Against my better judgment, our series of Hollywood Studios updates continues as we head to what remains the Park’s newest expansion in Toy Story Land. In the first part of this series, we focused on what’s happening outside the Park with the expanded bag check, Skyliner station construction, and tram loop, among other things, along with some thoughts on what to expect inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during its first month of operation. In Part Two, our focus was on Hollywood Boulevard, Animation Courtyard, and what immediate changes we can expect once (part of) Galaxy’s Edge opens on August 29th.
It’s expected that come August 29th, Toy Story Land will be the sole exit from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, while the only entrance into a galaxy far, far away will be on Grand Avenue to the right of Muppet Vision 3D. This continues to “feel” like a bad idea, given the fact that Andy’s Backyard is already the most congested area in the Park. Worse, there’s also going to be a quick service barbecue restaurant installed just up the path here on the right at some point in the future, which should also increase the number of people seeking this path out.
Since Toy Story 4 debuted, Woody has met alongside Bo Peep instead of Jessie.
You’d have to think that they get some kind of combat training as they pass Buzz on the way to their post. You might remember that in the morning, Buzz meets just before the entrance to the Land on the left side because this area is usually occupied by people waiting for Slinky Dog Dash.
If Woody wasn’t about eight feet tall, I’m not sure you’d be able to pick them out of the crowd as they make their way over to their spot just past Toy Story Mania.
I hadn’t put much thought into whether it was Woody or Jessie drawing crowds, but after switching out Jessie for Bo Beep, it’s obvious that the people are here for the cowboy.
You can’t really see the end of the line to meet them in this picture.
Or in this picture. That’s partially because I’m bad at this and partially because the line is backed up down the way into the Toy Story Mania exit path. On the plus side, we do see the installation of more semi-permanent umbrellas along the queue. They’re now bolted into the ground. This is a shame because my touring plan for Star Wars Land was going to call for first stopping here to pick up an umbrella to use as a battering ram against the other guests. They can’t stop all of us. Back to the drawing board on that one.
At Woody’s Lunch Box, the large metal tables have been replaced by much smaller wooden tables, probably in an effort to increase the number that fit in the small space. Too often, you’ll see more than half of the tables occupied by people without food, while others carrying trays of sandwiches and drinks wander aimlessly looking for somewhere to set them down.
Woody’s Lunch Box remains difficult to recommend in the summer with its all-outdoor seating and the likelihood that you’ll find yourself scarfing down your food while standing at what is now a very small table. Combined with the fact that it’s 2:47pm, which is one of the least popular times of day to grab a bite to eat, it looks like the two registers at Woody’s are largely adequate. I wouldn’t want to be in that line with the sun blazing down for much more than a minute, though.
It’s a shame that the Lunch Box is often such an uncomfortable experience because the food here is quite good, for the most part, at prices that are typically lower than you’d pay elsewhere. My Pot Roast from ABC Commissary is going to be $16.49, for example. Disney announced the Roundup Rodeo BBQ back on April 30th, with no opening date attached, but work is underway with Disney clearing the area where the building will eventually go. Its arrival will likely ease the pressure on Woody’s Lunch Box, though it’s hard to say how much Galaxy’s Edge will in turn increase that pressure. There aren’t any changes to the menu outside of Disney offering a seasonal Lunch Box Tart, which is currently Lemon-Blueberry.
I wouldn’t mind easier access to this Brisket Melt. You can pull up my full Lunch Box review here.
Back on the character front, Jessie continues to meet in between the entrances to Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash, closest to the walkway to the roller coaster.
Waits for her are typically shorter than Buzz. Here at 2:48pm, there’s only about five groups waiting, resulting in a wait that shouldn’t be more than ten minutes.
Moving on to the rides, Toy Story Mania continues to post 45 to 65 minute waits for the majority of the day. Day-of FastPass+ are relatively easy to come by with enough refreshing.
Alien Swirling Saucers is posting a wait that’s less than half that. Interestingly, Disney finally installed or uncovered some of the interactive elements that were part of the original queue design. So there is a button you can press for a moment during that 30-minute wait, at least half of which will be outside and uncovered. Somewhat surprisingly, Swirling Saucers is the lowest FP+ priority in Toy Story Land, despite very few experiences being distributed for any given hour. Demand is that low.
