Best Hollywood Studios Ride Guide & FAQ

Visiting Hollywood Studios used to be more of a half day experience. I remember as a kid, visiting involved seeing the stunt spectacular show, Indiana Jones show, and going on the back lot tour. Add in a couple photo opportunities with characters and my parents were just about ready to head back to the resort for a pool day.

Now, it is one of the more exhilarating experiences on Disney World property. Two of the largest franchises in the history of movies have immersive themed lands at the back of the park, making this a full day must see park.

On top of the land experiences, there are quite a few rides that are well worth an hour plus wait if you can’t get a FastPass+ for them. In my opinion, the best rides at Disney World are at Hollywood Studios!

?/10 – Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened just after our last trip to Disney World so we were unable to ride it. Seeing the premiere of the ride and all the various influencer reviews have us itching to get back and ride it.

6/10 – Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

20 years ago, this would have been an easy 10/10. Unfortunately old ride writing and theming have dropped the rating. The ride itself is a simulated escape away from the Empire with C-3PO guiding you on your way. An update is most definitely in order, but I would not be shocked if the entire ride was shuttered as it does not sit within Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars themed area.

5/10 – Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!

If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World, I would give it a higher score, as it is definitely a must see. On the other hand, the show is the exact same as it was in 1989 and I find it difficult to sit through for the 100th time every trip. There are reports that Indiana Jones is getting a 2020 update, but with COVID-19 shuttering the parks for at least an entire quarter, we will see what happens.

10/10 – The Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

I’ve never personally been a part of this show, but just watching the young kids get to be Jedi and take on Darth Vader and Kylo Ren is amazing. If you have young kids, get to Hollywood Studios early and sign them up to be a part of the show. It is well worth it.

7/10 – Muppet*Vision 3D

The Muppets are an American classic, seeing them in a 4D ride experience is definitely on the list of must do’s when going to Disney World. Its not going to blow your socks off, but like everything Disney does, it is done well and is worth it.

Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Logo

When did Hollywood Studios open?

Hollywood Studios opened on May 1st, 1989 as Walt Disney World’s 3rd theme park. The idea of the theme park was to be part of a working movie studio that was dedicated to film, television, and music and drew inspiration from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Disney MGM Studios in 1989 | Walt Disney World, FL

Did Hollywood Studios have a different name?

Although we now know it as Hollywood Studios, the park was originally name Disney-MGM Studios as part of a 1985 licensing agreement between The Walt Disney Company and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film Studio. This allowed Disney to use the MGM logo and name for a theme park based on a movie studio. This name lasted from May 1st, 1989 until January 6th, 2008, when Hollywood Studios became the official name for the theme park.

Hollywood Studios Earfful Tower was demolished in 2016 | Walt Disney World, FL

What was the original plan for the park?

Marty Sklar and Randy Bright, both Disney Imagineers, were given the opportunity to create a movie themed pavilion for Epcot. What they came up with impressed then CEO Michael Eisner so much that it became the inspiration for a full fledged theme park.

Hollywood Studios Dedication:

The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be.

Michael Eisner, CEO, May 1st, 1989
The Security Checkpoint at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The park opens daily at 9:00 A.M. | Walt Disney World, FL

What time does Hollywood Studios open?

Hollywood Studios currently opens every day at 9:00 A.M. and stays open until 8:30 P.M. with the exception of Sunday, when Extra Magic Hours allow guests staying on Disney property to stay until 10:00 P.M.

To get on Rise of the Resistance, guests must arrive to Hollywood Studios before the 9:00 A.M. opening time | Walt Disney World, FL

Why do so many people get here super early?

As of right now, Hollywood Studios has some of the best themes at Walt Disney World for older kids and adults. With Epcot undergoing a historic transformation and being almost completely under construction, Hollywood Studios is easily the best park to go to if you want to enjoy some awesome rides and immerse yourself in your favorite movies.

People tend to get to Hollywood Studios early because they cannot schedule a FastPass+ for every ride they want to get on. Because of this, guests arrive early to try to get to a ride as soon as possible and also, schedule a ride that must be done the morning of. More of that below.

