Though it is always empty when it's open anyway, starting today May 4, 2019, Disney…
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the next park in our series about The Walt Disney World Theme Parks after reopening. Just like the other 3, expect a completely different experience here from what you are used to, and Hollywood Studios is by far the most difficult and complicated to visit.
In this post, we are going to explain everything new and changed in Disney’s Hollywood Studios since reopening July 15, 2020. We’ll help guide you through what attractions and entertainment options are open right now, as well as the restaurants you can visit.
Compared with the other 3 Orlando theme parks, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the hardest to get a grip on. With Rise of the Resistance pulling in the crowds and the park’s lack of attractions, figuring out how to navigate you day here can be quite a challenge.
Not to mention all the Disney park basics that have changed since reopening like getting Park Passes before coming and all the new safety measures you have to follow which are harder and harder to keep track of every day.
Since we’ve had a chance to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios already, we thought it would be a good idea to put together all of our notes and tips so that you can use this post as a guide when you visit. We’ll continue to update it with new information and photos as things continue to change.
Make sure to read our other guides to the Disney park reopenings before visiting:
- Magic Kingdom | After Reopening Guide
- Animal Kingdom | After Reopening Guide
- EPCOT | After Reopening Guide
If I haven’t made it clear yet, I think it’s important to highlight the need for patience after the reopening. This is true for all the parks, but especially in Hollywood Studios. Some attractions are not available, and there is a severe lack of entertainment options in the park right now. Plus with things changing week after week, it’s been a challenging time for both guests and Cast Members.
If you know this going into your visit, you’re more likely to have a good time.
Before we get into our look at Hollywood Studios, make sure to read our Complete Walt Disney World Reopening Guide which will answer any questions you have about anything going on during the reopening period in the parks, hotels, and restaurants.
Are you ready? Because “nothing can stop us now!”
What to Know
The most important thing you need to know during the reopening phase is that there are a bunch of new safety measures in the parks. If you weren’t aware before arriving, this is made pretty clear by the numerous signs posted hundreds of feet outside the park that greet you.
The most basic ones are:
- Increased cleaning and sanitation
- Wearing face masks
- Physical distancing in queues (this has been relaxed)
In general, people have respected the rules so far, and we’ve seen very few trying to get away without wearing masks. Even on rides like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or the Tower of terror you have to wear a face covering, but it hasn’t been a problem with guests.
Currently, face masks are required in all Disney theme parks, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios, though with some exceptions.
Unvaccinated Guests – Masks are required in indoor areas and on all attractions, including thrill rides like Expedition Everest and Flight of Passage even.
Vaccinated Guests – Masks are optional in all areas of Walt Disney World and only required on Disney transportation.
Face masks are not required for any guests in outdoor areas or when consuming food or drink.
You also need to be aware that distancing is practiced throughout the park, including in the attraction queues. This has been relaxed in recent weeks and the protective barriers and ground markers are slowly being removed from the parks
These safety measures allow Disney to operate under the current conditions and if you have a problem with any of them it’s probably best to postpone your trip to a later date. Disney is very strict about all of them and will oblige you to follow the rules if you aren’t.
Read our post on all the New Safety Measures at Disney World which explains them all in more detail.
The maximum guest capacity has been greatly reduced for all 4 Walt Disney World theme parks, which mean fewer people can enter than normal would if the parks were running normally.
Under normal circumstances, the maximum capacity for Disney’s Hollywood Studios is around 60,000. While Disney hasn’t given out any official numbers about how many guests they are limiting the park to in a day, estimates are between 35-50% of the normal levels.
Not Everything Open
Even though Disney’s Hollywood Studios has opened back up, that doesn’t mean that everything in the park is open. In fact, some of the attractions are not currently running, and an even bigger problem in this park is the lack of entertainment options.
Don’t be surprised to find some of your favorite restaurants not operating when you visit and a few shops closed too.
Most Crowded Park
The previous two issues described above about the park having limited capacity and not all the attractions and entertainment open, has made Hollywood Studios the most crowded park in Disney World.
Let’s face it, everyone still wants to ride Rise of the Resistance, and since it only debuted in December, there are even many Orlando locals who haven’t seen it yet. It also doesn’t help that the overall stellar attraction is arguably operating with even less reliability at the moment.
This has caused massive surges of guests in the morning when the park opens who then gradually disappear as the day goes on. There is a huge difference here between, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which from park opening to close seems like a ghost town most days.
Disney Virtual Queue is Back!
Speaking of Rise of the Resistance, the only way to ride it still is with Disney’s Virtual Queue. There have been some slight changes to the system like multiple distribution times during the day and a new updated interface which now shows you the estimated return time.
