Disney’s Hollywood Studios

NOTE:  Given the MASSIVE changes currently in process at DHS, I’m holding off on providing current updates to this page.  AllEars.net and various Disney fan sites are covering the almost daily updates involved in reporting on the process.  Suffice it to say, the information below is only for those attractions that haven’t yet been removed or shut down in preparation for the Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land updates.

As the title implies, DHS is movie-and-TV themed. Attractions are almost entirely based on entertainment properties: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Power Rangers, Twilight Zone, Little Mermaid, Toy Story and typically a temporary attraction related to whatever Disney studio movie is “hot” at that moment. Many of the attractions here might have height limits that would exclude younger kids (but it’s noted in all of the park maps you can find).

The “big” attraction here is Toy Story Mania (TSM). It’s pretty cool – a ride with 3D effects. I love doing it, and so do most others, as evidenced by the long standby lines. Never fear though, get a FP and then only wait in the short line.  They’ve now moved the entrance to TSM to the rear of the building to be part of Toy Story Land.  And across from TSM is now the Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster.  Totally worth every minute of wait necessary, this coaster is the perfect combination of tame and thrilling, especially for the littlest riders.  Also in Toy Story Land are the Alien Swirling Saucers.  It’s an interesting take on the Teacups and if you enjoy tilt-a-whirls, this ride is for you.

One thing that most people used to miss, however, was a special appearance OUTSIDE the ride (across the “street”, actually) by Luxo, Jr., the little desk lamp that starts every Pixar movie. He would come out every 10-15 minutes, did a little musical dance thing and then went back behind louvered doors. It was even cooler at night when he controled lights in the trees around TSM. Update: Due to intellectual property rights, Luxo, Jr. doesn’t appear anymore. Serious bummer.

Your daughter(s), if any, will love Voyage of the Little Mermaid – she’s actually live and performing. It’s also a dark, cool, indoor attraction – great to break the heat. The same used to be true for “The Great Movie Ride” – it was one of those slow-moving things like Ellen’s Energy Adventure at Epcot. As of August 2017, it was removed in favor of a massive overhaul of this park and is now Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (discussed below).

On the other hand, virtually all school-aged kids will probably love Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular. And if you show up early enough, you (or they) could be selected to join the “cast” during the show. It’s rare, but it can happen.

I really love Rock’n’Roller Coaster, starring Aerosmith. I won’t say too much, as it’s my favorite ride in the entire property – but if you like roller coasters, this one will knock your socks off. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is also really cool. It’s not a roller coaster… more of a lift and drop you several times (actually, it’s 100% controlled, so you get PULLED down faster than gravity would take you), type of ride. Lots of fun, scary as all get out the first time you do it. And the theming is, of course, off the charts, which adds to the freakiness of the ride.  As of 2017, TZToT in Disneyland (but not WDW as a result of contractual exclusivity clauses that pre-dated Disney’s purchase of Marvel characters) has been re-themed based on the movie and characters of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Girls will probably like the Beauty and the Beast show (ok, not to be sexist… I just haven’t seen my boys get into it and they LOVE Disney music in general). It’s outdoors, but covered/shaded from the sun. It’s actually not bad, as far as shows go.  A musical group called Return2Zero used to perform a pre-show, but as of late 2015, they’re no longer contracted by Disney.  If you need some indoor time out of the sun, the Frozen Sing-a-Long is decent… but a little campy, or you can always see the “Vacation Fun” Mickey short movie.

Kids can now finding Lighting McQueen at Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. Kids and adults like the Muppets in 3-D show – Waldorf and Statler are even in attendance.

The icon for this park was affectionately known as the Big Ass Hat (BAH) – it’s totally removed as of late February, 2015. It was in the center of the park (right in front of the replica to The Kodak Theatre) and this is still where you can find many of the various character meet/greets throughout the day. It was also the epicenter for the High School Musical live performance. And the old location is still a pretty good place to see the Stars and Motorcars parade in the middle of the day.

The Kodak Theatre replica is now home to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, a cute omnimover ride in the former location of the Great Movie Ride.  MMRR has the potential to be a fantastic opportunity for Disney to change a ride without having to do much more than change digital portions of the experience.  Using the omnimover and some projectors, the entire ride could be altered overnight.  It will be interesting to see what they do with it long-term, but meanwhile, take a ride.

Of course, no visit to DHS is complete without visiting a galaxy far, far away – and a trip to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on the outpost Batuu.  From drinking blue milk to piloting the Millennium Falcon in Smuggler’s Run, one of the most immersive experiences Disney has ever built awaits you in Rise of the Resistance.  But while most attractions have standby (and, pre-COVID, FastPass options), Rise of the Resistance is based on a fastest-finger competition two times a day:  once at 7am and again at 1pm.  Open your Disney app on your phone and from the main page, scroll down to the Virtual Queue.  Click Join at the appointed time from anywhere in the world.  If you have valid theme park admission for that day, you may be able to snag a space for you and your connected guests on the ride that day.

If you get a spot in the queue, though, you’re still not guaranteed a seat.  Instead, you have a Boarding Group number and as time passes, and as the ride allows, the boarding groups are alerted and given an hour to return to the attraction to join the actual physical standby queue.  If the ride breaks down or if they don’t get through the 7am boarding groups, they won’t open the 1pm queue attempt.  If they get to the late afternoon/evening and your boarding group hasn’t been called, there’s still a chance you might not get on the ride.  So it’s a combination of fate/luck.  But if your group IS called, get back to the attraction quickly.  If you’re in the queue when the park closes, you WILL get on the ride (if it’s operational).  And boy is it worth it.  If Flight of Passage upped the attraction game at Disney World, Rise of the Resistance blew it out of the water.  It’s worth every minute of wait time.

At night, the fireworks show here is called Fantasmic! It’s a little more involved and centralized than the other parks… you actually have to go sit in a theatre-style setting. It’s also the only show where there are actual characters involved…. and the ONLY place where you can get a photograph of Steamboat Willie as a walk-around character.  Given the seating, though, you need to arrive relatively early if you want a good seat. There are dinner and a show options, too, though with kids, I’m not sure that’s of benefit.

Special events at DHS include the Star Wars Weekends. It seems pretty self-explanatory to me, but again, go to the Disney Parks website for specifics and timing.

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