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11 Things to Know Before You Go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Welcome to Disney’s Hollywood Studios where “Lights. Camera. Action!” take center stage! The past few years have brought several changes to Hollywood Studios which have made many Disney fans feel, due to the large amount of construction, this used to be a half-day park. That sentiment is certainly no longer true. These changes at Hollywood Studios have all been for the better however as Disney is now unleashing new and exciting experiences that are making everyone stop in their tracks and take notice! As you plan to embark on your Hollywood Studios day, here are a few things to know before you go.

Editor’s Note: We understand that with the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, some of the advice in this article may not apply if you visit while park hours are reduced, capacity limits and physical distancing are in place, and some of our favorite experiences—fireworks, parades, and character greetings—are temporarily suspended. (You can read everything you need to know about the phased reopening by clicking here). We will continue to share articles that give guidance on a “normal” vacation to Walt Disney World, along with any special changes or instructions you may need to be aware of during the phased reopening to provide the best tips we can regardless of when you are visiting. ~ Chad & Cindy


1 – Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

The first-ever Mickey Mouse themed ride-through attraction opened on March 4, 2020! The attraction features a new original story and catchy theme song as it takes guests on a journey inside the wacky and unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts. Inspired by the Mickey Shorts on the Disney Channel, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a collaboration between the people who bring the shorts at Disney Television Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering. Some people still might be mourning The Great Movie Ride, but we absolutely love it! This is a fun family attraction that will appeal to many more people than the old classic movies. Click here to learn more and read our review of this fun attraction!

2 – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is Now Open

Thursday, August 29, 2019, was an epic day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! This was the day “Phase 1” of the newest land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, opened to guests including the attraction, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. “Phase 2” opened December 5, 2019, which included the opening of the second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This 14-acre land is the most popular place to be in all of Walt Disney World. With two new attractions, dining options, and shops – everyone (Star Wars fan or not) have been impressed at the immersion of this galaxy right within Hollywood Studios! Click here for everything you need to know about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

3 – But, Let’s Not Forget Toy Story Land!

And we thought Toy Story Land which opened in June 2018 was impressive enough! Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is riding on the coattails of Toy Story Land, but this doesn’t mean planning for Toy Story Land isn’t important. Toy Story Land is still a popular place with crowds still sprinting towards Slinky Dog Dash first thing in the morning. With three attractions and Woody’s Lunch Box, it’s 11-acres (compared to Galaxy’s Edge’s 14-acres) is still without a doubt worth the time. Drop by again at night to see the lights glow in Andy’s backyard.

4 – Wake Up Early to Get a Boarding Pass for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

In early November 2020, Disney changed the process for joining a boarding group so you can enjoy Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Currently, joining the virtual queue and getting a boarding pass is the only way to experience the attraction and it’s well worth getting up early for. You now can join the virtual queue, anywhere, as long as you have a park reservation for that day. You no longer have to be in the park to join the 7:00 am queue, but you STILL need to be in the park to join the 1:00 pm queue.  Click here for our survival guide and everything you need to know about boarding groups for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

5 – Get FastPasses… But Not for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, FastPass+ is temporarily suspended. 

Ugh – well, let’s chat FastPasses! FastPasses are a free Disney perk that can be used to bypass the normal standby line for certain attractions. Three FastPasses can be selected in advance… 60-days in advance for Disney resort guests and 30-days in advance for non-resort guests. These are like Disney gold because of all the time you save skipping the line! With that being said Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is not included. In the meantime, the FastPasses you now have three attractions in Tier 1: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Slinky Dog Dash. Top attractions in Tier 2 include: Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. We’d recommend these for early to late afternoon, so you’ll have a chance to tackle Galaxy’s Edge and some of the other attractions in Toy Story Land before using your FastPasses. Click here for more on FastPass selections at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

6 – MDE App is a MUST-HAVE!