There are also signs of Disney getting ready to roll out the Virtual Queue to other attractions either in Hollywood Studios or the other parks.
Make sure you read our updated guide on How to Get Boarding Passes for Rise of the Resistance which explains the whole boarding group process and all the changes since reopening.
Suspended Services and Experiences
While visiting Hollywood Studios Kingdom and the rest of the Disney theme parks right now, many of the normal services and experiences you are used to, have been suspended.
Extra Magic Hours
During the reopening phase, there will be no Extra Magic Hours in the Disney Parks, including the Hollywood Studios. This goes for both Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours.
Disney has come up with a replacement for Extra Magic Hours called “Early Theme Park Entry.” It lets all Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests access the parks 30 minutes before the scheduled park opening for that day. It is available at all 4 theme parks, every day of the week.
In some parks it’s not a big deal, but in Hollywood Studios, even 30 minutes makes a big difference in the wait time for Slinky Dog Dash and other E-Tickets. Disney has said it will debut sometime in 2021 so use it if you can.
Under normal circumstances, using FastPass+ in Hollywood Studios is an absolute MUST to get the most out of your day. That has changed, however, and right now FastPass+ is suspended until further notice.
For the moment, the FastPass+ queues are being used as part of the stand-by queue to hold more guests.
This completely changes the way you tour the Disney theme parks and means that you have to have a good plan to know what attractions to do first. It also means you don’t have to wake up early 60 days before your trip to book attractions.
Disney hasn’t said when they are bringing FastPass+ back to the parks, but we’ll let you know if there are any changes.
There have been quite a few changes to dining in Hollywood Studios and the other theme parks:
- No Disney Dining Plan – This has been suspended for the rest of 2021 and until further notice. That means no more snack credits for a while and guests will not have the option to pay for meals ahead of time. The Disney Dining Plan is coming back, we just don’t have a date yet.
- Dining Reservations – The Advanced Dining Reservation booking window has been reduced from 180 days to now only 60 days.
- Limited Dining Options – Some restaurants are not running at this time.
- New Technology – For safety reasons, Disney is using new technology in its restaurants including contactless menus, Mobile Ordering, Mobile Dine Check-In, and cashless payment.
Special Experiences & Events
As of this writing, all special experience bookings, tours, and events have been canceled in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the rest of 2021. This includes the popular Disney After Hours events among others.
Disney will release more info soon on when we can expect these experiences to return.
How to Get Into Hollywood Studios in 2021
One huge change is that guests can’t show up to the parks right now and just purchase a park admission like always. Tickets must be bought in advance. Besides that, to visit Hollywood Studios or any Disney World park, you’ll also need to get used to the new Park Pass reservation to get entrance.
The first step to get into Hollywood Studios is getting your park tickets. For a couple of months, the sale of new tickets was blocked as Disney was re-prioritizing guests with existing park admission.
Now theme park tickets are back on sale and you can purchase single and multi-day tickets to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for dates in 2021 online on the Disney World website. Tickets are available right now through December 31, 2021.
Annual Passholders can also go to the parks, but you’ll need to watch the blockout dates which depend on what type of annual pass you have.
Getting Park Pass Reservations
After getting your park ticket, the second step is to get a Park Pass Reservation. This is Disney’s park reservation system which helps them manage crowds and keep within the current low park capacity.
It’s very important to know that you CAN’T get into the parks without a park pass reservation.
There are some restrictions on how many park pass reservations you can have at once.
- Disney World Resort guests can have reservations for each day of their hotel stay.
- Annual passholders are limited to 3 at a time.
Since Rise of the Resistance is so popular, Hollywood Studios is the hardest park to get reservations for and is sold out for many dates already. Disney has been slowly adding more dates, but it’s been difficult especially for Annual Passholders.
You can make reservations on the Disney World website, just remember, you’ll need to have a valid park admission before making a park reservation.
Read our post on How to Make Disney World Park Reservations for a detailed walkthrough on the new system.
At the end of 2019 and in early 2020, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was opening up earlier than any park, sometimes at 5:00 am or 6:00 am in order to meet the demand for Rise of the Resistance. Oh, how times have changed.
Upcoming Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park Hours:
- From Now through July 31 – 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily
- From August 1 through August 31 – 9:00 am to 7:00 pm daily
For most of the Winter, Hollywood Studios park hours will be reduced from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. These are the new Summer Park Hours as Disney is further reducing operating hours for all the parks until crowds start coming back.
For June and July park hours are extended by one hour and go from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. Those hours could get extended into the other months but we don’t know for sure at this time.
