Today we’re talking about my husbands’ absolute favorite park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This park is great if you are a big movie buff like we are and I love the thrill rides even more than him so that’s always been the best part for me. There are tons of Disney’s Hollywood Studios Tips, but these are our top 10 best tips that should have covered for a solid day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
You can still have a full day at this park, with a great lineup of stage shows and Disney World’s best thrill rides. But there are a few tips and tricks you should know before you embark on your Hollywood adventure. Today I’ll give you my top ten tips on how to best enjoy a day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
1. Know Your Showtimes
First of all, you have to understand that Hollywood Studios is all about shows. Back when the park had shows open like “Lights Motor action” on top of longtime favorites like the Indiana Jones stunt show, I struggled to try and catch every show in the park in one day.
This was primarily because each show had its own staggered list of performance times. Currently, there are fewer shows in operation at Hollywood studios. Of course, that will soon change with offerings like Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy which opens in early 2019.
Fans of classic animated films still flock to shows like Beauty and the Beast and the Frozen sing-along. So make sure you have a plan when it comes to showtimes. If you’re really going to enjoy everything that this park has to offer; then you’ve got to study showtimes, just as much as FastPass strategies.
For example, the frozen sing-along is immensely popular. I’ve never seen an empty seat in this theater. Luckily the park offers plenty of opportunities to see this show because it usually has up to 12 performances a day from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Across Echo Lake, you have another popular show that has fewer showtimes. The Indiana Jones epic stunt spectacular is another one of those shows that still draws in big crowds and is a show that fills to capacity very easily. I think that’s because there are only six performances a day and usually the last one is as early as 6 p.m.
The same goes for Beauty and the Beast down on Sunset Boulevard. Always have a general plan when it comes to showtimes, and have a backup plan just in case your desired showtime reaches capacity.
2. Sign Up Early For Jedi Training
There’s no doubt that Hollywood studios will always be the best Park for a Star Wars fan. Younglings who want to experience the excitement of becoming a Jedi will no doubt want to experience the Jedi training academy. Which is located just outside of Star Tours.
You have to make sure you sign up for this interactive experience as early as you can. The signup process for this is quite simple. You cannot make reservations prior to visiting the park.
Signups only happen on a first-come-first-served basis on the day you’re visiting the park. So that means that you can’t go to Hollywood Studios on a Tuesday to sign up for a performance on a Thursday. Recruits must be between four and twelve years old. Also, when you’re registering, any kids who want to participate must be present.
The twist to this is that the signups are not located by the stage or star tours. Instead, it is located near the Indiana Jones Outpost store. This can be found adjacent to the 50s Primetime Cafe and sign-up begins when the park first opens.
That said before Toy Story land opens, I would suggest to groups with kids who want to experience this to go directly to the sign up first thing in the morning at rope drop.
That may not be your number one priority now that slinky dog Dash is open, especially if you couldn’t score a fast pass for it. But I will still say that you should get to the signups for Jedi training as early as you can. Just so you can get a desired showtime that works with your Fastpass schedule and dining reservations.
Again, always check the my Disney experience app for the show schedule on the day you’re visiting.
3. Meet Unique Characters
Make sure you take the time to meet characters that are only available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Because this park is the smallest and has few attractions for really little ones; this park could be a day in your vacation that you dedicate to meeting characters.
Like any park, you can always meet the Fab five at Hollywood Studios. One of my personal favorites is red carpet dreams. It’s the only place you’ll meet Mickey and his Sorcerer’s Apprentice costume in all of Disney World. It’s rare characters like that that I’ll actually take the time to go visit Hollywood Studios.
For the really little ones, this is a great place to meet your favorite characters from Disney Junior. In fact, this is the only part to offer meet and greets with Sophia The First and Jake the Never Land pirate. This is a great place to knock out a lineup of characters in one fell swoop with relatively short wait times.
You’ve also got Star Wars launch Bay, another fantastic place to meet several characters at once without big lines. This exhibit currently features meet and greets for Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and BB-8. Any Star Wars fan (like my husband) will definitely want to make a stop here.
One cool side note is that if you’re a Disney Visa cardholder I’ve got a bonus tip for you! This is currently one of two places in Disney World where cardholders can enjoy their own private character experience.
This is usually available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and please keep in mind that characters can change at any time. For the most up to date details on private cardmember, photo spots check out this link.
4. Visit Walt Disney Presents
While we’re on the subject of characters, let’s talk about the Walt Disney Presents exhibition. This is located near the entrance of Toy Story Land and it is a fantastic break from the crowds. If you are a Walt Disney history buffs you have to do this.
Inside the exhibit, you’ll learn a little bit about Walt himself and his many achievements in film, theme parks and more. This is also a great place to see some stunning miniature models up close. There’s a mixture of existing attractions and upcoming additions to the parks.
While you are here check your times’ guide or the my Disney experience app for the most up-to-date details. From time to time they have new character meet and greets here, usually for a limited time.
5. Spend Time Shopping
Shifting gears a bit I want to mention another fun thing to do at Hollywood Studios because the park is so small. Shopping is something I always find time to do while visiting this park.
There are plenty of big stores on Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. Where you’ll find almost all of your standard Disney souvenirs.