Disney World's FastPass+ service allows you to schedule rides up to 60 days in advance

How does FastPass+ work at Hollywood Studios?

Your typical Walt Disney World theme park utilizes the FastPass+ to plan your day for rides. This allows you to schedule your ride times for up to 3 rides, 60 days in advance if you are staying on property and 30 days in advance if you are not staying on property. There is one ride at Hollywood Studios that does not utilize the FastPass+ system and that is Rise of the Resistance.

Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group Boarding Pass at Disney's Hollywood Studios | Galaxy's Edge, Walt Disney World, FL

Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups

Rise of the Resistance is a completely immersive ride experience that takes you on board a First Order Star Destroyer and you must escape Kylo Ren and General Hux to return to your Rebel Base. The only issue is that you cannot schedule a FastPass+ for this ride. You are left with the option of getting into a boarding group at the park opening time. We have put together a comprehensive guide to help you get into a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group. Don’t worry, it is much easier than it sounds.

Slinky Dog Dash @ Toy Story Land | Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, FL

Tier 1 FastPass+

The FastPass+ system at every park uses a Tier 1 and Tier 2 system. This ensures that people planning their stay at the 60 day mark cannot hoard every FastPass+ for what is considered a “better ride.” You are able to choose one Tier 1 FastPass+ from the following list:

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (opened March 4, 2020)
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Slinky Dog Dash

Our order for choosing would be:

  1. Slinky Dog Dash
  2. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  3. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
The Tower of Terror @ Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, FL

Tier 2 FastPass+

You are then able to choose two FastPass+ options from the Tier 2 rides. The following rides qualify under this:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Tower of Terror
  • Beauty and the Beast (show)
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Star Tours
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (interactive show)
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid (show)
  • Frozen Sing-Along Celebration (show)
  • Disney Junior Dance Party! (show)
  • Fantasmic! (end of night show)

Our order of choosing would be two of the following three:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania

Both Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror have a high thrill level so keep that in mind when choosing these rides. Toy Story Mania is a fun for all ages 3D arcade shooting game where you get to compete against the other riders. Highest point total wins! (bragging rights only)

Rope drop in front of Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Courtesy of Mouse Hacking

Rope Drop Strategy for Hollywood Studios

The concept of a “rope drop” partially falls under your FastPass+ strategy. Because you can’t schedule every ride, there are naturally going to be others you still want to ride. If you chose Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run over Slinky Dog dash or vice versa, you still probably want to ride the other one. That’s where the rope drop comes into play. You simply get to the park before opening time, get through security and scan your ticket (they allow you into the park pretty early), and then head to one of the three rope drop areas that are below.

Here you will wait for the official park opening time (and hopefully secure your Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group), and then head off to the ride of your choosing. This is what we would call FastPass+ number four! By getting there early, you should be able to walk on, or wait for under 15 minutes for one of the premiere FastPass+ Tier 1 rides!

Galaxy’s Edge

The Galaxy’s Edge rope drop area is on the south east side of the park, past the Echo Lake and Grand Avenue areas. While these areas do have attractions and shows, they are not open until the rope drop time! You will wait behind the “rock arch” that is the official entrance to Galaxy’s Edge. Typically the cast members dropping the rope here will wait to do so until 30-45 seconds after 9:00 A.M., giving you time to secure your Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group.

Our Advice:

Go here for rope drop if you have both Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror FastPass+ scheduled and Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ scheduled. This allows you to walk right on to Smuggler’s Run and you can then head to either Runaway Railway or Toy Story Mania. If you have Toy Story Mania instead of either of the RRC or ToT FastPass+ you can head to one of those instead.

Toy Story Land @ Hollywood Studios | Walt Disney World, FL

Toy Story Land

Going to the Toy Story Land drop area will take you to the west side of the park past Sunset Boulevard and Animation Courtyard. The physical rope is just past the large Woody “Toy Story Land” sign. Again, the cast members will wait 30-45 seconds after 9:00 A.M. to drop the rope, giving you time for the RotR Boarding Group process.

