Looking for some game-changing Hollywood Studios tips and secrets? We’ve got you covered!
Hollywood Studios has gone through some massive changes over the last few years and there’s no doubt that it’s better than ever.
What some Disney fans used to consider a “half day park” is now chock full of experiences to fill a full day (or more). We mention tons of Hollywood Studios attractions on our list of 110 Disney World must-do’s.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to get the most of out the park, along with helping you find all of the can’t-miss rides, restaurants, and experiences.
#1. ENTER HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS BEFORE IT OPENS
Did you know that you can book breakfast reservations before Hollywood Studios even opens? We recommend breakfast at Hollywood & Vine to enter the park early and dine on a traditional American breakfast buffet.
They feature favorites like pancakes & waffles, breakfast meat & potatoes, fresh fruits, baked pastries and a full omelet station and children’s buffet.
The other way to get into Hollywood Studios early is to purchase special tickets for Early Morning Magic, available several times throughout the year. The ticket includes early morning admission, a breakfast cart and early access to Toy Story Land with the chance to meet Buzz, Woody & Jessie!
#2. DO ROPE DROP THE RIGHT WAY
If breakfast isn’t your thing, another way to get in the park early is to come for “Rope Drop” (the park opening ceremony). A lot of people like to do this to get to all the best rides with the lowest wait times possible.
Try running straight to Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge or Sunset Boulevard as wait times for rides in these sections climb pretty high later in the day.
You won’t be able to hit up all the popular rides before lines start to form, so make sure you pick your absolute favorite – or the one you weren’t able to get Fastpasses for.
#3. SCHEDULE FASTPASSES WISELY
Speaking of Fastpasses, it’s helpful to know how you should plan them for the day, since Hollywood Studios is known for having the best rides among all four Walt Disney World parks.
This park follows the same Tier system as the others: you can schedule one Tier 1 ride and two Tier 2 rides, or choose to book three Tier 2 rides. See our list below:
Tier 1: Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror
Tier 2: Fantasmic!, Star Tours, Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Beauty & the Beast – Live on Stage, Indiana Jones’ Epic Stunt Spectacular, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney Junior Dance Party, MuppetVision 3D
We suggest you book your ideal Tier 1 (like Slinky, Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) first and early in the day, then book Tier 2 (our favorites are Star Tours and Beauty & the Beast) for mid-morning or early afternoon.
As soon as you’ve used your first three Fastpasses of the day, you can continue booking one Fastpass at a time until the park closes. We suggest you make one of these Fantasmic!
#4. USING FASTPASSES IN TOY STORY LAND
Toy Story Land has three Tier 1 rides up for grabs in the Fastpass system. We’ve included a brief description for each ride so you can determine the best use of your Fastpass:
Slinky Dog Dash is the most coveted Fastpass in Hollywood. It’s slow enough for smaller children to enjoy and thrilling enough for adults to have fun, but you don’t want to wait in the outdoor line. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s too intense for your crew, check out our post about the ride’s “scary” factor.
Toy Story Mania is great fun for young and old. It’s easier to get Fastpasses for but also has an indoor standby line. Alien Swirling Saucers is last on our priority list as the ride time is short and not very thrilling, but a perfect option for the smallest kids who can’t go on anything else.
#5. GET THE BEST SEATS ON SLINKY DOG DASH
Slinky Dog Dash is one of the most unique roller coasters in Walt Disney World, featuring a steel build with two takeoffs. The seats you choose will determine the experience you have.
Sitting at the very front will give you a clear view of the park – even over to Galaxy’s Edge – and a slower experience. Sitting at the back of the coaster will give you more whip in the turn and a faster takeoff feeling. Ask the cast member to guarantee your spot at the front or back.
#6. BEST TIME TO SEE TOY STORY LAND
Toy Story Land is one of the most colorful additions to Disney Parks since Pandora in Animal Kingdom. It’s worth seeing during the daytime in it’s backyard play time glory, but you also have to visit at night.
During the day, you’ll get the chance to meet Buzz, Woody, Jessie and even Bo Peep, along with toy soldiers roaming the area. The night time showcases colorful, glowing lights for a whole new experience and has the prettiest sunset view in the whole park.
#7. HOW TO RIDE TOWER OF TERROR
The most ideal way to get a ride on Tower of Terror is by getting a Fastpass – or going when the line is very short. There are no fun things to do in line and the majority of the standby line is covered, but outside.