Besides reduced normal operating hours, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is not running Morning or Evening Extra Magic Hours for the time being. They’ve replaced it with the new Early Theme Park Entry which gives Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests access to the theme parks 30 minutes earlier than the scheduled opening time. Make sure to take advantage of this if you are staying on-site.
Even so, the value of staying in a Disney World Resort hotel has been lowered since the time you can spend in the parks before the general public has been reduced to only 30 minutes.
We’ll let you know if the opening or closing times change over the next weeks and months.
The entrance arrival experience is a bit different now at Hollywood Studios and you’ll see signs everywhere warning you of the new safety measures so no surprise there.
Of all the park entrances, this one is definitely the most crowded, again due to all the people wanting to ride Rise of the Resistance. Still, but things move pretty quickly and it’s easy too understand where to go and what to do.
Like in the other parks, not all of the attractions in Disney’s Hollywood Studios are currently open. Right now there are a total of 13 open attractions on the list, which is the fewest of any Disney World park right now. You feel it even more since many of the entertainment options and shows are also not running.
Let’s check out what’s open, what’s not open, and then how some attractions are different after reopening.
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- Toy Story Mania!
- Vacation Fun (at Mickey Shorts Theater)
- Walt Disney Presents
- Star Wars Launch Bay
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is very top-heavy with its attractions. There are a lot of really good E-Ticket ones, arguably the best top 5 of any park, but there isn’t much beyond that.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the headliner as it has been since December 2019, and the other big attractions in the park are all running such as Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania!, Smugglers Run and the newest one, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
The only attraction that is closed at the moment is the Star Wars Launch Bay, but that’s basically just one big meet and greet anyway.
Though Slinky Dog Dash remains one the park’s most popular ride to rope drop, the rest of Toy Story Land seems completely empty most of the time. This is brought out even more in the late afternoon/evening when crowds disperse.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is just as breathtaking as it always is, and it’s strange to see it empty. After the limited preview events in Disneyland, we never thought we’d see these few people in Galaxy’s Edge again, and it’s great for taking pictures in front of the Millennium Falcon, which you can do with absolutely NO people in your shot!
- More Reading: Best Hollywood Studios Rides & Attractions Guide
Attraction Reports & Wait Times
Wait times in Hollywood Studios are by far the longest of any park, although, they are still lower than before the closure. Out of all the attractions currently running, they have an average wait time of about 30-40 minutes each! That’s increased greatly since last year.
When you compare with the Animal Kingdom for example where the average wait is about 20-25 minutes, Hollywood Studios feels like a lot. The difference is drastic from morning to the afternoon and evening. Hollywood Studios is significantly busier in the morning, and then things come to a halt in the afternoon.
Not surprisingly, Slinky Dog Dash and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway have had the longest average wait times in the park since they are two of the most popular attractions. The line for the Runaway Railway jumps up in the morning at the opening and we’ve seen it as high as 90 or even 120 minutes. Of course, even that falls in the afternoon, so it’s better to wait.
Rise of the Resistance would have the longest wait times, but it still uses the Virtual Queue and doesn’t have a traditional wait time.
Just like in the other parks, we’ve found the actual wait time is slightly lower than what is listed outside the attractions. A 30-minute wait is almost always only 25 minutes max on every ride other than Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Here are some of our thoughts on the changes to the Hollywood Studios attractions and what you can expect as far as wait times when experiencing them.
Rise of the Resistance
Not that much as changed with the most popular ride in the world. Rise of the Resistance is still using boarding passes and they are still a nightmare to get. The boarding groups sell out within the first 30 seconds of each distribution time so being in the park at opening is essential and so is being quick on your phone.
The biggest change here is that there are now 2 distribution times, at both 7:00 am and 1:00 pm. The good news is that you can now join the virtual queue from your hotel room for the 7:00 am distribution time so you don’t have to make the trek all the way to Hollywood Studios and get turned down.
Of the two slots, you will have much better luck getting a boarding pass in the 7:00 am group as most of the passes are already sold out when they release the afternoon distribution.
Read our Guide to Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups and Virtual Queue for all the details and strategies to make sure you get to ride during your visit.
Heavy modifications were made to the ROTR queue with ground markers for distancing in place
as well as plexiglass dividers throughout
Another big change is that now Disney is loading multiple parties in each ride vehicle. For months they were only loading one party per vehicle and this latest change has helped move the line quicker and increasing ride capacity.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Hollywood Studios’ newest ride was only open for a couple of weeks before the park closure, and there have still been long lines to get on it now. Every morning the queue forms outside the front of the Chinese Theater. Disney does a pretty good job of spacing guests and it looks more complicated than it is.
Wait times have been listed as high as 120 minutes, and this is the only attraction in the park that is somewhat true to its listed wait time, instead of overestimating. The best here is to ride later in the day when the wait time drops to 30 minutes or less.