Our Advice:

Go here if you have Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and at least one of the ToT or RRC FastPass+ scheduled. You will be able to board Slinky Dog Dash rather quickly, and if you don’t have Toy Story Mania, you should be able to board that pretty quickly after you get off of Slinky Dog Dash.

Sunset Boulevard at Hollywood Studios facing Tower of Terror | Walt Disney World, FL

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard is located on the north side of the park just past the Trolley Car Cafe that serves Starbucks products (this might have a longer wait than most rides in the morning). The physical rope is located down the boulevard just before Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The shops along the street will be open if you don’t want to hang out in the street. Be advised, you must be in the actual street. Cast members will ask you to move off the sidewalk as part of their safety regulations and to keep shop & restaurant traffic flowing.

Our Advice:

If you weren’t able to get a Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster FastPass+, go here so that you can get on to one of them first thing in the morning. This area tends to be busy all day from our experience with it. From there you can head to one of your other FastPass+ options or wait in line for another ride.

What are the different lands at Hollywood Studios?

Hollywood Studios has 8 different lands in the theme park. The newest one being Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a $1 billion investment into the park. I will go over the rides in each land below, similar to how we went over the FastPass+ strategies above.

Hollywood Boulevard at Hollywood Studios, Facing the old Mickey Hat that was the center piece of the park

Hollywood Boulevard

This land is more of a themed area than an actual land, but we will include it for the purpose of going over the park as a whole. This is where you first come into Hollywood Studios and one of my favorite areas to just hang out in. It feels very old timey Hollywood with street shows most of the day and plenty of Disney PhotoPass photographers to catch some awesome shots.

On both sides of the boulevard you will find shops to go into and get all of your favorite merchandise from movies and rides. You will also find quite a few restaurants and sweet shops. Since Megan and I are both young adults, our favorite tends to be the Starbucks on the corner so we can get our caffeine fix (hint to all the parents out there).

If you plan on renting a stroller or wheelchair at the theme park, this is also where you will pick that up. Just to the right when you enter is the kiosk where you will find the counter as well as the package pickup area.

The only ride located on Hollywood Boulevard is Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (formerly the Great Movie Ride) located in the Chinese theater at the end of the boulevard. This recently opened in March of 2020.

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard is a great area to shop, grab a quick bite to eat, enjoy some dessert, and ride some thrill rides. It really is an area you could hang out for a few hours and not even realize it. The Sunset Ranch Market offers 5 different quick-service dining options for every taste in the family. Go here if no one can agree on a cuisine.

It also houses 3 large shops with themed gifts for all ages. Beverly Sunset Boutique is Pixar themed, Once Upon a Time is all Disney themed apparel, jewelry, and headwear (lots of mouse ears!!), and Legends of Hollywood has a boutique selection of jewelry and designer accessories. The Disney shoppers’ paradise!

As far as attractions go, it is packed with options:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy (show)
  • The Twilight Tower of Terror
  • Fantasmic! (nighttime show)
  • Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage (show)
Echo Lake @ Hollywood Studios

Echo Lake

Echo Lake is located to the left of Hollywood Boulevard when you arrive in the park. Here you will find classics like the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and Star Tours – The Adventure Continue. This tends to be an area that feels dated compared to the rest of the park. Not much has been done here as the emphasis since the park has opened was to build off of the two Hollywood themed areas, and more recently, building up Toy Story and Star Wars in the rear of the park.

You will however, find that it is a good area for young kids with lots of shaded dining areas, a couple Frozen themed shows and meet and greets, and the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple (4-12 years old). Parents and adults can also find cold alcoholic beverages here. The attractions in this land are:

  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (show)
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple (interactive kids show, MUST SIGN UP IN THE MORNING TO PARTICIPATE)
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration
MuppetVision #D at Grand Avenue in Hollywood Studios

Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue is home to the Muppet Vision 3D show/ride. This is the last area of the park that still has the “movie studio” feel to it as you walk through. Much of the architecture is still the New York City Street feel. Other than Muppet Vision 3D you will find 3 restaurants:

  • PizzeRizzo
  • Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
  • BaseLine Tap House
Animation Courtyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Animation Courtyard

