ORLANDO, FLA. — Thanks to movie magic, we found out what toys do when the lights go out nightly — Pixar’s 1995 blockbuster film Toy Story spotlighted that for us. And now, thanks to Disney magic, we’re about to find out what it’s like to be a toy.
Welcome to Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land, the place where kids of all ages will be shrunk to the
size of a toy and go on a playful rollercoaster journey through the a theme park inspired by a cowboy doll named Sheriff Woody.
Talk about being thrown into a story.
The much-anticipated Toy Story Land officially opens June 30 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the 11-acre theme park is exclusive to Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Guests at the Florida park will be able to interact with all the stars of the movie — Buzz Lightyear (my favourite), Rex, Aliens, Sergeant, Lenny the Binoculars, just to name just a few. And the park’s main feature is a family-friendly rollercoaster designed after one of Toy Story’s most beloved characters, Slinky Dog, the dachshund spinoff of the classic Slinky Toy from my youth.
“This will be a multi-generational experience in Andy’s backyard,” Kelly Bornemann, a member of Disney’s creative team with Walt Disney Imagineering said, referring to fictional Andy Davis, owner of the toys in the movie.
Above: A Slinky Dog roller coaster will zip guests around Disney new Toy Story Land.
“Every division of Disney was involved in bringing this theme park to life,” added Diego Parras, another member of Walt Disney Imagineering, whose imagination appears to have no boundaries.
Slinky Dog Dash, as the rollercoaster will be officially known, will send riders dipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops that Andy has created to stretch Slinky and his coils to the max.
No Toy Story Land would be complete without the film’s loveable Aliens, Buzz and Woody’s arch rivals in the film. So the Disney geniuses have created giant blue Alien Swirling Saucers in the theme park, replicas of the ones Andy got from Pizza Planet.
Bathed in music, lighting and sound effects, Alien Swirling Saucers is designed as a giant play set where the little green Aliens will be flying around in their toy flying saucers trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with “The Claw.”
Adults better watch the movie before going to Toy Story Land.
Toy Story Mania! is sure to be another of the theme park’s biggest attractions. It invites guests to take aim at 3D objects in a variety of whimsical, fast-paced games.
Visitors will never go hungry because Toy Story Land will feature Woody’s Lunch Box, where you’ll be able to get snacks and refreshments. Guests will also be able to dine with the their favourite toy from the movie.
Above: Guests at Toy Story Land will be shrunk to the size of a toy.
There’s no need to worry about security at the new Toy Story Land because it will be guarded by replicas of Sarge and his Green Army Men — Andy’s toy soldier collection featured 200 of the Green Army Men.
“The Green Army Men will be stationed throughout Toy Story Land,” Bornemann reassures me with a smile.
“There will be lots of little surprises, too, and I really encourage people to slow down and appreciate the detail that goes into each display,” says Parras.
To get feedback from guests, both Parras and Bornemann, as well as other members of Disney’s creative team, stand in line from time-to-time to gauge guests’ reactions to their creations.
“It helps give us an emotional connection with Disney visitors,” says Parras.
Never ones to rest on their laurels, Disney’s creative team is already well into the planning stages of the next big addition to Walt Disney World, Star Wars Galaxy Edge, which will open in 2019.
Plus, Parras tells me, Mickey Mouse, the universally loved icon on which the Disney empire is built, will finally be getting his own theme park attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
“Believe it or not, Mickey has never before had an attraction theme park devoted just to him,” says Parras, “but that will all change when Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens (probably in 2019).”
There’s always something new at Walt Disney World.