Our late arrival touring at Hollywood Studios continues from Part 1, where we laid the groundwork for what we’re trying to accomplish. Our main goal is to see how viable it is to experience each of the Toy Story Land attractions at the end of the night without using FastPass+ at Slinky Dog Dash. For a bit more intrigue, I’ll also be experiencing each of the other…let me count them up here…three rides at the Studios along with the two newest Meet and Greets. In Part 1, I met Edna Mode, explored the “Incredible Celebration” addition that opened back on January 18th, met Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. and rode Star Tours in standby.
Crowds remain relatively low as we pick things up heading towards Tower of Terror at 5:15pm.
I’m guessing that the 25-minute posted wait is below average for this time of day. Let’s take a look at the last few weeks:
The day of our visit is Wednesday, January 30th, when Tower of Terror saw its third lowest average wait of the past few weeks. Based on the last three-or-so weeks, the 25-minute wait is also less than half of the 55-minute average for that time of day. While that fact is somewhat irrelevant considering that we’re using FastPass+ and our wait will be similar whether the posted wait is 20 minutes or 60 minutes, it’s worth pointing out that this is a day with light crowds and low waits. Typically, I try to visit on busier days when our touring strategies shine brightest and save us the most time possible. But sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a chill weekday evening in late January.
Just keep zooming.
The standby line was actually backed up a decent distance, behind where I took this blurry picture. FastPass+ was also backed up outside the lobby, though it didn’t slow things down much. The actual wait is probably right around 30 to 35 minutes.
Maybe if a blog started chronicling everything wrong with Walt Disney World attractions, these sorts of problems with cobwebs and structural integrity would be addressed.
I mean, it’s filthy.
I actually saw this painting last week and liked it so much that it’s now hanging above my bed. That’s Epcot Festival of the Arts for you.
I arrived at 5:18pm, in the pre-show room about five minutes later, and on-board my elevator at 5:28pm.
Just from this limited vantage point, there has to be 50 different places where Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway could have gone instead of the Chinese Theater. It wouldn’t surprise me if the rationalization for everything that the Studios has undergone in the last three or four years is, “Hey, at least it’s going to be better than Disneyland, right?” with a room full of hearty laughter. They’re not wrong.
I was back out front at 5:36pm for a total experience time of just 18 minutes, which is five or six minutes below average.
Things were going so well that I was actually 15 minutes ahead of my next booked FastPass+, which was for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster for 5:50pm to 6:50pm. As we know, the “real” FastPass+ window is up to five minutes before and up to fifteen minutes after, so I can safely return to the attraction between 5:45pm and 7:05pm with no fear that Mickey will turn anything but green. While we have a minute, it looks like Disney is moving the FastPass+ return line to the left, where that green box is currently sitting. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy will open in Sunset Showcase on March 31st, with the walkway to the building behind those hedges immediately ahead of us.
Officially, the “Age Interest” is “Preschoolers, Kids, Tweens.” Just in case I don’t get arrested at Disney Junior, it looks like there will be a second opportunity.
We pick things up at 5:46pm with a 60-minute posted wait at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Is that below average for this time of day?
Why, yes it is! The 49-minute average for the day is the fifth shortest of the 19 days in question, but the 60-minute wait that I saw isn’t out of line with the 70-minute average for the time slot.
Standby, single rider, and FastPass+ are all backed up outside the building. If there was no FastPass+, the actual wait in standby with a line this long would be about 15 minutes. With FastPass+, you’re looking at 45 minutes.
I was inside the pre-show, threatening to show the goods in exchange for some backstage passes, just four minutes after getting in line. Thanks FastPass+. And sorry everyone in standby.
It’s 6:01pm and the posted wait has dropped to 45 minutes. That means my total experience time with FastPass+ was 15 minutes, which is five to seven minutes below average.
Tower of Terror’s 35-minute posted wait at the same time is probably about accurate. If you’re looking to experience these Sunset Boulevard thrill rides with short standby waits, it’s best to do so in the final hour of operation. Of course, you could say that about most attractions at most theme parks. We’ll be in Toy Story Land.
Say what you will about the Studios, but Sunset Boulevard remains one of the prettiest areas of any of the Walt Disney World theme parks as the sun sets. Hence, the name of the street, I suppose. Maybe if they had renamed the other half of the Park to There’s Nothing To Do Here Avenue, people’s expectations would be low enough that nobody would talk poorly about it. “Hey, there’s actually sort of something to do on There’s Nothing To Do Here Avenue,” what a pleasant surprise!”
Fairfax Fare’s proximity to the entrance to the Hollywood Hills Theater for Fantasmic, coupled with the fact that major quick services like ABC Commissary and Backlot Express routinely close at least an hour before the rest of the Park, can make it a lot busier than you’d expect in the evening.
