Size of Park: 135 acres (on the smaller size for an Orlando park)
Days I think you should spend there: 1 day maximum
Number of “lands”: 7
Best Ride: Toy Story Mania
Give it a miss if you don’t have time: You will have time to do everything, don’t worry
What to FastPass: Hollywood Studios has a tiered Fast Pass system – read more below. We Fast Pass Toy Story Mania, Star Tours and the Indiana Jones Show. If you aren’t a wuss (or don’t have young children) switch out Indiana Jones for Tower of Terror.
A disclaimer here – I absolutely LOVED Hollywood Studios for years and when I visited in February this year I wanted to cry. It was Star Wars everywhere and all the great stuff (Backlot Tour, Lights Motor Action etc etc) was gone. I understand why it needs to happen but it’s happening way too slowly. We arrived at 11 and were killing time waiting for Fantasmic at 7. My boyfriend loves Star Wars so is going to do a blog on that but I am in no hurry to go back.
The Fast Pass System
Hollywood Studios has a tiered Fast Pass system. You can book one Fast Pass from Tier 1 and two Fast Passes from Tier 2. Once you have used those three, you can book one Fast Pass at a time from any tier (however, it’s unlikely that any of the good ones will be available at this point).
Tier 1: Toy Story Mania, Fantasmic, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, The Great Movie Ride, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.
Tier 2: Star Tours, Tower of Terror, Frozen Sing Along, Muppet Vision 3D, Indiana Jones, Disney Junior, The Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
My advice is always – don’t waste a Fast Pass on a show! Just get there early, you can have a sit down inside/in the shade, you can eat your packed lunch, you can’t do this in a 90 minute wait for Toy Story Mania. 15-20 mins early will be perfect unless it’s crazy busy periods. The exception is Fantasmic (more below) but I would say your Tier One Fast Pass needs to be Toy Story or Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster depending on which one you prefer. The only other ride there is the Great Movie Ride – I don’t really understand why this is tier one. Head there in the morning and your wait time won’t be bad. We got there about half 11, the listed wait was 20 mins but we were on the ride within 5.
Hollywood Boulevard – as you step through the gates of Hollywood Studios this is where you end up and I actually think this is my favourite part of the park. This area and Universal Studios have something really special about the atmosphere they create. The Great Movie Ride is here and it’s worth doing, it’s quite a long ride so worth waiting for 20 minutes in the queue. This is where the March of the First Order happens, don’t worry about missing the first one, it literally happens every hour and as this is the focal point of the park we stumbled into it about 4 times in the day. You also have the new Star Wars show and the nighttime galactic spectacular here. Both great for Star Wars fans and moderately enjoyable if you’re not (I was a little bit lost as to what’s going on despite having watched all the films once).
Echo Lake – Echo Lake has some great places to eat around it including the Prime Time Cafe. It stretches from the Frozen Singalong (great for little fans) through to Star Tours. Star Tours has been updated to include characters from the latest films including BB8 and you can also watch the Jedi Training outside. Jedi Training allows children between 4 and 12 years old to dress up in Jedi Robes and learn how to use a lightsaber, it’s extremely popular so I’ve listed some tips to get you signed up below. This area is home to the Indiana Jones show which is fun for all ages, with it being on multiple times a day a Fast Pass isn’t compulsory for a good seat.
Commissary Lane – Not enough here to warrant a “Land” in itself but the Sci-Fi Dine in Theatre deserves a mention. You’ll sit in a car shaped booth and watch clips from retro films. Not a very sociable meal out but an experience you won’t get anywhere else. This is also where you can meet Mickey and Minnie in their finest outfits. This is the only park where you can’t Fast Pass meeting Mickey – we waited about 40 minutes in the queue in February so try and get there early or later on in the evenings when the queue gets to about 5 minutes.
Pixar Place – small but it’s being expanded. Toy Story Mania is one of the best attractions on Disney property especially for those of you who, like me, are super competitive. Don 3D glasses and shoot at targets for a high score. They’ve recently added a third track meaning the wait times aren’t as horrendous as they used to be. You can meet and greet with Buzz and Woody here and I think when Toy Story land is finally finished I think this area will be amazing.
