At Toy Story Land, playing among the toys

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At Toy Story Land, playing among the toys


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida - For children of the mid-1990s, Disney’s new Toy Story Land offers the opportunity to visit the imaginary world they grew up in. For their parents, it brings back sweet memories of a magical time of toys and make-believe.

And for everyone else, the new theme park offers a whimsical experience from the moment a nearly 20-foot statue of Sheriff Woody welcomes guests as if they are honorary toys in Andy’s backyard.

“We are welcoming everyone who has ever dreamed of being a part of their own ‘Toy Story,’” Bob Chapek, Disney’s chairman of parks, experiences and consumer products, said at an opening ceremony on Friday.

The new 11-acre park inspired by the movie “Toy Story” opened to the public on Saturday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios just outside Orlando.

Tim Allen, the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the films, made a surprise guest appearance at the Friday event. “Somehow you never imagined you would be able to play in Andy’s backyard,” Allen said. “This is just amazing.”

The opening of Toy Story Land is one of the most anticipated events at U.S. theme parks this year. And it continues Disney’s tradition of bringing movies to life. Last year, Pandora - The World of Avatar opened at the Florida theme park. Next year, lands themed on “Star Wars” open at Disney parks here and in California.

But visitors to Toy Story Land will never actually lay eyes on Andy, the human boy who owns the toys in the “Toy Story” films. According to the park’s storyline, he’s just been called inside by his mother, leaving his toys - and you - scattered in the backyard.

“As in the ‘Toy Story’ films, when the humans go away, the toys come to life,” said Dave Minichiello, executive creative director of Toy Story Land. “We’ve tried to include most of the moments and characters in the ‘Toy Story’ films in the new land.”

But you will find other favorite characters - Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Slinky Dog, Mr. Potato Head and the Green Army Patrol - in the brightly colored land, along with two new rides: Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. They join the pre-existing Toy Story Mania ride, which has been one of the most popular attractions at Hollywood Studios since it debuted in 2008. Toy Story Mania gets a colorful new entrance in the new Toy Story Land.

Once inside, guests “magically make a transition,” appearing to become equal in size to a toy because of the scale of the attractions, said Minichiello.

The park features primary colors and larger-than-life versions of classic toys like the Rubik’s Cube, colorful Cootie bugs, Scrabble letters, building blocks and Tinkertoys. There are also benches built from Lincoln Logs.

“We wanted to make this for all generations,” Minichiello said.

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