People ask me why I get into theme parks so much, especially Disney parks. The easiest answer is to just point at the news that’s breaking every single day. Who isn’t looking for an escape right now?
I travel a lot. In the last two years I’ve been to the Colosseum, the Louvre and the Tower of London. I’ve seen the Sistine Chapel, Versailles and “Starry Night.” I’ve had too much to drink in Montreal, Japan and more states than I can remember. I even met Danny McBride at an airport bar. That’s all amazing. It’s all stuff I’ll never forget (well, except for some of those drunken nights) for as long as my brain is alive and healthy. It’s all powerful in ways that theme parks aren’t. But theme parks are also powerful in ways that all that stuff isn’t. If you’re looking to phase out of the real world for a spell, to fully immerse yourself in wonder and fantasy, to momentarily forget everything that might be causing you stress or sadness in life, and return to the pure, pristine joy you felt as a child with no cares in the world, nothing works as quickly or thoroughly as a well-designed theme park.
I’m typing this from a hotel nestled deep within the 43 square miles that make up the Walt Disney World Resort outside Orlando, Florida. I’m here to check out Toy Story Land, the new addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which opens this weekend. Today I and other members of the press got to check out the park early, enjoying the decor that aims to make you feel like a toy in Andy’s backyard, and riding the two new attractions, the Alien Swirling Saucers spinner and the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster. It was a hard day’s work but somebody had to do it. I’ll have full thoughts on the land and the attractions soon, along with interviews with some of the Disney talent that brought Toy Story Land to life. Today, though, I’m here to show you one thing: footage of me blasting through Slinky Dog Dash, captured by an elaborate camera installation mounted on the roller coaster. If you want to get an idea of what the family-friendly coaster might feel like, or just want to see the impact it has upon an unnecessarily long beard, here’s your chance. Just click play on the video below.
Toy Story Land opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World on Saturday, June 30.