Hollywood Studios was the third park to open at Walt Disney World. Hollywood Studios is undergoing massive change and our guide brings you right up to date with all the latest changes after the opening of Toy Story Land. We have updated our Guide to Hollywood Studios with all the latest information for Fall/Winter 2018 & what we can expect in a very exciting 2019.
Jump Right In
Are you after specific information in our Guide to Hollywood Studios? Our handy jumps will lead you straight to key information.
- Hollywood Studios The Basics including the history of Hollywood Studios and recent expansions.
- Planning your Visit to Hollywood Studios all the essential information to plan a great vacation including Fastpass, Rider Switch, the Single Rider Line and a selection of Hollywood Studios hints & tips.
- Current Hollywood Studios Attractions we have brought our guide right up to date with all the latest from Toy Story Land. We have details of what you will find in each of the lands and the other park entertainment offerings.
- Dining at Hollywood Studios
- Coming To Hollywood Studios all the latest information on Fall/Winter 2018 & what we can expect in 2019
Hollywood Studios Basics
Dedicated to Show Business the park opened on the 1 May 1989. The theme park was launched by Disney in response to Universal Studios opening in Orlando. The park opened in advance of Universal which did not open its doors until 1990. Opening day attractions were the Great Movie Ride, the Backstage Studio Tour, Magic of Disney Animation and the Monster Sound Show. Later in the summer, the Indiana Jones stunt show opened. Only the stunt show from the opening year is still open.
When the park opened it initially included a working studio. The studio included 3 sound stages and shot many productions for The Disney Channel including the The All-New Mickey Mouse Club featuring a young Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake among others. At one point the studio was the centre for Disney Animation. Animation hits produced at Hollywood Studios included Mulan, Lilo & Stitch & Brother Bear. Sadly the park no longer includes a working studio with both the sound stages and animation studio now closed.
Previously the park’s icons have been the Earful Tower & the Sorcerer’s hat but now the park is without an official icon. Until 2008 the park was officially known as Disney-MGM Studios. The relationship between Disney & MGM was not always easy & Disney was contractually prohibited from using the name in certain markets. When unable to use the name The Disney Studios was commonly used. Hollywood Studios became the official name of the park on January 7, 2008.
10.8 Million guests visited the park in 2015 making it the eighth-most-visited theme park in the world.
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, May 1, 1989
Hollywood Studios Facts
Like all theme parks at Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios has plenty of interesting statistics and facts. For example did you know that the park’s original layout featured a large Hidden Mickey which can only be seen on aerial photographs of the park? Click the link if you want to see our favorite Hollywood Studios Facts.
Big Changes Coming to Hollywood Studios
Before discussing the park further we should highlight that Hollywood Studios is currently undergoing massive change. Several attractions have closed with exciting new expansions planned. The most exciting changes are Toy Story Land which opened in June 2018 & Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening late fall 2019. To read all about the latest news on attractions Coming Soon to Hollywood Studios visit our guide.
Planning Your Visit to Hollywood Studios
To experience Hollywood Studios you should spend time planning your experience. Whilst in recent years the park has become a 1-day affair with the opening of Toy Story Land you will need in our opinion 1.5 days to fully enjoy Hollywood Studios especially if you have not visited before. If you have less time you should consider carefully what are your must-do attractions. Expect long waits for all the new attractions. There are key booking windows to secure dining reservations and make ride reservations at Hollywood Studios. In this section, we will guide you through all the Essential Hollywood Studios knowledge you need to enjoy your vacation.
It is important you understand about Fastpass+ before you visit and the key booking windows. Hollywood Studios attractions are split into tiers which were recently changed after the opening of Toy Story Land. Expect these tiers to change again in 2019. Current tiers are:
- The 3 Toy Story Land attractions: Slinky Dog Dash Coaster, Alien Swirling Saucers & Toy Story Mania are in Tier 1.
- All other Hollywood Studios attractions are in Tier 2.
Guests are allowed to advance book one option from Tier 1 and two options from Tier 2 each day they visit. You can book 3 selections from Tier 2 if you book no Tier 1 attractions. To make sure you ride all your favourites you need to develop a strategy. Once you have used your first 3 Fastpass selections you can continue booking 1 more Fastpass at a time until no more are available. We have created a Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategy which might help your planning. We recently updated the advice in this guide having analysed the impact of Toy Story Land.
Are you big enough to ride?
Don’t create a strategy that includes all family members riding to realise too late not all of you can. Many of the Walt Disney World attractions do carry restrictions. At Hollywood Studios these are:
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Height Requirement 40 inches.
- Star Tours Height Requirement 40 inches.