There are also big modifications to the ride queue here with distancing markers everywhere and plexiglass dividers.
Guests skip over the pre-show at the moment, which is a shame because we love the new Mickey short that is normally played and the catchy song “Nothing Can Stop Us Now.”
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run are usually 60 minutes early in the day, which is about the usual wait time. It has gotten as high as 80 minutes, but those are rare moments in the morning. In the late afternoon and evening, the average is 30 minutes!
Looks are deceiving because even though the line sometimes stretches through Galaxy’s Edge, it’s all appearance from the queue spacing. It moves very quickly.
The same ground markers are here too, as well as plexiglass dividers.
The cool pre-show with Hondo Ohnaka is not running at the moment and guests just was right through that room.
There are big changes in the cockpit of the Falcon too. Before they were only loading guests into the cockpit who are members of the same traveling party. That was nice because you could choose whatever role you want without taking the role usually assigned to you on the cards.
Now, however, they have added plexiglass dividers in between the seats so you will be riding with strangers again. This way more guests can ride at a time, as many as 6.
Slinky Dog Dash
Slinky Dog Dash is still extremely popular among guests and guests either run there first if they aren’t doing the Runaway Railway. Like Smugglers Run, the queue here is extremely long and wraps back towards the main entrance to Toy Story Land. It also moves very quickly and just looks longer because of distancing.
Wait times first thing in the morning are around 90 minutes, but like the other big attractions, it drops way down later in the day. We suggest waiting unless you are going to rope drop it right away.
It’s definitely one of the hottest queues in the park with no air-conditioning and we don’t recommend going in the middle of the day to avoid the sun.
The same plexiglass dividers are up here and ground markers too. At least Wheezy is still singing his heart out!
Toy Story Mania!
If you are always trying to break your previous high score on Toy Story Mania!, now is a great time to try it. Average wait times are around 30 minutes, and late in the day it is usually around 20 minutes. Some of the times we’ve rode it, we’ve been able to just get off and walk right through the queue to get on again!
Distancing markers are everywhere and plexiglass dividers are in the stair section of the queue.
Cast Members are visibly cleaning the cars regularly, and it isn’t slowing down capacity at all.
Alien Swirling Saucers
This is our least favorite ride in Hollywood Studios, and even the 20 minute average wait time doesn’t tempt us.
Distancing markers are installed in the queue and the interactive elements are not running at this time.
Tower of Terror
Wait times for the Tower of Terror are usually 40 minutes right now, lower than the normal 60-70 minutes we see.
The pre-show isn’t running right now, which is a shame to miss since it really sets the mood for the ride, but it is a very small room, so I can see why it’s not running.
Travel parties are well spaced-out in the elevator cars.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
There is no Single Rider line right now, so you’re going to have to wait in line like everyone else. Wait times for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster are around 40 minutes on average, but it feels like less. Late in the day is the best time to ride when it falls to only 20-30 minutes.
The pre-show for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is still operating, but you have to stand on markers in the room.
When you get near the loading area, you’ll see the plexiglass dividers up.
For a while Disney was running the ride with fewer guests in each train, allowing for spacing between rows.
Now, Disney has once again started loading more guests into the ride vehicles and are filling every row. This is one of the hardest rides to keep your mask on for, so make sure it’s fastened tightly so you don’t lose it!
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Star Tours: The Adventure Continues has one of the shortest wait times in Hollywood Studios and averages right around 20-30 minutes.
Distancing markers have been set up throughout the queue, but the big change is the plexiglass dividers in the actual ride vehicle between seats. This keeps travel parties in separate groups.
As far as wait times, not much has changed with MuppetVision 3D. Before, it averaged just over 10 mounts and that’s the same as now.
When you enter the pre-show, ground markers show your party where to stand.
Inside the theater, many seats are blocked off like in other shows we’ve seen so far in WDW.
I’m sure you’ve heard the entertainment offerings for all the parks are extremely different at the moment, and in the case of Hollywood Studios, almost inexistent I’d say is the more accurate term.
First of all, character meets are temporarily closed, so you can’t get up close to see the characters right now. That doesn’t mean you won’t see them at all, you just won’t get to hug them and get your picture together.
Disney has replaced this with the new Character Cavalcades in each park, and in Hollywood Studios it’s actually three separate motorcades and ride down Hollywood Blvd carrying your favorite characters. Included are Mickey and Friends, Pixar and Disney Junior Stars.
Over in Galaxy’s Edge is your other opportunity to see characters. Your favorites from both The Resistance and The First Order can be found over above the speeder garage and interact with guests from a distance.
The stage shows on the other hand are a complete mess right now, with very few actually open.
