We continue our coverage of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a look at what we can expect to see and do on a day with a regular 9am open. Of course, Toy Story Land opened back on June 30th and from July 1st through the end of August, the Park hosted a morning Extra Magic Hour inside the Land from 7am to 8am every day.
Back in July, we took a look at what that morning EMH looked like, which culminated in what was just about the easiest rope drop experience to a Park’s highest-priority attraction of all time (of all time). Of course, there’s probably going to be a big difference between what ended up being a 6:45am opening and what is now a 9am opening. I think we can certainly expect to see more people up and at ’em at 9am than 7am. And everyone heading into the Park is eligible to take part in a regular 9am open, while only those with the Extra Magic Hours benefit could attend the very early morning EMH.
One other wrinkle in September: Toy Story Land will be hosting “Passholder Play Time” for select Annual Passholders that have already signed up for the events that occur on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 7am through 9am from now until September 29th. So when we arrive in Toy Story Land from the main entrance, some number of Annual Passholders will already be back there, potentially clogging up lines before we can ever hope to arrive at the attractions ourselves. Let’s see how all of this plays out.
It’s 8:06am on the morning of Tuesday, September 4th, 2018.
My apologies as I made a poor lens choice and only brought along my Sigma 85mm f1.4, which is “too zoomed in” to be useful for a lot of shots; we’re going to be relying on some first generation Android photos a little more often than I’d like, but we should be able to get the gist of what’s going on.
This advice is only valid on Tuesdays-Saturdays through September 29th when the Annual Passholder thing is going on, but those checking in for the Passholder event do so on the far right.
If you arrive before 8am, you should be first in line at your choice of tapstile, but if you arrive a little later, I’d suggest heading down to the line on the far right.
At about 8:20am, one of these sets of tapstiles that was previously used to admit Annual Passholders will open to all guests, and you can quickly move much closer to the front of one of the newly-opened lines if you’re ready for it.
I’m about 12 people back here at 8:15am.
After shifting over, I’m third.
The rope drop crowd builds quickly in the morning. This is 8:20am and there’s considerably more people than when I arrived about ten minutes earlier.
Five minutes later, the lines for each tapstile go back past the ticket booths.
It’s a lot of people.
One other bonus of being near the front of a line – Donald and Daisy come out to greet the kids for a few minutes around 8:25am. It’s a fun opportunity to enjoy a little magic before the day officially begins.
There’s the 85mm. At 8:30am, the tapstiles opened and we were allowed to enter the Park.
We’re then held on Hollywood Boulevard just before the turn onto Sunset Boulevard, which is where you’ll find Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.
Interest in Jedi Training signups fell off considerably with the opening of Toy Story Land. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of tourists have absolutely no idea what they’re doing or what anything is and simply follow the crowd. With the early morning EMH in Toy Story Land, nobody went to Jedi Training first thing because signups didn’t begin until after the walk back to Toy Story Land started. So Jedi Training spots were available well into the afternoon because there was nobody for the tourists to follow over there.
We’ll have to see how much of a priority Jedi Training signups are with the regular 9am open, but it “feels” like people are more intent on getting back to Slinky Dog Dash first thing. If you are signing up the kids before rope drop for Jedi Training, then you might head over to this “Another rope” waiting area after you complete the signup, instead of trying to join the large mass on Hollywood Boulevard. Likewise, if you arrive later than you’d like, you’re better off trying to get over here than waiting in the back of the main crowd.
This is the scene behind me at 8:41am. It’s a lot of people.
You’re in luck if you’re an Annual Passholder doing the “Play Time” as crowds have been completely nonexistent for the event thus far with all three Toy Story Land rides being walk-ons virtually the entire time. Passholders could have signed up for a 7am-8am or 8am-9am slot, but Disney isn’t being too strict about those that signed up for the 8am-9am time arriving early. Officially, Passholders may ride Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash just one time each via entitlements attached to their tickets/MagicBands. But crowds have been so light that Disney hasn’t enforced that limit. If Disney does enforce the limit on busier mornings, Toy Story Mania remains open with no limit to the number of times you can ride. Also, if you’re a participating Passholder with plans to head to Sunset Boulevard before 9am, you’ll be able to come down this way and wait on the other side of where everyone else is waiting for a much easier experience.
The walk to the attractions started at 8:46am, which has been the norm on most days with regular 9am opens for the last few years. About 80% of the people here are heading to Toy Story Land, while about 15% will head down Sunset Boulevard towards Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Tower and another 5% will head elsewhere.
Here’s the scene behind me with people backed up nearly to the entrance at 8:45am.
The route should be familiar if you’ve rope dropped Toy Story Mania at just about any point over the last 5+ years.
Some number of people thought they could get around the slow march by cutting over towards Hollywood Brown Derby.
But they were held for a moment while everyone else caught up.