Once you get into the “holding room” with the narrated backstory of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, stand all the way to the back corner of the room, opposite the side you entered. The doors will open to the next line behind you for smooth entry to the next portion of the ride.
You’ll want to request the front row if you are fearless, and the back row if you’re timid. The front row will offer the best views of the story scenes, as well as a view of the park before you drop. You’ll also leave with the best photos from the ride.
#8. GET SHORTER WAIT TIMES ON ROCK ‘N’ ROLLER COASTER
Getting Fastpasses for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster can be challenging as it’s one of the top rides in Hollywood Studios. Wait times often climb to over an hour on the busiest days.
If you don’t have a Fastpass, skip the line quickly by using the Single Rider lane. Oftentimes, this line is far shorter and a party of two is likely to get on the same vehicle together.
#9. BEST TIME TO SEE STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE
Right now (Galaxy’s Edge is less than a month old at the time this post is written), it may seem like there’s no great time to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge since it’s the most heavily populated portion of the park.
However, if you are timing it for photo-taking (and there are a TON of great photos to capture here), you’ll want to go at golden hour (the hour or so before sunset), for sure. This is where you’ll definitely want a good camera or a good smartphone.
The day time offers the opportunity to catch a character walking around, but golden hour will truly capture the unique beauty and vastness of Hollywood Studios’ newest edition.
#10. MEET YOUR FAVORITE STAR WARS CHARACTERS
Most guests don’t realize that you can meet nearly all of the Star Wars characters at Hollywood Studios – you just have to know where to find them. The best place is the new Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away show at the Chinese Theatre.
Star Wars Launch Bay has characters like Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and Darth Vader. BB-8 can has his own meet-and-greet location at Animation Courtyard behind Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
Lastly, with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, characters like Chewy, Rey and the Stormtroopers have been roaming in the new section of the park. We’re not sure how long this will last, but it’s a great way to capture pictures and videos of them in their world.
#11. GET ON SMUGGLER’S RUN
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is an experience you do not want to miss, especially for the die-hard Star Wars fan. It’s so masterfully built and decorated that you’ll feel a part of the Star Wars movie series.
At the time of this post, Smuggler’s Run is not offering Fastpasses, therefore the standby lines can reach up to two hours long. However, if you don’t mind the Single Rider Line, it could help cut that time in half or more.
Trust us, it’s definitely worth it for a chance to pilot Han Solo’s hunk of junk.
#12. MAKE YOUR OWN DROID OR LIGHTSABER
One of the coolest souvenir’s you can now take home with you is a custom, high-quality droid or lightsaber. Disney Imagineers created a beautifully elaborate process for both of these experiences.
To make your droid, head to Black Spire Outpost depot and select the BB-series or the R-series parts for your droid. You’ll receive instructions for building once the parts are gathered and help from a cast member. You can even give your droid a personality chip and make it come to life!
The lightsaber process is much more ritualistic and it’s recommended that you get reservations. It’s inside a secret workshop within the Black Spire Outpost and you can choose from multiple pieces and colors. A ceremony is held to activate your lightsaber and begin your journey with the rebel force.
#13. BECOME A JEDI
Smaller Star Wars fans get the exclusive opportunity to become Jedi knights with multiple training academies held throughout the day. Register your child at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost.
Young trainees will receive Jedi robes and lightsabers and have the chance to battle Darth Vader, Darth Mal and Kylo Ren after learning a few moves from their trainers.
#14. BE THE REBEL SPY ON STAR TOURS
One of the funniest moments on Star Tours is seeing who was chosen as the rebel spy on board. Ever wonder how to do it? We can’t promise anything, but here are a few things to try:
A) Don’t put your 3D glasses on until the ride actually starts.
B) Make the funniest face possible from the time you’re seated until the ride starts.
C) Be as obnoxious as possible, drawing attention to yourself from the crowd.
Option C was proven to work for a young child on board a flight we took a couple years back. She was crying loudly at the start of the ride and her face captured in the rebel spy image was so hilarious, the entire crew couldn’t help but laugh hysterically.
#15. BEST NIGHT SHOW AT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
If you’re a true Star Wars fan, you’ll probably say Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular firework and laser light show is the best, which is Hollywood Studios signature night time entertainment.
However, if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, you might find this show a little underwhelming. It lasts a while and isn’t nearly as impressive as Illuminations in Epcot or Happily Ever After in Magic Kingdom.
