How I feel between publishing one of these posts and reading the first comment on said post.
We return to Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see what we can expect from nighttime crowds and wait times. Specifically, I’ll be trying to ride Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, and Slinky Dog Dash in the standby line, in addition to grabbing dinner at Woody’s Lunch Box, the last of which seems slightly out-of-theme. So far, we’ve taken some time to get our bearings in this post, with a lot of arrows pointing towards landmarks big and small. We also considered the Studios’ current FastPass+ situation in this post, with some tips on how to score those elusive Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+, among other things.
Woody’s Lunch Box is the name of Toy Story Land’s quick service. You’ll find it on the left most of the way into area. Only the Restrooms and the entrance to Alien Swirling Saucers are ahead.
You’ve probably already seen a number of positive reviews bestowing the Lunch Box as “Hollywood Studios’ best quick service.” Most of those experiences were based on the free media preview or the soft opening, neither of which provides a particularly accurate glimpse into what the typical guest will experience. The fact of the matter is that Woody’s Lunch Box is woefully undersized with a seating section that is far too small to meet current demand. That probably won’t always be true – the Land opened five days and it’s July 4th week. But you can expect it to be true for some time. And even if, by some miracle, it’s less than a complete clustercuss in a year’s time, the seating section is still entirely outdoors with maybe 25 tables total.
This is pretty much it.
I’ll write a separate review as the food is not the focus of this particular post, but here’s the menu, with the emphasis largely on sandwiches.
Along with drinks.
Woody’s Lunch Box participates in mobile order, which is a relatively easy way to select what you’d like to get via the My Disney Experience app without any need to stand in the initial line. Unfortunately, picking up your mobile order, which you’ll do at the far right window, is sort of like boarding an airplane in basic economy.
We might be order 327. And they might be calling for order 327. But we’re still going to have to maneuver past the people with orders 328-6,732 in order to pick it up.
Worse, I put my order in at 7:17pm and didn’t have my food until 7:40pm, so I waited 23 minutes. That seemed to be largely due to my $9.25 “Grown-Up’s Lemonade – Three Olives Cherry Vodka, odwalla All-Natural Lemonade, and Black Cherry Purée,” which took so long to arrive on the tray that it “felt” like someone must have visited Planet Z in order to pick it up. Other orders seemed to be taking about 15 minutes between the time the guest clicked “I’m Here” and the order was ready for pickup. That’s probably about ten minutes too long.
The good news is that the food is actually very good.
This is my $13 “BBQ Brisket Melt – Sliced Smoked Brisket, Pickles and tangy BBQ Sauce between melted Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses on Grilled Sourdough.” The bread was perfectly toasted and delightfully buttery with just the right amount of crispiness.
The amount of brisket inside was generous with a delicious smoky quality and a great meaty flavor in between several layers of ooey, gooey cheese. It was a little heavy on the pickles for my tastes, giving the sandwich more of a sour, vinegary quality than I would like. That wasn’t helped by the fact that the brisket itself was slightly on the dry side. Just a touch more sauce would have helped. But these are minor gripes. It was really good.
On the other hand, I was enjoying it while standing up, outside, in Florida, in July, at 7:45pm, which is less than pleasant most of the time.
You have your choice of three sides – Tomato-basil Soup; Vegetable Macaroni Salad – Macaroni tossed with Onion, Red and Green Peppers, Cucumber, Diced Tomato, Green Olive and Italian Dressing; and Potato Barrels. Note that Potato Barrels are better known as Tater Tots, which seemed to confuse a number of people around me.
Given the heat, I went with the cold Macaroni Salad, which was quite good with nicely chilled, al dente pasta tossed with a lot of stuff in a zesty Italian vinaigrette dressing. It looks like a small cup, but it’s packed in there nicely. A smart choice.
I’ll get into it more in a separate update, but Woody’s Lunch Box does serve some of the best quick service food in any Disney World theme park. But the overall experience may be less than pleasant. The majority of the people sitting at the tables won’t have food unless Disney is policing the area and only allowing those with food to sit. They weren’t doing that on this particular evening. And at best, you’re sitting outdoors, largely uncovered, with a lot of hot, sweaty people around.
Thanks to the joy that is refreshing FastPass+ availability, I managed to score an Alien Swirling Saucers FastPass+ for the same day at 5:49pm with a return time of 7:35pm – 8:35pm. As we know from the FastPass+ overview, it would make sense to also book Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror for shortly after my arrival. I could have booked one for around 5:30pm – 6:30pm and the other for 6:30pm – 7:30pm and enjoyed those rides before heading up to Toy Story Land.
Here’s the scene outside Woody’s Lunch Box at 8:05pm on July 3rd as I head towards Swirling Saucers in the very back of the Land.
It’s posted at 50 minutes.
The process here is straightforward.
The ride itself is housed off to the right.
Standby winds around over here to the left.
Smile and wave.
At the poor people.
We’ll then continue forward to load.
Swirling Saucers is said to be a clone of Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree from Cars Land in California.
