Another week…another Toy Story Land rope drop; a recap of our first go-around can be found here.
Of course, just about everything we thought we knew about the opening process has changed since week one as we approach bag check in a very wide manner,
Originally, everything was as we were accustomed to seeing with guests lining up outside the Park until around 8:25am.
Then we were released onto Hollywood Boulevard before finding ourselves held at “The Rope” until about 8:45am.
Then the mass of humanity was walked in little hurried steps back to Toy Story Land.
That doesn’t resemble the current opening procedure at all. Instead, guests are held outside the main entrance until about 8:40am, at which point the tapstiles open and guests are free to enter the Park. The Annual Passholder Toy Story Land Play Time lines have also moved to the far left next to the breakfast entrances. Last time, we saw them on the far right. So if you’re a regular guest visiting on an event morning before the end of the month, you might instead line up at the far left set of open tapstiles and then be prepared to move over to a newly-opened set of tapstiles once the Play Time tapstiles convert over to regular entrances closer to Park open. More discussion about how that works is found in last week’s coverage, but once the Passholder events end on September 29th, the advice will be outdated anyway. If you do arrive a little later than you’d like, then it still makes sense to line up on the far left because that’s where the tapstiles used for early breakfast reservations are located. They’ll convert to regular lines closer to when guests are allowed into the Park.
Now, instead of being held on Hollywood Boulevard, guests are free to head to the attraction of their choice once they enter. This is the scene outside Animation Courtyard at 8:44am, or about three minutes after the Park opened. We have not been stopped at any point after entering.
Overall, I prefer this opening process as it eliminates all of the uncomfortable jostling that occurs when a large group full of people that all want to cut in front of each other is moving across a long distance.
Moving forward, I would think the original rope drop process would have to take hold again.
There’s just going to be too many people waiting outside the entrance on anything resembling a busy day. Of course, the website will be relatively on top of whatever changes take place.
It’s 8:44am as I purposefully fall behind those hurrying towards Toy Story Land. I think this helps better-mimic where you might find yourself on your own rope drop morning. The couple in bright green shirts that were only a couple steps ahead of me are about to make the turn into Toy Story Land ahead in the distance.
Scurrying along, taking a picture every five steps.
Buzz is out greeting guests on the right. If you’re not doing Slinky Dog Dash first, it makes sense to meet him followed by Woody/Jessie before riding either Alien Swirling Saucers or Toy Story Mania. If you are riding Slinky first, I’d visit the characters immediately after. First Woody/Jessie and then Buzz.
Annual Passholders, heads held high, are marching out of the Land on the left with their neon green wristbands shining bright. You can read about my experience with AP Play Time here along with some thoughts on what it means for the Early Morning Magic event that starts here next week. I’ve received a couple of questions about how much I think Early Morning Magic will affect the rope drop experience on event dates, which will be most Mondays and Wednesdays moving forward. Like the Magic Kingdom event, which I review here, the answer is (probably) not at all. If anything, these Annual Passholder Play Time events are attended by more people and they have had very little effect on wait times as most of them have gotten their fill and moved on from Toy Story Land by the time regular open approaches. Assuming Early Morning Magic is limited to around 300 people, it’s true that a Park with a limited number of attractions like Hollywood Studios won’t absorb people as well as a Park like Magic Kingdom with far more viable places to go. But by the time 9am rolls around, you’d have to think that at least half of the Early Morning Magic attendees are either at breakfast or are on their way to breakfast at ABC Commissary and at least a third will be moving on to other attractions. That leaves maybe 75 Early Morning Magic people lingering in Toy Story Land, if that. But we’ll see how it goes on Monday.
Virtually nobody is headed to Alien Swirling Saucers first thing, which means there’s no rush whatsoever over there.
I’m filing into Slinky Dog Dash at 8:46am.
It’s hard to tell, but the official time is 8:48am and Slinky is still posting a 5-minute wait.
Despite letting just about anyone that wanted to pass me on the walk over throw their elbows in my general direction, it’s still a mostly-straight shot to the loading platform.
They were still sending Annual Passholders that were part of the Play Time event through FastPass+ right up until 9am.
So my actual wait ended up being exactly ten minutes and I was on-board at 8:58am.
Shooting at f22.
And Auto ISO.
On a roller coaster.
The whole way.
At least I got to ride eight times with some more appropriate camera settings during the Annual Passholder event.
I was walking by the queue, which has now filled, at 9:02am for a total experience time under 15 minutes.
In Part 2 of my last Toy Story Land rope drop post, I went on at length about how you probably want to abandon your plans to ride Slinky Dog first thing if you’re running behind.
And that remains true. This is exactly three minutes after the Park officially opened and Slinky Dog is sporting a 60+ minute actual wait. At the same time, Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania are “literal” walk-ons. It makes way more sense to experience those rides first and then wait for Slinky Dog at some other point in the day versus waiting over an hour first thing.
The end of the line is back down there near the merchandise cart.
It looks like there’s about 12 groups in line for Woody/Jessie, resulting in a wait of 10 to 20 minutes at 9:04am. That’s why I recommend getting in line there before moving on to the other two rides, where actual waits are still under ten minutes.
Here’s the scene outside Alien Swirling Saucers at 9:04am. Still quiet.
The posted wait is ten minutes.
I was on in five.
And there’s still nobody out there.
My total experience time ended up being eight minutes. And unlike the Passholder event, there were people riding with me!!! Vacation ruined.
There’s a few people headed this way at 9:15am.
Slinky is still backed up outside the entrance.
