There is not much use in “reviewing” the Toy Story Land Annual Passholder event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Signups were completed back in July and every date filled up within a couple of hours. Disney typically works on a first-come, first-served system, which I’m not a big fan of, despite the fact that I am the sort of person that it benefits. The annual passholder event signups are particularly unfair because Disney sends the invitation emails out in batches. So you could receive your invitation to sign up an hour or two after others receive theirs. Or just as likely, you won’t receive the emails at all, despite contacting someone at Disney five or six times about it. To get the link to sign up within the first couple of minutes of the system going live, you’d have to subscribe to something like Twitter, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. Or wait for me to mention that the event exists a couple of months after signups fill and then “review” it despite the fact that you won’t be able to replicate the experience anyway unless you’ve already confirmed your reservations.
You never really know what you’re going to get with a new Disney event. Disney has a long history of under-promising and over-delivering, but this is not always the case, often because the company underestimates demand for certain experiences. Disney announced “V.I.PASSHOLDER Nights” back in July with vague details about what the events might entail. The first event at Magic Kingdom turned out to be an overcrowded, unorganized version of evening Extra Magic Hours. For “free,” it might have been a nice little add-on if you were already in town, but anybody that traveled specifically for it was probably disappointed given the lack of any “special” offerings like unique characters or treats.
On the other hand, if there were a couple of special characters, it would have been a flashback to the Studios’ villain events that were an unprecedented clustercuss of confusion and lines. Disney could roll out 30 or more unique characters, but that can be a bit of an accounting nightmare as entertainment charges thousands of dollars per character per night, despite the fact that you could probably argue that the “real” cost is around $40 an hour for a character/attendant/photographer. Putting on an event for Disney, even when you’re with Disney, is sort of like being a patient at a hospital where you’re charged $30 for a dose of Advil even though it costs them eight cents. And if Disney does roll out a bunch of special merchandise, cupcakes etc., it turns in to a “money grab” where Disney is just trying to take advantage of their most loyal customers. Don’t offer that kind of stuff and Disney doesn’t care anymore. It’s sort of like blogging. Create content. Get harassed. Don’t create content. Get harassed.
But most of the events that Disney has added, many of them falling under the “Enchanting Extras Collection,” have been well-received by those that have actually attended. I still remember going into my first Early Morning Magic event at Magic Kingdom thinking you would have to be the absolute dumbest person on the planet to be willing to pay $70 to go ride three rides for an hour. And it’s one of the things I recommend the most. You can even listen to me talk about it in what I can guarantee you is the only opportunity to hear my voice this calendar year.
I bring this up, in part, because Early Morning Magic is coming to Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios beginning this Monday:
Yes, of course I will be there, because where else would I rather be on a Monday morning at 7:30am than Hollywood Studios eating Avocado Toast at ABC Commissary. I wish I was making that up. Toy Story Land was virtually built for Early Morning Magic. You’ve got three popular attractions inhabiting a small area, each with a short ride duration, and no pre-shows. It takes about seven minutes to go from the entrance to Slinky Dog, to experiencing the ride, to standing right back outside the entrance. And if Disney opens the gate to allow guests to reenter the Slinky queue without having to go back around, you can cut that down by about 90 seconds per ride. Alien Swirling Saucers takes about five minutes from entrance to ride to entrance. They may not make anybody leave their rocket during Early Morning Magic. At Toy Story Mania, it’s also possible to stay seated and ride over and over again. On the other hand, Toy Story Mania’s experience time is going to be closer to 15 minutes if there’s no mechanism to get people from the unload area back to load without going all the way around. There’s at least a 35% chance Disney has thought of this before the morning of the first event.
Back to the Annual Passholder Play Time at hand, the number of cast members working the event outside the entrance might outnumber the guests participating in the event once we get inside. Speaking of which, imagine finding yourself in a nightmare where you work outdoors in Florida during the summer and they give you the option of wearing pants or shorts and you’re like, “definitely hook up the pants and make sure they’re extra turquoise.”
