Disney’s Hollywood Studios was the third theme park to be opened at the Walt Disney World Resort. It opened on 1 May 1989.
When the theme park first opened it was called Disney MGM Studios. In 2008 the name was changed to the current Disney Hollywood Studios. Some people get confused by the similarly named theme park run by another company in the Orlando Area (Universal Studios, Orlando).
Disney’s Hollywood Studios departs from the traditional Disney park arrangement of a series of lands arranged around a central area, Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot’s Future World, and Animal Kingdom all follow this template.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios, however, is laid out as a series of “Streets” running off in different directions. Some connect with the central area, while others do not. Recent expansion had made it even less centralized.
After entering the park you’ll proceed up Hollywood Boulevard, which is a short street with shopping venues on both sides, towards what serves as the Hollywood Studio’s plaza.
Off to the right, prior to getting to the plaza is Sunset Boulevard, a long street which dead ends at the entrances for Rock n’ Rollercoaster and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, passing the Hollywood Tower of Terror on the way.
Opposite Sunset Boulevard a path loops around Echo Lake, which is to the left of the main plaza and rejoins the plaza on the left side.
Another path loops to the left off of the Echo Lake path heading to the rear of the park past Star Tours and then turning into Grand Avenue. here a street called Commissary Lane heads to the right back to the main Plaza, while Grand Avenue leads to the rear of the park and Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge.
Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge curves across the back of the park and meets Toy Story Land.
Toy Story Land curves along the right side of the park and heads back to the main plaza, meeting Pixar Place, which runs diagonally behind the plaza into Animation Courtyard which is just to the right of the main plaza.
Confused? You should be! Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the most confusing park to navigate. It took me years to become comfortable finding my way around without a map. And believe me; I had a very hard time just describing it here.
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In this Overview I use the following Shortcuts:
Height Restrictions – Some of the more thrilling attractions have height restrictions. If children are shorter than the set limit, they cannot experience the attraction. Disney will not bend on these restrictions as they are for safety purposes; in many cases they have to do with the attraction seating and associated restraint capability. In some cases just because your child is tall enough to ride, doesn’t mean they are mature enough.
Attractions with height restrictions will be designated like this: (H33) the H designates height restriction and the following number designates how many inches tall you must be in order to ride. In this example (H33) you must be 33 inches tall to ride. Cast members will measure those in question.
Disney’s ride policy with children. A child must be at least 14 to ride with a child 7 or older, but an adult 18 or older must be sitting with a child 6 or younger.
Attractions that participate in Walt Disney World’s pay to skip the line system will be designated like this:
- Genie+ eligible attractions will be indicated by (Genie+)
- Individual Lightning Lane Purchases eligible attractions will be indicated by (Individual Purchase)
I’ll give a brief overview of the type of food available at each restaurant as well as the type of restaurant (table service, etc.), meals served, and average cost.
Restaurant types consist of counter service, grab-and-go, table service and some buffet restaurants. At least one table service restaurant in each park offers a character meal.
Look for these keys to the rough cost of restaurants and the meals they offer:
$ = Less than $15 per adult
$$ = $15 – $30 per adult
$$$ = $30 – $60 per adult
$$$$ = over $60 per adult
B = Breakfast
L = Lunch
D = Dinner
S = Snack
B – Breakfast
L – Lunch
D – Dinner
S – Snacks
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a single entrance. All guests, no matter where they are coming from will arrive at the main entrance.
Those driving will park and then board trams for a brief ride to Hollywood Studios or walk if they are parked close enough.
Disney’ Skyliner gondola system transports guests from Disney’s Riviera, Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century Resorts and Epcot’s International Gateway to the Hollywood Studios Skyliner station, located just outside of Hollywood Studio’s entrance.
Buses from other Disney Resorts and non-Disney buses arrive at the bus terminals, located a little further outside of Hollywood Studio’s entrance.
Guests from the Epcot Deluxe Resorts may walk (.75 miles from the end of the Boardwalk plus the distance to your hotel) or take a water taxi to Hollywood Studios. The water taxis run on a loop from Epcot’s International gateway, then to each of the Epcot Deluxe Resorts on their way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
After a security check you’ll enter the ticketing area, where you can buy tickets if you need to, and then on to the entrance, which leads into Hollywood Boulevard.
