Celebrating “Toy Story” At Disney Parks Ahead of Pixar Fest At The Disneyland Resort Next Month

Pixar Fest is coming to the Disneyland Resort in a few weeks, bringing an all new parade to Disney California Adventure, an updated nighttime spectacular to Disneyland Park, several dance parties and more to the destination to celebrate everything Pixar from April 26th through August 4th, 2024.

But the films of Pixar Animation Studios and the Disney Parks are no stranger to each other. This partnership goes back to long before the Walt Disney Company acquired the Pixar Animation Studios, back to their very first feature film, the first fully computer animated film – Toy Story. The juggernaut film and the franchise it inspired has appeared throughout the parks in the forms of entertainment offerings, moments in nighttime spectaculars, and their very own Toy Story-based attractions. Even full lands!  

Back in 1995, the world first met Woody and Buzz Lightyear in a film that answers the question of what toys do when their owners are away with a fantastic fun-filled journey, viewed mostly through the eyes of two rival toys. Woody being the lanky, likable cowboy, and Buzz Lightyear, the fearless (if not arrogant) space ranger.  Led by Woody, Andy's toys live happily in his room until Andy's birthday brings Buzz Lightyear onto the scene. Afraid of losing his place in Andy's heart, Woody plots against Buzz. But when circumstances separate Buzz and Woody from their owner, the comically-mismatched duo eventually learn to put aside their differences, and they find themselves on a hilarious adventure-filled mission where the only way they can survive is to form an uneasy alliance. Since then, we have been treated to not two, but three (and an upcoming fourth) sequels furthering the adventures of all the toys and expanding their universe. A universe that also includes multiple Disney Parks experiences.

Thanks to some vacant space in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland though, it was in January of 1996 that we got the first form of a Toy Story attraction, and it all started with a house.


When Toy Story was shown at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, audiences were also treated to an amusement center for all ages, themed to that very first fully computer-animated feature film. The experience at the theater pleased fans so much that it was moved to Disneyland under the new name, Toy Story Funhouse, and opened in Tomorrowland at Disneyland for a few more months of fun. The area featured opportunities to interact with characters, learn the two-step from Woody, tackle the Green Army Men obstacle course (while wearing a “base” on your feet like the toys) and play with the giant Lite Brite and Spirograph walls. Guests were also able to catch a live stage presentation of Hamm’s All-Doll Revue on a stage nearby.


If you think the themed Toy Story land at Walt Disney World was the first, you’d be mistaken. The first fully themed Toy Story Land appeared at the fledgling Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, adding some much needed attractions (and much needed theming) to the theme park back in 2010. Dubbed “Toy Story Playland” at this park, guests are “shrunk” down to the size of a toy, to play in Andy’s Backyard with all the friends from the movies. Oversized props and statues of our favorite characters along with themed shops and eateries populate the area, but the big focus is on the three attractions that debuted in this land, starting with Toy Soldier Parachute Drop. Based on the scene in the original film when the Green Army Men parachute through the stair banisters to investigate Andy's birthday presents, Toy Soldier Parachute Drop is one of the most popular attractions in the area, with a not-too-calm, and not-too-thrilling nature, providing scenic views at 80 feet tall in 6-person “parachutes” that glide gently up and down throughout the journey. Even been on Jumpin Jellyfish at Disney California Adventure? It’s a lot like that.

Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin – This powered roller coaster is the tamest attraction in the land, simply offering a continuous, circular ride up and down a relatively gentle incline. Aimed primarily at a younger age group, it nevertheless provides enough fun and kitsch design to be appreciated by a wide demographic of visitors.

Entering a queue line formed out of Lincoln Logs building blocks, you eventually step inside the giant box itself, which even has a retro-styled board game printed on its inside. The giant Slinky Dog train is connected end-to-end, traveling in a loop around a dog bowl filled with rubber bones and Andy's baseball. It builds up enough speed to provide a mild, fun thrill with a quick rise and descent.

Easily the most thrilling attraction in this Toy Story themed land, RC Racer stands high in the sky and is essentially a shuttle coaster, launching back and forth up the two towers (themed like a race track) with the ride vehicle designed to look like RC from the first Toy Story film. Riders are propelled forwards and backwards through the station building in a semi-circular "half pipe" of track, quickly building up enough speed to hit the top height of almost 80 feet. At Hong Kong Disneyland, the land is nearly identical, with the same attraction offerings. Dubbed simply “Toy Story Land,” this one opened second in 2011 and features the same attractions listed above. In 2018, Toy Story Land opened at Shanghai Disneyland, keeping 2 out of the original three attractions, but replacing the name for RC Racer and changing it to “Rex’s Racers,” keeping a loose story between Rex the dinosaur from Andy’s toy collection and Bonnie’s toy Triceratops, Trixie, but essentially the same ride experience. The Shanghai land also scrapped the Green Army Man Parachute Drop in favor of Woody’s Roundup.

