I started writing about our recent Walt Disney World trip in my previous post, and continuing on with that theme, let’s talk a little about Toy Story Land – or what will eventually be Toy Story Land – at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
I’ve shared before what we know about Toy Story Land to date, and nothing really has been added or changed since then. I had high hopes that there would be some walled-off construction zones when we were at the park this past November, but alas, there was nothing of the sort. Realistically, I knew that the busy holiday season – transitioning into the very popular Marathon Weekend – wasn’t an ideal time to begin a major project, like building an entire new land. Nevertheless, I thought we might see a few tiny signs of progress made since our prior visit in June.
Everything surrounding Pixar Place looked just as it had when we had been there last; and I tried to peek between the gaps in the gates enclosing the former Backlot Tour area of the park, where Toy Story Land will be added, to spy on any behind-the-scenes changes. Granted, my glimpses were quick, lest I get caught and scolded, but there really wasn’t anything different. Backstage buildings still stand – although they could be emptier now than before. And the few pieces of equipment I spotted turned out to be for the installation of the Osborne Lights, which celebrated their 20th and final season in 2015.
The only concrete thing I can say I did witness was the absence of Mr. Potato Head from the Toy Story Mania standby queue. The interactive audio-animatronic figure has been removed and replaced by a mural, probably in preparation to accommodate the third track, which is projected to open sometime in 2016. It’s a small step in the right direction, as the entire queue will have to be adjusted when the land opens, to realign the entry to what is now the back of the building.
Although not tied directly to Toy Story Land, we did make sure to pay one last visit to Pizza Planet while we were there as well. The restaurant will be closing this month to undergo a lengthy refurbishment, and with the Toy Story presence expanding on the other side of the park, rumors suggest that when it reopens, the establishment will feature a new theme. I’ll be honest, as much as I love the idea of a real-life Pizza Planet, my family and I hated the pizza there – but their cappuccino cupcake was amazing! So I savored one final cupcake – unless it (hopefully!) returns when the restaurant reopens – and said goodbye to the place itself. I’m sad to see it go, but I’m content knowing that much bigger and better things are on the way as far as the toys are concerned.
The lack of visible work on the expansion was disappointing in November, but I can say that since I’ve been home, it seems that the wheels are finally starting to turn. With the discontinuation of the Osborne Lights on the Streets of America – situated between the future locations of Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land – as well as the closure of the adjacent Cars and Phineas and Ferb meet-and-greets, the area is clearing out for construction to begin.
Also, several permits have been filed with the Orange County Comptroller, signifying that the project is about to start in earnest. These Notices of Commencement mention the “DHS Back of House Package” with the address given as Cypress Drive (specifically 450, 511, 521, 541, 551, 561, 595, 601, 611, 641, 643, 645, and 649 Cypress Drive), which corresponds with the expected site of Toy Story Land. These are presumably for prep work, to be completed by Hubbard Construction. The expiration date provided on the permits is October 31, 2018 – so does that mean we have a target date that the land will be open by? It corresponds with the release of Toy Story 4 in June 2018, allowing for the possibility of new characters being included without giving away any spoilers from the movie. Even though the land has been described as “Andy’s backyard,” I still wouldn’t rule out Bonnie’s toys making an appearance, too.
This is likely going to be a very slow year for Toy Story fans, as far as film updates are concerned; but following Toy Story Land construction will certainly make for a welcome and exciting diversion in the meantime! I have three trips of my own planned to WDW in 2016, so I’ll be checking in personally and sharing updates as I see them firsthand. Stay tuned!
Want real-time updates on Toy Story Land when I’m at DHS? Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter! It takes me a little while to write up and publish posts after I get back home, but I always share photos on social media from the parks.