Walt Disney World announced a new table service dining option coming to Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios named Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant. This offers details, construction progress, work permits, and when this WDW eatery will likely open. (Updated August 4, 2022.)
Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant will be themed to a backyard barbecue with Andy and his toys inviting guests to participate in fun. By toys, we do not mean the walk-around variety; Walt Disney World has indicated this will not be a character dining experience. As you can see in the above image, the art style is similar to that of both Toy Story Mania and Slinky Dog Dash.
The premise for Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant is that Andy has cut and taped three cardboard boxes together to create a new rodeo arena using some of his favorite toys, games, and play sets. While some pieces are definitely western-themed, what makes this rodeo special is the broad assortment of toys that have been brought together to create a fun, colorful mashup-atmosphere.
Once inside, you’ll be surrounded by all of the rodeo festivities in-action as well as western town and train station play sets. And you just might spot some of your favorite Pixar characters scattered around the restaurant in the form of toys and game pieces including a toy version of Jessie riding on the back of a Trixie pull-toy and unique toy versions of Bo Peep and her sheep, all who appear to be performing in the rodeo together.
This new dining option will be located to the right of what’s currently the entrance of Toy Story Land, behind the giant Woody figure and land’s marquee (you can see construction walls in the photo below). Previously, this area was home to two backstage production bungalows. These facilities were relocated with a new structure built to house Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant.
August 4, 2022 Update: Walt Disney Imagineering has filed two new permits for Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. To our recollection, these are the first permits in at least a year, as work has progressed at a snail’s pace on this project.
The first permit is for “Project T – Themed Facades,” which almost certainly refers to the exterior of the building. It doesn’t yet look like a themed playset, unless kids are playing with concrete boxes these days. The contractor on this permit is Brilliant Creative Fabrication, which has worked with Walt Disney World in the past on a range of projects involving everything from “dinosaurs to outer space” and “fairy tales to virtual reality.”
The second permit is for fabrication and installation of set pieces, which likely refers to all of the simulated cardboard cutouts inside and outside the restaurant.
These permits expire in August 2023, giving the contractors and Imagineering another year to finish up this component of the project, in theory. However, that’s the default duration for permit work and unlikely has any bearing on the opening date of Toy Story Land’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ.
When announcing the now-open Jessie’s Trading Post gift shop earlier this year, Walt Disney World provided an update on the restaurant: “Also coming in 2022 to Andy’s backyard is the previously announced Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant! In this unique, fun, family-friendly dining experience, guests will enjoy delicious barbecue fare while surrounded by a kaleidoscope of toys, games, and playsets that Andy has brought together to create his one-of-a-kind rodeo.
“Stepping into the lobby and waiting area, guests experience first-hand what it feels like to be one of Andy’s honorary toys, before progressing into two larger dining room spaces where Andy’s rodeo takes place. Here, the rodeo will be in full swing, with western town and train station playsets mixing with surprising, playful details, like some fan-favorite Pixar characters as they’ve never been seen before!”
Beyond that, there are no new developments to report. We’ve been checking out construction and taking photos of “progress” on Roundup Rodeo BBQ each visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and have been for the last three years. To be honest, none of you would know the difference if I shared a photo from August 2022 or two years ago. It looks almost exactly the same.
However, we’ve been receiving questions as to the project’s status and haven’t shared any recent reports in almost a year, so here goes…
You may recall that Walt Disney World announced the Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant would open in 2020. That announcement was made before the closure of the parks, and even then didn’t have an opening month or season attached to it. Our expectation at the time was thus that it would open close to Christmas 2020.
Then the multi-month closure happened, and all construction was paused. Even after Walt Disney World reopened, it took many major projects several more months to regain momentum. Toy Story Land’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant was one such project.
At some point that fall, work resumed on Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant. Walt Disney Imagineering filed several construction permits for the interior with addresses that would match the location, and progress could be observed on the roof of the warehouse that’ll house the restaurant.
Fast-forward to August 2022, and the concrete ‘warehouse’ for Toy Story Land’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant is finished…and has for at least 18 months. We’ve seen intermittent work on the exterior and construction crews around the project, but it’s impossible to ascertain the location’s actual progress since it’s literally a window-less warehouse. Nothing major has happened in over a year.
Unlike other projects that have been delayed indefinitely or cancelled, Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant will directly generate revenue and addresses a need–a lack of dining capacity at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It has not been and won’t be cancelled.
Like Space 220 Restaurant before it, Walt Disney World has deliberately dragged out the timeline on this project. After a lengthy delay and the project being totally finished for months, Space 220 Restaurant opened at Epcot just before Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary started.
With Space 220 Restaurant, the delay was driven by physical distancing in restaurants last year, which dramatically cut into profitability. Once that was dropped several months ago, staffing shortages became an issue. With those problems resolved, Space 220 Restaurant opened and has been booked solid since.
Walt Disney World has taken a similar approach with Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant. The company moved slower on construction because it was simply not advantageous to open the restaurant, and wouldn’t be truly needed in terms of demand and attendance until 2022.
While we’ve heard that work still needs to be finished on the inside–and there’s a bit of decorating to be done on the facade of the building–the timeline here is being dragged out by design. Given its wholly unambitious concept, the Toy Story restaurant could be finished in a matter of months (maybe even weeks!) if it were deemed a high priority. However, it is not.
At this point, we’re looking at late 2022 for the opening of Toy Story Land’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant. That means sometime between the start of the new fiscal year in October and Christmas 2022. If I had to guess, I’d go with before Thanksgiving. Just in terms of demand, that makes sense.
Anytime between this month and mid-September 2022 is unlikely. Early fall is the off-season at Walt Disney World–it would’ve made more sense to open it over the summer than waiting until school resumed. Late September is a possibility, especially if Walt Disney World wants to give it a soft opening prior to scaling up. (Disney has already announced several meal services returning right before the start of the new fiscal year.)
Beyond that, our first impression of Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant is generally mixed. Three of the primary criticisms of Toy Story Land have been the lack of shade, air-conditioning, and dining options.
While we’ve really enjoyed both the breakfast and lunch/dinner menus at Woody’s Lunch Box, the lack of seating and zero indoor seating definitely put a damper on it. On the plus side, a makeshift gift shop has been added to the exit of Toy Story Mania.
This new table service restaurant should help address all of those issues.
Toy Story Land is currently pretty miserable during the summer heat or daily rain showers. Giving guests even a temporary reprieve from the sun or storms in a place that isn’t the restrooms would be nice.
Otherwise, about my only thought is, “why not have an elaborately themed Pizza Planet?!” and I’m guessing the answer to that is storytelling consistency. My retort to that response would be: “who cares.” Seriously, it’s not like Toy Story Land is the pinnacle of themed design. Beyond that, it would be pretty easy to concoct a storytelling contrivance to explain away the presence of Pizza Planet in “Andy’s Backyard,” if Imagineering truly felt the need.
To the extent that it succeeds, Toy Story Land does so because it’s lighthearted and whimsical fun. Being so beholden to “story” that Imagineering ignores the very obvious, very low-hanging fruit that is Pizza Planet just seems self-defeating. But then again, so did “saving” a little bit of money by not building shade, a gift shop, or more dining capacity in the first place. So what do I know!
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