I think of all the Disney-Pixar franchises, Toy Story is probably the best-loved. And for good reason: it has that perfect balance of appealing to both kids and adults. It’s not surprising, then, that there are many Toy Story-themed activities to be found in Walt Disney World.
So, whether you root for the cowboy or the spaceman, here are eight things to do in Walt Disney World if you love Toy Story.
1. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
We’ll start out with the Toy Story attraction that’s been around the longest; Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin opened in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom in 1998. It’s my opinion that the scoring in this game is completely random. Either that, or my astroblaster is almost always faulty. While my scores are unimpressive—I’m usually a Ranger 1st Class (10,001-100,000)—I do still always enjoy this attraction. And every once in a while, I do manage to up my rank:
2. Toy Story Mania!
What I love most about this attraction in Pixar Place in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is how easily it can be updated. When Toy Story 3 came out, a new game (“Rex and Trixie’s Dino Darts”) and new characters (such as Buttercup, Dolly, and Mr. Pricklepants) were quickly added. I’m not very good at this game either, although I have the Wii game so I can practice at home.
This attraction is extremely popular, so make it your first stop when you get to Hollywood Studios. If the FASTPASSES are already gone, it’s worth waiting in the standby line. There’s so much to see in the queue area, and I’ve found that the wait times aren’t always as long as indicated.
3. Character Greetings in Magic Kingdom
Buzz Lightyear is often found by Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland, and Jessie and Woody sometimes appear in Frontierland. This week, for example, “Out of This World Friends” (which includes Buzz and Stitch) are listed in the Times Guide as appearing intermittently in Tomorrowland from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Over in Frontierland, “Characters from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story” are listed as appearing intermittently from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
4. Character Greetings in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is the easiest place to find Toy Story characters. This week’s Times Guide lists “Toy Story Friends” as appearing in Pixar Place continuously from 9:15 a.m. to park closing (with a one-hour break from 2:15-3:15 p.m.). You’re likely to see Buzz, Woody, Jessie, and even the Green Army Men.
5. Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! Parade
This new parade isn’t exclusively a Toy Story experience, but you will see characters such as Buzz, the Little Green Men (aliens), Lotso, Woody, Bullseye, Jessie, and even the orange traffic cones from Toy Story 2. It’s a short parade (only eight minutes), so it’s probably not worth saving a seat and waiting for; just try to time catching it between attractions.
6. Toy Story Buildings at All Star Movies Resort
Even if you don’t stay at All Star Movies, you’ll have fun checking out the Toy Story buildings and seeing the giant-size Buzz and Woody dolls and taking advantage of the great photo opportunities. If you’re staying elsewhere, just hop a bus from any theme park to All Star Movies. The buildings will be to your left when you’re facing Cinema Hall (the main building). (See this map to get your bearings.) If you want to stay in one of the Toy Story buildings, you can make that request when you make your reservations (but be forewarned that they’re considered preferred rooms, so it will be a little more expensive).
7. Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters at DisneyQuest
It’s probably not worth it to head to DisneyQuest just for this attraction, but if you’ve got extra Water Park Fun & More days to use up, DisneyQuest is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters is basically a bumper-car ride, with the added feature of being able to scoop up asteroids (big foam balls) and launch them at the other cars. (You have to be 51″ tall to ride.)
8. Pizza Planet Restaurant
This one is an honorable mention of sorts, because while the name of the Pizza Planet restaurant in Hollywood Studios is clearly a Toy Story reference, the Toy Story characters that used to adorn the entrance are now gone. (See @studiocentral’s photo.) I understand that it makes sense to keep the Toy Story characters within Pixar Place, but I hope this means something new will be coming to Pizza Planet.
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A Toy Story-themed day will involve visits to two parks, Downtown Disney, and a resort. Of course, the easiest way to begin is to stay at All Star Movies so you can start your day there. Then, it gets tricky. To have the shortest wait for Toy Story Mania!, you should go to Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning, but to see the afternoon parade, you, obviously, have to be there in the afternoon. If you don’t mind risking a longer wait, I’d suggest starting in Magic Kingdom. Try your luck on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and see if you can find the characters. Then head over to Hollywood Studios. If it times out right, you could ride Toy Story Mania!, grab lunch at Pizza Planet, and then catch the parade (working in character greetings when you spot them). If minimizing your wait time is more of a priority than the parade, start in Hollywood Studios and then head to Magic Kingdom. DisneyQuest is usually open to 10 or 11 p.m., so you should have no trouble getting there before closing to experience Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters.
So, theoretically speaking, if you were going to a Toy Story 3 costume party, who would you dress as? Here’s my answer… do you know who I was?