When Disney released Pixar’s first feature film in November 1995, “Toy Story” quickly became both a technological milestone and a pop culture phenomenon. Not surprisingly, Disney wasted to time introducing the likes of Woody and Buzz Lightyear to Walt Disney World. As a result, this month not only marks the 20th anniversary of “Toy Story” but also one of the first Pixar-themed locations in a Disney park: “Pizza Planet” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Located near “MuppetVision 3D” on the Streets of America Backlot, “Pizza Planet” takes its name from the science fiction-inspired restaurant where Woody and Buzz attempt to reunite with their owner Andy. While the still-deluded Buzz was more interested in completing his misguided mission to save the universe than accompanying the cowboy to a combination pizza place and arcade at first, he changed his mind after Woody convinces him that the elaborately themed restaurant was actually an intergalactic spaceport. While the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version falls short of replicating the look of the one from the film, there’s still plenty of pizza, video games, and references to the Pixar classic to be found here
“Pizza Planet” wasn’t the only way that Walt Disney World promoted the release of “Toy Story” back in 1995. Disney-MGM Studios (as Hollywood Studios was known at the time) also presented a daily “Toy Story Parade” down Hollywood Boulevard and gave a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the first computed animated film by screening “The Making of Toy Story” in the theater that currently serves as the finale of the “One Man’s Dream” attraction. Now, 20 years later, the park is using that same theater to present a temporary sneak peek at Pixar’s latest film: “The Good Dinosaur.”
Over the past 20 year, the popularity of “Toy Story” has continued to grow, inspiring two beloved sequels with another on the way. Its presence at Walt Disney World has expanded as well, most notably with Magic Kingdom’s “Buzz Lightear’s Space Ranger Spin” in 1998 and Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ “Toy Story Midway Mania” in 2008. Earlier this year, Disney announced that more “Toy Story” attraction would be on the way in the form of an entire “Toy Story Land,” which will be part of the larger re-imagineering of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While the role that “Pizza Planet” will play in this expansion in uncertain, it is clear that Woody, Buzz, and their toy friends will continue to play a big role at Walt Disney World for a long time to come.