What may be the most underrated quick service eatery in any theme park added this $11.49 “Tamale served with Ranchero Sauce, fresh Mexican Cheese, Cilantro Sour Cream, Cilantro Rice and Black Beans.” It continues Fairfax Fare’s turn towards Latin flavors and I’m happy to say that it’s an overwhelming portion of pretty decent food. There’s two full tamales that stretch underneath the pile of rice full of what ends up being pretty bland pork. Fortunately, the Ranchero Sauce brings a little spice and the creamy Queso Fresco adds a bit of tang. I ended up adding a couple packets of the provided Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce, but this should be plenty of food for two people to share as a pretty significant meal. I would have liked some bolder flavors, but bland is less likely to be returned, and that’s probably where we’re at with most Disney quick service meals.
After a half hour, most of which was spent trying to work up my courage to reenter Hollywood Studios Proper, I set out for Toy Story Land. This area is really pleasant at night with the bright fluorescent lights and tall palm trees dotting the walkway towards The Hollywood Tower Hotel.
As I was walking by earlier in the day, several people were seated here around the fountain as they usually are. Some girl flicked a coin towards it from a little further back than she probably should, and hit a poor gentleman smack dab in the middle of the forehead. It still probably didn’t register as one of the ten worst things that happened to him that day at Hollywood Studios.
The old time Hollywood theme is such a fantastic one; it’s a shame that it couldn’t be expanded with all of these movie properties occupying a different Park. There’s going to be absolutely nothing cohesive about this theme park come Late Fall 2019.
“But hey, at least it’s going to be better than Disneyland!”
We’re passing by Municiberg at 6:36pm, and while the festivities officially end at 6:30pm, the area stays open through Park close. It may be an opportunity to get one last photo-op in.
Here’s a “live look” at the doors closing at 8:17pm, or 17 minutes after official Park close. You’d have to think that this corridor is going to end up being used as the main exit from Galaxy’s Edge. My brain can’t get around the idea that Toy Story Land is going to be the only way to leave. Speaking of which, moving people out of Star Wars is going to be a big part of what will certainly be significant capacity issues. I have a feeling that the promise that Alien Swirling Saucers is “right over there,” is not going to pull people away from Ooga Chaka’s Cantina, or whatever they’re calling that bar that you’re going to have to stand at inside the Land. “Right around the corner, at this very moment, you could be carrying your food around the seating area for Woody’s Lunch Box, completely aimlessly, as all of the tables are occupied by people that don’t have any food because the lines to order are so long because there’s only two registers. What are you still doing in this 29-hour line for Rise of the Resistance?”
We’re heading into Toy Story Land at 6:40pm to some of the lightest crowds that I’ve ever seen here during regular Park hours on a clear night.
I have an Alien Swirling Saucers FastPass+ for 6:55pm to 7:55pm, but thought I would drop by Toy Story Mania in standby to see how long the actual wait would be. The entrance is the first that you’ll see as you enter the Land, just ahead on the left.
It’s posted at 30 minutes with just under an hour and a half until the 8pm close.
With the low crowds, the wait for Woody and Jessie looks to be about 20 minutes, which is about half of the norm.
After entering the queue, I didn’t meet any resistance until I was nearly in the Mr. Potato Head room.
That should mean the actual wait will be about 15 minutes.
And that ended up being just about accurate.
I arrived at 6:42pm and was back out front at 7:08pm for a total experience time of 26 minutes. That’s about ten minutes longer than it would have taken with FastPass+, which isn’t too bad. The posted wait has dropped to 20 minutes and will only go down from there. Here’s a look at posted waits over the last few weeks:
Like with our experience at Star Tours, I’m taking advantage of the evening’s low crowds, which enables me to visit at 6:40pm and still experience a short wait. My original plan was to get in line around 7:20pm, after riding Alien Swirling Saucers once with my FastPass+. By then, the actual wait should be under 30 minutes about 90% of the time, though the posted wait often doesn’t reflect that. If you’re big on Toy Story Mania, you should be able to ride three times in the last hour of operation without much trouble. Your biggest problem is going to be the monster length of the queue and exit.
Here we are looking back towards the entrance to Toy Story Land at 7:09pm.
And onto Alien Swirling Saucers.
While I think everyone was initially expecting Alien Swirling Saucers to prove more popular than Toy Story Mania, and be a higher FastPass+ priority, that isn’t what we’re seeing. Wait times for Alien Swirling Saucers are lower than Toy Story Mania and FastPass+ for it are easier to get. Typically, newer is always better, unless your name happens to be Journey of the Little Mermaid. Here at 7:10pm, the posted wait is just ten minutes.
The majority of the standby queue is empty.
Ten minutes is probably about accurate.