Hollywood Boulevard is the “Main Street” of Hollywood Studios. Along the sides of the street, you will see classic Hollywood landmark stores representing a bygone era of Hollywood with its glitz and glamour.
As you begin to walk up Hollywood Boulevard look up to the right on top of the buildings, you’ll see a cool billboard for the “Hollywood Canteen, Servicemen’s Entertainment, Games and Refreshments” with the image of a 40’s GI and girl dancing.
There is a large main plaza area at the far end of Hollywood Boulevard, where you’ll find a reproduction of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. All other areas of the park branch out from this area.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Genie+) – A new trackless, dark ride. Guests aree transported into a cartoon world aboard Goofy’s train, which takes them on a wild adventure.
Hollywood Brown Derby – LD $$ – Table Service – Try the famous Brown Derby Cobb Salad, or steak, seafood, and chicken.
Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge – LD $$ – Table Service – Brown Derby light items served on the patio under shading umbrellas. This is a hidden gem, walk right in and pick your seat, there are usually open tables. It’s shady and a great place to take a break.
Trolley Care Café – S$ – Starbucks drinks and pastries as well as breakfast sandwiches.
Mickey’s of Hollywood – Disney character gifts and park souvenirs.
Keystone Clothiers – Men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.
Celebrity 5 & 10 – Standard souvenirs and Disney Studios merchandise.
Cover Story – Get your picture on the cover of a magazine.
The Darkroom – Camera sales, developing, film and supplies.
Edith & Adrian’s Head to Toe – Personalized character merchandise.
L.A. Prop Cinema Storage – Children’s clothing.
Sweet Success – Chocolates and other candies.
Sunset Boulevard is a side street off of Hollywood Boulevard; Sunset Boulevard represents the theater district of Hollywood. The theaters you’ll see as you proceed down the street are actual reproductions of several theaters in California, including the Carthay Circle, where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered.
Rock n‘ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (H48) (Genie+) – Ride your stretch limo coaster through the dark “streets” of L.A. This is the fastest take-off of any coaster on Disney World property. It features loops, inversions, and Aerosmith music in your own private speakers. Riders sit two by two in these long “stretch limos.” You will see the band in a brief preshow video where they will invite you to their concert. Then it’s time to board your limo for the fast trip to the show. A single Rider Line is available.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (H40) (Genie+) – Thrill to multiple, randomly generated drops in the haunted elevator. First, you’ll see a brief pre-show featuring Rod Serling, from the Twilight Zone television series. Then head to the Hotel’s boiler room, where you board your “elevator” to the 13th floor. The elevator will first rise and then move horizontally through the haunted corridors of the Hotel arriving at another elevator shaft. The elevator alternately launches guests skyward and then plunges them in randomly computer-generated patterns. Sparks will shower and at one point the doors of the elevator open to reveal the Disney’s Hollywood Studios below you!
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy – Get pumped for a high-octane, first-of-its-kind show that’ll put you in the middle of the Disney and Pixar Cars universe.
Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage (Genie+) – Enjoy this Broadway style retelling of the classic story. A mini-version of Disney’s 30th animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, Live on Stage, features the popular characters and songs from the film in a lavish, Broadway-caliber production. Theatre seating for the 20-minute-long production.
Sunshine Day Café – S $ – Counter Service – Gourmet Hot Dogs, beer, and snacks (open seasonally).
Anaheim Produce – S $ – Counter Service – Fresh fruit, pretzels, frozen lemonade and margaritas.
Rosie’s All-American Cafe – LD $ – Counter Service – Burgers, vegie burgers, and chicken nuggets.
Cantina Eddie’s – LD $ – Counter Service – Caesar salads, pizzas, and deli sandwiches.
Fairfax Fare – BLD $ – Counter Service – Smoked Chicken and ribs, hot dogs, and salads.
Hollywood Scoops – S $ – Counter Service – Sundays and hand dipped ice-cream.
KRNR The Rock Station – S$ – Hot dogs, ice cream, frozen beverages, and beer
Carthay Circle Theater – Disney themed items for your home, as well as gifts and holiday items.
Legends of Hollywood – Character figurines, apparel & souvenirs.
Mouse about Town – Disney clothing and house wares.
Planet Hollywood Super Store – Planet Hollywood logo items.
Rock Around the Shop – Offering Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Aerosmith mementos.
Sunset Club Couture – Jewelry, watches and character sketches. Watches can be personalized by an in-store artist.