Slinky Dog Dash remains the most difficult FastPass+ to acquire not only at Hollywood Studios, but Resort-wide. FP+ are typically unavailable fewer than 64 days in advance of a given date. Last month, I wrote extensively about the new FP+ tiers coming to the Studios on August 29th and why Slinky Dog Dash FP+ may be a lot easier to come by once Galaxy’s Edge opens. I’ll revisit some of those thoughts once we arrive on Sunset Boulevard for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.
At the moment, Tower of Terror is running at half capacity every day, as work continues on one of the elevator shafts, which results in the drop tower easily seeing the longest waits at the Studios this summer. Slinky Dog remains the second most popular ride, currently with an 80- or 90-minute wait depending on which wait time sign you believe.
As it often does, Slinky’s standby line spills well outside of the entrance. One does wonder, with all of the available space back here, why Disney wouldn’t build a queue that can hold at least 90 minutes worth of people. Toy Story Mania’s queue, on the other hand, is unnecessarily long. If it were completely full and all three tracks were operating, the posted wait would have to be upwards of 160 minutes, which virtually never happens. Slinky Dog’s queue, on the other hand, fills to its entirety every day. Somewhat amusingly, you may be better off out here, as you’ll at least be standing underneath what are now semi-permanent umbrellas bolted into the ground.
Once you get into the queue, there’s no shelter whatsoever as you wait for at least a half hour out here, completely unprotected from the sun and rain. I do count six overhead fans though.
You’ll always be outside, but at least eventually you’ll be under cover. Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom is the same. During the first 2+ hours of operation there, the line for the banshee simulator extends well past the ride entrance, and even after you pass underneath the wait time sign and enter the formal queue, you’re still standing uncovered, outside, for at least an hour.
Thanks to the joy of FastPass+ cancellations, I scored a same-day FP+ for 1:50pm to 2:50pm. As always, your FP+ is good for up to five minutes before the return time and up to fifteen minutes after, so my actual return window is 1:45pm to 3:05pm. I mention that since I’m arriving after my official window, but the FP+ touchpoint will still light up green, no questions asked.
Two minutes after scanning my MagicBand, I was past the merge with standby.
And six minutes later, I was ready to board.
I’m not sure if this is a minority opinion, but Slinky Dog Dash is my favorite Walt Disney World ride at the moment.
And it probably has been since it opened. I don’t even care who knows.
The views are fantastic.
Here as we get a glimpse of Galaxy’s Edge.
It’s colorful and fun.
Smooth and sweet.
Everybody always seems to enjoy it.
And you’ll also hear what is probably the most iconic line ever spoken in a theme park attraction: “Hold on!”
well, i didn’t get the crisp shot of galaxy’s edge that i was going for but the kid sitting next to me seemed to be enjoying slinky dog dash, WHICH IS REALLY WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT RIGHT pic.twitter.com/lX3JHXkFRp
— josh (@easywdw) July 20, 2019
Even with ten years of experience and tens of thousands of dollars in equipment, even I don’t always get the shot.
The Galaxy’s Edge opening is certainly going to be an interesting one here in Florida. It’s easy to blame the low crowds on the Passholder blockouts over in California, but the fact is that very few people have been willing to make the trip from out-of-state with day tickets. And Galaxy’s Edge hasn’t been enough for Disneyland Annual Passholders to want to upgrade their passes so they can go during the summer or purchase what are now discounted tickets to go for a day when their usual Passes won’t get them in.
Here at Disney World, even the Weekday Select Passholders can get in on opening day:
Silver Passholders are also eligible to visit every day in August and September, so they’re viable candidates as well. Like just about everything else in life, this does not bode well for Florida.
The trees have grown in for the most part, masking Batuu from Andy’s Backyard.
Here’s how things looked back in February.
That’s about the same angle last week.
Here’s a wider angle from September of last year.
Here’s just about the same angle from July of last year.
Here’s one more from last week. Of course, you’ll only see this view for about three seconds if you turn your head to the right during one of the turns on Slinky Dog Dash.
We’ll check out the view from the ground momentarily.
Despite the 90-minute posted wait and the standby queue spilling outside the entrance, my total experience time with FastPass+ was right around ten minutes. It’s hard to beat that.
Here are the walls that currently separate Toy Story Land from Galaxy’s Edge. Come August 29th, they should be down with everyone who leaves Star Wars heading right for us as we stand outside Alien Swirling Saucers.
From the ground, there isn’t a whole lot of Galaxy’s Edge to see – the occasional wing or mountaintop pokes up above the tree line. But that’s about it.
At least once Galaxy’s Edge opens, order will be maintained, no matter the cost. Perhaps instead of umbrellas, we can fill these Pixar balls with unobtanium (Avatar reference) and throw them at the people instead. That yellow Crayon could probably be used like a spear.
