D23 Expo: Rides Part 2; Disney’s Hollywood Studios

D23 Expo: Rides Part 2; Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hello fellow riders and welcome back to the WDW Ride Guide.   If you joined us last week you already know about the exciting ride news for both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot.  In our last blog I also promised you an in-depth look at what is coming for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Well, the time has come to unleash the Force!  Before we do that though let’s join our favorite round up of toys over at Andy’s backyard.  To Hollywood Studios and beyond!

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Toy Story Land was announced as the next exciting immersive environment which will take over 11 acres of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The idea for this land was born out of the huge success of Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure.  When Radiator Springs was brought to life, Disney guests were overjoyed with the chance to live the adventure from the Pixar film Cars.

Well, visitors to Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have the opportunity to experience a similar feeling when they shrink to the size of Woody and Buzz.  This new land will transport guests to Andy’s backyard where the surroundings will make everyone feel like a toy.  Space Rangers and Cowgirls will make their way through the outdoor fun zone and be able to saddle up for two new rides.

Slinky Dog Family Roller Coaster

 

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We do not have an official name for the new family roller coaster, but we know it will feature Slinky Dog.  This coaster promises to be much tamer than the nearby Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.  Based on the news from the D23 Expo, I think we can expect a thrill level on par with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train over at the Magic Kingdom.  That coaster has a 38” height requirement.  It only makes sense that the Slinky Dog Coaster will be in the same neighborhood as it promises to be something the whole family can enjoy together.

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The idea behind the new roller coaster is that Andy has built this ride out of his Mega-Coaster Play Kit.  Of course, Andy is a pretty creative kid with a huge imagination and he would never create something that simply follows the instructions.  Oh no!  As he always does, Andy has found some clever ways to add other toys into the mix.  Rex, Ham, Trixie, Jessie, and those resourceful Green Army Men have all made their way into the new coaster creation.  Each promises to trigger some fun excitement that has riders twisting and turning along the smooth track.  To top it off, Andy left the traditional coaster cars in the box and grabbed his old friend Slinky Dog to serve as the ride vehicle.

Doesn’t this sound like a great new ride for the whole family?!  Well, that’s not all that is coming to Toy Story Land.  Next up…

Green Aliens Flying Saucers

 

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The little green aliens from Pizza Planet will be the stars of another new ride.  There were very few details released about the ride, but there was some concept art which may give us an idea of what the ride will be.  The artwork shows two open air circular buildings with ride vehicles at ground level.   There is a covered roof over both structures and the ominous “claw” is located in between the two buildings.  Disney told us that riders will be taken for a spin in their own flying saucer while the claw looms above.

This ride is also geared towards younger riders, or something the whole family can do together.  If you have been to the new Cars Land out in California, you will be familiar with Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  That ride also takes riders for a spin as they board trailers pulled by individual little tractors.  Imagine a less nauseating Mad Tea Party from the Magic Kingdom and you have an idea of what Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is like.  Given the similarities between Cars Land and Toy Story Land, I think we can expect something very much like Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree when the Green Aliens Flying Saucers opens.

Speaking of opening, when will this new section be ready for guests?  Well, Disney has not released an official timeline.  However, there have been multiple ride and show closings over the past few months to make way for the new area.  We promise to keep you updated here at the WDW Ride Guide.  For now, keep those fingers crossed and let’s hope for these two new rides to arrive by the end of 2017.

Toy Story Midway Mania!

While we wait to explore Andy’s backyard, we do have some good news regarding Toy Story Midway Mania!  Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Toy Story themed ride, Disney has already put a plan into action which will add a third ride track.  Unlike Soarin’, which we discussed last week, we do not know of any changes to the ride itself.  This third track should help with extremely long wait times.  Right now, without a Fastpass + you can expect to wait 1-2 hours most of the day to ride Toy Story Midway Mania!

While the third track is under construction, the other two will continue to operate normally.  Disney hopes to have all 3 tracks up and running by the end of 2016.  Until then, be sure and reserve a Fastpass + for Toy Story Midway Mania!

So, that is a quick look at Toy Story Land.  This new outdoor play set promises to deliver a much needed kid friendly element to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  This land will help balance the high thrill rides which dominate the majority of the park today.  Well, it has been fun playing with Bullseye, Mr. Potato Head, and the Evil Dr. Pork Chop, but it is time to put your toys away kids.  It is time to get serious, it is time be adults, it is time for Lightsabers!

 

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If you are new to the podcast then you may not know that I am huge Star Wars fan.  If that is the case, let me apologize now for any geeking out that may happen over the next few minutes.  Please bear with me as we unwrap the D23 Expo Star Wars news.

 

A long time ago, in a theme park far far away….

It is a period of great unrest in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Rides are closing left and right.  A new Star Wars film is on the horizon.  Fans are eager to see the promise of a Star Wars land be realized.  

