Think Like a Preschooler

Wait – I know what you’re thinking: why would I spend any of my Walt Disney World time with my preschoolers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Isn’t Magic Kingdom where all the little kid stuff is?

Well, you’re going to have a fan-tas-tic time at Disney World no matter where you spend your time. But if your littles have grown up on a diet of the more modern Disney movies – I’m talking Toy Story, Frozen, and Star Wars – rather than the Disney classics, your three- and four-year-olds are gonna’ get their kicks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

(Plus I’ll share a little secret – I’ve noticed over the course of several visits to all the parks that Disney’s Hollywood Studios seems to be a little less crowded than Magic Kingdom).

I recently visited Walt Disney World on a hosted visit with the happy challenge to find the best preschooler possibilities at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Toy Story Land

What’s the best plan of attack for a preschooler at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? My absolute number one recommendation is to start your visit at the brand new Toy Story Land, located near the now-familiar Pixar Place in Hollywood Studios.

Toy Story Land Hollywood Studios toy soldiers #toystoryland #hollywoodstudios #toysoldier #andysbackyard

“Let’s Play” is the perfect welcome to Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

DisneyWorld has seriously upped its game with the unveiling of Toy Story Land, and trust me – it doesn’t get better than this.

Headed to Hollywood Studios at Disney World with a preschooler? The best tips for making the most of a visit with young kids, including dining recommendations, rides, shows, and characters.

Toy Soldier next to a Barrel of Monkeys at Pixar Place at Hollywood Studios. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

Entering the new Toy Story Land is like entering Andy’s backyard – you’re at the same scale of the toys from the Toy Story movies.  Adult-sized green toy soldiers march around (they’re happy to pose for pictures), monkeys from the Barrel of Monkeys game are strung across the walkway, and of course, Disney has secured a special spot to meet and get pix with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Andy's Backyard at Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios #toystoryland #andysbackyard #toystory

Andy’s Backyard at Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

Alien Swirling Saucers

There are so many wonderful details and creations at Toy Story Land — none of which your pre-schooler will notice but all of which will captivate your kiddo no matter how long you hang out with Andy and his toys. For kids of all sizes (by all sizes, I mean 32 inches and up), one of the new rides in Toy Story Land is Alien Swirling Saucers.

Alien Swirling Saucers Toy Story Land Hollywood Studios #toystoryland #aliensaucers #alienswirlingsaucers

One of the adorable Alien Swirling Saucers at Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

The two greatest things for me about Alien Swirling Saucers is that (1) you can feel the swirls but they are medium only as far as spinning rides go, and (2) the individual alien saucers actually change tracks during the ride from one section to another — something entirely new and fun for me. The littles will love this!

Toy Story Land Alien Swirling Saucers #toystoryland #aliensaucers #alienswirlingsaucers #hollywoodstudios #disneyworld #disneypreschoolers

Bright and fun space toy colors highlight the waiting area leading to Alien Swirling Saucers at Toy Story Land. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

Slinky Dog Dash

For pre-schoolers of a taller variety — they must be 38 inches or taller to ride — the new Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster is beyond fun, and not just because of the speed. DisneyWorld outdid itself on this one, combining elements of Andy’s creativity to put together a terrific display of art, design, and speed starring Slinky Dog.

Slinky Dog’s smiling face at the front of every ride on the Slinky Dog Dash. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

I gotta tell you, I could have stayed on Slinky Dog Dash for hours and not been bored. The detail is incredible, and of course for “older preschoolers” like me, the nostalgia is thick and sweet. As far as roller coasters go, this is not a kiddie coaster by any means, but it’s nowhere near Rock n’ Roll Roller Coaster, Space Mountain, or Expedition Everest. Rather, it’s a nice, medium-speed roller coaster that’s high on the fun meter.

Andy Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster #slinkydogdash #slinkydog #rollercoaster #toystoryland

Andy may have modified the original Slinky Dog instructions just a little to create the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers


Slinky Dog Dash Toy Story Land Hollywood Studios #slinkydog #slinkydogdash #slinkydogrollercoaster #toystoryland #hollywoodstudios

If your preschoolers aren’t too worn out by the time sunset rolls around, a nighttime ride on the Slinky Dog Dash is amazing! Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

Toy Story Mania

The Toy Story Midway Mania ride is a must-do. While not a new ride, Disney re-configured the entrance to be part of Toy Story Land and gave the ride a make-over. Toy Story Mania is an enlarged version of Andy’s bedroom with games and toys scattered about, reminiscent of old-time county fair midway games. The 3D spinning car ride is hosted by Woody. While traveling down a track the game keeps score of how well you can toss objects by aiming launchers inside the car and pulling a cord. It’s one of our family favorites!

