We pick things up on the morning of Monday, November 4th, 2019. It’s 8:46am as we take a right towards Toy Story Land. In the first part of this series, I covered what to expect from the rope drop experience in a post-Galaxy’s-Edge world, along with explaining a bit about why we’ve planned our excursion in this particular way. As a reminder, this was the first day that the Studios opened at 9am to all guests, after a 2+ month long bout of three-hour-long Extra Extra Magic Hours. The Sunday that preceded our visit saw the Studios host a normal, one-hour Extra Magic Hour, which will be the norm on Sundays moving forward. Somewhat surprisingly, the Studios doesn’t look to be adding any additional days with morning Extra Magic Hours over the course of the week. We also don’t have any evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled and Disney has not yet added dates for the paid Early Morning Magic or Disney After Hours events. You would certainly expect those paid events to return, but Disney may be waiting to see how reliable Rise of the Resistance ends up being.
Disney recently painted this archway and added the new Park logo. It looks a little on the bland side, in my opinion. If anything, the logo should use a different font for each letter so that we know none of the various lands fit together cohesively.
There’s the old version, which “feels” like it had more personality with Mickey Mouse and “Studios” emphasized.
There continues to be one wrinkle with the rope drop process to Toy Story Land, which is the fact that the walkway in front of Hollywood Brown Derby is open for guests to rush down. Our walk up the main corridor is controlled slowly by about six cast members, but the people over there have an opportunity to catch up to the main group without resistance, even if they started much farther back. I don’t necessarily recommend this tact, but if you are much farther back than you’d like, it might be worth a last ditch effort to get even with the main group.
These days, going through the middle, wider archway is your best bet. You can then make a big left turn around those who clump together as they make a tighter turn. If you’re further back in the group, you can also move ahead by using that archway on the far right, which virtually nobody uses. Everyone else will be waiting to go through one of the closer archways.
Ordinarily, the narrower archway on the left is open, but it’s currently roped off due to a fresh coat of paint.
At 8:48am, we’ve predictably fallen behind a bit, in part on purpose, in part because it takes a moment to take all of these photos, and in part because I’m just that slow. But it should better simulate what you’re able to do if you don’t arrive absolutely first thing, or, like me, you take a picture every five steps.
The route to Slinky Dog Dash is the same as it has been since Toy Story Land opened last summer. This was the last day of the “Maleficent 2” preview at Walt Disney Presents. That attraction opens at 10am, along with the Mike and Sulley Meet and Greet in the back of the building. The preview is now “Frozen II.”
And we’re walking.
Slinky Dog Dash is the top priority in Toy Story Land, followed by the Woody and Bo Peep Meet and Greet. There isn’t necessarily a great opportunity to do both; after you’re done with one, the line will be prohibitive at the other. Your only option is to do Slinky Dog Dash first and then get in line for the characters after. The wait at that time will be 15 to 30 minutes depending on how quickly you’re done with Slinky. Theoretically, you could have someone in your party hold your spots in line for the characters while everyone else rides Slinky Dog Dash. But that sounds a little depressing for that person.
There is less of a rush to the character line because the Toy Story pair doesn’t arrive until official Park open at 9am, which is about ten minutes after this photo was taken. With no characters in sight, nobody really gets in line. If you’re headed to the characters, Toy Story Mania, or Alien Swirling Saucers (in particular) first thing, then you don’t necessarily have to hurry back here. Both rides are far more forgiving, and even if you’re the last person from the rope drop crowd to enter Toy Story Land, you’ll still wait fewer than five minutes for Mania or fewer than two minutes for Saucers.
There’s quite the opportunity to cut around on the left side of the line at this point, as cast members try to wrangle people into the line to Slinky on the right. If you’re headed to Saucers or Toy Story Mania first thing, then you’ll want to stay to the left and break off from the main group as soon as possible.
Here’s the crowd behind me. I’m guessing those people smiling and pointing are probably able to see an attraction at another Park from this vantage point.
From here, it’s just a matter of moving forward.
As long as you move relatively quickly with the group, don’t be too put off if it “feels” like you’re backed up a ways outside of the queue.