If you caught our first regular Slinky Dog Dash rope drop last week, you might remember that everything was obnoxiously zoomed in to 85mm.
You might say that “zoomed in” will not be a problem this time.
Also, you’re going to want to disregard everything you read in that post because the rope drop procedure is completely different now.
But at least you’re still with us, which is good, probably.
Passholder Play Time is split up into two time slots – one from 7am to 8am and one from 8am to 9am, supposedly with 600 spaces available per hour. I’m not sure what they expected the people that participated in the 7am to 8am slot to do once 8am rolled around other than to leave the Park, but with the Studios current lineup of attractions, the event could be from 7am to 11pm and people would still probably head to the exit after they felt like they got their fill of Slinky. But with Toy Story Land bombing harder than an upstart space toy falling back to earth when its batteries die after three weeks (this is a Sputnik/Stinky Pete joke), not a lot of people have showed up. Also, the previews are at Hollywood Studios at 7am, largely on weekday mornings.
I don’t think you have to be a scientist trained to write about travel to put two and two together here.
Just Toy Story Land is open during the preview, but it does afford an opportunity to enjoy Hollywood Boulevard and the morning glow on the Chinese Theater.
Here I am at 7:41am heading towards Toy Story Land.
The official check-in time for the 8am-9am slot is 7:30am, but I think you could show up right at 7am and be admitted with everyone else.
Likewise, if you’re part of the 7am-8am crowd, you can stay through 9am without issue.
Here’s the scene in Toy Story Land.
One FastPass+ was loaded onto each attendee’s account for Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash.
The idea was that each attendee could use their FP+ for priority boarding on those two attractions one time each and then Toy Story Mania would remain open for guests throughout the event. As it turns out, there’s “literally” nobody heading towards Alien Swirling Saucers.
Maybe if we zoom out.
With so few people in attendance, I never scanned my MagicBand to use my FastPass+ for Slinky Dog:
I managed to ride Slinky Dog Dash seven or eight times from 7:50am through 8:30am. I honestly lost count.
Probably because I spent the majority of my time trying to take pictures of the Galaxy’s Edge construction.
With limited success.
We’ll take a closer look in a separate construction update.
I didn’t really have any plans to ride Swirling Saucers.
But I figured I wouldn’t have a lot of opportunities to ride it alone again until Monday.
The queue was completely empty.
And I enjoyed an 85-second ride basically to myself:
That took exactly five minutes.
If you’re a Passholder looking to spend a little more time at the Studios, it would probably make sense to head over to Sunset Boulevard for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror as official Park open nears.
Lines for the characters were also short during the event. It looks like there’s about five groups in line here for a probable wait of six or seven minutes. Buzz, who meets closer to the entrance, had an even shorter wait.
Here I am leaving Toy Story Land at 8:40am after experiencing eight or nine rides in less than an hour.
And a look in the opposite direction a minute or two before the first regular guests from the main entrance arrived.
Overall, I had a great time and it sounds like everyone else lucky enough to attend did too. I have to imagine that it was every bit as good, or better, than the $80/person Early Morning Magic event will end up being. Breakfast wasn’t included with the Passholder event, but Woody’s Lunch Box was open for the duration with entrees that run about $8 each.
My only real criticism of the event is the signup process. I think Disney needs to find a better way of getting the limited number of entries to deserving guests and not just the ones that happen to be trolling Twitter and the blogs at the time Disney arbitrarily decides that it’s time to get going with it. Once it became obvious that hundreds of Passholders would be skipping each morning’s event, it’s a shame that there wasn’t a mechanism to find some Passholders at the gate on the day of that had no idea that such an event existed and send them on in.
For the last couple of Annual Passholder events, they’ve used the same registration URL at https://event-registration.disneyparks.disney.go.com/disneyworld. There’s no telling if that will continue, but it’s probably a good start. WDW News Today on Twitter, here, will also assuredly be among the first to present whatever new links might come in the future.
We’ll check out the Studios’ current rope drop process next.