Sunset Ranch Pins and Souvenirs – Sells trading pins and other related merchandise
Tower Hotel Gifts – “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” gifts
Villains in Vogue – Disney villain-themed merchandise, along with a few Fantasmic items.
Off to the opposite side of Hollywood Boulevard from Sunset, is Echo Lake. Echo Lake is the central lake around which are placed restaurants and attractions. Check out the dinosaur in the middle of the lake!
Frozen Sing-Along Celebration (Genie+) – Join Elsa, Anna, and the newly appointed Royal Historians of Arendelle for your favorite songs.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (Genie+) – See how stunts are performed for features like the Indiana Jones movies in this 30-minute action show. This show is presented in a huge covered outdoor theatre with stadium seating and runs on a set schedule. Some helpers from the audience will be selected to help out during one of the scenes, all of which demonstrate just how stunts are performed.
Star Tours – The Adventure Continues (H40) (Genie+) – Ride this thrilling combo of a full motion flight simulator combined with a 3D forward view screen presentation. Grab your 3D glasses and board your StarSpeeder 1000 with about 40 other people. There are multiple long rows to sit in. Your StarSpeeder will take you randomly to one of several different planets in the Star Wars universe, there you will get to experience one of several different adventures. With more than 50 different combinations, you can have a new experience with every flight.
Hollywood and Vine – B $$ LD $$$ – Buffet Service (BL Character Dining) – Featuring American Cuisine and the Disney Junior Play n’ Dine for the breakfast and lunch buffets. The characters featured are Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Handy Manny, and Jake of the Neverland Pirates.
50’s Prime Time Cafe – LD $$ – Table Service –Comfort food, pot roast, meatloaf, fried chicken and all the fixins.
Tune In Lounge – LD $$ – Table and Bar Service – Enjoy the Prime Time Café’s menu at the bar next to the waiting area. (Sometimes referred to as Dad’s Lounge, because Mom is your host in the 50’s Prime Time Café)
Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner – LD $ – Counter Service – Makes specialty sandwiches
Back Lot Express – LD $ – Counter Service – Burgers, salads, sandwiches, and chicken nuggets.
Tatooine Star Traders – Star Wars toys, apparel, and gifts.
Golden Age Souvenirs – Selected character souvenirs.
Indiana Jones™ Adventure Outpost – Items themed to Indiana Jones such as hats, t-shirts, and other items.
Frozen Fractal Gifts – Apparel, costumes, and toys inspired by Elsa Anna and friends.
The large mock movie studio buildings around Animation Courtyard are home to shows and attractions that are all about animation. Disney movies of course!
Voyage of the Little Mermaid – Enjoy the highlights of the movie in this 17-minute live show. Scenes from the movie are interspersed with live action featuring puppets of your favorite Little Mermaid characters as they tell the story of the Little Mermaid. The theater is quite dark and some children may find the scenes with Ursula, the Sea Witch, a bit scary or intense.
Disney Junior – Play and Dance (Genie+) – Sing, dance and play in this 24-minute stage show with your Disney Junior friends. Stars of the Disney Channel’s popular Disney Junior take to the stage in this fun-filled show, with sing-along and dance activities. In addition to the fun special effects (bubbles and confetti rain down on you at various points of the show), youngsters in the audience can join the gang in singing along with catchy tunes and dancing. (Formerly Disney Junior Dance Party)
Star Wars Launch Bay – View movie props, screen videos, and shop for collectables from the movies.
Walt Disney Presents – This is a multi-media tour through Walt’s life and career. It features both a walk-through exhibit and a 15-minute movie about Walt’s life featuring lots of clips of the innovator himself. At times, upcoming Disney films are previewed instead of the movie about Walt.
Market – S $ – Pretzels, churros, frozen beverages, and beer.
Animation Gallery – Features animation cells to purchase as collectors’ items.
Disney Studios Store – Features items and souvenirs from a current Disney animated release (theme changes frequently).
In Character – Children’s costumes and accessories.
Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream’s exit leads to a gift shop.
Pixar Place was the former home of the Toy Story Midway Mania attraction. With the opening of the new Toy Story Land this area has become not much more than a dead-end walkway, which has been dressed as an Incredables area.
Pixar Place has no attractions.
Neighborhood Bakery – S $ – Num Num Cookie, pretzels, and frozen beverages.
Municiberg Gifts – Pixar Incredables souvenirs.
