to Star Tours in standby after riding Slinky Dog and Alien Swirling Saucers and then plan on using the Toy Story Mania FP+ around the time I’m planning on having lunch.
If I wanted to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror in standby, then it would make sense to head over there after I experienced Slinky and Swirling Saucers. Waits should be short as most people are still occupied with Toy Story Land.
If you don’t want to deal with the rope drop nonsense and have FP+ for Slinky Dog Dash, then you can do the Na’vi River Journey thing and stay as far behind the initial swell of people heading to Slinky Dog at rope drop as you like. Then proceed easily to Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania, where waits should be under 10 minutes each. Then use FP+ for Slinky whenever you’re able to book it, along with your two other attractions.
Overall, the initial news is all good. We’ll continue to keep an eye on changes and how things are progressing. Disney has tested holding people outside the entrance until 8:45am and then letting them head freely to the attraction of their choice once they’re inside, but that isn’t going to work next month when far more people are waiting to enter. So we’ll see what they end up doing.
My ideal rope drop experience is to see the Park open 30 minutes early and allow people to head to the attraction queue of their choice. The rides might not open until the officially-stated time, but it’s a lot more comfortable and a lot less stressful waiting in an organized queue than it is jostling with a thousand other people for position. Disney has followed that procedure in the past, but they always move away from it eventually, perhaps because it’s confusing to guests and perhaps because they don’t want to staff the entire Park for an extra hour. It’s much easier and much cheaper for Disney to coral people in one congested location.
We’ll see how things go and what’s changed later this week.