We return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for an update on how rope dropping Toy Story Land is going during the holiday season.
We recently covered rope dropping Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom in this post.
It’s 7:45am on the morning of Thursday, November 29, 2018 with a regular 9am open and no Early Morning Magic.
We’ll check on how crowds progress as opening approaches, but this is right around the time that I need to arrive to be among the first few people at any of the tapstiles.
Pay attention to those covered tapstiles on the far right as they are going to become available to guests prior to the Park opening.
As it stands, I’m third in line.
Here’s 8am where you’d be eight or nine people back in line, which is adequate for a quick start once we get inside. You might still shoot for 7:45am to be on the conservative side. Obviously with Disney buses, you can’t be precise with your arrival as you’re at the mercy of the transportation system. If you’re driving, you’ll want to plan on arriving at the auto plaza/parking attendant at 7:30am to be here by 7:45am. Budget 20 to 25 minutes to walk over from the BoardWalk/Beach Club/Yacht Club/Swan/Dolphin.
At this point, a cast member came over and alerted everyone in the area that two additional sets of tapstiles would open, which gave those further back in line an opportunity to jump over and be among the first to enter the Park. Typically, I recommend getting in line on the far left because that’s where the tapstiles used for those with pre-opening breakfast reservations enter. Right around 8:10am, those tapstiles will switch over to general use as well. With a group of two or more people, you might situate half in an open line and have the other half linger around the covered tapstiles on the right or the breakfast tapstiles on the left. When/if those tapstiles do switch over to general use, the other half of the group can then join the newly-formed line. If these tapstiles on the right don’t open, those stationed there can simply rejoin the rest of the group in the line that’s already formed behind an uncovered tapstile. Unless something very strange is going on, the tapstiles used for pre-opening breakfasts will switch over to general use at some point prior to the Park opening, making it a safer bet. My 7:45am arrival means that I don’t need to worry about any of that, but it’s nice to have some options should you find yourself a bit behind.
Here’s just ten minutes later, at 8:20am, when the lines now back up towards the ticket booths.
And there aren’t any new tapstiles to open.
8:30am – every line is backed up past the ticket booths.
The newly-opened tapstiles are backed up just as far.
As always, the website has covered experiencing Toy Story Land with the least possible hassle in more depth than any other site. We originally checked out those 7am morning Extra Magic Hours that were available every day this past summer in this post.
We were also on hand for the very first of the regular 9am opens as described in this post.
I reviewed the early morning Annual Passholder preview event here. That was easily the best Passholder event that I’ve ever experienced, due largely to the fact that almost nobody showed up.
There was also the Early Morning Magic review, which is the paid event that begins at 7:45am and includes breakfast, in addition to “exclusive time” in Toy Story Land.
And sometimes we just revisit to see how things are going, as we did here.
On this particular morning, we’re going to see a little bit of a hybrid approach to rope drop as the tapstiles opened right at 8:30am and we were released into the Studios.
But instead of being held on Hollywood Boulevard until about 8:47am, the walk to the attractions began immediately.
The only attraction that requires an arrival before 8am is Slinky Dog Dash. If you’re headed to any other attraction first thing, including Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Toy Story Mania, you can safely arrive closer to 8:30am. There’s exactly two people heading down Sunset Boulevard for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror and those attractions won’t reach appreciable waits for at least a half hour.
Virtually everyone is heading for Slinky Dog Dash.
We’re being walked back relatively slowly by cast members, which is a bit of a departure from the free-for-all that we’ve experienced in the past where we were free to head to the attraction of our choice at our desired pace. On the plus side. it’s not nearly as congested as when we’re held on Hollywood Boulevard for 20 minutes and then all released at the same time. The tapstiles help limit the number of people that can enter and then there’s a pretty good distance from the entrance to the mass of humanity headed back to Toy Story Land, which creates more space in between people/bloggers.
Here’s what’s going on behind me as we take a right towards Animation Courtyard.
I recommend going through the wider arch these days as the narrower arch will likely slow you down as people try to funnel through it.
A left towards Pixar Place.
And a right into Toy Story Land.
Cast members will instruct the group to stay to the right for Slinky Dog, keep to the middle for Alien Swirling Saucers, or move to the left for Toy Story Mania.
As previously mentioned, there’s absolutely no rush to either Swirling Saucers or Toy Story Mania. For the sake of maximum efficiency, it makes some amount of sense to keep up with the crowd heading to these attractions first thing as you’ll then be on your way elsewhere even earlier when waits remain shorter, but you can safely arrive at either up through regular Park open and experience little to no wait.
We’re funneling towards Slinky at 8:38am or more than 20 minutes before regular Park open.
You might remember that I only take pictures with clocks in them now.
It’s almost going to be a straight shot to load, despite the fact that I’ve fallen behind quite a few people with my precious pictures and the fact that I’m weighed down by the 35 Disney buffets that I ate at last week.
Here’s the scene at 8:42am or four minutes after arriving at the attraction’s entrance.
And I’m on-board less than five minutes later.
Here at 8:49am, or about ten minutes before official Park open, Slinky’s queue is filling.
The posted wait is up to 75 minutes.