While Alien Swirling Saucers FastPass+ might be easier to get, and save less time, on average, it’s still the FP+ that I would book over Toy Story Mania in most circumstances. A big part of that is the propensity for one of the two Saucers’ turntables to close for mechanical trouble, in turn halving the capacity. Even running at full throttle, the capacity is still abysmal and when half of the ride closes, standby comes to a standstill as only one or two groups per cycle will ride. The Saucers’ queue is also outside and on the boring side, while the majority of Toy Story Mania’s queue is indoors and at least somewhat interesting.
Here’s a look at wait times at Swirling Saucers over the last few weeks:
Alien Swirling Saucers’ overall average wait, as seen in the lower right hand corner of the chart, is just 35 minutes, compared with the 49 minutes that we saw at Toy Story Mania. At 7:15pm, the average wait is just 22 minutes, compared with 31 minutes at Toy Story Mania. While it seems like Swirling Saucers is becoming more reliable, I’m still a little iffy on risking it. But it is worth noting that Toy Story Mania is seeing 40% higher waits than Saucers, on average.
Anyway, with FastPass+, I arrived at 7:11pm and was on-board just eight minutes later.
After 90 seconds of whipping around, with my life flashing before my eyes, I was back out front at 7:21pm to the same posted wait.
Since I don’t place any value on my own time, I headed back into the standby queue to check the accuracy of the posted wait.
I got in line at 7:23pm and was on-board at 7:36pm, so my wait was just over ten minutes.
Here’s the scene outside the ride at 7:40pm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people more excited to ride Swirling Saucers. They might have it confused for Na’vi River Journey.
Here’s a look back at the rest of Toy Story Land at 7:40pm.
Me, after publishing a post on easywdw.com. About three times per month.
Imagine seeing a 5-minute posted wait for a Galaxy’s Edge attraction…….maybe ever. That’s what we’re seeing at the Saucers.
I got back in line, just because I could.
There were so few people interested in riding that they had closed standby and were sending everyone through the shorter FastPass+ queue.
The only thing that gets me through a day at Hollywood Studios is the dream of being able to put on goggles and fly far, far away.
I got in line at 7:41pm and was on-board five minutes later.
The majority of the Saucers were flying empty.
My second ride in standby, and third ride that night, took six total minutes.
Toy Story Land is a ghost town with about ten minutes to close. Part of that is probably due to the eight thousand people that are currently sitting in the Hollywood Hills Theater waiting for Fantasmic. Part of that is probably due to the thousand-plus people waiting for Disney Movie Magic and the Star Wars Fireworks. Part of that is probably due to the Land’s location. Part of that is probably due to the fact that this is the Toy Story Land that we got.
As always, you can get in line for any operating attraction right up until Park close and ride, regardless of the posted wait. With the 8pm close, we’ll want to be in line when our clocks/phones say it’s 7:58pm or so to be safe. Do note that cast members are virtually never lenient on letting guests in after close. With an 8pm close, they’ll be happy to accept you when the clock says 7:59pm. But at 8pm, you’re probably out of luck.
I’m a little early to get in line just before close, but I didn’t find the thought of riding Swirling Saucers a fourth time particularly appealing, so we’ll get in line now.
Waits for Slinky Dog Dash at the end of the night range from between 15 and 45 minutes, with the occasional outlier. The average is right around 30.
As we’ve seen all day, this is a below average number of people waiting for this time of night.
If you arrive during the last ten minutes of operation and you’re at the very back of the queue, just underneath the wait times sign, then you’re looking at a wait of about 30 minutes. The nicest thing about waiting after Park close is that the ride’s entire capacity goes to standby since no FastPass+ are distributed after-hours. If you were standing in the same spot in standby at 2pm, then you’d be looking at a 75- to 100-minute wait with about 70% of the ride’s capacity given to FastPass+.
I arrived at 7:48pm and was on-board at 8:07pm for a wait of just 19 minutes.
Slinky is a unique experience after dark and one worth taking advantage of if you’re able.
To enjoy Toy Story Land during the last hour of operation, you’re going to be giving up seeing Fantasmic and in most cases, the Star Wars Fireworks as well.
Here’s a look at Slinky Dog Dash wait times:
Slinky sees the longest waits in the Park with its 78-minute average, beating Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at 66 minutes, Tower of Terror’s 50 minutes, and Toy Story Mania’s 49 minutes. That’s still well below the 98-minute average at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or the 153-minute average at Flight of Passage during the same time period. On the other hand, it’s higher than any attraction at Epcot with Test Track coming in at 63 minutes, Frozen Ever After at 47 minutes, and Soarin’ Around the World at just 44 minutes on the same dates.
At the end of the night, Slinky’s posted wait ranges from 5 minutes on January 27th, a day with horrible weather, up to 70 minutes just two days prior on January 25th. The 35-minute overall average is in line with our estimate that the actual wait will typically be about 30 minutes. To Disney’s credit, it’s nice that they’re not posting a 120-minute wait to deter people from getting in line, knowing that it’s going to be much closer to 25 or 30.