Toy Story Mania Toy Story Land #toystorymania #toystoryland

The new entrance to Toy Story Mania is inside Toy Story Land. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

One More Thing About Toy Story Land

As a parent of a boy — who once was a small boy — I know sometimes kids are having too much fun to want to stop and take a break to use the restroom. Except at Toy Story Land, the restroom design is just as fun and clever as everything else. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go into a restroom made up of Scrabble tiles and blocks, with a giant Cootie on top?

Toy Story Land #toystoryland

The Disney touch extends to the Scrabble tile, blocks, and Cootie restrooms at Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

But Toy Story Land goes one further. I know that sometimes once inside the restroom, when you have an independent-minded young man, he wants to do what the other men are doing, which means standing at the urinal.

Except in most men’s restrooms there is usually only one urinal placed low enough for a young kiddo to reach. As a public service, I’m happy to report that ALL of the urinals in the boys’ restroom at Toy Story Land are placed “appropriately low” so that the ages of those Toy Story Land is designed for are appropriately accommodated.

(You’ll have to trust me on this one. I wasn’t about to take a photo inside. Well, I was, but I didn’t, even though it was completely empty the night of my hosted visit to Toy Story Land.)

Kudos to DisneyWorld for knowing their Toy Story Land clientele.

Small Kids’ Fun Outside Toy Story Land:

Star Wars

After Pixar Place, pretend you’re a toy soldier, make an about-face, and head out the way you came in. You’ll end up in preschooler paradise, no matter what your preference.  Star Wars Launch Bay, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and Disney Junior—Live on Stage! are all right there.

Some preschoolers may be too young for all the Star Wars stuff, and that’s fine. But if they’re familiar enough with the franchise, there are Stormtroopers patrolling the plaza. And Chewbacca and Kylo Ren await inside for a photo inside the Star Wars Launch Bay. They await on separate sides — the Light and Dark Sides, of course — and while you can see and pose with both characters, you’ll have to wait on separate lines for the opportunity.

Preschooler Hollywood Studios Star Wars

The March of the First Order at Hollywood Studios. Photo Credit: Kristi Mehes

And don’t forget just about every hour on the hour, from morning to early afternoon, the Stormtroopers perform the “March of the First Order” down Hollywood Boulevard. With an inter-galactic marching tune playing in the background, it’s a can’t-miss for Star Wars fans. It’s completely un-scary for little ones who aren’t too sure yet about this whole Star Wars thing.

Disney Junior Live!

But even if your kids have no interest in Star Wars, you can spend a lot of time in the plaza meeting Disney Jr. characters. And for preschoolers, the Disney Jr. Live! stage show is a big hit.
Preschoolers Hollywood Studios Disney Junior Live Stage

Disney Junior Live on Stage! is a great time for preschoolers. Photo Credit: Boyd Rogers

The Little Mermaid

This was my first time seeing the “Voyage of the Little Mermaid” – a condensed 20-minute version of the story featuring Ariel, Eric, Ursula, and other characters from the movie. It’s right across the plaza from Disney Junior. During “Under the Sea,” audible “oohing and aahing” came from the preschoolers when bubbles danced through the theater at the end of the song! (You’re thinking like a kid, right? You love bubbles, right?)

Disney Hollywood Studios Preschooler

Entrance to Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. Photo Credit: Yvonne Jasinski

Time for a Warm Frozen Hug

Visiting Hollywood Studios with preschoolers isn’t complete without a visit to see Olaf. After that it’s time to chime in for “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”!  Hosted by two members of Arendelle (the Frozen kingdom), the sing-along is basically a fast-paced comedy routine rolled up into a family sing-along of Frozen’s greatest hits – and aren’t they all? Best part? When it snows inside the theater during the closing number. The preschoolers in the crowd were squealing with delight (and yeah, I got a kick out of it too).

Disney Hollywood Studios Preschooler

Inside the “For the First Time in Forever” Frozen Sing-Along at Hollywood Studios. Photo Credit: Yvonne Jasinski

P.S. – A Confession

Finally, a confession: I’m past the age of preschoolers. And I’m far too young to have pre-school-age grandchildren. But I haven’t forgotten how to see the world through the eyes of a child. And when my three kids were wee, you bet your life their dad took them to see the magic:

Disney Hollywood Studios Preschooler

A Traveling Dad with Two Preschoolers at Disneyland circa 2006. Photo credit: Carissa Rogers


What’s your preschooler’s favorite part of Hollywood Studios?