Woody’s Roundup is Shanghai Disneyland’s example of the classic whip attraction. Since Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree debuted as part of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure back in 2012, Disney Parks have been trying to capture that same attraction (and its success) at each of their destinations, with Woody’s Roundup being Shanghai’s Example. At Walt Disney World, that same attraction took the shape of Alien Swirling Saucers, featuring a giant claw style floor for the saucers that passengers ride around in to swirl around. This is one of the major differences that makes Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios vastly different than the others around the world. Opened in 2018, and keeping the same idea that you are going into Andy’s backyard and are now a toy coming to play, Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land features the aforementioned Alien Swirling Saucers and probably the most thrilling attraction in any Toy Story Land, Slinky Dog Dash.

Unlike the Slinky Dog spinning attractions throughout the world, this attraction is a multi-launch family coaster that makes its way throughout the area once occupied by a significant portion of the Backlot Studio Tour of the park. Peep the reference in the loading station/hidden mickey paying tribute to the Earful Tower. Just sayin’.

The other main anchor to Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World is an attraction that debuted at the park nearly a decade prior to the full land at the park….


Originally announced back in 2007, an attraction based on Toy Story was soon coming to Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Designed to be a ride-through of a midway games playset, the Toy Story characters are inviting new toys (us guests) to come play with the new games – which in reality are virtual and highly interactive challenges that we participate in from our ride vehicle with the help of our “spring action shooters “ and some 3D glasses.

The ride is composed of multiple mini-games of different classic midway varieties – darts, ring toss, etc. – and some have actually been switched out when the successful sequel Toy Story 3 arrived in 2010, after the attractions opened within a month of each other in 2008.

The idea of the midway games in a Victorian style is a far better fit for the location of the attraction at then Disney’s California Adventure, as one of the early efforts to make changes that park in their updated Paradise Pier. Later on, when the area was rethemed into Pixar Pier, an adjacent Toy Story attraction was added in the form of Jessie’s Critter Carousel, with the animals themed like the prizes from Midway Mania.

As for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the attraction took over the unused soundstages of the park in their new Pixar Studios themed area of the park that never was fully realized. The attraction proved so successful at the Studios park, that an adjacent soundstage (speculatively marked for a Monsters, Inc attraction) was taken over to add much needed capacity for the attraction with another track offering a nearly identical experience.

The attraction made its way over to Tokyo DisneySea, where a new section of their American Waterfront port opened paying homage to the amusement areas indicative of the era, fitting right in with the rest of the park. Again, the attraction experience is nearly identical.

If for whatever reason you can’t get to one of the Disney Parks to experience this attraction, a home version also was released in the form of a video game for the Nintendo Wii.

The concept of interactivity and shooting targets is nothing new for a Disney Parks attraction based on Toy Story…

(Note: Infrared Beams Do Not Appear As Shown)

(Note: Infrared Beams Do Not Appear As Shown)


Debuting at Walt Disney World in 1998, this interactive shoot-em-up attraction pits riders as a recruit for Star Command, firing power cells to take out the evil Emperor Zurg, who we first meet in Toy Story 2. The attraction kept the same track layout and rethemed ride vehicles of the former Delta Dreamflight/Take Flight attraction at the Magic Kingdom, but was largely criticized because of its rushed nature. The environments that riders go through are largely made up of plywood cutouts of alien creatures with targets on them and few animatronics or other design details that Disney fans had come to expect at that point. Still, the ride was hugely popular, and was recreated elsewhere.

In 2005, a lot of those critiques were remedied when Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters debuted at Disneyland in a site once occupied by queue-space for the long-defunct Rocket Rods in Tomorrowland, and easily the biggest complaint of all was solved – you can now take off the shooters (still anchored to the vehicle at WDW) and aim, target, and shoot with ease.

This attraction also debuted globally, in each destination, though Hong Kong’s has already been replaced by a Marvel-based attraction, and Shanghai and Paris have other unique names: Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, and Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast, respectively. Disneyland, Tokyo, and the former Hong Kong location all were called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, not to be confused with


When DisneyQuest opened in 1998, Walt Disney World guests could head to the new indoor, interactive theme park and experience Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, a “plussed” version of bumper cars. The cars, which put riders into an enclosed, transparent vehicle, were equipped with a cannon and targets throughout. Drivers, or in most cases – passengers, were able to target those targets and launch a dodgeball-style ball from the vehicle and cause the other vehicle to spin uncontrollably. You’d have to hit that target pretty accurately to work though.

If you wanted more Toy Story fun at DisneyQuest, early on you could have gone to Sid’s Create-A-Toy. Based on the, we’ll call him “creative” antagonist neighbor in the first Toy Story film, guests here could take a mish-mash of toy parts and do exactly what the attraction’s title promised – create a toy – that could be purchased later. This attraction was actually one of the first that closed at DisneyQuest, but Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters stayed at the indoor offering until its bitter end, closing with DisneyQuest in July of 2017.