If you’d like to experience all three Toy Story Land attractions at the end of the night, then you’ll ideally use FastPass+ at one. Slinky Dog Dash is the obvious favorite, but it’s very difficult to get and you may want to schedule an afternoon ride, anyway, if you do have your choice. On a busier day with an 8pm close, I think your timing should look something like:
- Alien Swirling Saucers with FastPass+: 6:55pm – 7:10pm
- Toy Story Mania: 7:15pm – 7:50pm
- Slinky Dog Dash: 7:55pm – 8:30pm
That timing is on the conservative side, but you probably don’t want to risk being stuck in Toy Story Mania after close and missing an opportunity to ride Slinky Dog. To be even more conservative, you could move things back and ride Alien Swirling Saucers beginning at 6:40pm. If things go better than expected, then you may have an opportunity to ride Swirling Saucers a second time. If it turns out to be much less crowded than anticipated, then a second ride on Toy Story Mania may also be in the cards.
In the above scenario, you could substitute Slinky Dog Dash FP+ for the Alien Swirling Saucers FP+. If you wanted to try to ride twice, once with FastPass+ and once in standby, then you’d be looking at something like:
- Slinky Dog Dash with FastPass+: 6:15pm – 6:30pm
- Toy Story Mania: 6:35pm – 7:15pm
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 7:20pm – 7:50pm
- Slinky Dog Dash: 7:55pm – 8:30pm
If you don’t want to use FastPass+ at all, then that should also work on the conservative side of things on a busier day, just skip the first step with the Slinky FP+ since you won’t have one.
Back to my own experience, I arrived at 7:48pm and was back out front at 8:11pm for a total experience time of 23 minutes – not bad at all for Disney’s newest major attraction and one that had a 105-minute peak wait earlier in the day.
Here’s the queue as I was exiting the ride. If I had gotten in line right at 7:59pm, it looks like I’d be riding at about 8:18pm, for a wait that comes in under 20 minutes.
The poor Slinky Dogs are still missing their tails. They were removed during the first week in January of this year, probably due to safety concerns. Honestly, the last row of each Slinky is virtually always inhabited by a blogger or vlogger. If in some sort of freak accident a tail was dislodged and smacked one of us in the back of the head, it would probably do society some amount of good.
Another bonus of the late night is being able to enjoy the Land with virtually nobody else around. We’ve got three guests and four cast members in frame. The Star Wars Fireworks haven’t even started yet.
A look in the opposite direction.
With my early finish, I was able to catch the last couple of minutes of Disney Movie Magic, which starts 20 minutes before the Star Wars Fireworks. That’s 8:10pm in this case.
If you’d like to ride Slinky at night and see the Fireworks, then you’ll probably want to be in line by 7:15pm with an 8pm close and an 8:30pm show. That gives you an hour to move through the ride and ten minutes to find a spot for the show. You could cut it closer – perhaps getting in line at 7:30pm, but you’d have to hustle over to the area in front of the Chinese Theater unless crowds are particularly low, as they were on January 30th.
Very few people exiting alongside you is one perk of getting out of there before Fantasmic ends and the Star Wars Fireworks start. This is 8:20pm. At 8:50pm this area is going to be overrun.
Overall, my evening went swimmingly. I accomplished:
- Star Tours: 3:54pm – 4:16pm
- Meet Edna Mode: 4:27pm – 4:35pm
- Meet Mike & Sulley: 4:39pm – 5:07pm
- Tower of Terror with FastPass+: 5:18pm – 5:36pm
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with FastPass+: 5:45pm – 6:01pm
- Dinner at Fairfax Fare: 6:05pm – 6:30pm
- Toy Story Mania: 6:42pm – 7:08pm
- Alien Swirling Saucers with FastPass+: 7:11pm – 7:21pm
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 7:23pm – 7:38pm
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 7:40pm – 7:46pm
- Slinky Dog Dash: 7:48pm – 8:11pm
That’s a pretty solid outing with minimal effort. As I mentioned in Part 1, if I was originally planning on meeting the characters, I would have scheduled my FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror to start the day and then visited Star Tours and the characters after.
The good news is that Toy Story Land remains a viable spot to end the day with relatively short waits. I think we’d all be over the moon with a 30-minute actual standby wait for any of the Star Wars attractions, but I have a feeling that we’ll be multiplying that number by four or five at the end of the night. On the other hand, Flight of Passage still averages a 2.5+ hour average wait during the day, but the actual wait at the end of the night is typically 35 to 75 minutes.
We’ll get back to some Magic Kingdom quick service and revisit Hollywood Studios for a traditional Slinky Dog Dash rope drop.