Disney’s Hollywood Studios- Toy Story Land
What was the most anticipated coaster for you in 2018? I’m guessing that was Steel Vengeance for 90% of people, me included. But one coaster that really intrigued me more than it had any right to was Slinky Dog Dash.
Some background. I love wiener dogs. Something about their long awkward body and loyal demeanor has made me a big fan of the breed. And as crazy and awkward as some coaster enthusiasts can be, I think the doxie community has us beaten in terms of fanaticism. If you don’t believe me, check out my trip report of the 2017 Cape Code Dachshund Festival
. Yes that’s an actual thing and I was dorky enough to attend.
I am also a huge Disney fan. While I like a majority of their characters outside of Duffy
, there are three far above the rest- Chip, Dale, and Slinky Dog. My affinity for the chipmunks arises from Chip “n” Dale Rescue Rangers, my favorite childhood show. Meanwhile my favorite childhood movie was Toy Story. And of course my favorite character was Slinky Dog.
So theming a coaster to Slinky Dog was a dream come true.
Upon hearing it was a Mack multi-launch coaster, I was even more excited. For one Mack launchers are among the most comfortable and reridable coasters out there. Second, their launchers are awesome. Now I wasn’t expecting Helix or Blue Fire, but I was optimistic it could be as good as San Diego’s Manta. That coaster has some really impressive airtime considering it’s no taller than 30 feet.
After the restriction on guest passes for Hollywood Studios was lifted in mid-September, I hopped on a flight to Orlando to check out spring wiener. Unfortunately, we were unable to get FastPasses for Slinky Dog. I tried feverishly, but accepted it was a lost cause. I knew the queue would be lengthy, but it’d be worth it for Slinky Dog.
The line was spilling outside the queue. I mentally prepared myself for a wait equal in length to Toy Story’s runtime. The queue was posted at 90 minutes, but amazingly I only had to wait 45 minutes. I’m not sure if all the Fastpass owners were stuck at the Indiana Jones Stunt Show or something, but I wasn’t going to question our luck.
Two parts of the queue line shocked me. For one, I was amazed just how few people Slinky Dog’s queue could hold. I know the coaster has an unbelievable throughput, but it seemed odd that the queue line was overflowing on a reasonably light day with respect to crowds. Second, I was in disbelief by the lack of shade in the queue line. The final third is underneath an oversized toy box, but the rest of it is baking in the Florida sun. This is not a queue you want to be stuck in midday.
Anticipation mounted as I saw the adorable trains. Slinky Dog Dash has ended the debate on the best looking coaster trains out there. We were assigned the front row. In retrospect, I think Slinky Dog would be better towards the back. This is one coaster where front seat riders don’t get an unobstructed view. Slinky’s head is humongous. It would have made roided up Barry Bonds jealous. I suspect the visual of Slinky’s coils would be a neat effect towards the back of the train.
We turned out of the station and immediately rolled into the first launch. It was at this point I realized this coaster’s intensity wouldn’t even match Manta. The acceleration was the most gradual I have ever felt on a launch coaster. But it was far from uneventful. Slinky Dog is a coaster of little touches. The launch was forceless, but I had a big smile on my face thanks to the metal coil sound effects (seriously, who but Disney would have thought to add this) and Slinky’s scream which sounded Goofy-esque.
The subsequent hill brought Slinky to a crawl, but Slinky regains his modest speed and navigates an upward helix by the land’s entrance. Again this was another relatively forceful element, but the theming made all the difference. That Jenga tower with Jessie and Rex looks fantastic and perfectly captures the overall feel of the land. That’s followed by a double down that actually gives a tiny pop of air (and the ride’s only airtime for that matter).
The highlight of the coaster was the second launch. It’s another launch with less acceleration than a Prius in a school zone, but the show element is flawlessly executed. Slinky dances back and forth to simulate him being stretched out and it’s impossible not to get amped up with the combination of whirring gears, lighted archways, and sound effects.
