Though Hollywood Studios is the smallest of Disney’s four theme parks there is no shortage of things to see, do and explore. From thrilling headlining attractions, stunning evening entertainment to some of the most unique dining experiences on Disney property it is an absolute playground for kids both young and old. That being said, like all of the Disney theme parks, it pays to have a bit of a game plan when heading out on your Walt Disney World getaway. Here our 10 of our favorite Hollywood Studios tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your time at the park.
1. Avoid riding Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster right when the park opens. I am a huge advocate of getting to the theme parks early. Those first few hours in the morning are a great time to enjoy some of your favorite attractions without the lines or the hot temperatures. However, when those gates open first thing in the morning at Hollywood Studios guests are either doing one of 2 things: making a frantic beeline for Jedi Training Academy sign-ups or heading straight to these two headlining attractions. Rather than wasting valuable morning time waiting in line, take the road less traveled and head to attractions like the Great Movie Ride or Star Tours where you can really take advantage of the short queues. When it comes to Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’Roller Coaster both would make a great use of Fastpasses.
2. Nab an 8am reservation at Hollywood and Vine. This character dining restaurant starts serving breakfast an hour before the park opens. Snatching up one of these coveted early morning reservations definitely puts you at an advantage. Getting in early means no crowds so you can snap some amazing photos of your group in front of Hollywood Boulevard or Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Also, by the time you finish your meal the park will just be opening. This means that you can beat the crowd at the gates and instead line up to enjoy some of your favorite attractions. The meal itself is also a joy. Its Disney Junior Play ‘n’ Dine and features much-loved Disney characters like Handy Manny, Princess Sofia, Jake and Doc McStuffins. The meal is served up buffet style with lots of breakfast classics. Feasting at this restaurant will set guests back one table service credit or $35 – $59.99 depending on your meal. Booking can be done at 180 days by calling 407.WDW.DINE or via My Disney Experience.
3. Get to the park an hour early for Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple. If you have plans to sign your little one’s up for Jedi Training Academy the biggest piece of advice I would give you is to arrive at the parks well before opening. Sign-ups come on a first come first served basis and will fill up fast. The race to get from the front gate to the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost where registration takes place can reach Black Friday like proportions. Getting there early means you will be near the front of the turnstiles which is a clear advantage. Families should also note that on the days that Hollywood Studios has Extra Morning Magic Hours, Jedi Training sign-ups happen an hour early because the parks open an hour earlier. Pay attention to opening hours to avoid disappointment. It also pays to know that children must accompany adults at the sign-up location, meaning that one brave parent isn’t able to run ahead and sign their family up. Check out this article for more Jedi Training Academy details!
4. Book the Fantasmic! Dining Package. Disney’s daily Fantasmic! performance has to be one of my favorite evening shows at all of Walt Disney World. Its a delightful stage show feature amazing special effects, water projection, fireworks and an amazing cast of Disney Characters. Because it is arena seating, good seats for Fantasmic! can fill up quickly and guests will start to line up for the show well in advance. This is where the Fantasmic! Dining Package comes in. Guests that book this package get to enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the following Hollywood Studios restaurants: The Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood and Vine, or Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. The package includes an appetizer, entree, dessert, non-alcoholic drink and a ticket for each member of your family to enjoy VIP seating at Fantasmic! This means that you can show up about 20 minutes before show time and with your ticket still nab yourself a pretty decent seat. The package is also a great perk for those on the dining plan as when eating at Hollywood and Vine and Mama Melrose’s it only takes up one dining credit. Hollywood Brown Derby since it is signature dining takes up two. Spots for these dining experiences fill up fast though so early booking is strongly recommended. Reservations can be made via My Disney Experience or at 407.WDW.DINE and are bookable from 180 days.
5. Be on the lookout for Character Palooza. This can be an illusive happening over at Hollywood Studios but is utterly delightful for those that manage to catch it. On the days that Hollywood Studios is running Fantasmic! A cast of Disney characters come come out into the parks between 4-7pm to meet with guests and pose for pictures. The location of this happening can vary. For a while guests were finding the characters by the gates to Tower of Terror though visitors have had more success lately near the front of the park by the turnstiles. Characters can include the Evil Queen, Genie, Geppetto, Pinocchio and some of Seven Dwarfs just to name a few. Occasionally, Disney will throw in an incredibly rare character to surprise the guests.
6. If you have a Chase Disney Visa take advantage of exclusive Star Wars meet and greet. One of the most popular perks of having a Chase Disney Visa card is being able to take advantage of exclusive in-park experiences. At Hollywood Studios, cardholders visiting the Star Wars Launch Bay are able to line up for a private audience with Kylo Ren. The meet and greet takes place daily from 11 am – 4pm and lines are usually on the shorter side. Guests visiting this meet and greet will also receive a voucher for a free digital download. For more info on the Chase meet and greets check out this article.
7. Use the single rider line at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. If there are only adults or older children in your party, save yourselves some time by choosing the Single Rider Line at this headlining attraction. Single Rider Lines are used to fill up remaining seats when you have odd-numbered families or groups. Because you are filling in the gaps this line tends to move a lot quicker meaning that you can save your Fastpass and avoid the long main queue. It’s definitely worth it butit does mean that you’ll be separated from the rest of your party.
8. Meet Disney’s newest Princess. For those visiting in the weeks ahead, Hollywood Studios is offering a treat for Moana fans as she will be greeting guests, signing autographs and posing for pictures daily. The new Moana meet and greet takes place inside Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream from 9am – 7pm with breaks occurring at regular intervals throughout the day. For those on Memory Maker, Photopass photographers will be there to capture the moment.
9. Enjoy some of Hollywood Studios’ out-of-the-ordinary eateries. Hollywood Studios is home to two of my favorite places to grab a bite in all of Walt Disney World. Guests looking for some down home cooking should head on over to the fantastically retro 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Here you’ll be able to feast on comfort food while watching re-runs of 1950’s sitcoms. But what really makes this meal is the fantastic wait staff who will playfully scold you if your elbows are on the table or for not eating your veggies. Then there’s Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant where guests enter a sound stage made to look like a nighttime drive in movie. Instead of sitting at tables you’re placed behind the wheel of a classic convertible car. Guests get to enjoy a burger or a milkshake while watching classic Sci-Fi B-movies. You’ll never eat at a place like it again. Spots at both restaurants fill up quickly so advanced booking is strongly recommended. Either restaurant wills set you back one dining credit or about $15 – $34.99 per person. Reservations can be made at 407.WDW.DINE.
10. Indulge in a Butterfinger Cupcake. For those looking for an indulgent Hollywood Studios snack, you’ll definitely want to give the behemoth of a cupcake a try. Found at Starring Rolls cafe, it is a cupcake that eats like a meal. Think chocolate cake with a chocolate fondant center and covered in peanut butter icing and Butterfinger crumble. Its definitely a worthy addition to you list of must-eats.
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