The back of Slinky’s line is actually not visible in this picture as it stretches back outside the entrance to the Land. That’s why our early arrival is so important. All of these people are also back here before the Park officially opens, but they’re still going to be spending 60+ minutes in line to start their day. By the time they disembark Slinky Dog around 10:15am, waits are already going to be appreciable at the other Toy Story Land attractions as well as those on Sunset Boulevard.
If you’re interested in meeting Woody and Jessie then you’ll want to get in line now before moving on to another attraction. The characters will arrive right at official Park open and the wait to meet them will be at least 30 minutes by 9:15am and approach an hour by 9:30am.
We’re heading to Alien Swirling Saucers next.
And we might be the only ones.
Whether it makes more sense to go to Swirling Saucers or Toy Story Mania second is perhaps a bit of a toss-up.
But with Disney recently increasing the number of FastPass+ experiences available each hour.
And in turn reducing the number of standby riders that will be able to experience the attraction.
Combined with the ride’s miserable capacity, I think it remains safer to hit Swirling Saucers before Toy Story Mania. The bottom line is that you’re going to wait a little longer for whichever attraction you elect to ride third.
Here comes easy double you dee double you dot com pic.twitter.com/6ks9Ip0hZZ
— josh (@easywdw) November 29, 2018
During the holidays, every third song is Christmas-related. Here I am riding to “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
I arrived at 8:53am and boarded right at 9am. Here at 9:03am, the standby line is stretching back to the entrance.
None of the switchbacks are in place, but with only about 35 people riding every three minutes, the wait is going to be at least 20 minutes for those just getting in line.
The wait is still posted at 15 minutes at 9:04am.
The line for Slinky Dog still stretches back well past the attraction’s entrance. If you do arrive later than you’d like and want to experience the Toy Story Land attractions in standby, it makes far more sense to ride Saucers and Toy Story Mania before entering the line for Slinky. You’ll experience reasonable waits at both before a long wait at Slinky. If you head straight to Slinky, it’s a long wait at all three.
There’s at least 20 groups in line to meet Woody and Jessie at 9:07am, indicating a wait of at least 30 minutes.
Slinky is posted at 100.
I would expect it to be closer to 80 minutes, but obviously neither is particularly positive. It doesn’t make any sense to get in that line when waits are short at other attractions. If you have to wait 75 minutes, it might as well be at noon when waits have peaked everywhere.
We’ll head to Toy Story Mania.
Which is posting a 30-minute wait at 9:07am.
I’m guessing that it will actually be shorter, but capacity problems aren’t uncommon here with one or two of the three tracks sometimes offline in the morning.
But I was past the merge with FastPass+ at 9:17am or just ten minutes after getting in line.
That’s a lot better than my score.
It’s 9:36am and we’re about six minutes into the Green Army Men show, complete with holiday scarves, which takes place down near Alien Swirling Saucers. It’s a 40-minute posted wait at Swirling Saucers behind them.
You can pull up the rest of the website’s holiday decoration coverage here. The Park’s festive atmosphere is underrated, I think.
Slinky Dog’s queue is actually shorter at 9:38am than it has been all morning. The 95-minute posted wait is an improvement over that 100-minute wait that we saw previously as well. I told you it was only going to get better.
The crowds are picking up considerably as the wait for Woody and Jessie approaches an hour.
The fact that Toy Story Land is a dead end, perhaps in more ways than one, doesn’t help with crowd flow. If the Land looks like this just 35 minutes after official Park open on a day with average crowds then it seems borderline-disastrous to have this as the only exit from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge next year.
Toy Story Mania is posting a 35-minute wait at 9:38am. That’s the shortest for any attraction in the Land, including the Meet and Greets.
Buzz continues to meet on the left near the entrance to Toy Story Land as his line stretches back towards what was once Pixar Place.
And ends back there somewhere.
If you’re looking to experience all three Toy Story Land rides in standby, along with both character meets, then the optimal order should be:
- Slink Dog Dash
- Woody and Jessie Meet and Greet
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Buzz Lightyear Meet and Greet
- Toy Story Mania
You can only book FastPass+ at one Toy Story Land attraction in advance and Slinky Dog Dash remains difficult or impossible to get less than 61 days out. If you are able to book FP+ for Slinky and you’re happy experiencing the attraction the one time, then your morning becomes much easier as there is far less of a rush to the Woody/Jessie meet and greet if you’re starting your day there and even less of a hurry to Swirling Saucers or Toy Story Mania.
Toy Story Land also sees much lower waits at the end of the night as do the Studios’ other attractions as we’ve seen here and here. With the Studios’ current 8pm closes, you’re looking at waiting about 30 minutes if you get in line right around 7:55pm. As always, everyone in line before Park close will be able to ride regardless of the posted wait, which is often inflated at the end of the night to deter people getting in line. With an entirely full standby queue, the wait is about 40 minutes at the end of the night as FastPass+ won’t slow things down after official Park close since FP+ are not distributed after-hours.
Overall, our morning in Toy Story Land went swimmingly. I was able to accomplish:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:38am – 8:49am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 8:53am – 9:05am
- Toy Story Mania: 9:08am – 9:32am
That’s pretty solid for experiencing three priority attractions within about a half hour of the Park officially opening, all in standby.
In Part Two, we’ll venture over to Sunset Boulevard to see how things are looking there and then return to Toy Story Land in the early afternoon to see how long Slinky Dog takes to ride with FastPass+ before stopping for lunch at Woody’s Lunch Box.