Animation Courtyard is what is left of the animation offices/tours that were with the park when it originally opened. It is now home to a few shows and quite a few character meets. You can find the following characters here full time:

  • Mike and Sully
  • Goofy
  • Pluto

You will also find the following shows/attractions:

  • Walt Disney Gallery and Exhibits
  • The Walt Disney Theater (Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream”
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Disney Junior Dance Party!
Municiberg, An Incredible Celebration | Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, FL

An Incredible Celebration

This area is dedicated to the Incredibles movie series and features some familiar characters as well as themes from the movies. You can do The Edna Mode Experience and see some of the costume designers best works as well as buy souvenirs from Municiberg Gifts. Neighborhood Bakery also features Num Num Cookie, pretzels, and frozen beverages.

Toy Story Land seen from above during the COVID-19 shutdown
Courtesy of @bioreconstruct

Toy Story Land

The second newest full fledged land at Hollywood Studios is Toy Story Land. Here you get to hang out in Andy’s backyard with all of your favorite toys! From Toy Story themed rides, to character meet and greets, a quick-service restaurant with movie inspired meals and snacks, and even a Toy Story Store.

Rodeo Roundup BBQ Concept Art | The first Toy Story themed table service restaurant at Walt Disney World

Coming soon will be a Toy Story themed table-service restaurant. This will be situated just to the right of the large Woody & Toy Story Land sign when entering the land from Animation Courtyard/Hollywood Boulevard. A BBQ menu situated in Andy’s latest cardboard cutout arena, guests will be immersed into the rodeo festivities right out of Andy’s imagination. The name of the restaurant is Rodeo Roundup BBQ and should open mid 2020.

There is also Woody’s Lunchbox featuring sandwiches, totchos, desserts, and ice cream floats. While seated in the table area, you might even see some green army men peering over the fence on their latest mission. The following are the 3 rides currently in Toy Story Land:

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
Galaxy's Edge, Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, FL

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Finally, we get to the most anticipated theme park addition that I can ever remember, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It is located on the south side of the park beyond Toy Story Land or Grand Avenue (two entrances). Based upon the Black Spire Outpost village on the outer rim planet of Batuu. Before hyperspace travel this was one of the most popular stopping points for smugglers traveling to the Unknown Regions. Now, it is a forgotten territory with the hyperspace routes bypassing it.

Opening in 2019, Galaxy’s Edge put an immersive Star Wars experience into a Disney World park for the first time. You can build your own light saber, build your own droid, eat at Oga’s Cantina, ride the Millennium Falcon, and escape a Star Destroyer to the Rebel Base. While you’re enjoying being in the Star Wars universe, you can even enjoy some green or blue milk that are served both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Currently, there are two rides within this section, but even without those, you could spend hours just looking at all the details that the land has to offer (we did just that). Shop in one of the outdoor bazaar shops or enjoy some Star Wars themed food at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. The following are the two rides:

Courtesy of @bioreconstruct

Is there a hotel at Hollywood Studios?

The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel is scheduled to open sometime in 2021. This will be one of Disney’s first experiments of putting a hotel in a Walt Disney World park, sort of. You have the special room in Cinderella’s Castle and the Epcot Resorts that are a literal stones throw from the back of the park, but this one will be an experience where you get exclusive after/before hours access to the park as part of your experience. As more details emerge, we will update this section.

The Disney Skyliner Station at Hollywood Studios Park | Walt Disney World, FL

What are the best ways to get to Hollywood Studios?

Hollywood Studios has three Disney Transportation methods to get to the parks. It has a dedicated Disney Skyliner route and station, a boat between the park and Epcot’s International Gateway, as well as the Disney Bus system that funnels to all of the resorts on property. It also has paid parking for guests that would like to drive themselves to the park.

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Mitchell Tomczak

Mitchell Tomczak

I'm 26 years old and I've been to Disney over 10 times in my life. 3 of those have been as an adult and twice with Megan! I love learning about the mystery behind the magic, Walt's life, and what's coming to Disney down the line! If I can share that with you, I'm doing my job!

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