Fantasmic! is the place to be. All ages will love this show and there’s amphitheater style seating to accommodate large crowds. It highlights nearly every Disney classic character and movie you can imagine, complete with water tricks, laser lights, fire and fireworks. Plus, Mickey Mouse is directing the entire thing!
#16. BEST FIREWORKS PHOTO SPOT
If your priorities are not necessarily watching either of the night time shows but you want beautiful photos of the fireworks, this one’s for you!
You could try to get a good spot in front of the Chinese Theatre for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, but it gets very crowded here. Our favorite spot is at the entrance of Toy Story Land, on the back side of the theatre.
If you stand between Slinky Dog Dash and Sheriff Woody, you’ll get excellent photos of Woody & the Toy Story Land entrance with fireworks exploding in the background. Be quick about it though! They clear this area out halfway through the show as the park is closing.
#17. DON’T MISS LIGHTNING MCQUEEN’S RACING ACADEMY
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is one of Hollywood Studios’ newest attractions located in Sunset Showcase. The attraction features what Lightning McQueen has learned over the years on a state-of-the-art simulator on a wrap around screen circling the entire show room.
Kids will love the driving simulation, especially when Lightning himself enters the stage and shows off his racing skills. Friends from Radiator Springs like Cruz Ramirez and Tow Mater get involved in the show, as well.
After, guests will enter the courtyard of Sunset Showcase for a dance party hosted by DJ, the party car. There are also a few other friends ready in the courtyard for the perfect Cars photo op.
#18. BEST QUICK SERVICE IN HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
We highly recommend visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge newest quick service, Ronto Roasters serving up galactic delicacies like the Ronto Wrap. They also have interstellar alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions to wash it all down.
Adults looking for good quick service should check out BaseLine Tap House. We love this one mainly for the beer and soft pretzels with beer cheese and mustard. You’ll also have options of other gourmet appetizers served in a lounge-style cafe.
Another one of our newest go-tos is Woody’s Lunch Box for the tasty tarts, as well as delicious sandwiches. Try the BBQ Brisket Sandwich with the “Totchos” (nacho flavored tater tots). The menu items here are sure to hit the spot!
#19. BEST CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES IN HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Aside from the fun at Toy Story Land, Animation Courtyard is the ideal spot for young children. Kids will get to join the Disney Junior Dance Party or experience the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
The best part of Animation Courtyard is the character meet-and-greets. Kids can meet Pixar favorites like Mike & Sulley and Star Wars legends like BB-8 and Darth Vader.
Animation Courtyard is also currently the only place on Disney property where you can meet Disney Junior pals like Vampirina, Doc McStuffins and Fancy Nancy.
#20. BEST DATE NIGHT RESTAURANT IN HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Hollywood Brown Derby is the nicest restaurant in Hollywood Studios and makes the perfect destination for date night. Other restaurants, like 50’s Prime Time Cafe, and the famed Sci-Fi Drive-in are great for the whole family, but opt for the Brown Derby when it’s adults only.
It’s one of our top choices for best Disney World restaurants for adults.
The restaurant is an authentic replica of the original Brown Derby, showcasing celebrity caricatures on the walls and designed with the Golden Era of Hollywood in mind.
Our favorite dish is the famous Cobb Salad for any occasion. Other great options include the Chargrilled Filet of Beef, Pan-seared Fish of the Day and Bell & Evans Chicken Breast.
#21. DON’T SKIP INDIANA JONES’ EPIC STUNT SPECTACULAR
This show has been a staple at Hollywood Studios since it’s opening. Watch Indy escape multiple opponents, cross various obstacles and escape the danger of the giant rolling rock.
The show goes through the elements of creating these movie stunts and also welcomes involvement from the audience. You could get the chance to be cast as an extra on the scene during the performance.
Rumors have been going around that Indiana Jones’ is soon to close and make way for a new attraction, so don’t miss the fun before it may be gone!
#22. FIND ALLERGY-FRIENDLY FOOD OPTIONS
According to our findings, Hollywood Studios has the most restaurants with Allergy-Friendly menus specifically designed for guests with Gluten/Wheat, Eggs, Fish/Shellfish, Milk, Peanut/Tree Nut, or Soy allergies. Here’s the full list of quick service locations:
Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo
Rosie’s All-American Cafe
Star Wars fans with milk allergies will also be happy to learn that they can have the Blue Milk & Green Milk in Batuu! The drinks are made with plant-based milk made from Coconut & Rice.