It just takes some time for all of the people who cut in front on the left to file over.
Don’t be too concerned if the posted wait is already much longer than you’d like, either. Disney isn’t able to cater the wait time to your particular eyeballs, so it will show the same wait time to everyone, whether they’re standing right in front of the sign or using binoculars to see it from afar.
We’re seeing an hour-plus wait as we enter the queue at 8:53am, or seven minutes before the Park even officially opens. 65 minutes is probably about accurate if you’re the last person in line at this point. Hopefully my wait will be about a quarter of that.
Again, it will probably be slow moving through here, but don’t let that deter you too much.
On one hand, I’m sort of backed up to the entrance, but more than half the queue is also currently empty.
Just two minutes later, at 8:55am, the queue is filling up with about a thousand people who have made Slinky Dog Dash their first stop of the day. I was probably around the 400th person to arrive.
Which is actually beating about 75% of the crowd.
I arrived at Slinky at 8:53am and was past the merge point with FastPass+ at 9:07am.
And I’m on-board a couple of minutes later.
these people have it figured out. sure, it’s ten minutes since the studios opened and you could basically walk on any ride, including slinky dog dash, which i am taking this picture from, but they realize woodys lunch box only has two registers. so they have breakfast first pic.twitter.com/SWULBUnls7
— josh (@easywdw) November 4, 2019
Woody’s Lunch Box is the rope drop destination of a select few. The joke may be on us after seeing the line in about a half hour. Such is life when you operate your establishment with two registers.
Despite more people being on hand for rope drop, we actually see fewer people heading to Toy Story Land first, with Smugglers Run proving to be a bigger draw. Before Galaxy’s Edge opened, we would routinely see Slinky Dog Dash’s line stretching back farther than what you can see in this picture.
Thanks(?) Galaxy’s Edge.
We’ll take a brief moment to enjoy the ride.
I was back out front at 9:12am, for a total experience time of just 19 minutes. That’s about seven minutes longer than the ride typically takes with FastPass+, so we’re doing pretty well for ourselves.
The end of the line for Slinky Dog Dash is not currently visible from the attraction entrance.
But it almost is. And that’s an improvement.
Just 15 minutes into operation, there’s 15 to 20 groups in line for Woody and Bo Peep already, indicating a wait of 25 to 40 minutes.
If I got back in line for Slinky Dog, I’d wait 60 to 90 minutes, which is why I’m not trying to do Smugglers Run first and then get over here before a serious wait accumulates. If I was the very first person on Smugglers Run, I might be able to make it to Toy Story Land by 9:20am, or later than it is here. If I got in line for the characters first and finished up with them around 9:05am, then the wait for Slinky would already be over an hour, too. The only way to experience Slinky with a short wait first thing is to arrive early and hurry over here first thing.
Jessie continues to meet in front of Alien Swirling Saucers all day. She’s pretty popular with what looks to be about ten groups waiting, indicating a wait of 15 to 20 minutes.
Alien Swirling Saucers is our next stop. I go back and forth on whether it makes more sense to ride Toy Story Mania second, but always come back to Saucers with its low capacity and penchant for one of the two sides to be down early, in turn halving what little capacity it does offer. Its proximity to the Land’s entrance from Galaxy’s Edge may also cause a few people to get in line as they conveniently head into Andy’s Backyard from Batuu.
It’s a little hard to tell, but this is the end of the line for Smugglers Run, which means the actual wait if you were to get in line right now would be about 100 minutes for the Millennium Falcon simulator. That’s part of why I’m not trying to hurry over there after Slinky Dog Dash. It’s one or the other.
The other reason is that we “literally” can’t head into Galaxy’s Edge from Toy Story Land at the moment. The good news is that with Star Wars Land proving to be capable of meeting demand, that this pathway opens much earlier in the morning than originally anticipated. Once the line for Smugglers Run dies down, and no longer stretches back to the Toy Story Land entrance/exit, we’ll be able to freely walk between the two Lands. That should happen by the time we’re done with Swirling Saucers. On busier days, you may not be able to head into Galaxy’s Edge from Toy Story Land until after 10am, though.