Here, it’s obviously themed to the aliens from Toy Story.
The height requirement is 32″.
There are two separate sides to the ride, each of which loads independently.
You’ll find eleven vehicles per side, if memory serves.
Each alien rocket ship seats up to two adults and a child comfortably as seen in the overhead animation.
A simple seat belt, not unlike Dumbo, holds us in. You’ll want to fasten it tight.
Your alien will guide you on what ends up being quite the ride as the saucer moves from turntable to turntable whipping you and the rest of your body around in the process.
Everybody is going to compare this to the Mad Tea Party tea cup ride over at Magic Kingdom.
And that’s probably somewhat apt.
But Swirling Saucers, at least in my opinion, is both more intense and less nauseating than the tea cups.
There is some spinning around, of course, but you’re never in whirling dervish territory and you’ll spend most of your time looking forward before being whipped around to another side of the track.
Here’s an on-ride video of what to expect.
As far as carnival-esque rides go, I thought it was a lot of fun and the theming and details are incredibly precious.
Objectively, it’s probably the “worst” ride at Hollywood Studios, but it’s certainly worth experiencing for yourself if you have the opportunity.
With FastPass+, I got in line at 8:06pm with a 50-minute posted wait and was back outside at 8:18pm and a 40-minute posted wait, for a total experience time of just 14 minutes. The ride itself lasts a merciful 85 seconds or so.
With that out of the way, it’s time to turn around and rock some standby lines, since I don’t value my time.
With the installation of the third track at Toy Story Mania, you might remember that wait times dropped considerably.
Here at 8:21pm, the posted wait is still 55 minutes. I was planning on giving myself 2.5 hours to ride all three rides in standby, but dinner ran a little long. We’ll see how things turn out given the truncated time table.
The queue seemed laughably long considering Toy Story very rarely sports a triple digit wait these days.
Maybe on Christmas somebody will be stuck out here.
I’d say they’re planning ahead for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
But these are the same people that built Woody’s Lunch Box.
WITH TWO FREAKING REGISTERS.
AND NO INDOOR SEATING.
There’s also NO GIFT SHOP.
AND NO PIZZA PLANET.
AND ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS.
Which, we know, from Cars Land, HAS AN ABYSMAL HOURLY CAPACITY, OF FEWER THAN A THOUSAND RIDERS PER HOUR.
At least the majority of the Toy Story Mania queue that you’ll actually wait in is air-conditioned.
For that reason, even if Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers had the exact same wait time distribution, the same demand, and the same number of FP+ experiences distributed per hour, I’d still use FP+ at Swirling Saucers and ride Toy Story Mania in standby every single time.
Let’s get inside:
It was worth going through the standby line just to see Mr. Potato Head again.
Once you pass Mr. Potato Head, you should be on the ride in about ten minutes.
Continuing on through familiar territory:
The exit is less familiar as you’ll head right instead of left and then head down a very long corridor.
Followed by a very long outdoor walkway:
That will ultimately send you out just about across from the walkway to Slinky Dog Dash.
Here’s the overhead map again with the exit path marked.
What a picture…
I got in line at 8:21pm with the 55-minute posted wait. I was on-board my vehicle at 8:55pm for an actual wait of about 34 minutes. And here I am back out front after the long walk from the exit at 9:09pm, for a total experience time of about 48 minutes, which includes a few minutes taking pictures.
Here’s a look at posted Toy Story Mania waits since Toy Story Land opened:
Saying that Toy Story Mania waits have been shockingly short over the last couple of days is probably hyperbole, but I don’t think I would have told you that the average wait here would hover around 40 minutes over the busy July 4th holiday, particularly considering Toy Story Land isn’t even a week old. If you are eligible for Extra Magic Hours and want to get in on the Toy Story Land action without dealing with the Slinky Dog Dash hysteria, then you could very easily ride Toy Story Mania three times from 7am-8am with the possibility of adding a fourth ride. Visiting Alien Swirling Saucers first and then heading over here is also viable as 90%+ of the rope drop crowd is headed to Slinky Dog Dash.
Toy Story Mania has run into some mechanical problems with two of the three tracking going down for about 90 minutes on each of the last two days. On both occasions, only FastPass+ users were admitted. On July 2nd, the ride also opened about 75 minutes late. Before the ride’s entrance moved to Toy Story Land, those kinds of problems were less common and I expect Disney will figure out what’s going on in the near term.
Heavy rain reduced waits late on July 5th with the posted wait dropping all the way to five minutes, which is about as long as it takes to walk what is now a massive queue.
Otherwise, for the next couple of months, I’d expect to wait about 30 minutes in line from 8pm to 9pm, 15 to 20 minutes from 9pm to 10pm, and around ten minutes after 10pm. Waits should hover around 10 minutes during most of the evening Extra Magic Hours, but we’ll have a better idea about what that looks like after tonight, when the Studios hosts its first evening EMH in years.
In Part 2, we move on to Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash, in addition to taking a better look around the Land at night, when things really light up.