Edit: Disney is apparently running buses as early as 5:30am, which means Disney buses are a viable way to make it to the Studios by 6:15am. I’ve changed the relevant text below to reflect that.
With Toy Story Land now two weeks old, we can begin to seek some clarity on what we can expect from crowd patterns and wait times at the new attractions moving forward. And what that means for the rest of the Park, at least until Galaxy’s Edge opens late next year. But even then, the Studios is hosting a 7am – 8am morning Extra Magic Hour every day through August 25th. And once those daily morning EMHs end, Annual Passholder previews take over from September 4th through September 29th on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Those previews are scheduled for 7am through 9am on those dates, which means at least a few hundred Passholders will have early access to the Land, which will most likely increase lines and wait times during the first hour of regular operation as some number of passholders hang out in order to take advantage of low morning wait times. So the following really just pertains to the next six-ish weeks, but you can rest assured that the website will be on-site to see how things are progressing for the rest of its natural life. We’re still rope dropping Flight of Passage over at Animal Kingdom, for example, the post for which you can find here.
It’s 5:45am on Friday July 13, 2018. This is earlier than you probably want to arrive considering there are only two other people here.
I did have the opportunity to enjoy a topiary-pruning tutorial, which I’m planning to put to good use.
Even with few people in attendance, the Studios was fully staffed with at least 20 bag checkers and all of the opening cast members already set up.
There’s nobody arriving, either.
Just after 6am, bag check opened and I was on my way to the tapstiles. The cast members in this red rover formation are ready to scan your MagicBand or check your ticket/room key to make sure you’re eligible for morning Extra Magic Hour.
Virtually every tapstile was uncovered and ready to go.
That helped spread out the hundred or so people that ended up arriving by 6:15am when we were let into the Park.
Disney buses should begin picking up resort guests via bus by 5:45am, which means the first guests of the day will arrive here between 6am and 6:10am. Guests staying at the BoardWalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, and Dolphin have the opportunity to walk the 15 to 20 minutes from those resorts to the Studios. If you’re staying on-site, check the bus arrival times on the My Disney Experience app and try to time it so you’re only waiting a couple of minutes for the first bus of the day. If you miss the bus, consider using Uber/Lyft/Taxi to take your group to the Park. It’s worth the peace of mind and you’ll see how much I’m able to accomplish with my early arrival.
Hollwood Boulevard at 6:16am.
Those that have signed kids up for Jedi Training Academy over the last two weeks are welcome to chime in with their experiences, but signups haven’t been beginning until 7am. That may present a bit of a challenge for those that are planning on heading to Toy Story Land first before doubling all the way back to the sign up location to the right of 50’s Prime Time at some point in the morning. But everybody is in the same boat, so I would expect that it would be easy to sign kids up through at least 8am and probably for another hour after that.
We’re now stopped outside the Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks just before the turn onto Sunset Boulevard, which is where we’ve been stopped prior to rope drop for years.
Just about everybody present at 6:15am has passed me as I take my precious pictures. Here’s the scene to the rear at 6:18am. There’s all of eight more people heading in.
This is the “crowd” five minutes before we’re going to be released to Toy Story Land.
And the extent of the rope drop crowd at 6:30am.
Considering that we’re used to seeing this in front of the entrance…
And this as the backup prior to rope drop…
The lack of people was almost unbelievable. It seems like the sweet spot for arriving at bag check is right around 6:15am, which should put you here on Hollywood Boulevard around 6:20am.
Right at 6:30am, a brief, pre-recorded message played announcing that only Toy Story Land would be open from 6:30am to 7am. At 7am, the other eligible attractions would open. We were just about to be on our way.
We’re marched up the rest of Hollywood Boulevard.
Then through the archway towards what may or may not still be called Animation Courtyard before making a quick left towards Toy Story Land.
I’m purposefully slow to better mimic what things will be like if you’re pushing a stroller or haven’t quite perfected the art of the elbow toss.
These days, I think you’ll have better luck heading through the wide arch, but it probably doesn’t matter with this few people around.
It looks like there might be 150 people ahead of me and virtually nobody behind. We’ll continue past Walt Disney Presents and then take a right before arriving at what used to be Pixar Place and the old entrance to Toy Story Mania.
At this point, we’re passed off to another set of Toy Story Land cast members that will take us the rest of the way.
You’ll follow one of the two cast members holding signs. Those heading to Slinky Dog Dash are to stay to the right, while folks headed to Alien Swirling Saucers stay to the left.
This was one of the most orderly rope drops that I’ve ever participated in, thanks largely to the lack of people reducing the amount of pressure anybody felt.
About 90% of the crowd is headed to Slinky Dog.
If you really don’t want to deal with the rush to Slinky Dog, you can safely hang back from this crowd and still experience a short wait for the ride, even if you’re the last person to arrive from the initial group.
I don’t know about you, but I did not expect to live long enough to see a Studios rope drop where “literally” nobody is headed to Toy Story Mania first thing. But here we are.
Woody and Jessie are the second highest priority at rope drop, which may seem surprising. But their wait during the day is easily 45+ minutes in the unrelenting sun. I’ll head over here after two rides on Slinky Dog and before two rides on Swirling Saucers.
There goes Slinky.
If you’re set on skipping Slinky Dog, you might stop at the characters first.
There is no rush whatsoever to Swirling Saucers or Toy Story Mania.