There’s the end of the line down near the entrance to Toy Story Mania.
You might remember that Toy Story Mania is where I got bogged down on my first rope drop experience, probably due to technical difficulties closing one of the tracks. The posted wait was 15 minutes as I approached, but jumped to 20 minutes as I took this picture at 9:15am.
The line was backed up just about outside again.
But we’ll be breezing through this room.
And into the next room in short order.
I was past the merge point with FastPass+ just 12 minutes after getting in line, which is 26 minutes less than during my last visit, thanks to the attraction operating at full capacity. But there was still quite the slowdown once I arrived here on my way to the new track.
It took 12 more minutes from this point until I was able to board the ride.
At 9:50am, the standby queue for Toy Story is backed up outside.
At 9:51am, the line for Slinky Dog Dash is now contained and the wait would be the same or shorter than what we saw around 9:10am.
On the other hand, things have picked up outside Swirling Saucers with its 35-minute posted wait.
There’s at least 25 groups in line to meet Woody and Jessie…outdoors…in Florida…in September. The wait would be 30-45+ minutes, which is more than a little rough.
The walkways in Toy Story Land will remain pretty quiet for another 30-45 minutes.
Toy Story Mania is posting 40 minutes.
Even with letting quite a few people rush ahead of me at rope drop, completing all three Toy Story Land attractions in standby in under an hour “feels” pretty solid. If I were to hurry ahead much faster, I could shave five minutes off the Slinky wait and at least 15 minutes off the Toy Story Mania wait.
Here’s posted waits at 9:55am:
If you arrive early and can move more quickly, and particularly on a “less crowded” day, it might be viable to hurry to Sunset Boulevard to try to ride Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in standby.
But by 10am most days, you’re going to be looking at an actual wait of at least 25 minutes at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and 20 minutes at Tower of Terror. And unexpected downtime/capacity problems can increase those standby waits in a hurry. I think you’re better off relying on FastPass+ at both of those attractions and then refreshing FP+ availability later in the day to try and snag other people’s cancellations/plan changes. Otherwise, I think you’ll be looking at a long walk and disappointingly-long waits for the Sunset Boulevard thrill rides more often than not. It’s way easier to sip a beer at BaseLine and tap a button on your phone over and over again.
It might be hard to tell, but the line for Voyage of the Little Mermaid has already filled the external queue, meaning these people are going to be waiting about 30 minutes to see the show. This is as easy as a late afternoon bonus FP+ gets, so don’t wait more than a few minutes. You can pick it up as your 8th selection of the day around 6pm if you need to.
I’m on my way over to Star Tours.
I was a little surprised to see the posted wait was already up to 20 minutes at 10:04am.
But I went ahead and risked it.
And as expected, there was basically nobody in line.
It was a straight-shot to just past the merge point with FP+.
I was back out front at 10:24am for a total experience time of exactly 20 minutes, which is just about identical to last week’s rope drop. I would have actually been a minute faster if I didn’t take a moment to snap some photos of the progress on the Tatooine Traders refurbishment.
It’s 10:26am, which is around the time that it makes some sense to start using FastPass+. Outside of Star Tours, none of the rides are going to have actual waits under 30 minutes.
There’s a decent number of people heading into the Park.
I thought it “felt” busier than my September 4th visit, though I’m not sure you’d pick up on that from this picture.
Tower of Terror is posted at 35 minutes.
That might be the best case scenario with the line winding back pretty far.
With FastPass+, I’m going to march right in.
I was in the library pre-show exactly five minutes after first getting in line.
Five minutes later, I’d be inside the elevator.
I’m assuming someone asked this gentleman where he would rather be and he pointed at “literally” anywhere other than Hollywood Studios.
A quick reminder that you can get one of those lenticular images similar to what’s offered at Haunted Mansion here in the gift shop.
When you look at it from the side, your picture disappears. It’s pretty cool for $20.
With FastPass+, my experience time ended up being exactly 20 minutes, which is a little below average. The posted wait is up to 40 minutes, which is probably about accurate barring any unexpected technical problems.
Up next is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which is posted at 45 minutes, just like last week.
That’s probably about accurate, despite the standby line coming in relatively short.
With FastPass+, I arrived at 10:52am and was in the pre-show just four minutes later at 10:56am.
I was thinking that this should obviously be rethemed to Rock ‘n’ Rammstein and the track would catch on fire as you’re whipped around.
I was back out front at 11:09am for a total experience time of 17 minutes, which is also below average. The posted wait is still 45 minutes.
Tower of Terror is back to 35 minutes.
Things remain quiet on Sunset Boulevard as the lowest crowds of the year continue for another couple of weeks.
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:48am – 9:02am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 9:05am – 9:13am
- Toy Story Mania: 9:16am – 9:50am
- Star Tours: 10:04am – 10:24am
- Tower of Terror with FP+: 10:31am – 10:51am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: 10:52am – 11:09am
That’s all six of the rides at Hollywood Studios completed with a minimum amount of hassle. My only long wait after the Park opened was Toy Story Mania at about 25 minutes. I could feasibly use FP+ there in the morning if I wasn’t planning on returning to Toy Story Land, which is considerably out of the way from most other areas in the Park. That would cut about 20 minutes off of the experience time and allow me to be on my way that much more quickly and I wouldn’t have to return to Toy Story Land later if I wasn’t planning on eating lunch at Woody’s Lunch Box. Other than that, it was pretty close to a perfect morning.
We’ll see how Early Morning Magic at Toy Story Land goes and we’ll keep an eye on any rope drop procedure changes at the Studios as things progress.