But if you’re still looking for Sid in the parks somewhere, head to the hugely popular extra-ticket Halloween event at Disney California Adventure, Oogie Boogie Bash. There, passersby on Pixar Pier and the Pixar Pier clamshell can meet and talk-to the apparently quite sassy and roastful neighbor to Andy, Sid Phillips.

Of course, that evening offering is not the first evening offering that Toy Story has made an appearance in.


Back in 2010, the original World of Color debuted at Disney California Adventure, the first phase of the official reimagining of the park, creating its signature nighttime experience. One of the standout moments of the show was based on Toy Story. Featuring a bit of dialogue after a very smooth transition from a WALL-E segment, we dive right into a battle between Buzz and Zurg via fountain and laser and a brief appearance from the little green aliens (that became audio only by the show’s conclusion for World of Color: ONE).

You could also take in an evening performance of Toy Story: The Musical. From 2008 to 2016, passengers aboard the Disney Wonder could enjoy this unique take on the familiar story – turned into a rock musical. Throughout the 55-minute musical, there are 6 original songs, written by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn. It also features one song from the original soundtrack of the animated feature, "You've Got a Friend in Me," written by Randy Newman.

Fronted by Jessie and her yodeling cowgirl, light-twirling friends, Toy Story was a significant portion of the Paint The Night Parade that debuted at Disneyland during the park’s 60th anniversary celebration. Later moved to Disney California Adventure for the first Pixar Fest back in 2018, the Toy Story unit in the parade featured a giant Slinky Dog covered in lights with Buzz and Woody riding aboard on either end of the float. The lights on Slinky Dog are entrancing enough, but the fans loved the non-branded Lite Brite-style grid upon which Slinky Dog was riding.

This wasn’t the first time Toy Story characters appeared in a parade – in fact, as was the norm for the day, they had their very own Toy Story Parade as their movie was released at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios). Dedicated solely to their film, different units and floats in the parade were dedicated to different characters and scenes from the movies. I could sit here and was poetic all day long about how Disney needs to adopt this trend once again of promotional parades but alas. You can find out more about this parade by checking out Cole’s article dedicated to the procession, here.

Later on, the Toy Story Characters would take to the streets of Disney California Adventure once again as significant portions of the “Street”tacular – Block Party Bash, which debuted at the park as part of Disneyland’s 50th celebration, turning the Performance Corridor into a giant street party, one-third of which was dedicated solely to Toy Story. After staying at the park, this parade made its way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (less one-portion of the section dedicated to A Bug’s Life) and the Pixar Play Parade came to DCA. That parade featured more of the Pixar films, but the finale had multiple floats once again, dedicated to Toy Story and its characters. Once Toy Story 3 debuted, so did another part of the parade, a Tonka-style truck carrying that film’s villain (that everyone seems to forget is a villain), Lots-O-Huggin’ bear. Eventually, for Pixar Fest at Disneyland in 2018, the parade moved across the Esplanade and expanded when it arrived at Disneyland Park.

In fact, there are a number of different parades that have had Toy Story prominently featured, and according to Bob Iger, it was seeing the crowd react to Toy Story characters in a parade overseas when he first accepted the CEO position at the Walt Disney Company that prompted him to acquire Pixar Animation Studios, the first major acquisition he pulled off as CEO of the company.

Now, years later a new parade is on the horizon coming soon to Disney California Adventure. Better Together: A Pixar Pals Celebration is set to debut with Pixar Fest on April 26th, and with it will come a number of new units celebrating the films of the Pixar universe. While all the art we’ve seen features Soul, Turning Red, and Luca, we can’t imagine a Pixar-based parade without some nods to Toy Story and its subsequent sequels. Especially a parade dedicated to friendship!

A similar theme is carried over into Disneyland’s fireworks spectacular, Together Forever!, set to return to Disneyland Park as part of Pixar Fest, expanded with new scenes! Previously, the show opened with Buzz Lightyear taking off into the sky (sorry Tink, not you this time) to kick off the evening’s performance. Toy Story characters were peppered throughout the show, and the finale was set to “You’ve Got A Friend In Me.” We’ll see what (if any) changes are made when the party kicks off at the Disneyland Resort again in a few weeks.

We hope you enjoyed this expansive look at some of the many Toy Story offerings at the Disney Parks over the last few decades. We know we didn’t get them all, and we definitely didn’t touch the dining options (Pizza Planet, Roundup BBQ, etc.), all the entertainment (Club Buzz, anyone?) or even the Toy Story hotels! If you want to see any of these for yourself, be sure to reach out to our friends at Mouse Fan Travel, they can assist with all your Disney Travel needs and you definitely have a friend in them!

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.