Toy Story Land
Toy Story Land is the home of all the Pixar characters and features the original Toy Story Midway Mania attraction plus two new ones. The land is laid out like Andy’s backyard, complete with toys and boxes strewn about as well as Andy’s footprints.
Alien Swirling Saucers – (H32) (Genie+) – Hang on tight for an interstellar romp in a toy rocket, set to an out of this world beat.
Slinky Dog Dash – (H38) (Genie+) – Take the entire family for a toy-filled ride on Slinky Dog as his coils twist around curves, hills, and dips.
Toy Story Mania (Genie+) – Try to get the most points on this 4D shootin’ arcade ride. The fairly recent addition of a third track helped to alleviate severe throughput problems. The issues of long wait times and no FastPasses available have been greatly reduced.
Woody’s Lunch Box – BLD$$ – Counter Service – Breakfast offerings: Breakfast tot bowls, lunch box tarts, and sandwiches (French toast & breakfast). For lunch and dinner, sandwiches, grilled cheese, and “totchos”. Some of the best fast food available in Disney Hollywood Studios. Note: there is VERY limited outdoor seating here with almost no shade!
Roundup Rodeo BBQ – Table Service – Roundup Rodeo BBQ is the newest Hollywood Studios Table Service restaurant.Guests will among “play sets” of a western town and train station while “rodeo festivities” take place during the meal of BBQ fare! The menu is a pre fixe meal (pay 1 price, select from a list of options for the different courses) priced at $45 for adults and $25 for kids both lunch and dinner. Courses include: bread service, salad, the main course, sides and dessert. Salads get all 3: Tomato Salad, watermelon salad, and kale salad. Main get all: smoked ribs, beef brisket, fire-grilled pork sausage, and bbq chicken, or some sort of “plant based” platter instead. sides, pick 4: homestyle red-skinned potatoes, loaded potato barrels, veggie slaw, fried pickles, roasted vegetables, mac & cheese, Baked Beans, or Grilled Street Corn. Desert 1 per guest: lemon and blueberry cheesecake, chocolate silk pie, apple pie, or peach-strawberry pie and for the kids a Forky Cupcake.
Several carts featuring Toy Story films toys and gifts.
Running between Hollywood Boulevard and the Streets of America is Commissary Lane, which is home to a couple of restaurants.
Mickey and Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams – A private meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant – LD $$ – Table Service – Burgers, sandwiches, seafood, pasta, steaks, and chicken. Dine in your “car” at a simulated drive-in-theater showing 50s and 60s Sci-Fi movies.
ABC Commissary – LD $ – Counter Service – Burgers, fried seafood, chicken sandwiches, and salads.
Commissary Lane has no shopping of note.
What was once called Muppets Courtyard is now part of Grand Avenue and currently houses Muppet Vision 3D and a couple of restaurants.
Muppet Vision 3D (Genie+) – Enjoy this 25-minute 3D movie featuring the Muppets. The preshow area features videos and is filled with visual gags such as a net suspended from the ceiling holding Jell-O squares (A net full of jello = Annette Funicello, from the original Mickey Mouse Club). Once in the theatre and donning your 3D glasses you’ll get a tour through Muppet Laboratories. This show also contains Disney’s 4D effects where you’ll be blasted with bursts of air, squirted with water, and see a shower of soap bubbles at various times throughout the show.
Momma Melrose’s Ristorante Italiana – LD $$ – Table Service – Brick oven pizzas, pasta, chicken, seafood, and steak.
PizzeRizzo – LD $ – Counter Service – Opening late Fall 2016 -Pizza, salads, meatball subs. Rizzo is the rat from the Muppets.
BaseLine Tap House – California craft ales, lagers (19 beers on tap) and cider are the stars of the drink menu. California wines on tap along with specialty cocktails. A gourmet non-alcoholic lemonade and soda on tap round out the drink selection. As far as bar snacks they currently offer: a Bavarian Pretzel, California cheese charcuterie, and spiced almonds.
It’s a Wonderful Shop – Just what you need to get you into the Christmas spirit…even in July! Lots of ornaments and holiday items.
Stage 1 Company Store – Muppets merchandise, toys and Children’s wear.
Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge
Visit Black Spire Outpost, the largest village on the planet Batuu on the fringes of the galaxy. Black Spire Outpost is a frontier settlement where scoundrels, rogues, smugglers, the Resistance, and the Empire all have a presence.