- Rock n’ Roller Coaster Height Requirement 48″ inches.
- Slinky Dog Dash 38 inches.
- Alien Swirling Saucers 32 inches.
In addition, both Star Tours and Tower of Terror and not recommended for infants under 3 years but in our opinion only the bravest under 5s should ride. However, if the kids are too small to ride it does not mean adults and older siblings can’t. Rider Switch, also sometimes known as child swap, allows guests with small children to take turns riding while another adult stays with the child. Our Guide to Rider Switch & Height Restrictions has all the information you need to know.
Struggling to get a Fastpass for all your top attractions? Rock N Roller Coaster does attract long waits. However; it is one of the few rides in Disney World that has a single rider option. Take advantage of it for reduced waits.
Hollywood Studios provides extensive facilities for all forms of disabilities including visual, auditory, mobility & cognitive disabilities. You are able to contact Walt Disney World at (407) 560-2547 or [email protected] prior to your visit to discuss your requirements. Walt Disney World has created a Disability FAQ which you also might find useful to check before your visit. Our Guide to Disabilities at the Walt Disney World has plenty of essential Information including ECV Hire, Dietary Issues and details on The Disability Access Service.
Guests of Walt Disney World Resort Hotels & select non-Disney owned resorts can enjoy extra time in Hollywood Studios several days each week. Extra Magic Hours occur either before parks open or after they close to regular guests. Sounds too good to be true? Remember there are 30000 hotel rooms in WDW so that is a lot of people who can attend.
Extra Magic Hours are often the busiest park days and we usually recommend you consider avoiding especially if you are staying offsite. However, this might be difficult over the next few years as Disney often has Extra Magic Hours daily after the opening of new attractions. We have created a Guide to Extra Magic Hours so you can learn more.
My Disney Experience is a free online guide to Walt Disney World that allows guests to plan their vacation. My Disney Experience launched in 2012 and is available through either the Walt Disney World Website or the dedicated Mobile App. Having access to the App is essential when you visit any of the Walt Disney World parks. Filled with handy features the app lets you view and update your plans, make dining reservations, search maps of all 4 theme parks, get real-time attraction wait times and more. Plus with free WiFi now available throughout Walt Disney World you can reach this information anywhere. Our Guide to My Disney Experience provides more information including how to get the App.
Want to avoid crowds on your vacation? Hollywood Studios is usually busy! On occasions, it is very, very busy!!! Following the opening of Star Wars Land this might become the busiest Theme Park in the World. Many attractions already attract long waits and the park has already become busier since the opening of Toy Story Land.
We have created a Guide to Avoiding Crowds at Walt Disney World which will help you beat the crowds.
Tips & Mistakes To Avoid at Hollywood Studios
Anybody who has ever visited Hollywood Studios will have a list of Tips & Mistakes not to make at a future visit. Here is a selection of ours which we have learnt from previous visits. Learning from other guest’s experiences is a great way to create your Ultimate Hollywood Studios Plan. We have produced some Hollywood Studios Top Tips to get the most from your visit. We all make mistakes on vacation. Very occasionally these mistakes can ruin a vacation. Here is our list of Hollywood Studios Mistakes to Avoid.
Meeting Characters at Hollywood Studios
Do you like meeting characters? Then Hollywood Studios might be your favourite park. There is an abundance of characters at Hollywood Studios you will not meet in other parks. These may include:
- Stars of Disney Junior
- Kylo Ren
- Green Army Men
The Park Guide or My Disney Experience App will have all the information on where to meet your favorite character.
Plus try to find the mysterious Character Palooza to meet some rare characters.
Available to Hire at Hollywood Studios
Do you need a wheelchair, stroller, locker, ECV or even an umbrella? Many articles are available to hire inside Hollywood Studios. Look at the park map, the Disney Experience App or speak to Guest Relations for further information.
Guest Relations at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios has two Guest Relations locations. The first is to your left as you enter the park and the second is before you enter the park at the windows just past the small gift shop.
Guest Relations provide help to all guests visiting Walt Disney World including reservations and general information. The following more specialist support is available:
- Accessibility information
- Ticket Questions
- Concerns & Complaints
- Foreign currency exchange
- Lost and Found
- Lost Guest retrieval
Baby Care Center at Hollywood Studios
The Baby Care Center at Hollywood Studios is located inside Guest Relations. It is a smaller baby Center in comparison to other parks. The Baby Care Center at Hollywood Studios provides a convenient place to feed, change and nurse little ones & is complimentary to use. The center is fully staffed, well maintained and has a good choice of equipment. There is no shop inside the Baby Center but items are available to buy at Movieland.
