Leslie and Joe close out their Parks 101 series with Hollywood Studios, which is a work in progress as it gears up for the opening of Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We discuss whether the park even warrants a visit in its current state, favorite rides, why it’s great for young children, and why it’s the best park for thrill seekers. Also – a mea culpa for something we said about Animal Kingdom.
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Hollywood Studios 101
Disney’s Hollywood Studios was Walt Disney World’s third park and is very much a park in progress today. Originally opened at MGM Studios in 1989, its focus was initially as a working movie studio backlot, with attractions reflecting that focus.
In 2018, the Hollywood backlot is gone and the park is a bit of a hodgepodge of thrill rides, stage shows, and Disney Junior themed offerings for the youngest Disney World visitors.
Two new lands are coming to Hollywood Studios in 2018 and 2019: Toy Story Land on June 30, 2018, followed by Star Wars Land some time in 2019 TBD. These lands will radically change the offerings in the park (and we’ll be back for a reprise when that happens). In the meantime, here is what you need to know about tackling Hollywood Studios as it exists today.
Is Hollywood Studios a Full Day Park? Should You Skip it Altogether?
With the limited offerings these days, many Disney experts don’t think the park warrants a full day of time. Others even recommend skipping it entirely.
This may be the case for some types of Disney visitors. Because of its many offerings for younger children, however, we think it is definitely worthy of a visit if you have babies, toddlers, and younger kids for the Disney Junior offerings alone. In addition, the park still is a fit for thrill-ride seeking teens or adults visiting without kids. It’s the in between child ages that might not find as much to do.
Thrill Rides at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is home to two of the most thrilling attractions at Walt Disney World: Rock N Roller Coaster and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Rock N Roller Coaster is the only Disney coaster that goes upside down. Rounding out the thrill ride triumvirate is Star Tours, with more modest thrills that many younger kids should try before graduating to the scarier coasters.
Disney Junior Attractions
Disney Junior has taken over a good portion of the park during this Hollywood Studios transition state, presenting several offerings for families with younger kids. A must-do is the Disney Junior Live on Stage Show. Just outside the theater are four character meet-and-greet areas, with Pluto, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Lines are never too terrible, so it’s a smart spot to meet a lot of characters at once.
Where to Eat in Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is home to a couple of not-very-memorable counter service restaurants, so we recommend the table service choices. Since the park doesn’t have as many must-do attractions to fill your day, you will likely have time to sit down for a meal. In particular, consider these restaurants:
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe: Meat and three meal choices, with a wait staff who sometimes orders you to eat your vegetables, just like a good 1950s mom would do.
- Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant: Classic car-shaped tables and old school diner offerings make this restaurant entertaining and family-friendly.
- Hollywood Brown Derby: Excellent for slightly more refined dining and often a place where you can get a same day reservation!
- Hollywood & Vine: Character dining with Disney Junior characters for breakfast or Minnie and Friends during other seasonal meal offerings.
0:00 – Greetings and an Animal Kingdom mea culpa
2:29 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme and overall feel of the park
3:37 – Current construction at Hollywood Studios
5:36 – Closed rides that we miss
7:24 – Is Hollywood Studios even worth visiting right now?
9:41 – Thrill rides overview
11:57 – Why Hollywood Studios is great for young children
13:01 – Star Wars Galactic Spectacular (fireworks)
14:08 – Where to eat
17:42 – Expectations for Toy Story Land, opening June 2018