On Wednesday, May 23, 2018 I was lucky to be part of a select media group that was given a preview of Toy Story Land. The event started with a sampler meal at Ale & Compass Restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and then we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and saw parts of the new land from the “safe zone”. It’s still a construction zone, so we needed to stay behind a barrier, but we got a good glimpse of what is going on. Here are some of the highlights of what we learned.
First we were introduced to Brad from Merchandise. He showed us a few of the t-shirt designs, and told us that some will have the year on them, making them collectible. There is also some creative new headwear. There is a Slinky Dog Dash headband and also a Green Alien headband. Both light up, and the alien’s eyes move. Another fun item is a wearable Slinky Dog. He can go around the neck like a scarf, and he lights up as well. There’s a Buzz Lightyear Bubbler, and toy replicas of both new rides. These are just a few of the things that will be available for sale to celebrate the opening of Toy Story Land.
Next to speak was Chef Lenny. It is obvious that he is excited about the new menu items at Woody’s Lunch Box. All three meals will be available. The menu features creative takes on “traditional” lunch box foods. Breakfast will include items such as Banana Split Yogurt Parfait and the signature S’mores French Toast Sandwich. For lunch and dinner the choices will include BBQ Brisket Melt, Monte Cristo, and Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich. Sandwiches will come with a choice of sides. “Totchos” (they’re kind of like nachos made with tater tots) will also be served. Dessert will feature a new take on Pop-Tarts, one is raspberry and the other chocolate hazelnut. Root Beer Floats will also be available, as well as Mystic Portal Punch and other beverages. I asked about vegan options, and Chef Lenny assured me that they are working on them. He said there will be vegan chili, as well as a vegan grilled cheese sandwich. Those items might not be immediately available, but they are coming.
We then learned a little bit about the overall progress of Toy Story Land. Ivan, who is a Project Manager, said that new details are being added daily. More Tinkertoy poles for lights and sound are being added, and Woody’s Lunch Box is looking great. More toys are being added all the time, and the marquees and graphics are really starting to take shape. There are now Green Army Men scattered throughout the land. He also said that there is a great sense of scale in the new area, and that it is something that needs to be seen both during the day and at night. He said they’re two different experiences.
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We were given a bit of good news during the event. Mr. Potato Head is going to be returning to Toy Story Mania!
After the meal we headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see the progress on Toy Story Land. While we couldn’t go too far in because of the construction, we still had a great view of a lot of it. We were not allowed to take pictures. The marquee on the new entrance to Toy Story Mania! is partially completed. We could see the signs for the Wait Times and FastPass+ entrance, even though the building was covered in scaffolding. The last time we were there we couldn’t tell what Woody’s Lunch Box was, but now the building looks great. Having seen pictures and the model, it was obvious what the building is going to be. We still could barely see Alien Swirling Saucers off in the distance. We learned that there will be a Tinkertoy bridge leading to the entrance to Slinky Dog Dash. We also found out that the restrooms will be next to Woody’s Lunch Box. I’ve seen the head of the giant Woody figure over the top of the construction walls several times, it was fun to see him from behind.
There is still no word on when or if there will be Passholder Previews. Right now they’re concentrating on getting things finished and ready for June 30. There is still a lot that needs to be done, but I have no doubt that they’ll be ready.
I can’t end this without mentioning the amazing meal that we were served from Ale & Compass Restaurant. We were given a ten course sampler, so we were not served full sized dishes. The courses included Wedged Romaine Salad, Roasted Buffalo-style Cauliflower, Maine Lobster Roll, Grilled Vegan Plant-based “Bacon Cheeseburger”, and Ale & Compass Salad. Chef David and his staff really outdid themselves. If you’re looking for a place to eat outside of the parks but want easy access to Epcot, this is a fantastic choice.