Current Attractions at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is currently undergoing massive change. Make sure you check the My Disney Experience App for the most up to date list of attractions. Lands have moved a lot in recent times and perhaps will again at future date. Currently there are 6 lands/areas in Hollywood Studios with a 7th Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge due to open in 2019.
The Lands at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Boulevard is the opening land of the park containing multiple shops and guest services. This is the Main Street USA of Hollywood Studios. Near the park’s gate is a recreation of the Crossroads of the World tower which when built in 1936 was considered the first shopping mall in the United States. At the far end of Hollywood Boulevard is a replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre which previously held the Great Movie Ride. The Great Movie Ride closed in 2017 and will be replaced by Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in 2019.
The area is based on Echo Lake in Los Angeles & includes several attractions.
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! is now the oldest attraction in the park but still draws in the crowds. Some of the stunts are very impressive and taken straight from the movies.
- Jedi Training: Trials of The Temple is an audience participation Jedi Knight adventure. In this attraction, Jedi Knights have assembled Force-sensitive children from throughout the galaxy to test their abilities. You must be between 4&12 to take part. Find out more here.
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues is a classic Star Wars attraction which was updated in 2011 & is now an impressive 3D simulator. The movie clips you are shown are randomly selected & updated regularly to reflect the ever-changing Star Wars Universe. Most rides currently end giving you a preview to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
- Star Wars: Path of the Jedi is a short film featuring classic clips from all the Star Wars films. This film is really good and should not be missed by any Star Wars fans. It actually served as a good introduction to Star Wars for one of my kids.
- For The First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration …the title says it all! Great fun for Frozen fans but if you aren’t it is a little tacky.
Grand Avenue is a new area of the park which opened in 2017. It is named after the real area in Los Angeles. There are several areas to eat & drink in Grand Avenue including old Modern Life is Good favourite Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano & the new PizzeRizzo. The BaseLine Tap House is a new pub which serves California brews and wine accompanied by small plates of food.
Muppet*Vision 3D is the only attraction inside the Grand Avenue area. This 3D movie starring the Muppets was the very last Muppet project by Jim Henson. I love the Muppets and therefore love this attraction. However, if time is tight other guests might want to consider skipping.
Toy Story Land
Toy Story Land is the newest area in Hollywood Studios and currently one of Orlando’s hottest attractions. Our Tour of Toy Story Land has further information on what you can expect in this new area. In our opinion, the land looks better at night & you should try and visit after dark.
- Toy Story Mania! moved into Toy Story Land from the former Pixar place and has a new entrance. The ride remains one of Hollywood Studios’ most popular attractions. This 4D attraction allows guest to take part in a selection of classic Midway Games.
- Slinky Dog Dash is a family friendly coaster themed around Disney Pete’s favourite Slinky Dog. Riders of all ages zip around Toy Story Land on this fun coaster. This attraction currently attracts very long waits and Fastpass is recommended.
- Alien Swirling Saucers is a new whip ride. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in California Adventure is in a similar format. Guests are immersed with Toy Story Aliens, their Flying Saucers & some rather annoying tunes. Be warned the ride is not very long!
Sunset Boulevard was the first expansion area at Hollywood Studios opening in 1994.
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a classic Walt Disney World thrill attraction. The tower is the focal point of this region of the park. Guests free-fall drops at speeds of up to 39 mph. The ride is inspired by the television classic The Twilight Zone.
- Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is a very fast dark indoor looping coaster. The attraction attracts long lines and guests without a Fastpass should consider using the single rider line.
- Beauty & The Beast – Live on Stage is a Broadway-style show based on the popular Disney Classic.
Animation Courtyard is home to attractions based on Disney Animation. The area has been under a considerable change in recent years including the closure of both the Studio Backlot Tour & The Magic of Disney Animation. This results in the animation theme being lost at the moment. I expect this area to have a further refresh once current confirmed expansions are complete.
- Star Wars Launch Bay is a walkthrough exhibit and various character meets. If you are a fan of Star Wars the exhibit will be of great interest but if you are not there is little to see here. There has been no announcements of what will happen to this area once Star Wars: Galaxy Edge opens but I expect the Launch Bay will close late 2019.
- Disney Junior Dance Party! This new attraction replacing Disney Junior Live is due to open in fall 2018. Guests will join Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, Timon and Mickey for a high-energy musical celebration.
- Voyage of Little Mermaid is a fun musical puppet show.
- Walt Disney Present is a Walt Disney life and achievements exhibition. Great place to get out of the rain and actually it is very interesting. Various other exhibits have been added to this area in recent times and it does now feel a bit of a mismatch of various themes. Groot & Star-Lord who have met in this area but will be moving out in October.