Here we are lining up for Slinky Dog Dash. If you missed last week’s post on getting acquainted with Toy Story Land’s layout, you might check it out here.
I arrived at the entrance to Slinky Dog Dash at 6:38am to a 10-minute posted wait.
It should be pretty easy sailing.
The line ahead might look prohibitively long, but we’re skipping all of the switchbacks that will be in play from regular Park open onward.
Not to mention all of this.
It took all of three minutes to get past where the standby/FastPass+ merge will be later in the day.
The fact that there is no FastPass+ during morning Extra Magic Hour is a big benefit as it means 100% of the ride’s capacity goes to standby.
That means Slinky moves through about 1,000 standby riders during the morning Extra Magic Hour, plus another 350 or so from 6:40am to 7:40am since we got an early start.
Come 8am, 500 or fewer standby riders will have the opportunity to board per hour because so much capacity goes to FP+.
And once Disney figures out the exact ratio of FastPass+ to standby, that number will likely drop to around 300 standby riders per hour.
For now, we ride:
Other than the short wait, one other bonus about riding early in the morning is the opportunity to watch the sunrise, which adds some color to the sky.
I arrived at 6:38am and was back out front at 6:48am for a total experience time of just ten minutes.
I got right back in line.
The posted wait was still ten minutes.
But the line was longer with just about everyone that had ridden before me getting back in line, in addition to more people arriving from the main entrance.
Some of the switchbacks are now open.
As more and more people stream in.
Here at 6:56am, the actual wait would probably be about 20 minutes if you were to get in line now.
What a wonderful world that would be.
I was ready to board a second time at 7:02am, which brings my actual wait up to a lucky 13 minutes on Friday the 13th.
Here we go again:
Here at 7:05am, the standby queue has almost filled, which means the actual wait will be around 25-30 minutes for guests that are just getting in line.
It’s posted at 45.
As is tradition, I’ll be overdoing the sunbursts. You might get out your sunglasses now.
The end of the queue is actually outside the entrance and down across the bridge.
That early arrival is key. Consider spending the extra ten bucks that it costs to get over here via Uber/Lyft or the $15-$20 that it costs via Taxi.
The line to meet Woody and Jessie was only about four groups deep at 7:10am, so I jumped in line.
An 11mm portrait.
That took all of two minutes as the line has grown to about eight groups, which should mean a wait of about as many minutes.
Alien Swirling Saucers is up next.
At 7:15am, the posted wait is still just five minutes.
And given a queue that’s almost completely empty, that should be about right.
Too many sunbursts.
We have the opportunity to enjoy watching Slinky glide along his track.
Five minutes after getting in line, I was among the next group to board.
And we’re off.
I was back out front at 7:25am for a total experience time of just ten minutes.
With not a whole lot of people headed in this direction, I got in line again.
With a posted wait that’s risen to ten minutes.
And a queue that’s grown by a handful of people.
I was back on-board at 7:39am, which means I waited 14 minutes.
I was back out front at 7:42am after the 85-second ride.
To this crowd and what is still a 10-minute posted wait.
Here’s how things are looking at 7:42am.
Woody’s Lunch Box serves breakfast during the morning EMH, though it seems sort of silly to spend that time when waits are so short everywhere other than Slinky Dog.
At 7:44am, the posted wait is 35 minutes, which is probably about accurate.
One more look back towards Swirling Saucers.
And towards Toy Story Mania.
There’s probably about 15 groups waiting to meet Woody and Jessie.
Toy Story Mania is posting a 15-minute wait at 7:47am. This is about 20 minutes before those that aren’t eligible for Extra Magic Hours will arrive in the Land.
My wait actually began outside.
But with no FastPass+ users arriving for at least 15 minutes and few switchbacks in use, it should be quick.
Six minutes later, I was in the last room before picking up my 3D glasses. And at 8:03am, I was on-board, which means my actual wait came in at 16 minutes. That’s the longest of the morning so far, which makes some sense since it’s our last ride during the morning Extra Magic Hour.
Here’s the scene outside Saucers at 8:17am.
It’s still a 15-minute posted wait, which might end up being closer to 20 minutes. I was happy to see both sides operating from the start of the morning EMH, which helped move through people relatively quickly.
Slinky Dog’s line is now backed up well past the entrance with a 75-minute posted wait.
Here’s the back of it.
The line for Woody and Jessie has grown to about 20 groups, which probably now means a wait of at least 30 minutes given the characters’ propensity to take breaks in what is already a warm day.
Toy Story Mania’s posted wait is up to 35 minutes at 8:20am.
Those ineligible for the morning Extra Magic Hour are going to arrive in Toy Story Land a little before 8:10am.
That means just about everybody is already here since we’re approaching 8:30am. I see one straggler.
Overall, the morning went much better than I was expecting with so few guests able or willing to arrive before 6:30am.
- Slinky Dog Dash: 6:38am – 6:48am
- Slinky Dog Dash: 6:49am – 7:06am
- Woody and Jessie Meet and Greet: 7:09am – 7:12am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 7:15am – 7:25am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 7:26am – 7:42am
- Toy Story Mania: 7:46am – 8:15am
I don’t think that there’s anything I would do differently, perhaps with the exception of skipping a second ride on Swirling Saucers to wait a little bit less on Toy Story Mania.
In Part 2, we’ll head over to Sunset Boulevard to see how long we’ll wait in standby at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror before heading over to Star Tours to do the same. Spoiler: It won’t be very long.