It’s been over a year since Toy Story Land opened, and all of the characters continue to meet outside, uncovered. Yet, they always seem to have a smile on their faces.
In the summer heat, that means set times are only about 20 minutes long. We saw Woody and Bo Peep heading to their Meet and Greet at 2:43pm, but they’ve already left and gone backstage just 20 minutes later. They’ll come right back out, but the walk back and forth is going to take at least five minutes, three or four times per hour, in turn increasing waits for everyone else who is also waiting outside. If Disney had any sense whatsoever, they’d build an indoor Meet and Greet location along with that barbecue restaurant. It’s not going to happen. But it should – for everyone’s sake.
Just after 3pm, crowds are already beginning to thin as those who arrived between 8am and 10am are at least thinking about heading back to the resorts, if they haven’t already left.
Not coincidentally, I’m sure, Disney opened “M A R K E T” back in January of this year. Other than a billboard or two, it’s the only thing that you’ll see in front of you as you exit Toy Story Land. That means everyone exiting Galaxy’s Edge will be walking towards it, too.
There isn’t a whole lot of interest here, but at least the prices haven’t gone up in the seven or eight months since it opened. That might be some kind of record. I doubt the pour quality on those drinks is very good, but at least churros is plural.
Immediately to the right of the “M A R K E T” is one of the Joffrey’s stands with the above menu.
As strange as it might sound, this is actually one of the best places to grab a boozy drink. Since they operate independently of Disney, unlike any of the other outlets at the Park serving booze, pour quality is much better and you can add an extra shot of alcohol for just two dollars. Since it’s typically Grey Goose, that’s not bad at all. You should come away with about twice as much vodka as you’d get at a Disney outlet for about the same price. If you see me walking the Parks with a cup of Joffrey’s in my hand, it’s not because I really like coffee.
The Incredible Celebration, hosted at what was once Pixar Place, will officially wind down on September 30th as planned. It looks busy here with Toy Story Land’s entrance to our right.
Take a few steps forward and it’s a little less so. Specifically, Disney has announced that “The Super Shindig” Dance Party, which takes place at the end of the Municiberg city block, will come to a close at the end of September.
It makes some sense as this is the piece of the Celebration that costs the most money with three costumed super heroes and a half dozen cast members in supporting roles during the Shindig, which runs from 10:30am to 6:30pm daily (through September 30th). Promoting The Incredibles, which is actually one of Disney’s strongest properties, is probably less important now that we’re over a year since Incredibles 2 debuted in theaters. That movie is the 17th highest-grossing of all time (of all time), beating out any of the Pirates of the Caribbean, Fast and the Furious, Despicable Me, Spider-Man, etc. movies.
After it opened back in January, the Celebration was seen by many as a last minute addition, or a kind of stop-gap between Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge. At that time, Disney had already announced that it would be temporary. With Galaxy’s Edge originally opening in “Late Fall 2019,” the September 30th end date made a lot of sense as we expected Star Wars to open sometime in October or November, ahead of the fall or holiday rush. Until then, the Celebration would occupy some number of people’s time. Considering the popularity of The Incredibles, choosing that property must have been an easy choice.
Disney has been a bit more vague about the other pieces that make up the Celebration, including the Iconic Edna Mode Experience Meet and Greet, which will likely continue after September 30th.
Edna also remains just about the least popular character in any Walt Disney World theme park with actual waits that are almost always under ten minutes. For some inexplicable reason, she continues to meet for a full hour before the rest of the Celebration gets underway. From 9:30am to 10:30am, there’s “literally” nothing drawing people into Municiberg and Edna is situated at the end of the line, hidden away inside of a brick building. I’d be surprised if she meets more than 20 people during that first hour. Meanwhile, Mike and Sulley typically post a 60-minute wait with actual waits that are three or four times longer than Edna, and they meet for an hour less. My guess is that the money to run the meet and greet comes from the studio budget, which is why her hours remain so long. Disney accounting is “interesting,” to say the least.
There’s also a snack stand:
They are probably just two or three straw sales per hour away from making this section of the Park profitable.
If you don’t really like Key Lime Pie, then you will probably like this version on a stick. If you do like Key Lime Pie, then you probably shouldn’t be ordering it on a stick.
That’s what’s going on towards the back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In the next update, we’ll make our way out of this area and over to Echo Lake and Grand Avenue, where I’m told there are some Epic Eats and also PizzeRizzo.