The launch lead’s into the ride’s tallest hill and Slinky turns into the Little Engine that Could, barely eclipsing this hill. That leads into a series of tiny hills. You’re not going to get airtime here, but you’re going to get that weird undulating feeling akin to a RMC pre-lift. Slinky then coasts through a few final turns and hits the brake run, where the penguin serenades you with a heartfelt rendition of You’ve Got a Friend in Me.
Slinky Dog Dash is an incredible family coaster. It checks all the boxes- low height requirement, glass smooth, cool theming, and the perfect amount of thrills. I openly admit I’m drinking the Slinky Dog Kool-Aid, but this is probably my favorite coaster at the resort after Space Mountain. The thrills are minimal, but I was smiling ear to ear for the entirety of the ride. 8 out of 10
And of course I had to get a Slinky Dog Dash souvenir. Originally I had aspirations of a t-shirt, but I found something much better. I found a launching Slinky Dog Dash ride vehicle with spinning flames! Basically it was like my old childhood Hot Wheels set with a much more elegant ride vehicle, but that was good enough for me. I was probably 3-4 times older than the toy’s targeted age range, but I can proudly say that the toy sits on my coffee table.
I was impressed by the rest of the land as well. Leading up to Toy Story Land’s opening, I heard rumors of budget cuts. Maybe the budget was cut, but I couldn’t tell. I thought the land looked fantastic. They do an excellent job shrinking you down to the size of a toy. That’s not surprising considering how well this effect was accomplished in the old Honey I Shrunk the Audience Play Area. All of the little details were very nice touches. I particularly liked the huge footprints in the ground.
I skipped Alien Swirling Saucers. I rode the similar Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree a few years ago at California Adventure and enjoyed it; the ride had better whipping than I expected. While it’s a cute ride, I wasn’t going to burn 45 minutes waiting in that line. Until crowds die down, I feel like this will be the new Astro Orbiter for me. It’s a flat ride at Disney that I enjoy, but has a wait far too painful to be worth riding. The ride did look wonderful though and it was all smiles for the riders (probably the ones with FastPass).
I’ve ridden Toy Story Midway Mania before, but technically I had never ridden Toy Story Mania.
This ride has been around for 10 years, but the park quietly dropped “midway” from the name when it was integrated into Toy Story Land. We were lucky enough to have snagged same day FastPasses for Toy Story Mania, but the queue never rose above 45 minutes. That additional track really seems to have done wonders for this ride’s queue line.
I was far too accurate this time around. I was ashamed to see my accuracy in the 30s and my buddy thoroughly beat me. In the dozen or so times I’ve ridden this, I’ve found a correlation between lower accuracy and higher scores. Toy Story Mania is one of the most addicting rides out there and I wish it were at a gym near me since it gives one heck of an arm workout. 10 out of 10
We also hit up two longtime favorites in Rock “n” Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. One of the least talked about and best benefits of Toy Story Land opening is how Rock “n” Roller Coaster is no longer a Tier 1 FastPass. Like Toy Story Mania, we were also able to get a same day FastPass and bypassed an hour long queue.
Without any hesitation, we requested the front and waited a few extra cycles for our seat of choice. I’m still stunned to this day that an older Vekoma design can be this smooth, but Rock “n” Roller Coaster doesn’t have a single instance of headbanging. It’s unevenly paced, but the three inversions and launch are quite good and the random theming does add a little something along the way. 7 out of 10
Last but not least, we rode Tower of Terror. While Slinky Dog had my inner fanboy shrieking with delight, this is still the star of the park. The presentation is top notch. It’s so convincing that it took me three visits to finally ride it. 7 year old me always got freaked out by the preshow and didn’t want to be turned into a ghost. Meanwhile I had no qualms riding Rock “n” Roller Coaster next door. I was an odd child.
We encountered a 20 minute standby queue and had FastPasses, so we rode this masterpiece twice. After riding it twice in the span of 15 minutes, I can firmly say the ride’s strength is that randomized drop sequence. It definitely adds to the reridability of the attraction and keeps you in suspense. 10 out of 10
Toy Story Land is a wonderful addition for the park. The land really looks awesome and I have no doubt that Slinky Dog Dash will continue to be a draw much like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It really is the perfect family coaster. But as awesome as this addition was, I think everyone has their eyes set on what’s coming in 2019.