Yes, Yes, I know that there are specialty stores in other parks like wind traders, for example, in Animal Kingdom where popular merchandise items are sold. But Hollywood Studios is good for the run-of-the-mill merchandise that can be found at all of the parks.
While World of Disney at Disney Springs is perhaps the best one-stop-shop for everything. I find it to be overwhelming with crowds sometimes and can be out of the way of my normal vacation plans.
The same principle goes for the Emporium at Magic Kingdom and Mouse Gear at Epcot. They get way too crowded for me at the end of the day. So if you’ve got a busy week planned at Disney World make your Hollywood studios day the time to do some easy retail therapy.
6. Eat Lounge Meals
I’ll admit Hollywood studios is not the best park when it comes to dining. But there are a few hidden gems here and there that will make up for that. So make sure you visit some lounges attached to restaurants to enjoy a stress-free meal.
This tip is specifically geared to couples visiting the parks without children. Two great restaurants for couples at Hollywood Studios are 50s primetime and Hollywood Brown Derby.
I do find that both locations can fill up quickly when it comes to reservations and honestly I like to keep my options open while visiting Hollywood Studios.
It’s usually my easy day of a Disney vacation when I go to Hollywood Studios theme park, so I don’t usually want to stress about dining reservations here.
Thankfully both of these locations offer a lounge that not only serves up great drinks; but also allows you to order off of the restaurants’ full menu. This makes it a great way to experience a restaurant without a reservation.
7. Score Big On Toy Story Mania
Toy Story Mania is a Hollywood Studios favorite. It’s a ride that the entire family can enjoy. Now that Toy Story Land is fully open this attraction’s standby line has improved dramatically.
However, it’s no fun if you don’t know how to score some big points. So if you want to beat your family members make sure you aim for the high out of reach targets.
Don’t get distracted by the big targets right in the middle of the screen. Instead, look at the far-off corners; for smaller targets worth more points. For example in the first ham and eggs game look for the Fox on the little hen house at one of the bottom corners. He’s worth a lot of points!
Also on the Dino darts game; aim for the long skinny balloons at the top of the volcano, they’re worth 500 points each.
Finally, on the army men plate toss, keep your eyes peeled for jumping plates and the airplanes. These targets are sometimes worth 2,000 points each.
8. Visit Toy Story Land At Night
Make sure on your next trip you visit Toy Story Land at Night.
Both Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers are fantastic to ride after the sun goes down.
All the colorful lights and wonderful music make this land even better in the evening hours. It also helps that this is the best time to ride the new attractions because they have shorter wait times.
9. Fantasmic Views
We’re getting close to the end here so it’s time to look at nighttime spectaculars. Like I said at the top of this video Hollywood studios is all about shows. Believe it or not, this park currently offers the most amount of nighttime spectaculars.
That’s mainly because Magic Kingdom is still not running a nighttime parade. Hollywood Studios has my favorite projection show, a fireworks display, and another Disney parks classic, Fantasmic.
Since various showtimes can make it difficult to see them all, you want to make sure you have a plan and know all of your options.
If you want to see Fantasmic, then before you go to the park check to see if there are multiple performances on the day you’re visiting.
During busier times in the year, Fantasmic will usually have two performances per day. If this is the case of when you’re traveling then go to the second showing, it’s usually less crowded.
This could be a good place to make a Fastpass reservation as well. Especially if you’re traveling with really little ones, and skipping the big thrill rides.
Always consider a dining package for Fantasmic, especially if you’re already planning to dine at one of the participating restaurants. Currently Mama Melrose, Hollywood and Vine, and the Brown Derby are the only locations offering a dining package.
If these restaurants are not in your plans there’s always the Fantasmic VIP viewing experience, which is almost like a budget version of the dessert parties. Either way, there are plenty of ways to make sure that you catch this nighttime spectacular.
10. Where To View Star Wars Fireworks
Make sure you grab a good viewing spot for Star Wars a galactic spectacular. Scoring a good viewing spot can be tricky and it has nothing to do with crowds.
It really has to do with the current construction taking place on Galaxy’s Edge at the very back of the park. Disney only shoots off fireworks to the right of the Chinese Theater when you’re looking into the show. Because there are some really big trees around the hub; viewing the show halfway down Hollywood Boulevard means that you may miss the fireworks entirely.
My favorite spot to watch this show is right in the middle of the hub. Cast members usually tape off a lane right in the middle of the courtyard. This allows traffic flow to cross the hub, even while the show is going on.
You can’t stop in this lane, you’ve always got to keep moving. So I like to position myself directly in front of this Lane. Which is really the back half of the front crowd. This always allows me to see all the different projections and the skewed off fireworks.
Like Fantasmic, there’s an additional way that you can score a great viewing spot. You can always attend the Star Wars dessert party, which takes place inside Star Wars Launch Bay. However, this includes a reserved viewing area for the fireworks in the park’s hub.
There you have it, these are my top 10 tips to make the most of your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can always read more travel tips over on my Ultimate Guide To Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Don’t be fooled by this park; many falsely claim it to be a half-day park, but I think it really isn’t. There’s still a good amount of activities to enjoy and it will soon get even better when all the additions are complete.