Two major expansions to extremely popular rides have been completed at Disney World. Both Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios and Soarin’ at Epcot have increased capacity by 50%, with Toy Story adding a third track and Soarin’ adding a third theater. However, Disney has done a bit more than just expand the rides, adding new updates and details that should enhance the experience for guests. Read on to find out more about these expansions, and find out if the new capacity has helped to decrease some of the most notoriously long lines at Disney World.
Toy Story Mania: The ride that’s a game and game that’s a ride has added a third track. While the ride itself is unchanged, this means that there’s a new queue area that splits off right after the Fastpass checkpoint and feeds into the third track. There are no stairs leading to the new load area, which is a big win for those familiar with the zig-zagging stair corridor leading up to the ride. The new load area looks very similar to the other load area, except it’s much clearer that the game is supposed to take place under Andy’s bed. The exit for the third track features cute new artwork of Bonnie’s coloring pages. LaughingPlace.com has a really nice picture review of the third track on Toy Story Mania.
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3rd track for Toy Story Midway Mania is now fully operational at Disney's Hollywood Studios. 40min stand-by wait! pic.twitter.com/w4gfLuFB97
— LaughingPlace.com (@laughing_place) May 25, 2016
But how about the wait times? It seems like Disney has successfully cut down the usually enormous wait times for Toy Story Mania. I saw many reports of standby waits around 20-40 minutes, which is a major improvement over the two-track ride. Even at peak times during the holiday weekend, the ride’s wait was about 60-70 minutes, which is much more manageable than the 2-3 hour wait times I’ve seen in the past. EasyWDW.com has a fantastic breakdown of how the wait times were affected by the expansion this weekend.
Current wait time for Toy Story according to MDE app is only 30 minutes. I hope this is a new average!! pic.twitter.com/6zhqFv17bO
— Autism At The Parks (@AutismAtThePark) May 26, 2016
Soarin: Over at Epcot, Soarin’ has reopened with a third theater. The ride is currently showing the original California ride film for the next few weeks until it gets replaced by Soarin Over The World on June 16. The theaters have also received an upgraded laser projection system, which will make for a much cleaner image (Goodbye, film flecks!).
How about the wait times? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like those have been as greatly improved as Toy Story’s wait time, with EasyWDW reporting an average wait time of 103 minutes over the weekend.
since soarin w/ the original film reopened on friday along w/ the 3rd theater, the average wait has been 103 minutes pic.twitter.com/f8YewSjLqZ
— josh (@easywdw) May 31, 2016
Even with an extra theater, what could be causing the long lines? There are a few factors at play. First of all, Soarin had previously been closed for several months during this expansion, so there could be some pent up demand. Secondly, Epcot currently only has two major E-ticket rides that draw crowds: Soarin’ and Test Track. During a holiday weekend, it’s understandable that people would funnel to those two rides. There could also be an element of people wanting to experience the old ride film before it glides away forever. Finally, I saw sporadic reports on Twitter that the ride was not running at full capacity for many stretches throughout the weekend, with one or two theaters down at a time. If that’s true, then having an extra theater would not be able to cut wait times at all. Once again, check out the very thorough writeup at EasyWDW about Soarin’s wait times.
Hopefully Soarin’s wait times will be able to drop down once Frozen Ever After opens and crowds are drawn to the other side of Epcot.