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Turning Point: Disney Goes Cheap With Toy Story Land

We hurt the ones that we love. Disney fans know this all too well, as the theme parks always seem to do something that breaks our heart. Lately, it’s cost-cutting measures. Despite record earnings for The Walt Disney Company, 2018 included several frustrating choices that have already caused problems at theme parks. It’s enough to cause even the most loyal Disney customer to feel a bit betrayed. Disney theme parks have reached a Turning Point. Let’s take a look at the company’s recent cheapness and what it could mean for the future of theme parks.

What happened with Toy Story Land?

Image: DisneyIn the internet era, rumors get posted online, and anything posted online gets accepted as fact. Disney works a bit differently. Some insiders within company walls have proven their accuracy over the years. Generally, we do get a strong idea of what’s happening from reliable people. In the case of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we know that a lot changed.

During the blue sky phase of theme park planning, anything seems possible. Once budgets get assigned, grand ideas tend to get lowered to reasonable outcomes. It’s a standard part of the process, as something theoretically feasible isn’t necessarily affordable. With Toy Story Land, however, Disney cut as many corners as any project since the early days of Epcot.

Image: DisneyYou’ve noticed some of the changes and possibly even griped about them. Exhibit A is the lack of cover at the themed land. Toy Story Land is almost entirely open-spaced, forcing theme park tourists to stand in the glaring Florida sun throughout the year. During early afternoon hours, the heat can be unbearable. The annoying part is that this aggravation was avoidable.

Many of the early illustrations for the project leaked online. We know that the original plan called for three distinct areas based on Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Andy’s Backyard. We only wound up with one of them, and it changed quite a bit. Alien Swirling Saucers lost its indoor line queue, Slinky Dog Dash dropped some of its most imaginative ride elements, and several of Andy’s backyard toys feel like discarded props from Disney’s Pop Century Resort.  

Image: DisneyDespite all of the concerns, I happen to love Toy Story Land. I’m particularly obsessed with the line queue for Slinky Dog Dash, which takes me back to my childhood. The toy assembly instructions are pitch perfect for the theming and make the wait feel trivial. I can’t ignore the budget cuts, though. I mean, the restaurant here doesn’t even have an indoors. And that brings us to the second problem…

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