Night-time Attractions at Hollywood Studios
Do not leave Hollywood Studios early as it has some of the best night-time entertainment at Walt Disney World. In addition, Hollywood Studios looks stunning at night and you must visit Toy Story Land after dark. Make sure you check park schedules to see when the following events will be held.
Disney Movie Magic
Relive your favourite moments in cinema with classic projections that feature the magic of Disney. Projected on to the Chinese Theatre, this is a stunning show but it does not adequately replace the much missed Great Movie Ride.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
The show is based on the Star Wars film series and features fireworks, projections, lasers and searchlights. The outside of the Chinese Theatre is the venue for this stunning show. Even guests who are not fans of Star Wars will be impressed by this show.
A voyage through Mickey Mouse’s imagination that culminates in a battle against the Disney Villains. Some small children might find this show a little scary. This spectacular includes fireworks, characters, water effects, lasers, music, boat floats and mist screen projections. In our opinion don’t miss it.
Other Attractions at Hollywood Studios
There are several mini-parades and street entertainers throughout Hollywood Studios. Entertainment to note includes:
- March of the First Order many of your favourite sequel trilogy baddies marching through Hollywood Boulevard.
- Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away characters and film footage in front of Chinese Theatre.
- Sarge and the Green Army Man Drum Corps marching through Toy Story Land
Dining at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios has some of the most innovative restaurants in Walt Disney World. There are 5 Table Service Locations:
- Mama Melrose’s Italian Ristorante is a great Italian dinner which serves some really tasty food.
- 50’s Prime Time Café fantastic fun but don’t put elbows on the table. There are various rules you must follow as Mom cooks dinner. One of the most original restaurants in Walt Disney World.
- Hollywood and Vine is a character buffet which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, you are joined by the stars of Disney Junior including Doc McStuffins. For lunch & dinner, Minnie and her pals are your hosts for a seasonal meal.
- Sci-Fi Dine-In featuring a 50’s style drive-in theater. Most guests are seated in mock cars within which you dine as you watch Sci-Fi movies.
- The Hollywood Brown Derby is in an authentic replica of the famous Brown Derby. This is an incredibly popular signature location. There is a popular lounge bar and terrace attached.
In addition, there are several excellent quick-service and snack locations. Guest visiting Toy Story Land might want to visit the new Woody’s Lunch Box which serves meals and soda floats from a walk-up window.
Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations are restaurant reservations made in advance at the majority of Disney Table Service Restaurants. The restaurants at Hollywood Studios do fill up and standby lines, if they exist, can be long. Make sure you plan well in advance especially if you have booked the Disney Dining Plan. Our Guide to Advanced Dining Reservations has further information.
Dining with Allergies at Hollywood Studios
All restaurants at Hollywood Studios are well equipped to deal with the most common food allergies. Our Guide to Dining with Allergies & Food Intolerances has further information.
Coming To Hollywood Studios Fall/Winter 2018 & Beyond
A lot is happening at Hollywood Studios over the next few years but the next few months are going to be relatively quiet. Disney Junior Dance Party! is due to open in fall 2018. Guests will join Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, Timon and Mickey for a high-energy musical celebration.
Hollywood Studios always celebrates Christmas with a bit of sparkle and 2018 is going to be no different. However, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will not be making a return. Highlights include:
- Sunset Seasons Greetings will feature spectacular projections of Mickey, Minnie and other Disney characters sharing their favorite Christmas stories.
- Enhanced holiday décor around Echo Lake
- Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! will return on November, 9. The show combines state-of-the-art projections, fireworks, special effects and Christmas music to create an unbelievable spectacular.
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration will feature Olaf in a seasonal updated show
- Santa Claus at the Once Upon a Time shop
2019 promises to be a busy year at Hollywood Studios. Summer 2019 will welcome the new attraction Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in the Chinese Theatre. However, the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is likely to be the most eagerly anticipated new attraction. The new land will open in late fall 2019.
Hollywood Studios News & Rumours
At Modern Life is Good we try and keep you up to date with all the latest news & rumours from Walt Disney World including Hollywood Studios. Visit our Walt Disney World News Section for all the latest information on Hollywood Studios. 2019 will almost certainly bring some unexpected surprises to the Hollywood Studios line up.
Read More Walt Disney World Tips
Our Guide to Hollywood Studios for Beginners forms part of our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners. The guide is a great starting place to plan any Walt Disney World Vacation. The information will be useful for both first-time and repeat visitors to Walt Disney World.
In additions, we have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which might help your vacation planning.