If you haven’t already, go ahead and download the My Disney Experience (MDE) App. This app will be your park map, times guide, reservation/food ordering option, FastPass finder, and numerous other things while in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including the easiest and quickest way for you to join a boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of Resistance. For example, when you finish with your three initial FastPasses we mentioned above, go ahead and book a fourth FastPass from your MDE App if one is available and so on until the park closes.


7 – Must-Hit Shows

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular are among the cast members who have been laid off. Disney retains the rights to call them back. We hope and expect at some point in the future when conditions permit they will be called back and the entertainment that is critical to making the parks magical will return. If you feel that the entertainment staff are a big part of making the magic happen, we encourage you to let Disney know how important the entertainers are to your experience.

We’ve been talking so much about Toy Story Land and the preparation of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, that we feel we must turn our focus to the must-hit shows you can find at Hollywood Studios! The timeless, “tale as old as time”, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, is by far our favorite show at Studios. We also recommend the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and the classic Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.  Check your MDE App for showtimes which are usually between late morning and early evening.

8 – Check Out New Characters!

Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, character greetings are temporarily suspended. You’ll see characters come through each park in short parades. Click here for more information on how to see characters during the phased reopening.

It seems like there is a new character strolling into Hollywood Studios each day! Pixar Characters are especially popular right now including Edna Mode from The Incredibles; Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Jessie from Toy Story; and even Sulley from Monster’s IncStar Wars characters will be in full force, including Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, and BB-8. If you have a little one who loves Disney Junior, they can meet a few Disney Jr. favorites near the Disney Junior Dance Party, including the  arrival of “Fancy Nancy.”

9 – Forget the Diet – A Foodie’s Paradise

Hollywood Studios has stepped up their “eats” game! You may know they have some of the best themed-dining on Disney property including fun table service spots like 50’s Prime Time Café and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. But they’ve also become a foodie’s paradise with multiple quick-service spots offering decadent sweet and salty treats to match whatever the taste buds are craving! Get ready to eat plenty and drink your share as menus are constantly changing and being enhanced with dining favorites. Just don’t forget to make your table-service reservations 180-days in advance as space does go fast. If you’re going the quick-service route – Mobile Order from your MDE app to avoid the lines.

10 – Decide Which Nighttime Spectacular

Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, nighttime spectaculars are temporarily suspended.

Decisions. Decisions! Disney’s Hollywood Studios currently offers a few nighttime spectaculars, making it impossible to fully enjoy them all with a good view/seat. Do your researcher and try your best to make a decision on which of the nighttime spectaculars to experience. A new nighttime spectacular is being projected on the Chinese Theaters called “Wonderful World of Animation”. Remaining at this location as well is the 14-minute projection and fireworks show called “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular”. Then, of course, there is the beloved “Fantasmic!” show and fireworks located in the amphitheater off Sunset Blvd that is not to be missed. Tough decisions!

11 – Arrival via the Disney Skyliner

Have you thought about how you’ll arrive to Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Complimentary bus transportation is available from all Disney Resorts. Complimentary boat transportation is readily available from close-by Disney resorts. Another great new option is the Disney Skyliner – a gondola style transportation system – that transports guests to and from Hollywood Studios and Disney Resorts including Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and the soon to open Riviera Resort. Will you be taking to the sky? Click here for everything you need to know about the Disney Skyliner!

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


About Mike & Jamie Sylvester

We are Disney nerds. Two kids at heart who love the magic and the memories of Walt Disney World! We follow all things Disney and have great experiences with being Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and RunDisney participants. We enjoy the vacations, day trips, weekend getaways and geek out over the planning of such events. From lodging to dining to Fastpasses we have a spreadsheet for every occasion. Mike’s frivolous Disney goal is to acquire as many MagicBands as possible while Jamie’s goal is to experience as many Disney desserts as possible. Usually there isn’t a day that passes without some discussion of the master plan of our next trip to the happiest place on earth. Most people think we’re normal – until they travel to Disney with us. We have been married for 13 years and are blessed with two children - our 8-year-old daughter and soon to be 2-year-old son. As a family we thoroughly enjoy the magic and the memories at Walt Disney World and are here to help others experience the magic as well.