Saucers is posted at ten minutes at 9:15am.
The line was short enough that everyone was sent through the FastPass+ line, which is shorter in length and will allow us to board that much quicker. Oh boy.
My wait will end up being about as long as it would take with FastPass+ later in the day.
That’s seven or eight minutes.
What a life pic.twitter.com/3zKtsx4BDB
— josh (@easywdw) November 4, 2019
I arrived at 9:15am and was on-board at 9:23am.
I was back out front at 9:26am, for a total experience time of 11 minutes. The posted wait has doubled to 20 minutes with an actual wait that’s probably up to about 15.
The walkway into and out of Galaxy’s Edge is now wide open. Once Rise of the Resistance debuts on December 5th, we probably won’t see any need to block access to Star Wars from Toy Story Land, unless Rise of the Resistance is somehow enough to fill up all of that available space. There’s a lot of it in there. There is not much use in heading to Galaxy’s Edge at this point, unless I had other plans for the other rides and wanted to take advantage of lower crowds at some of the stores or at Oga’s Cantina. The wait for Smugglers Run is still going to be 75+ minutes, which is longer than you want to wait for anything at 9:30am.
Those people ordering from one of the two registers at Woody’s Lunch Box at the crack of dawn are looking pretty smart, as the line is now backed up quite a bit further. Mobile order is a must here. But even then, I’d slam a granola bar and move on.
Slinky Dog is still backed up past the entrance, but it’s a far cry from the long length of the line that we’ve seen in the past. It wasn’t unusual at all for the line to stretch back outside the Land, which is why Buzz Lightyear meets near the entrance in the morning. If he was in his regular spot before 11am, he’d be in the middle of the queue for Slinky Dog.
As you might expect, the line for Woody and Bo Peep is now about ten minutes longer. The end of the line is not visible in the picture because I’m bad at this.
Things have certainly picked up in Toy Story Land, which is why our early arrival is so important. While I did arrive 75 minutes before the Park opened, and waited about that long to head to Slinky Dog Dash, doing that is what allows me to ride Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania with relatively short waits after. If I were to arrive at 9am, and then wait that 75 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash, the waits everywhere would be prohibitively long by the time I finished around 10:30am.
Toy Story Mania was already posting a 40-minute wait before 9:30am, but I figured I would give it a whirl.
Things don’t look too bad as the queue in this far-off room was clear.
Mr. Potato Head was visible about ten minutes later, which is always a good sign. The merge point with FP+ is right around the corner.
I arrived at 9:29am and was on-board at 9:59am, for a wait time that was exactly 30 minutes.
Here’s the actual end of the line for the Woody and Bo Peep meet, which now routinely backs up into Toy Story Mania’s exit area. If you’re interested in meeting the characters, then I’d probably do so at some point in the afternoon, given the cooler temperatures here in the fall. The wait will just about always hover around 35 minutes until the late night.
We’ll discuss touring strategy more as we get later into the morning, but you may consider using a fourth FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania later in the day, instead of riding in standby at this point. The bottom line is that we’re not going to be able to make it to all five Tier 1 FastPass+ rides before appreciable waits develop. I’ve been doing okay so far, with a 15ish minute wait at Slinky Dog Dash and a 10ish minute wait for Swirling Saucers, but 30 minutes for Toy Story Mania is a little on the high end of things. On the other hand, if I ride in standby in the morning, I won’t necessarily have a reason to come back to Toy Story Land later in the day, which will reduce walking a little. But with Toy Story Land’s close proximity to Galaxy’s Edge, chances are that you’ll be back here either way.
As a reminder, this is how we prioritize FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios at the moment:
Tier 1 (Choose One):
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania
- Alien Swirling Saucers
Tier 2 (Choose Two):
- Star Tours
- Frozen Sing-Along
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Disney Junior Dance Party
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Muppet Vision 3D
Guests may initially select only one attraction from Tier 1 in advance. This includes all five of the most popular rides in the park outside of Galaxy’s Edge. The change complicates touring quite a bit, as previously guests were able to book in advance one of the Toy Story Land rides, like Slinky Dog Dash, in addition to both Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Now, only one of these high-priority attractions may be selected.
