So we have talked about the Magic Kingdom, now we are on to Hollywood Studios. When coming to Hollywood Studios, you need to prepare and plan. There is a lot to do in this small park, and planning will go a long way. Be prepared to enter what I consider to be the most current and hippest of the Disney parks.
For starters, get there early. Take advantage of Extra Magic hours in the morning if you can. If not, then get to the gate at least 30 minutes prior them opening. Doing this will allow you to gain access to one of two (or both if done correctly) of the most popular attractions here: Toy Story Mania and the Jedi Training Academy. Once the park opens, if you have children 12 or under that want to fight the Dark Side and battle Darth Vader, have someone in your party take them to the Sounds Dangerous area (to the left of the American Idol theater) and sign them up for the Jedi Training Academy. They will train to be a Jedi and battle Darth Vader on stage. It is a very cool experience and the Photopass photographers are on hand to take lots of pictures too! While this is being done, you take the family tickets to Toy Story Mania and get fastpasses to enjoy the ride later. I do the running for fastpasses while my wife gets my son signed up and then meets me at Toy Story. If the regular line is short enough, we will ride it then and then come back at our designated time. With those two attractions now under your belt, below are 5 musts for you to experience at Hollywood Studios:
- The most important thing you can take advantage of is Disney’s Fast Pass system. Use it for fast passes to Rock-n-Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror especially (and as mentioned above, Toy Story Mania) as the wait times for these rides can surpass 60+ minutes.
- Toy Story Mania: A 4D video game ride with carnival like games where you earn points to try and achieve a high score. You will toss rings, break plates, pop balloons and shoot targets from your vehicle. This is a great game/ride and really gives your shoulder a workout!
- Rock-n-Roller Coaster: An indoor roller coaster with an Aerosmith theme. It blasts out of the garage and sends you out into the dark with loops and corkscrews, all while Aerosmith tunes play in your headrest. If you want the front seat (which I learned this weekend) ask the cast member as they are loading you. They will direct you to the waiting area for the front (which was only one party when we rode!).
- Tower Of Terror: Looks scary from the outside. The up and down ride in the service elevator is very fun once you get into it. You also get a great view of the park during your plunges!
- Star Tours: A great 3D simulator ride, the Starspeeder 1000, piloted by C3P0, which takes you on different journeys through Star Wars scenes. You are tasked to get help the Republic return a Jedi spy safely. Scenes rotate, so ride it a few times to enjoy different journeys.
- Fantasmic: Fantasmic is character show that generally closes the evening at Hollywood Studios. The show features Sorcerer Mickey and features many of Disney’s classic characters and music, projected like a movie on screens of water. There are several live action scenes as well and it ends with a flurry of fireworks. The show is about 30 minutes and it truly is a great way to put a cap on a magical day.
Of course this is not all that Hollywood Studios has to offer. The list is long and what you want to see can be planned for by grabbing a map upon entry to the park, or by looking it up online in advance of your trip. Two additional areas that our family uses on each trip. 1) Visit the Animation Academy, where a Disney Artist teaches you how to draw some classic characters in a relaxed atmosphere with simple instructions. We have drawn Sorcerer Mickey, Piglet, Jiminy Cricket and Pascal (from Tangled). It is a lot of fun and you get to keep your picture…a great free souvenir! 2) Eat lunch at Backlot Studios. The food is pretty good and it is the only quick service restaurant we have found that allows free drink refills! They come in handy after many hours outside in the Florida sun! Have a plan, get to the gate early, and enjoy everything that Hollywood Studios has to offer!
Feel free to comment or ask questions and I will help out in any way I can!