Here is a list of the Hollywood Studios Entertainment you can expect to see during your visit and also what’s not opening at this time…
- Character Cavalcades throughout the day, with favorite Disney friends appearing along Hollywood Boulevard—including:
- Disney Junior Stars Motorcade
- Mickey & Friends Motorcade
- Pixar Motorcade
- The Disney Society Orchestra and Friends
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
- Citizens of Hollywood
- Disney Junior Dance Party
- Disney Movie Magic
- Indiana Jones Stunt Show
- Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
- Star Wars Launch Bay
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Wonderful World of Animation
By far the park that is suffering the most from a lack of entertainment options is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While it’s true that parks like the Magic Kingdom of Animal Kingdom might not have many more options, Hollywood Studios’ small number of attractions makes the difference felt even more.
All the normal stage shows are currently closed including Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, the Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular, Frozen Sing-Along and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which is rumored to be shuttered for good and not coming back even when the others do.
The only stage show right now is a replacement for Beauty and the Beast called “The Disney Society Orchestra and Friends.” It’s a 20-minute instrumental concert with an appearance by Beauty and the Beast characters Belle, the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Chip waving to the audience.
We like the musical renditions of the MuppetVision theme, Star Wars songs, etc, and consider it a cute show. This version is obviously not as good as the original, but it was surprisingly entertaining and a decent fill-in until the normal Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage comes back.
Fans of Disney Junior will like the “Disney Junior Play & Dance!,” a temporary distanced-show replacing the normal Disney Junior Dance Party!
Though fireworks shows are coming back to the other parks, you won’t find any nighttime spectaculars in Hollywood Studios, which means no Fantasmic! or Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular for the time being. Read our post on “When are fireworks coming back to Disney World?” for more info.
Another huge difference right now is that character meets are not running. To replace them in Hollywood Studios there are the new Character Motorcades which are similar to the ones in the other parks, but here the characters come down Hollywood Blvd in cars or on foot instead of on parade floats.
There are also special Christmas Character Motorcades going on during the holiday season with the characters dressed up in Christmas outfits. There is a Santa Claus motorcade too.
Our favorite one in Hollywood Studios is the Pixar Motorcade which has our favorite characters from Toy Story, The Incredibles and Monsters Inc.
We can honestly say we enjoyed them all though and think they are a good addition. We wouldn’t mind if they stay around, especially in Hollywood Studios even after the parks go back to normal.
Don’t forget to check out all the Star Wars characters in Galaxy’s Edge who are blocked off from guests but still able to interact with them.
Both Resistance and First Order characters are located at the Speeder Garage throughout the day including: Chewbacca, Rey, Kylo Ren, Vi Moradi and Stormtroopers still can be seen walking around at safe distances from the guests.
To learn more about how to find all the characters now, read our guide to the Disney Character Cavalcades in the Disney Parks.
As we mentioned earlier, not all dining locations are currently open in Hollywood Studios, but it’s not the worst selection of all the parks (see Magic Kingdom).
Right now there are 25 restaurants open in Disney’s Hollywood Studios including table service, quick service, lounges, and snack carts.
- 50’s Prime Time Café
- ABC Commissary
- Anaheim Produce
- Backlot Express
- BaseLine Tap House
- Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo
- Epic Eats
- Fairfax Fare
- Hollywood & Vine
- The Hollywood Brown Derby
- The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge
- Hollywood Scoops
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company
- KRNR The Rock Station
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
- Milk Stand
- Oga’s Cantina
- Ronto Roasters
- Rosie’s All-American Café
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
- Sunshine Day Bar
- The Trolley Car Café
- Woody’s Lunch Box
Make sure to consult our post on the Best Hollywood Studios Restaurants so you know exactly where to go and what to order.
Right now there are only 5 restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios that are not open:
- Catalina Eddie’s
- Dockside Diner
- Kat Saka’s Kettle
- Neighborhood Bakery
- Tune-In Lounge
The restaurant we are most happy about seeing return is Woody’s Lunch Box. It’s still one of our favorite quick service locations and Toy Story Land finally has something to eat once again!
Hollywood & Vine also reopened which means there is now a character meal in the park once again. Two of our favorite places for sweets have also returned in Epic Eats and Hollywood Scoops.
Overall, we’re pretty happy with the selections of restaurants that are open right now. The table service restaurants are strong with Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, Sci-Fi Dine-In, 50’s Prime Time and the Hollywood Brown Derby all open.
The open quick service selections are decent too with the majority of them now back and running. If anything I would close a place like PizzeRizzo in place of any other quick service since it is the worst one at Hollywood Studios.