#23. BEST DRINKING SPOT IN HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
With the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, it should come as no surprise that we would send you to Oga’s Cantina near Smuggler’s Run. The famous “Star Wars bar” is the perfect setting for enjoying an out-of-this-world craft cocktail and it’s absolutely the best bar at Hollywood Studios.
Sip on creative beverages like the Dugobah Slug Slinger, Fuzzy Tauntaun and Yub Nub alongside galactic creatures and listen to spacey sounds from DJ R-3X.
Oga’s is open all day from breakfast to dinner, but keep in mind that reservations are often required to enter!
#24. ESCAPE THE RAIN
Our number one choice for escaping the rain at Hollywood Studios is For the First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. It has multiple showtimes throughout the day, covered standby line and the theatre show lasts for 30 minutes.
Children and adults alike with love singing along with the Royal Historians of Arandelle as they recount the story of Frozen and how Anna saved her sister Elsa, complete with snow flurries at the end of the performance.
If you’re curious what kind of weather gear you should bring for Florida’s storms and rain showers, take a look at our post on the best rain gear for adults and children.
#25. DON’T SKIP BEAUTY & THE BEAST LIVE ON STAGE
Beauty & the Beast is my absolute favorite show, as well as my favorite Disney movie. The actors performing are highly talented with excellent singing voices and the sets, imagery and special effects are of Broadway quality.
Parents will love the break from standing in the sun throughout the day and children will enjoy the entertainment from opening to close.
Fastpasses are available for the show, but they have multiple show times throughout the day with a large theatre seating hundreds of people, so we suggest saving your fastpasses for other attractions and waiting this one out.
#26. FIND THE “INCREDIBLES” & “POPSICLE” WALLS
For all those Instagramming their way through Disney, be sure to check out these colorful walls unique to Hollywood Studios.
The Incredibles wall can be found behind the Chinese Theatre on Pixar Avenue where the Toy Story Mania entrance used to be. This one’s easy to spot as it’s on the main brick wall by the bathrooms on the right side of the alley.
The Popsicle wall is located in Toy Story Land. As a matter of fact, you can catch it on your way out of Toy Story Mania, or simply enter through the exit of this ride to find it. This area also has a few other walls that make great backdrops.
#27. CATCH THE “CITIZENS OF HOLLYWOOD”
You can find this improv troupe of aspiring actors on Hollywood Boulevard near Echo Lake. They perform multiple times a day, but the best chance at catching them is to hang around the shops on Hollywood Boulevard around lunch time.
Crowd involvement is highly encouraged and the actors’ elaborate makeup and dress makes for a unique experience and photo op.
#28. YOU WILL GET WET AT FANTASMIC!
Fantasmic! is our favorite night time entertainment, but be prepared for a little mist. This is due to the water features that the show uses to display movie scenes from Disney classic films.
It’s almost completely unavoidable no matter where you sit, but you might get far enough away from the spray if you sit to either side of the amphitheater or all the way at the top – you may sacrifice the view to avoid the water though.
#29. BRING SNACKS & DRINKS, BOOK DINNER RESERVATIONS
If you’re the family looking to save a few bucks on eating in Walt Disney World, you’ll appreciate this tip. Hollywood Studios isn’t necessarily known for it’s great eats like Epcot, so we suggest you bring your own snacks or drinks to munch on and save your dining points or budget for dinner.
As we mentioned before, Hollywood Brown Derby is the best date night spot to indulge without the kids. But check out these options for great family dining:
Sci-Fi Drive-in is our favorite place for groups to enjoy the classic American burger and fries. Your “table” is a vehicle parked in front of an old drive-in movie screen.
For a taste of home, try 50’s Prime Time Cafe, where each cast member makes you feel like a member of the family. The decor harkens back to your grandma’s childhood home and favorites like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and homemade milkshakes are served.
#30. USE THE SKYLINER OR RIDE A BOAT TO OR FROM HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Launched at the end of September 2019, the Disney Skyliner is open for use by park guests and it’s a really cool way to travel between parks.
Take the Skyliner trip to Epcot midday if you’re planning to park hop. If you’re staying at Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach or the new Riviera Resort (opening December 2019), board the Skyliner for Hollywood Studios.
Another great way to get to Hollywood Studios is by boat. Skip the busy bus ride and take the ferry if you are staying at the Boardwalk, the Beach Club, the Yacht Club, or the Swan and Dolphin hotels.
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