The newest area at Walt Disney Studios Park is Toy Story Playland, a mini-land located within the Toon Studio backlot. It's as if you've stepped onto the set of Toy Story and are in Andy's backyard amid all his playthings. From the Hot Wheels track and Tinker Toys to a Barrel of Monkeys and stacks of dominoes, many of your favorite toys from childhood are here and larger than life.
An enormous Buzz Lightyear stands over the entrance to Toy Story Playland, greeting Guests in both French and English as they arrive. Once inside the land, you'll find other familiar faces and elements from the Toy Story films, including the brightly-colored ball featured in the 1986 Pixar short "Luxo, Jr." and tucked into nearly every other Pixar production since.
Looking up, you'll discover an old-fashioned string of Christmas lights is used for illumination, while on the ground clever observers may notice the sneaker tread of Andy's footprints in the dirt.
At the other end of the land, the Barrel of Monkeys is cracked open and laying on the ground - one half housing a merchandise location, the other providing a tunnel transition back into the human-size section of the park.
Here in Toy Story Playland, though, everything is toy size, from the photo op with Rex to benches made from wooden train track pieces.
At the southern edge of the area, model airplanes of the balsa wood and plastic varieties signal the entrance to the first major attraction of Toy Story Playland, the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. Look closely at the model plane which forms the marquee, and you'll even notice the rubber band inside ready to be twisted to spin the propeller.
The Toy Soldiers (as they're known here; Green Army Men in the States) are on the case, ready to train new recruits on how to parachute into enemy territory... or at least into a houseplant to spy on Christmas and birthday presents.
Every element of the attraction is authentic to the films and supports the story that we're immersed in a toy world. The 2010 copyright date on the PlaySkool walkie-talkie is a nod to when Toy Story Playland opened (August 2010), and I especially love the fences in the queue, built to look like something you'd snap together with a Green Army Man play set.
There are bits of Hidden Disney to be found in the queue here as well. Fort Emery, the name of the post where we're doing our parachute training, is a nod to Pixar Animation Studios' hometown of Emeryville, California. The ID number on the Jeep in the outdoor area of the queue, 112295, is actually the date the original Toy Story opened in theaters (Nov. 22, 1995).
Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop is essentially the same kind of shoot-up-and-gently-drift-down ride found in countless amusement parks around the world. What makes this attraction unique and so much fun is the story being told through the details. Here, the load station is a Quonset hut, the landing zones are marked with Army stars and a plastic soldier keeps an eye on us from an observation tower. Parachuting our way through boot camp has never been so much fun!