With the closure of Lights Motors Action and the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios yesterday, it was no surprise to wake up this morning to find photos of construction walls on Twitter. At first, I was excited to see that the concept art for Toy Story Land was finally posted…
…until, at closer inspection, I noticed that it has changed significantly from what was presented at last summer’s D23 Expo. Let’s take a look at the two images side by side and compare the differences:
First off, let’s inspect the Slinky coaster. Most notably, the ravines that the coaster was to dip down into are gone, replaced by a flat surface. While this will undoubtedly allow for easier and faster construction, it also makes for a much less interesting ride than before. Some of the loops and drops have been simplified. And changes seem to have been made to the interactive characters that were supposed to react to the coaster’s cars as they sped past. Rough images suggest that characters may still be present, although scaled back and in different locations. Instead, we get mostly building block arches now. This is extremely disappointing.
Also noticeable is that the building with the game board roof, in the center of the original design, is missing. The presumed-restaurant in the lower left is still present, and appears to be more prominent than it was in the previous image. So, what element was eliminated? Are we not to have a dedicated meet-and-greet in this new land? The current meet-and-greet in Pixar Place is constantly busy – and far too small – so it’s obviously needed. Or was it restrooms or another shop that got the cut?
There also seems to be some slight differences in the layout behind the new Toy Story Mania entrance. What was a solid gray roof in the earlier art is now orange and blue, and slightly different shaped. Has the shifted entry been reconfigured or redesigned? Or was there just a lack of specificity the first time around, perhaps due to details still being worked out?
Lastly, the Woody’s Roundup themed entrance to the land – with the Woody and Bullseye figure, Old West street fronts, and an “Al’s Toy Barn” style building – is not shown on this posted artwork at all. Was that eliminated completely, or did it just not fit in the allotted wall space? I find it hard to believe that it wouldn’t fit on the poster image, since it did before. It’s possible that’s it’s going through further revisions as well, and therefore was left out until the design is finalized; but at this point, it’s equally safe to assume that the area was also a victim of cutbacks.
Although this is the first Disney Parks construction project I’ve followed from the beginning, I do know that cuts and changes to plans along the way are not uncommon. New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom went through a whole slew of alterations after its initial announcement – some positive, some not so good. And it’s been widely discussed in the Disney community lately that the American parks were taking a serious hit from all the construction expenses and setbacks in Shanghai. Nevertheless, I remained hopeful that, since the budget and plans for Toy Story Land had been arranged last year, the land might fare better than others; but I guess that’s not to be. Star Wars is Disney’s baby right now, so they wouldn’t dare skimp on that new land – instead, it was Toy Story’s creative details that were apparently considered to be less important, and in turn got the axe. I was already resentful enough about Star Wars Land destroying a huge chunk of classic Disneyland, but this makes me even more disenchanted with the franchise’s presence in the parks.
I guess I should be thankful that we’re still getting Toy Story Land at all – at least that’s what Disney would tell us. It’s just sad to look back at my excitement last year, compared to what we’re getting now. As far as the truth in the changes, we really won’t know anything for sure until construction is farther along, and that’s going to be a while. With still no projected opening date, we could be looking at a year from now, or two years, in conjunction with the release of Toy Story 4 in 2018. We can hope that some elements are simply missing from the concept art, but from what I’m reading online, the worst case scenario of cutbacks is confirmed. What are you most sorry to lose in Toy Story Land? Comment below, or even better, tweet about it (#ThanksShanghai), and get the word out in social media. Let Disney know that Toy Story and Disney Parks fans are unhappy with the changes!
DHS wall photo © @bioreconstruct on Twitter. Concept art © Disney/Pixar.
UPDATE: Several other tweets – with close-up photos of the Toy Story Land concept art – have popped up since I originally posted this article. Check out the links below to see the additional images.