Animation Courtyard – this area is often overlooked. A museum about Walt Disney doesn’t exactly sell itself to thrill seekers but it’s worth taking the time out of your day to see where it all began and you can tempt young ones in with the promise of meeting Moana at the end. There’s also some more Star Wars stuff here including a video about how they made the movie, replacing the Mulan version of the same thing.
Muppets Courtyard – Home to Muppet Vision 3D which you will never, I repeat never, need a Fast Pass for. My boyfriend loved this! Call me a deprived child but I never watched the Muppets so was a bit baffled by it all. It is however a brilliant place for an afternoon nap with some of the comfiest chairs in the park. The newly reopened PizzaRizzo is here too which is where we grabbed a quick service dinner. It was yummy and came with salad but kind of small for $10 plus a drink.
Sunset Boulevard – Beauty and the Beast show is here! I went to Disney about 20 times before seeing this show and I was missing out. It’s a shortened version of the original Disney film and I love it and nobody minds if grown adults sing along. This is also the area for thrill seekers with Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. This area is best as it goes dark and it comes alive, lighting up ready for Fantasmic!
End of an epic there! So many lands for a pretty small park with not a lot in it. I don’t want you to see this and panic, it is more than manageable to cover everything in one day.
- It’s rumoured The Great Movie Ride might (nothing confirmed by Disney) might be exiting the park in 2018 – so ride it whilst you can! It’s an absolute classic.
- If you want to do Jedi Training you need to get there at rope drop and, as running is not permitted, walk very very very fast to the queue to sign up for a time. Keep your whole party together – if the child isn’t there when you get to the front then they can’t sign up. The other option is to get a very early breakfast reservation. You’ll then get a time slot later in the day to come back. This will not work if it’s an Extra Magic Hours day (if you’re not staying on site – go any other day). My top tip here is to tell your child to stand on the blue dots on the main stage. You will get better pictures of them and they will be able to “battle” Darth Vader. Those on the red dots will get the same experience but will battle the Seventh Sister Inquisitor.
- You need to get there early to watch Fantasmic! And by early I don’t mean 5 minutes. If you want a good seat I’d say at least 40 minutes early even with a Fast Pass. If there’s two shows in one evening try and go to the second one as it will normally be less busy.
You can watch Fantasmic and the fireworks in the same night – if you’re prepared to rush. Disney have placed the Fireworks 15 minutes after the end of Fantasmic on the opposite side of the park – we think maybe to help with capacity issues and force people to chose. But, if you’re committed, like we were, you can get a decent spot for both. The first thing to do is get ahead of the crowd after Fantasmic because they will slow you down, as soon as the big white boat with all the characters come out you need to start walking and miss the end of the show. You should then have a clear run down to Hollywood Boulevard where you need to take a right to see the fireworks. Get as close to the middle as you can and as far forwards. There are two large posts halfway up the street (you’ll see when you get there) on either side. Try and be in front of these otherwise your view will be impeded. If you can’t, stand on the left as most of the fireworks go off behind the right hand pillar.
- For a quick exit head down the right side of the street on your way out. There’s a couple of big shops you can walk through without fighting the crowds to be on one of the first trams back to the car park.
- And my top tip, and this makes me really sad, is to give Hollywood Studios a miss. I have done my best to make it sound the best it can but when you break it down you’ve got a lot of Star Wars (more than I’ve mentioned here so I don’t sound like I’m going on about it), a couple of other rides and a couple of shows. If you love Star Wars, you have lots of time or this is your trip of a lifetime then go. But this park is in heavy transition with a lot of the best attractions closed. I think this park only offers a mediocre day out, and for all the money you’ve paid you deserve more than that – go to another park. I will go back, because I love how it used to be, but not until all the renovations are complete. This is just my opinion so please don’t get mad with me – a lot of people do still love it.