The recent addition of the new Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios has been a highly anticipated event, with thousands of park-goers adjusting their vacation schedules to accommodate the opening. Swinging open it’s barn doors to the public on June 30th, 2018, the crowds, and the crazies, have piled high into Hollywood Studios in numbers the park has not seen in years.
With the ongoing construction of both Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, (expected opening late Fall 2019) crowds at the park significantly decreased and it became renowned as having the least amount of open attractions on Disney property. As the excitement reignites the enthusiasm for Hollywood Studio’s, will the new-found crowds at Toy Story Land make the new addition unbearable?
Reminiscent of the opening of Cars Land in Disneyland’s California Adventure in 2012, the question becomes, at what point does the enthralment of a new land, sour into disgruntlement when confronted with an endless sea of crowds?
Having experienced Cars Land within months of its grand opening, I can easily recall the disappointment that many people shared as wait times for the top three attractions sky-rocketed. The headline attraction, Radiator Springs Racers, quickly escalated its wait times to up to 6 hours; making the experience unattainable for most. FastPasses were also unable to shift the crowds with FastPass booths emptied and closed within the first 30 minutes of park opening. Even in December 2012, six months after the land’s opening, California Adventure guests were able to spend a full day in the park without being able to ride more than two or three attractions due to long lines and capacity crowds making it tedious to navigate the park.
This isn’t a one-off experience either. With the Avatar-inspired, 2017 addition of Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, standby wait times hit record levels. In December of 2017, six months after opening, wait times reached six and a half hours for the main attraction, Flight of Passage, breaking the previous record of 305 mins for Epcot’s Soarin’ Around the World. The unprecedented wait times have not shown any signs of slowing down as Flight Of Passage can still set you back anywhere from one to four hours in standby.
A park’s crowd threshold is there to ensure there are not dangerous amounts of people within the park itself. Sounds good in theory, however, what happens when 90% of the park’s attendance, is attending the same thing? Should we be seeing a Land capacity as well?
Curiosity gets the better of me and I can’t help but wonder if there is a better way to handle the crowds in the initial 12-month period. Should there be a timed release for new land openings, allowing guests a window in which to be able to visit the land? I can’t help but imagine some sort of MagicBand reader at the gateway to Toy Story Land allowing guests their allocated 2 hours of entry. Tapping your MagicBand at each ride might also assess how much time is still available on your entry window, discouraging crowds to linger in one place for the entire day. Sort of like a mass FastPass+ allocation.
The problem won’t be going away any time soon. With the planned Star Wars opening in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in 2019 as well as the expected additions to Epcot, Disney has their work cut out for them when it comes to crowd control. With high expectations of each new land experience, at what point does it become not worth it?
Is a new land opening your cue to go running in the opposite direction for lessened crowds and shorter wait times? How would a timed opening for guests help or hinder your experience in Toy Story Land? Is it worth seeing at all, if all you can see is an endless sea of over-excited, over-heated, and overwhelmed people?
Disney goers are expected to flood the park with some guests lining up at the gates from 12:30 a.m. in the morning on opening day.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
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