How to Do Everything at Disney's Hollywood Studios in One Perfect Day
Disney World's Hollywood Studios park is home to some of its most exciting new openings, including Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Here's how to spend your time there.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios, located at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is the ultimate theme park for fans of Disney films. The park’s Old Hollywood vibes are perfectly paired with many of Disney’s newest franchises for exciting attractions and entertainment.
In recent years, attractions like Streets of America, “Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights,” The Great Movie Ride, and “Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show” have closed to make way for newer openings, like Toy Story Land, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
To experience Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests enter through Hollywood Boulevard and take a left for the Echo Lake and Grand Avenue areas, both inspired by Los Angeles neighborhoods. On the right, paths lead to Toy Story Land, Animation Courtyard, and Sunset Boulevard. Both Grand Avenue and Toy Story Land connect to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (otherwise known as Star Wars Land), which opened in late summer 2019. (Whether or not you’ve been before, grab a Disney Hollywood Studios map upon entering, as plenty has changed.)
Though Walt Disney World parks like Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are busiest in the summer and on holidays, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is likely to keep Hollywood Studios busy every day of the year. There are more experiences than there are rides for younger children, but teens and tweens will still find plenty to do, as Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to some of the most thrilling rides across all four parks.
Read on for more advice and information about Hollywood Studios hours, rides, and what’s to come to this Disney World park in the next few years.
Getting to Disney's Hollywood Studios
Standard vehicle parking costs $25 per day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and an upgrade to preferred parking costs $45-$50, depending on the season. A tram picks guests up in the parking lot to transport them to the park gates, which is especially helpful if you have to park far away from the entrance. Hotel buses, Disney World buses, Minnie Vans, taxis, and ride-share services including Uber and Lyft all reach the park through this main parking lot.
The Disney Skyliner gondola system now connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Epcot via the International Gateway entrance, located within the World Showcase. To reach Epcot from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests will board the gondola system and disembark at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, transferring to another Skyliner at that station to reach Epcot. Guests at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney’s Riviera Resort can also reach Disney’s Hollywood Studios via the Disney Skyliner.
Guests at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels can walk or take a short boat ride directly to Hollywood Studios as well.
Hollywood Studios Hours
Disney’s Hollywood Studios opening and closing times vary throughout the season. Extra Magic Hours, which are offered to parkgoers staying at Disney hotels and select partner hotels, allow for up to two extra hours in Walt Disney World parks each day. Guests can also purchase tickets to events like Early Morning Magic or Disney After Hours, offered seasonally, to gain extra time in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and access the park with smaller crowds.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is currently not open during Extra Magic Hours.
Purchasing Hollywood Studios Tickets
Walt Disney World tickets now use dynamic pricing. This means the cost of Disney’s Hollywood Studios admission changes depending on which day of the year you visit.
If you plan to visit Galaxy’s Edge (and the rest of the park) more than once, purchase “Park Hopper” tickets, which allow guests to travel between all Walt Disney World parks for one price. Disney's Hollywood Studios tickets are available online, and it’s best to purchase them in advance, as they can cost more at the park’s entrance. Save money on Disney tickets by checking the Walt Disney World website for promotions and ticket discounts, which appear from time to time.
With so many “Star Wars” experiences now open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, vacationers should plan for at least a day and a half at the Disney World park. If you’re traveling with infants and young children or if you’re simply not interested in piloting the Millennium Falcon, one day should be enough.
How to Use a FastPass+
FastPass+ is a digital system that allows guests to reserve a spot in line on three Walt Disney World attractions per day. It is free and comes with every Disney ticket. Guests staying at a Walt Disney World hotel or select Orlando hotels with Extra Magic Hour benefits can select FastPass+ for Disney rides and attractions 60 days before arriving, while regular ticketholders can choose Fastpasses 30 days in advance.
FastPass+ for Disney’s Hollywood Studios rides and attractions are offered in two tiers. Guests can select one attraction from the first group and two attractions from the second group. As of early 2020, Tier 1 includes Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Slinky Dog Dash; all other FastPass+ enabled Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions are Tier 2. (This process could change at any time, so refer to Walt Disney World’s website for further updates.)
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance does not offer FastPass+ or a standby line. To experience the attraction, you must obtain a boarding group via the Walt Disney World app, available each morning at the posted park opening.
Link your Disney’s Hollywood Studios tickets to My Disney Experience to schedule FastPass+ experiences in advance. Many attractions will run out of FastPass+ spots early, so scheduling them weeks in advance ensures that your family will gain access to shorter lines, wait in lines less often, and get the most out of a Disney ticket purchase.
How to use Boarding Groups
Due to the popularity of Disney’s newest attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, free boarding groups (available via the Walt Disney World app) are required to ride. This virtual queue system assigns passengers a group number, which are called in numerical order for expedited boarding onto the “Star Wars” attraction. Since these boarding group reservation times are available the moment Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens, be sure to arrive at the before the posted opening time. Your ticket must be scanned into the park to be eligible for this virtual queue, and these entry passes are regularly snapped up within minutes.
The Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance lottery system does not guarantee that riders will make it onto the jaw-dropping new attraction, but boarding groups typically make it onto the ride. Backup boarding groups are invited to ride if all other groups have been called. There is no standby line or FastPass+ for Rise of the Resistance, so this is the only way to get on the attraction.
