As a kid I remember pretending my stuffed animals and toys were all alive. They were key parts of my imaginative games as a child. One particular little guy was the star of a majority of my self-produced skits and shows. His name was Teddy. Teddy would come to life once it was bedtime (and I was supposed to be sleeping) transforming into an acrobat, ballerina, or deep-sea diver. Teddy’s grand adventures stretched my imagination and creativity, allowing us to travel all over the world in my imagination.
When the Toy Story Movie came to theaters in 1995, I was able to see for the first time, as a child, what my adventure with Teddy looked like through his eyes. Toys loved being played with as much as kids loved playing with toys! Coincidentally, around that same time I lost Teddy (ahh!!). He was stolen in a suitcase on the way home from a family trip from Toronto, Canada. Imagine my horror as I related to Woody and Buzz being separated from Andy. To cut the suspense, don’t worry, Teddy was joyfully returned to me through the diligent work of my parents and the authorities.
All the Toy Story movies, the original, 2 and 3, seemed to bring me back to different life experiences involving my toys. I have friends who can relate. When we went with friends to see Toy Story 3 the week after a friend had moved out of her old apartment. Earlier that day she had given away a whole box of items she didn’t want anymore. If you’ve seen Toy Story 3 you can probably imagine how she was feeling. ***Cue the Tears***. If only she had known, I’m sure she would have helped to get them all the perfect second home. I’m sure Toy Story 4 is going to melt me into a sappy puddle on the floor, but in the meantime, my family and I were excited to immerse ourselves in a different Toy Story experience: Toy Story Land.
We had a tease of the Toy Story Land potential from the original Toy Story Mania setup in Hollywood Studios. When news broke of an expansion of the land, we were excited! We couldn’t wait to see Woody and Buzz’s adventures first hand and see the world through their eyes.
Bring on Toy Story Land!
So, how was it?
In the words of my four-year old son, “It was AWESOME!”.
Viewed through his excited little eyes, it’s not hard to understand why Toy Story Land is an easy win with the young-ins. You basically become a TOY! Of all the excitement that was happening in Toy Story Land, from the new sights and sounds, to the Toy Solider parades and skits, his favorite new adventure was the Alien Swirling Saucers. I know they have been given mixed reviews, but through the eyes of a four-year-old, the Alien Swirling Saucers were amazing.
Let’s find out why my four-year old son (and kids in general!) love the Alien Swirling Saucers ride.
1. The Decor is on Point
Anyone who is a Toy Story fan probably has a sweet spot for the ‘Little Green Men’ and the Claw. The saucers themselves have the ‘Little Green Men’ on board and the claw is featured on each of the two separate tracks. (Yes, separate tracks resulting in less waiting to ride! Think Dumbo since the Fantasyland expansion) As usual, they are as cute as can be. Okay, maybe it’s just me who has a thing for the squishy little green guys, but I’m pretty sure my four-year thought they were cool. He didn’t even get sick of me looking up and saying, ‘Ooooo, the claaaaw,’ over and over again.
2. There are No Personal Controls
Most long time Walt Disney World attendees have had the chance to ride on the Mad Tea Party spinning tea cups ride. One (amazing) feature of the tea cup ride is the ability to spin your tea cup. Well, the Alien Swirling Saucers don’t have any personal controls for you to adjust. You are unable to control the amount of ‘swirling’ or ‘spinning’ for your personal Alien Saucer. At first, truth be told, I was bummed about this. Stepping back, however, and looking at this through the eyes of my four-year old and I realized this was a win for him.
You see, on the Mad Tea Party ride, whether I am riding with him, my husband or any other unsuspecting ‘victim’, I love to spin the crap out of that tea cup. My co-riders, on the other hand, don’t seem to love the increased rotational movement as much as I do. I’ve often heard shouts of, ‘Mom, don’t!’, or ‘I’m going to be sick”. It’s hard to know for sure what is being said as I can’t make out words over the noise of my own laughter and my passengers consistent shrieks.
Therefore, the absence of personal controls on the Alien Swirling Saucers ride is definitely a plus for my four-year old. He doesn’t have to yell at mom and the two of us enjoy a ride without anyone feeling like the whole world is spinning at the exit.
3. The Music is Festive:
The music piped in over the loud speakers of the ride is a compilation of various instrumental versions of Toy Story Movie songs and tunes that fit the Alien ride theme. Wondering what that sounds like? Think music that you might hear at a carnival, but with a Toy Story twist. My little guy loved the tunes and they did create a more immersive ride experience.
4. Lots of Spectator Points Off the Ride
As a parent, one of my favorite aspects of the variety of locations from which I could stand and watch my family on the Alien Swirling Saucers ride. Along the perimeter of the outside of the ride I was easily able to spot my son and husband as they spun around and around. This detail was also one of my son’s favorite. He loved looking for me or my husband as he swirled around the track. I imagine as he continued to swirl he became a little disoriented and spotting us became a little trickier. Judging by the increased amount of giggles he had, I don’t think he minded that much. As a bonus, I was even able to bring a stroller into the viewing area, which was a huge plus as my youngest son was fast asleep.
5. The Pace of the Ride was Perfect
My son has recently become rather brave when it comes to Walt Disney World theme park rides. He’s been willing to try almost everything we suggest. He loves Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom. Both of those rides he did walk off saying they were a ‘little scary” (but reassured me quickly that he did still like them).
On the Alien Swirling Saucers he walked off saying, “That was so much fun!” and he couldn’t wait to ride again. While I probably would have loved something more intense, such as an old school Tilt-A-Whirl, my son would have said no thanks. He probably would have been one-and-done and we would have kissed the Alien Swirling Saucers good-bye. Having a fun, spinning Alien Saucer that didn’t make you want to toss-up your animal cookies was a big plus in his book.
Overall my son absolutely loved this ride. It often was cited as one of his favorite rides at Walt Disney World, right up there with Dumbo. He’s already planning to ride it at least four times (because that’s how old he is) next time.
For the Alien Swirling Saucers we were able to secure fast passes and completed a rider switch. Due to this, my son riding 2 times in a row. This made it his longest wait time approximately 5 minutes in length. At the same time, the stand-by time to board the ride was approximately 60 minutes. I have heard that the Standby line has seen wait times of over three hours. Let’s just say I’m glad we had the Fastpass+ option and didn’t have to find out if little man still loved the ride as much after waiting 60 minutes to be swirled around.