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Toy Story Lands: The same but different

Toy Story Land in Hong Kong Dineyland

On August 17, 2010, I got up especially early. I hadn’t slept much the night before due to excitement. By pure coincidence my first ever trip to Disneyland Paris coincided with the opening day of their new land: Toy Story Land.

It only takes a quick conversation or even just a look at my trainers and backpack (or the tattoo on my wrist) to work out that I love Toy Story. The franchise is a huge part of my Disney fandom. So much so, that Toy Story has the distinction of being my favorite movie of all time. When I was accepted the Masters program for Film Screenwriting I credited Toy Story as the main reason why I wanted to write scripts. Thus, when I found out that I was going to be at Disneyland Paris for the opening day of Toy Story Land, I was beyond excited, and I had to be there.

I set my alarm early and waited patiently in front of Walt Disney Studios Park until it opened. I quickly hurried to Toy Story Land and witnessed the opening ceremony. As soon as it was finished, I quickly made my way to RC Racer, and I was lucky enough to get on the first official ride of the attraction, something of which I was very proud, until I worked for Disney and realized that there would have been hundreds if not thousands of rides of RC Racer before that first ride.

This was my first Toy Story Land experience, but you can imagine how beyond excited I was when I learned that Hong Kong Disneyland had its own Toy Story Land very similar to the one found in Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. Fast forward to 2019, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are some clear similarities between the Toy Story Land (TSL) in DHS and the one here in Hong Kong, but there are many (many) differences.

I was excited to experience TSL at the DHS, not only because I’m a massive Toy Story fan, but I was excited to see how it would hold up to its Hong Kong Disneyland counterpart. I knew it would be much more sprawling in terms of scale, and also being newer, there would be some natural advantages that come with advances in technology and hindsight. Saying that, these things don’t necessarily mean that newer is always better, so I was interested to compare the two.

Toy Story Land – Hong Kong Disneyland

As previously mentioned, the Toy Story Land in Hong Kong Disneyland is very similar to the one at Walt Disney Studios Park. Although I haven’t been to Shanghai Disney Resort since 2017, its Toy Story Land isn’t too dissimilar to the one in Hong Kong either, with RC Racer being that lands staple attraction, also.

RC Racer Hong Kong Disneyland

In Hong Kong Disneyland, our Toy Story Land has three attractions: Toy Soldier Parachute Drop, RC Racer and Slinky Dog Spin. The lands “E-Ticket” attraction and the “weenie” for the area is RC Racer. RC Racer is a half-pipe style coaster where Guests board RC. Once strapped in, RC ascends and descends the race track, providing guests with some mild thrills and even better views of Hong Kong Disneyland. Not the most thrilling attraction in the world, RC Racer still provides a lot of entertainment and is a great centerpiece attraction. I think RC Racer is a good “gateway” attraction for those Guests who are ready for the next thrill level without pushing the boat out too far.

Slinky Dog Spin in Hong Kong Disneyland

The next attraction in Toy Story Land at HKDL is Slinky Dog Spin which is similar to an off-the-rack caterpillar ride. Aimed at younger “toys,” Slinky Dog Spin is an attraction where Guests board Slinky and experience him going around and around while Slinky tries to catch his own tale. Again, aimed at younger Guests, Slinky Dog Spin is an aesthetic attraction, and I like its place in Toy Story Land, but it is probably below-par in terms of Disney attraction expectations.

The last attraction in Toy Story Land’s toy-themed trifecta is the Toy Soldier Parachute Drop. The attraction doesn’t exactly have the catchiest of names, but it’s still a hidden-gem of the park. Guests embark on a mission to become Toy Soldiers. As part of this training, Guests climb aboard Toy Parachutes. The parachutes rise up and then leisurely(ish) drop back down to the ground. There are two great things about this attraction. One, this is another “gateway” attraction to prepare younger Guests for the next level of drop attractions such as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The second great thing about this attraction is the views riders are afforded while at the top of the attraction.

Mr. Potato Head

In terms of other amenities, Toy Story Land in HKDL also has Andy’s Toy Box (currently under construction), a cardboard box themed store filled with Toy Story themed merchandise. There is also the Barrel of Fun, a well themed Meet and Greet location that is graced by all of your favorite Toy Story characters at certain times of the day.

Jessie's Snack Roundup in Hong Kong Disneyland

The one letdown in Hong Kong Disneyland’s Toy Story Land is the lack of food options, as there are very few. There is one snack stand: Jessie’s Snack Roundup, a well themed location that offers snacks such as churros and other tasty delicacies, but nothing substantial. On top of that, Jessie’sSnack Roundup doesn’t open when the land does, meaning that if you are hungry in Toy Story Land early, you may have to leave the land to get something to eat.

Toy Story Land – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Land entrance in Disney's Hollywood Studios

If you are already familiar with Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios you will be aware of the differences between the two lands already. But, for those who are not, one of the main differences between the two lands are the attractions. Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has none of the same attractions as its Hong Kong counterpart. The American TSL has Slinky Dog Dash a moderately paced coaster as its main attraction. Like Slinky Dog Spin, Guests board Slinky; however, instead of going round and round, Guest’s careen through Toy Story Land.

This Toy Story Land also has a re-themed version of Toy Story Mania!, the midway-style shooter for the whole family. The last attraction in Toy Story Land is Alien Swirling Saucers, a whip style ride featuring groovy music and a lot of spinning.

Alien Swirling Saucers Disney's Hollywood Studios

As you can see, these attractions are very different from those found in Toy Story Land HKDL. In terms of opinions, Toy Story Mania! is one of my all-time favorite attractions; I was very impressed with Alien Swirling Saucers and a little underwhelmed with Slinky Dog Dash. I think this is because I had heard a lot of good things about Dash and not many great things about Saucers meaning, Saucers exceeded my expectations, and Dash fell short.

What I do like is the fact that you can visit different Toy Story Lands and experience completely different attractions. This is something that Disney doesn’t do all the time, but something I really applaud them for doing.

Slinky Dog Dash in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Another big difference between the two Toy Story Lands is the dining options. Whereas TSL at HKDL doesn’t have a big eating location, TSL at Hollywood Studios has Andy’s Lunchbox a really unique dining location offering well-themed food options to complement the aesthetic of the place. I really like Andy’s Lunchbox and wish TSL in HKDL had a food location like it.

These are the two glaring differences, but there are smaller differences in terms of layout and merchandise locations and options. With these in mind, there is also one large similarity and that is theming. The theme between the two Toy Story Lands is very similar with succinct storytelling throughout – you are shrunken down to the size of a toy and get to explore Andy’s backyard. This is a great concept and really impressive in both lands. Yes, there are elements to the theming that are unique in both parks, but the general idea is the same, and I really like it in both lands.

Now, truth time, which Toy Story Land is my favorite? I honestly don’t know. There are elements I like from both. I like some of the new theming in the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version, but I have a lot of fond memories from our TSL here in Hong Kong, and I also think the theming has held up over time, too.

In terms of attractions, I think my “perfect” TSL would have RC Racer, Toy Story Mania!, Swirling Saucers and Toy SoldierParachute Drop. I know that means no Slinky attraction, but both Slinkys underwhelm me in both parks.

So, that’s the comparison between the two Toy Story Lands. It would be great to hear your opinions. Have you been to other Toy Story Lands? Which one is your favorite? Which one is your favorite? Please let me know over in the WDW Radio Box People Facebook group.

(All photos are from the personal collection of Daniel Morris)

To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.