One potential piece of good news is that everyone else is in the same boat and day-of FastPass+ availability is better for priority attractions. At Epcot, the tier system makes it easier to secure Tier 1 attractions as 4th FastPass+ selections because guests may only select one attraction in advance from Tier 1, which includes Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track. If people were able to select three of these in advance, then there would be far less availability as most people would pick three priority experiences from the available inventory as soon as they’re able. With most guests at the Studios selecting one of the first three rides from Tier 1 in advance, there is more availability for Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers later in the day.
Both Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers will be readily available as 4th FastPass+ experiences with a little bit of refreshing, either via the My Disney Experience app or DisneyWorld.com.
Here’s how I’ve set up my FastPass+:
The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster FastPass+ window opens about 20 minutes earlier than I’d like, but I was booking my FastPass+ the night before and ran into some problems with availability.
At 6:45pm on the night before my visit, this is what I was seeing as available for one person:
No FastPass+ for Swirling Saucers or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster are available until the middle of the afternoon.
As a reminder, to refresh availability, you simply need to click on a new time at the top of the screen. To see all of the available FastPass+ return times for a single attraction, first click on the desired attraction and then swipe right on the screen to the left of the return times.
Toy Story Mania wasn’t available until 6:25pm. Even Beauty and the Beast doesn’t have the morning shows available. That’s pretty dire.
But keep in mind that most people who are booking a priority Tier 1 FastPass+ are also selecting two Tier 2 FastPass+ experiences. To book an available Tier 1 FP+ attraction as a 4th FP+, you either need to use or let expire all three of your initial FP+. Based on the FastPass+ that I’ve booked, I would need to use all three or wait until after 1:15pm to book a fourth FastPass+. So we’re sort of stuck picking a show, in addition to Star Tours.
With Star Tours being the sole ride in Tier 2, availability has become much more sparse. There’s exactly two return times available for one person on the evening before my visit.
We then close things out with Voyage of the Little Mermaid, with its first return time into the afternoon, and the usual lack of availability for Slinky Dog Dash.
Good things continue to come to those who refresh. After about ten minutes of checking, a Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ appeared, along with some much earlier FastPass+ return times for other attractions. Even so, after refreshing for nearly an hour, a Star Tours FastPass+ for any time between 11:30am and 3:30pm never materialized. In order to get the 11:15am FastPass+ for Star Tours that I did book, I ended up cancelling my original 10:35am FastPass+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and moved it to 10:10am so that it wouldn’t overlap with Star Tours.
Ideally, you won’t be scheduling your FastPass+ the night before and you’ll be able to select attractions and times that benefit you. The main takeaways are that Star Tours now has much more limited inventory because it’s clearly the best attraction to choose from Tier 2. Tier 1 attractions will have slim availability leading up to a given day, but with some refreshing, every attraction will eventually become available.
Back to the day at hand, we’re heading out of Toy Story Land at 10:09am, having completed all three rides. The queue for Slinky Dog Dash now looks to be contained within its limits with a posted wait of 80 minutes. That makes my 15ish minute wait look pretty good in comparison. Alien Swirling Saucers is up to a 40-minute wait, making my 10ish minute wait look good too.
Toy Story Mania is posting a 50-minute wait at the same time.
Overall, my morning has gone well so far. I’ve been able to accomplish:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:53am – 9:12am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 9:15am – 9:26am
- Toy Story Mania: 9:29am – 10:09am
I could cut 15 to 20 minutes off the Toy Story Mania experience time by using FastPass+ later in the day. The downside to that is the need to walk all the way back over here at a specific time later in the day, which may or may not be convenient. I’d also need to be on my phone for some amount of time refreshing availability in order to book it. You could also use FP+ here for a second ride should you experience the attraction in standby first.
In the next part, we’ll head down to Sunset Boulevard to see how things are looking at Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster before moving on to Star Tours and then Galaxy’s Edge. Pull that post up here.