Rebel spies have just returned from the D23 Expo.  Here, they learned of a record setting Disney expansion.  Plans for a 14 acre themed Star Wars land were revealed.  Inside, two new rides await.

Patience is now all that stands between the fans and their lifelong dream of living out their Star Wars fantasies.  

Star Wars themed lands are coming!  In fact, both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland in California are getting the same 14 acre massive makeover.  The concept art for the new land looks breathtaking.  The Disney Imagineers are creating a new world, one not yet introduced in the Star Wars Universe.  This planet will be located near the outer rim of the galaxy, and will contain a remote trading port.

This will serve as the backdrop for two new rides, themed shops, and themed eateries.  Once travelers step foot inside the land they will be completely immersed in the Star Wars Universe.  Disney cast members will not be found in the outer rim planet.  Instead, the rich encyclopedia of Star Wars characters will come to life while you are surrounded by Wookies, Sand People, Bounty Hunters, Jedi, and many, many more.

As for the rides, here is what we know:

First, riders will have the chance to take on their very own customized mission aboard the most iconic off all Star Wars ships, the Millennium Falcon.  This is a secret mission that puts riders in the cockpit of the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!  While we don’t know any details beyond that, I would say it is safe to assume one or two jumps to light speed will be in store.

 

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Second, riders will be put into the middle of an epic adventure at the heart of a climatic battle.  Officially, that is really all we know.  Unofficially, this second ride may be inspired by the upcoming 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.   A picture of the cast from this film was released at D23 Expo and it looks awesome!  The new Star Wars film will take place in the juncture between Episode III & IV.  If you know your Star Wars, you know that this is when the plans for the first Death Star were stolen by rebel spies at a heavy price.  It looks like Rogue One is going to tell that daring story.  Could this be the climatic battle we will be put in the middle of on the new ride?  Only time will tell.

So, let’s get the bad news out of the way and then will we share some good news.  First of all, it may take a while for this new Star Wars themed land to come to life.  By a while, I’m talking Death Star construction time frame.  We are probably looking at 2021 or 2022 by most estimates.  Why such a long time?  Well, there are several factors.  First of all, the details are still being finalized for this new land.  As we wait to see The Force Awakens release later this year, the Disney Imagineers are working to create a Star Wars experience that allows guests the chance to live out as many Star Wars fantasies as possible.  Because all of us Star Wars geeks will have new fantasies after Episode VII, it only makes sense to incorporate the new stories as well.  Second, Pandora the World of Avatar and Toy Story Land need to be completed.  After all, there are only so many construction crews capable of doing this type of work and they can’t be everywhere at once.  Finally, let’s not forget Disney is still the best at what they do.  Not only do they deliver incredible attention to detail, they also understand how to bring stories to life.  Disney Imagineers don’t just recreate shops, alleys, or schools from a specific movie.  No, they go deeper.  They find a way for us to create new memories by experiencing new stories.  That is no easy task, and it takes time, thought, effort, planning, and execution.

As a huge Star Wars fan, and someone who can be a little impatient, I feel qualified to say I am fine waiting for Disney to get this one right.  In a few years I think we will look back at this and say it was well worth the wait.

Now, to help with that long wait Disney is being proactive and delivering some new Star Wars morsels to the theme parks.  Here is that good news I was talking about!

To coincide with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my favorite ride, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, is getting a little Episode VII update.  If you listened to our Star Tours – The Adventures Continue podcast you know this ride is randomized with different Star Wars characters, experiences, and destinations.  Well, with the new movie comes more characters and new environments.  These new segments will also be added into the mix, expanding the experience exponentially.  Look for this near the end of the year, shortly before Star Wars: The Force Awakens flies into theaters.

For the padawans out there listening, there is also an update coming to the Jedi Training Academy!  A new experience with new characters will soon be awaiting any Jedi Knights in training.  Inspired by the Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels, a new villain will make an appearance and keep the padawans on their toes.

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Meanwhile, the whole family can dive into more Star Wars over at the Star Wars Launch Bay.  This area will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Inside you can get a behind the scenes peek into Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as see special exhibits.  New Star Wars characters, and old fan favorites will be in this area for meet ’n’ great opportunities.  Finally, you can even quench your thirst or grab a bite to eat in Star Wars style as special food offerings will be found in the Star Wars Launch Bay.  Look for this exciting new area to open later this year.

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Oh, and for the runners out there, a new runDisney event was announced this past week.  The Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side, will be April 14-17, 2016.  If you have any interest I highly encourage you to sign up quickly.  The runDisney events are very popular and the limited spaces go fast.

Well, with updates to the Jedi Training Academy and Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Star Wars Launch Bay, runDisney events, and Star Wars Weekends, hopefully you can get your Star Wars fix while we wait for the new themed land to arrive in a few years.

In the meantime we will have ride updates, new rides, and whole new lands to see at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the next couple of years.  It really is an exciting time to be a Disney ride fan!

For now, it is time for us to go.  Have a great week and remember to make each day a ride worth taking!

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