Most of the dining locations have done a good job handling the new safety measures, and are fairly efficient. Using Disney’s Mobile Ordering system is highly recommended by Cast Members, and we have had nothing but good experiences with it, making ordering food very convenient. You should be using it, safety measures or not.
Tables are well-spaced in all restaurants, and we didn’t feel that other guests we too close to us at any time.
Oga’s Cantina is our favorite bar in Disney World, but the experience is a lot different than what you might have experienced in the past. There are no walk-ins right now so you must have an advanced dining reservation, which you can do online as always.
The bar itself feels empty compared to how packed it normally is. That buzz that’s normally in the air is missing right now, and in the future we would like to see capacity somewhere in the middle between now and where it normally is.
No standing is permitted at the bar and guests have to keep their masks on until their drinks are served. They also are being very strict about the 45-minute time limits since they are only allowing in few guests at a time.
Hollywood Brown Derby
We also visited the Hollywood Brown Derby, which like all restaurants has a limited menu. It was delicious as always though and remains our favorite sit-down in the park. The actual nice thing is it seems like you are getting more attention now with fewer guests in the park, and we felt our meals just had a little extra touch to them.
We also liked the QR code menus which allows you to see the menu on your phone.
Not much as changed at Ronto Roasters except the Cast Member at the line entrance directing guests to use Mobile Order. The Ronto Wrap is still one of our favorite snacks at Hollywood Studios!
Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo
The changes at Docking Bay 7 are many. A distanced-queue, Mobile Order-only and many tables off-limits are what you will find right now. Unfortunately, the popular Galaxy’s Edge Sporks are also not available at the moment.
The queue is distanced at the Milk Stand, but nothing has changed on the menu. One funny touch are the Cast Members here wearing blue and green face masks that go along with the flavors of milk sold here.
For more info about the changes to dining right now, read our post about Disney World Restaurants after reopening.
The following shops are open in Hollywood Studios:
- Celebrity 5 & 10
- Crossroads of the World
- Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities
- Droid Depot
- In Character
- Legends of Hollywood
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Mickey’s Of Hollywood
- Movieland Memorabilia
- Once Upon A Time
- Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind
- Rock Around The Shop
- Rubio Arts
- Strollers & Wheelchairs
- Tatooine Traders
- The Market
- Tower Hotel Gifts
- Toy Story Mania Shop
Everything about the droid-building experience in the Droid Depot is pretty much the same with only a few small changes.
Cast Members now help guests choose their droid parts instead of going up to the conveyor belt themselves. There are distance markers on the ground and dividers between the assembly stations while building your droid.
Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities
There are a lot fewer people allowed in Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities at one time than before. Starting outside the shop, guests form a line on the ground markers, there are also markers in the store at the counter and checkout register.
This is our favorite store in the Disney Parks and the famous Legacy Lightsabers that usually fill the display cases have been moved next door…(though there are still some at Dok’s).
Thankfully, the lightsaber-building experience has now reopened at Savi’s Workshop. The space was closed for months since it was too hard to safely run the show with that many people. The legacy lightsabers usually on display at Dok Ondar’s were moved here temporarily to keep the space open.
Instead, Disney decided to reopen the traditional Savi’s Workshop experience on September 20, albeit with lower guest capacity and distancing between lightsaber building stations. At least it’s open once again.
(UPDATE) Disney has since discontinued the relaxation stations in the parks.
As you know, one of the big changes in the parks is the mandatory face mask requirement for guests and Cast Members. The idea of wearing one all day long is certainly not the most magical idea, however, there are certain designated areas in each park where guests can go mask-free.
Guests are not required to wear a face covering in any outdoor area, while eating or drinking or when in designated relaxation zones.
These zones are called: “Relaxation Stations” and there are 2 locations in Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Star Wars Launch Bay (Animation Courtyard)
- Near Rise of the Resistance (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge)
Of the two locations, we prefer the one in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge since it is outside and if we have to take off our mask it seems like the better choice.
You can take off your masks inside the Star Wars Launch Bay, but if you want to walk around and look at the memorabilia, you need to put your face covering back on.
Masks are required in all indoor areas of the parks even when riding attractions. The only exception is when you are outdoors or actively eating or drinking.
For the most part, we’ve seen total compliance to these rules in Hollywood Studios, just like in the other parks. There are special Disney Cast Members that go around and warn people if they notice they aren’t wearing a face-covering properly, so overall we felt very safe.
To learn more, read our article on Face Masks at Disney World – FAQs and Tips, where we explain everything you need to know about them.
Construction in Hollywood Studios in 2021
2018 and 2019 were huge years in the reconstruction of the park, but thankfully, construction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has come to an end for the time being.
The closest project nearby is the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel being built across the street. While not physically connected to Hollywood Studios, guests there will take excursions over to Galaxy’s Edge for unique storytelling experiences.