This highly themed new land is fun to explore. There is so much detail and back story. Star Wars fans will love it and so will others.
Millennium Falcon: – Smugglers Run (Genie+) – An interactive motion simulator attraction where 6 guests are grouped together, given roles, and put in control of the Millennium Falcon.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (H38)(Individual Purchase) – A hybrid walk-through and trackless dark ride with a mixed media presentation including live actors, projections, audio animatronics, and a variety of physical effects. The attraction will put guests into the middle of a battle between the First Order (including Storm Troopers) and the Resistance and feature an eight-seat ride vehicle known as a First Order Fleet Transport.
Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo – BLD $$ – Quick Service – Featuring pork, chicken, and shrimp dressed up as extraterrestrial food.
Ronto Roasters – S $ – Quick Service – Sausage wraps and beverages.
Kat Saka’s Kettle – S $ – Quick Service – Flavored popped grains.
Oga’s Cantina – S $ – Some Table, mostly Quick Service – Out of this would beverages for all ages. Limited capacity bar serving alcoholic beverages, mocktails and other drinks, including Blue Milk.
Milk Stand – Fruit flavored non-dairy beverages.
Black Spire Outfitters – This apparel shop features an eclectic selection of themed clothing.
Creature Stall – stuffed porgs, tauntauns, rathtars, and more.
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities – Inside the den is a rotating collection of unique treasures that include jewelry, ancient tools, rare kyber crystals, statues, and even a collection of famous lightsabers.
Droid Depot – Build your own droid.
First Order Cargo – Gear for those who want to show support for the First Order.
Resistance Supply – Gear for those who want to show support for the Resistance.
The Jewels of Bith – Accessories, trinkets, and other treasures.
Savi’s Workshop – Hand Built Light Sabers.
Toydarian Toymaker – Playthings and collectibles.
Hollywood Studios Entertainment
Fantasmic – (FP+2) The nighttime show at Hollywood Studios is called Fantasmic. It is a 25-minute-long presentation where the audience sees a dream that Mickey Mouse is having. There are several different acts featuring many of your favorite Disney characters.
The show of course has a musical score and during the show you’ll see: dancing water, water projection screens, the front rows splashed by Monstro the Whale, cannons, pyrotechnics, battle scenes, villains and evil spells, a 40-foot fire breathing dragon, and Mickey prevailing. Then all the good characters celebrate on a steamboat that floats by.
Fantasmic is usually presented almost nightly with times varying based on park hours. During the holidays and peak season, the show is often performed twice. If possible, take advantage of the second showing of Fantasmic! It’s typically much easier to get a seat. Many people arrive as much as an hour early.
Star Wars a Galactic Spectacular – Projection effects, dynamic lighting, lasers, and pyrotechnics light up the night, all set to the music of Star Wars. This projection show in the main Hollywood Studios courtyard is a collection of clips from all the movies in no particular order. There is no overall story or progression, such as good defeating evil, to bring all the shots together.
Wonderful World of Animation – A projection show on the front of the Chinese Theatre takes you on an incredible journey through more than 90 years of Disney and Pixar animation. Celebrating themes like magic, family, adventure, romance and friendship. Each theme is brought to life through unforgettable moments from beloved films—like Sleeping Beauty, The Incredibles, Coco and many more.
There is currently no permanent parade at Disney Hollywood Studios.
Shows & Other Entertainment
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple is a 30-minute session that takes place near Star Tours. The Jedi Master and his/her assistants work with participants in a light saber training exercise — robes and plastic light sabers are provided. Those who successfully complete the training are proclaimed to be Padawans and receive a certificate.
Sign up for the Jedi Training start as soon as the park’s turnstiles are opened (this includes Extra Magic Hour mornings). If your child wants to participate, this should be your first stop once you enter the park. The earlier you sign up, the earlier the show you will participate in. Spots fill up very quickly and it is not uncommon for all spots to be filled by 10 or 10:30 a.m. The participating child must be there for the sign up. The sign-up location is outside the ABC Sound Studio.
Final thoughts on Hollywood Studios
With the addition of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Hollywood Studios has become a two day park, that is if you want to experience all that Galaxy’s Edge has to offer.
The disorganized layout can take some getting used to but if you are having trouble finding your way, just ask a cast member to point you in the right direction.
Disney World’s Other Theme Parks:
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
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