The Best Hollywood Studios Rides
If you’re looking for scary rides at Walt Disney World, look no further than Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’s plummet is thrilling, and Star Tours — The Adventures Continue flight simulation through space is a delight. Be sure to experience Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Disney’s only coaster with upside-down inversions. It even plays the band’s music throughout the exciting journey.
Though Toy Story Land’s theming is kid-friendly, it’s fun for all. The Slinky Dog Dash family coaster is a whimsical Disney ride that soars through the colorful land without too many dips or drops, and Toy Story Mania! is a crowd favorite for its arcade-like competitions.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge offers plenty of immersive experiences in the themed land, including droid creation and personalized lightsaber-making. (Advanced reservations are recommended.) Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance sees riders joining the Resistance and eventually breaking out of a Star Destroyer controlled by Kylo Ren, while the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride lets passengers pilot the famed “Star Wars” vessel.
There is only one major attraction left to open in the large-scale transformation and reinvention of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway — the first Mickey Mouse ride — will open on March 4, 2020.
The Best Hollywood Studios Attractions
Unlike other Disney World parks, there are as many shows in Hollywood Studios as there are rides.
Children will enjoy a wide selection of performances, including “Voyage of the Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and The Beast - Live on Stage,” a “Frozen” sing-along, and a Disney Junior Dance Party. Plus, “Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy” brings characters from the “Cars” film franchise to the park for the first time.
If you’re traveling with teens, take them to “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular,” a live “re-enactment” and peek behind-the-scenes of the film’s action sequences.
Character meet-and-greets with “Star Wars” characters, like BB-8, are offered at Star Wars Launch Bay, and you can meet Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear within Toy Story Land. There’s almost always a character meet-and-greet inside Walt Disney Presents; it currently features Mike and Sulley from “Monsters, Inc.” Of course, you can also meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse in this park, but Disney character meets are likely to change throughout 2019 and 2020, so be sure to check the Disney website if you have your heart set on meeting a specific character.
There’s also Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, which allows young padawans ages 4-12 to face Darth Vader and Kylo Ren on-stage to test their Jedi skills. (Be sure to sign up in advance that morning, as spaces go quickly.)
Exploring Disney's Hollywood Studios at Night
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is unique, as it has the most nighttime entertainment options of all four Disney theme parks.
“Fantasmic!”, one of Disney’s best nighttime shows, is held nightly at Hollywood Studios. Mickey Mouse leads a collection of special effects, water features, projections, and rousing character appearances that make for a can’t-miss part of any Walt Disney World vacation. (Consult a Disney’s Hollywood Studios map to find it, as it’s beyond the regular park paths.)
A new projection and fireworks show, “Wonderful World of Animation,” plays nightly in the middle of Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, along with “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular,” which is themed to the popular film franchise.
Every winter, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” brings a rousing Christmastime celebration to the park with fireworks, music, and lasers in tandem with holiday scenes from famed Disney films.
The Best Restaurants at Hollywood Studios
Children adore Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre Restaurant, an intriguing twist on traditional theme park eateries that seats diners within “cars” overlooking a movie screen that plays vintage films. For a quick meal in Toy Story Land, Woody’s Lunch Box and its toasted sandwiches are guaranteed to delight picky eaters. Hollywood & Vine is ideal for seasonal foods and Disney Junior character dining.
Everyone in the family will enjoy 50’s Prime Time Café, which serves homestyle food like pot roast and meatloaf within miniature home kitchens, complete with old-fashioned television programs playing on black-and-white TVs. The Hollywood Brown Derby is the most elegant restaurant at this park; if you’re traveling with teenagers or as a group of adults, this is a great choice.
A new “Toy Story”-themed restaurant, Roundup Rodeo BBQ, will also be arriving to Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios soon.
Guests at Walt Disney World can book Hollywood Studios dining reservations at these eateries 180 days in advance. Be sure to check prior to booking if restaurants take the Disney Dining Plan.
Drinking Alcohol at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Cocktails, as well as beer and wine, are sold throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Tune-In Lounge, the bar attached to 50’s Prime Time Café, offers a great selection of drinks, and some of the best beer at Walt Disney World can be found at BaseLine Tap House. Still, the most popular place to imbibe is within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Oga’s Cantina, featuring alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions from across the planets, provides out-of-this-world sips and entertainment. Reservations are highly recommended; note that the Star Wars-themed cantina is open to guests of all ages, but much of it is standing room only.
Special Events at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Early Morning Magic and Disney After Hours events give guests the opportunity to explore the parks without the heavy crowds. Currently, there are no Early Morning Magic or Disney After Hours events on the calendar, so check Disney’s website to see if any open up before your trip.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios goes big for the holidays as well, adding a special nighttime show, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!,” and other entertainment throughout the park every November and December.
The Best Hollywood Studios Hotels
There are plenty of hotels in Walt Disney World, but a select few will help you get even more out of those Disney’s Hollywood Studios tickets.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, and Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel all connect to a walking path that leads towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Boat service from these five hotels to the park is also available.)
And, with the Disney Skyliner Gondola system in operation, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and the new Disney’s Riviera Resort are a convenient and short ride away from Disney’s Hollywood Studios.