There are rumors of another future expansion to the park, but given the new financial situation of the company, that is years away. Stay up to date with all the construction projects in Disney World here including opening dates.
Transportation to Hollywood Studios
There are a few options for transportation to Hollywood Studios depending on where you are coming from.
Arriving by car is always an option if you are a local or staying at a hotel off-site.
As for Disney transportation, buses are the best option if you are coming from a hotel outside the EPCOT area. Be mindful of the new safety measures on the buses with no standing-room and many seats off-limits to increase distancing.
- TIP: Plan on leaving your hotel a good 1 to 1 1/2 hours before your desired arrival time when taking the bus if you are trying to get a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance in the morning.
The Disney Skyliner is back in action and is the most convenient and fun way to get to Hollywood Studios if you are staying at the Disney Riviera Resort, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach or Beach Club. Gondolas are limited to one party at a time.
If you re staying at an EPCOT-area resort hotel, the Friendship Boats are a convenient way of arriving at Hollywood Studios.
If you want to get some exercise, you can walk to Hollywood Studios from the Swan & Dolphin, Boardwalk Inn or Yacht and Beach Club in approximately 15-20 minutes.
Your only other Disney-run transportation methods of getting to Hollywood Studios are Minnie Vans, which are currently not running.
Read our post on Disney World Transportation changes where we explain everything you need to know.
Best Hotels to Stay for Going to the Hollywood Studios
For staying close to Disney’s Hollywood Studios there are plenty of options. You can’t go wrong at one of the Disney Skyliner hotels, and that is both the easiest way of getting to the park and the most fun!
The Boardwalk Inn Resort is the best if you want to walk and depending on where your room is located it will talk you only 10-15 minutes max. Walking is also possible from Swan & Dolphin and the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
Honestly, I don’t know that it’s really necessary to stay close to Hollywood Studios at this time. You can easily ride all the attractions in one day right now, and even multiple times.
The only reason I would stay close to Hollywood Studios is if I were going multiple days to be sure to get on Rise of the Resistance. Since boarding groups are so limited right now, it’s not out of the question that you aren’t able to get one on your first try, so going twice gives you more security.
If you aren’t worried about that, then Hollywood Studios is a one-day park until the entertainment options come back.
Read more about staying at a Disney World Hotel after reopening in our recent post where we cover all the details.
Hollywood Studios Crowds
The crowds in Hollywood Studios have been an outlier to the other 3 parks in Walt Disney World during the reopening period. While at times the other parks have all felt well spaced-out and even empty, Hollywood Studios is the only park that feels like crowd levels have returned back to normal.
There are multiple reasons that crowds are higher in Hollywood Studios than in the other parks. For one, Rise of the Resistance and Galaxy’s Edge have remained extremely popular among guests visiting Walt Disney World.
This landmark new attraction was only open for a few months before the park closure happened, so even some locals haven’t had a chance to ride yet. Hollywood Studios always is the first to sell out of Park Pass reservations, so the demand is definitely still there.
Hollywood Studios’ layout is also terrible and makes the park feel like there are more people than there actually are. This is compounded by the lack of entertainment and shows which normally suck up a large portion of of the guests wandering in the park. All these factors lead to the feeling that Hollywood Studios is very crowded.
There are however two sides to the Hollywood Studios crowd levels and depending on what time of day you go, you will get two totally different experiences.
Peak crowds hit Hollywood Studios each day in the morning, right at park opening. This is the only park in Disney World where this is happening at the moment. There is a massive rush of guests before park opening who are trying to get boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance. Wait times for all rides are at their highest each day within the first hour or two.
After the morning rush things immediately start quieting down. If you are coming into the park in the mid-afternoon, you’ll notice more people leaving than going in. This is because people stick around doing other rides until their boarding group for ROTR is called, and then leave. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Slinky Dog Dash have especially long lines in the morning.
Instead, if you visit Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, you will find the polar opposite of the scenario I just described. From mid-afternoon until park closing, Hollywood Studios appears completely empty most of the time. All wait times drop dramatically and even E-Ticket attractions have a 30 minute max wait time. Sunset Blvd and Echo Lake look empty at times.
If you are nervous about crowds right now, then our advice is either to skip Hollywood Studios or go only in the afternoon when there is much more space on the pathways and guests grouping up is non-existent.
Check our Disney Crowd Calendar for a closer look at crowd expectations for the rest of the year and beyond in all the Disney World parks.
Here are the most important tips to keep in mind when touring Disney’s Hollywood Studios during this reopening phase.