I suggest going through the wide archway these days. The narrower arch used to hold a slight advantage, but so many people try to squish through that it ends up being slower, particularly as cast members slow the first few people through down.
So head through the wide archway and take a wide turn and you can get around a lot of people making a tighter turn.
I would imagine that woman is freaking out about the fact that there is a new post on easywdw.com and she is stuck at the theme park going to a ride. Either that or Bitcoin is down. Or she refreshed her “customized touring plan” and it’s now telling her to go to Muppet Vision 3D first. We’ll take a right towards Toy Story Land in a moment.
I’d try to stay to the right at this point as we’ll be filing into Slinky Dog Dash on this side. You also have an opportunity to negotiate a better price on your Disney Vacation Club contract as we pass the kiosk.
It’s 8:50am as we pass the sign welcoming us to Toy Story Land, which means the walk over here has taken just four minutes thus far.
The Toy Story Land rope drop situation isn’t unlike what happens over at Pandora at Animal Kingdom. Slinky Dog is akin to Flight of Passage – a major priority where those that arrive at the ride first will wait two minutes, while some of the last people that were also there at rope drop, but arrive at the attraction a couple of minutes later, will wait more than an hour. Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania are more like Na’vi River Journey – you could be at the very back of the crowd walking over to Toy Story Land and wait just a couple of minutes at either of those attractions first thing. So if you managed to acquire Slinky Dog FastPass+ or plan to ride last thing at night and don’t want to deal with the rush, then you can comfortably hang back and let everyone else rush to Slinky while you waltz to Toy Story Mania or Alien Swirling Saucers. Also, with Toy Story Land siphoning off so many people, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror will be walk-ons for at least the first half hour of operation with waits slowly building towards the end of the first hour.
The Annual Passholder Play Time participants will not have any effect on our experience. There aren’t even enough of them still in the Land to fill half of a Slinky Dog vehicle. Saturdays may see more people actually show up, but it seems like Disney did not sign a whole lot of people up for each event or the vast majority have elected to skip it.
Here we are making the right turn into the start of the Slinky Dog queue. You can see that a considerable number of people have evaded my elbows and somehow snuck past me. I’m sure I knocked over at least 10-12 children on the walk over though, potentially reducing my wait by up to 30 seconds.
The only people headed to Alien Swirling Saucers are lost, but the entrance is down there.
We’ll stick to Slinky.
Here at 8:53am, or about seven minutes after we started walking over here from Hollywood Boulevard, the Slinky Dog wait is still posted at 10 minutes.
A minute later, the wait jumped to 30 minutes, which doesn’t seem to bode well.
I’m close enough to the front of the line that it’s mostly a straight-shot to the loading area.
It’s hard to tell, but people are lined way back past Woody’s Lunch Box and towards Toy Story Mania. That’s why my early arrival that put me towards the front of the pack is important.
85mm. I don’t know what I was thinking. But even with the seemingly-large number of people in front of me, I was on the ride at 9:02am, or about five minutes after I arrived at the attraction entrance.
At least we do have a good view of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
I’ll run a separate Studios project/construction update.
But it’s hard not to gawk at the size of Star Wars.
Even if it’s going to end up being about 5% as big as necessary.
We can sort of see the people queuing down below.
I was back out front at 9:05am for a total experience time of less than ten minutes, which is almost unbelievable.
The posted wait is up to 65 minutes as the line backs up well past the attraction entrance.
And ends down there, somewhere.
It looks like just about there is the end of the line with a cast member holding up the “Line Starts Here” sign.
I’m heading to Alien Swirling Saucers next.
The crowd down there “feels” negligible.
Perhaps because about 15 people are waiting in line to order breakfast. On one hand, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be waiting for some breakfast tots when waits for Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers should be short, but these may be Annual Passholders that have been riding nonstop since 7am. On the other hand, it would make some sense to go and enjoy Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Star Tours, or what have you when waits are short over there too. Breakfast tots, though.
I arrived at Swirling Saucers at 9:08am to a 10-minute posted wait.
The queue was almost completely empty.
And I was able to saunter up nearly to the merge point with FastPass+ before encountering resistance.
And I boarded at 9:16am, which means my actual wait was just about eight minutes.
And I’m back out front at 9:18am for a total experience time of 10 minutes and a posted wait time that’s now 15 minutes.
And that’s probably about accurate with the queue starting to fill.
I was a bit surprised by how well things went. The rope drop walk back to Slinky Dog wasn’t that bad – far more comfortable than Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom, which you can read about here. I thought it was even less of a hassle than heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first over at Magic Kingdom, which you can read about here. We’re not even 20 minutes into operation and I’ve already experienced both new Toy Story Land attractions in standby.
Part 2 will continue with riding Toy Story Mania in standby before using a Toy Story Land FastPass+, then we’ll head over to see how long the wait is at Star Tours before using FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, all before noon.
What a day!