Looking for some game-changing Hollywood Studios tips and secrets? You’ll find them all here!
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!
Don’t miss: We also have a huge standalone guide to Hollywood Studios for Adults. It’s got all the info you need for a grown-up crowd to get the most out of the park.
#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” (or park opening). 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 ride passes for.
#3. SCHEDULE Ride Passes WISELY
Speaking of ride passes, 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 breaking up the popular rides into Individual Lightning Lane selections and all others into the regular Lightning Lane category through the Genie+ system.
Individual: Rise of the Resistance – currently Hollywood Studios’ most popular ride in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It’s by far their most innovative use of technology yet.
Included in Genie+: Alien Swirling Saucers, Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage, Disney Junior Play and Dance!, Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Indiana Jones, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Muppet Vision 3D, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Red Carpet Dreams, Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight, Slinky Dog Dash, Star Tours, Toy Story Mania!, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Genie+ is a must-do if you want to guarantee getting on these rides without having to wait up to two hours. That’s right, some of these rides can see wait times that long, taking up a valuable portion of your day. The rides listed in the second grouping will often go through slumps in the day where you can board the ride in under 10-20 minutes.
#4. USING Ride Passes IN TOY STORY LAND
Toy Story Land has three premium rides up for grabs in the Lightning Lane system. We’ve included a brief description for each ride so you can determine the best use of your pass:
- Slinky Dog Dash is the most coveted pass in Toy Story Land. 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 passes 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 ride pass – 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. The front row will also give you the best photos from the ride.
#8. GET SHORTER WAIT TIMES ON ROCK ‘N’ ROLLER COASTER
Getting ride passes 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 and a half on the busiest days.
If you don’t have a pass, 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
If you are timing your visit 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 Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge section of the park where characters roam freely in different areas.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge features characters like Chewy, Rey and the Stormtroopers who can be seen walking with guests on the pathways, fixing up the Millennium Falcon or standing on the balconies overlooking Batuu. There’s no set times when characters come out, so you’ll be surprised each time you walk through this section.
Star Wars Launch Bay has characters like Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and Darth Vader. BB-8 has his own meet-and-greet location at Animation Courtyard behind Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
#11. GET ON RISE OF THE RESISTANCE
Rise of the Resistance is an experience you do not want to miss, especially for the die-hard Star Wars fan. It’s so masterfully built and decorated with avant garde technology that you’ll feel a part of the Star Wars movie series.
Rise of the Resistance recently opened up to standby guests, who will wait in line for as long as two hours to board the ride. Instead, we suggest trying to get a premium pass for this one or going at the very beginning or ending of the day for the shortest wait times.
#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, you need to make a reservation on the My Disney Experience app ahead of your vacation. Once in the park, 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 you’ll get 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, but you can also wait in a standby line if time slots are available. 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 Harmonious in Epcot or Disney Enchantment 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. For a better sit-down area, go get some goodies from Docking Bay 7 right next door.
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, but it actually reopened recently and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere!
#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:
- ABC Commissary
- Backlot Express
- Cataline Eddie’s
- 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. If you don’t get reservations, it’s still possible to join the walk-up list, but this isn’t always guaranteed.
#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, a partially covered standby line and the theatre show lasts for 30 minutes.
Children and adults alike will 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.
Passes 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 passes for other attractions and waiting on this one instead.
#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”
When scheduled, 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 credits 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
The Disney Skyliner launched at the end of September 2019 and is open for use by park and resort guests. It’s a really cool way to travel between Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
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, you can also use the Skyliner to get to 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.
PLANNING FOR MORE DISNEY WORLD PARKS?
We’ve got similar guides for all of them! They’ve got some of our best content, so don’t miss ’em!
And if you’re still working on your budget, definitely check out our massive guide to planning a Disney World vacation on a budget. It has TONS of info and tips to help you spend your money the smart way at.
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