Rope Drop Still Important
Even though Disney added a second distribution time for Rise of the Resistance boarding groups, the reality is you still need to go in the morning if you want to have the best chance of riding it.
The first group distribution is at 7:00 am and is by far your best chance of getting into the Virtual Queue. Between the attraction breaking down at times during the day and the slower loading times due to safety protocols, the amount of boarding passes given out at the 1:00 pm slot is much lower than in the morning.
Thankfully, you can get your boarding pass on My Disney Experience now right from your hotel room. That means if you aren’t interested in doing a ton of other rides, you don’t necessarily HAVE to do rope drop.
We still highly recommend doing rope drop if you are trying to get the most amount of attractions done in the day. We recommend arriving no later than 30 minutes before park opening to give yourself a chance to go through security, etc.
If you are able to grab a boarding group and don’t plan on staying the whole day, we recommend rope dropping Slinky Dog Dash or Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway first thing so you can knock those out.
Go a Different Way
Another strategy in Hollywood Studios is not following the normal rope drop path that everyone else takes. This means doing some of the less popular attractions first while waiting to ride Rise of the Resistance.
Some options include Star Tours, MuppetVision 3D, Toy Story Mania!, Alien Swirling Saucers, Smugglers Run or heading to Sunset Blvd and doing Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror right away.
Not having FastPass+ here hurts the most and people definitely run to the most popular attractions first. That means since everyone goes to Slinky Dog and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at opening, those are going to have the longest lines in the morning.
Those lines get gradually lower as the day goes on, so if you aren’t in the first group to ride those, it might be better waiting until the afternoon.
This advice is definitely true if you don’t show up early. Wait until the afternoon and do all the less popular attractions first. You can also get a table service meal at lunch instead of dinner when the wait times are much lower for everything.
Late Arrival Strategy
If you aren’t interested in riding Rise of the Resistance, planning a late arrival is our favorite Hollywood Studios strategy at the moment. We recommend arriving between 3:00-4:00 pm for best results.
Since the majority of people have left for the day by the late afternoon/evening, you will be able to tour the entire park in about 3-4 hours if you want to. Even Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway drops from about a 2-hour wait in the morning to 30 minutes in the last hour or two every day. Most of the other rides will be in the 20-30 minute range.
Again, this only works if you don’t want to ride Rise of the Resistance, or have a high boarding group number, but it’s a much less stressful park experience. It gives you lower wait times, lower temperatures at the end of the day, and fewer crowded situations that we find it’s definitely worth consideration.
Best Park for Weekends
If you are visiting multiple parks during your visit, we recommend scheduling Hollywood Studios for the weekend and the other parks during the week.
The reason behind this is simple. All the parks have attendance limits, but not all the parks actually hit those limits each day. The only exception is Hollywood Studios which is always full. Normally, the parks would have higher attendance on the weekends with locals coming, but Hollywood Studios is full every day.
Why go on the weekend then? The benefit comes if you are also planning to go to the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Animal Kingdom.
Those parks don’t hit the max capacity during the week, but they are significantly more full on the weekends. So it doesn’t make sense to do those three on Saturday or Sunday if you can do them during the week. Instead, use the weekend for Hollywood Studios.
This can be applied to the high morning wait times in the park and also to getting used to the new safety protocols throughout the park. Set your expectations at a reasonable level and don’t expect the experience to be like it was during your last visit before the closure.
Also, be patient with riding Rise of the Resistance. It’s still a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience trying to get into the Virtual Queue, even for Disney World vets. Realize that you might not get to ride it as glitches happen and the fact that the overall demand for the attraction is so high right now.
If you really want to make sure you get to ride it, make two Park Pass reservations for Hollywood Studios during your trip. That way if you don’t get on the first day, you still will have another chance.
Also be patient with the Disney Cast Members. It’s a strange and difficult time for them as much as you the guest, and 99% of the time they are trying their absolute hardest to make your trip to Walt Disney World a magical one, despite the changes happening at the moment.
Even though we love the new rides in Hollywood Studios, we have to say this park is the hardest to navigate at the moment. Between long waits in the morning and the overall crowded feel, we aren’t super excited about going back at the moment.
Things are different in the evening, and we recommend waiting until the last few hours of the day to visit for the best overall guest experience, again, only if you don’t care about riding Rise of the Resistance. Since the park has extremely limited options right now, we think this is the best strategy, at least until the shows start coming back.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last few months with Walt Disney World, it’s whatever the situation is at the moment, be prepared for things to change. In a couple of months things could change and we may feel differently about the park.
Until then, we suggest skipping Hollywood Studios if you don’t want to deal with the crowds unless you come in the afternoon. In that case, you will probably have a delightful time, taking advantage of the low wait times on some of Walt Disney World’s best rides.
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