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
- Temperature screening
- More guest hand-washing and sanitizing stations
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.
The only exceptions are when you are eating or drinking, or when you are in one of the designated “Relaxation Stations” which are mask-free.
Distancing is practiced and you’ll also notice the barriers up in all shops and quick service restaurants to keep Cast Members and guests as far away from each other as possible.
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 about 20-30% 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 2020 and into 2021. That means no more snack credits for a while and guests will not have the option to pay for meals ahead of time.
- 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 January 23 – 9:00 am to 7:00 pm daily
- From January 24 through March 20 – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm daily
For most of the Winter, Hollywood Studios park hours will be reduced from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm daily. These are the new Winter Park Hours as Disney is further reducing operating hours for all the parks until crowds start coming back.
For the first part of January park hours are extended by one hour and go from 9:00 am to 7:00 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 with the temperature checks. Of course, 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, temperature checks are done by AdventHealth.
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!
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 20-25 minutes each! Think about how crazy that is!
However, when you compare with the Animal Kingdom for example where the average wait is about 15-20 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, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has had the longest average wait times in the park since it’s now the newest attraction. The line 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 much lower than what is listed outside the attractions. A 30-minute wait is almost always only 15-20 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 each riding party now gets their own ride vehicle. That means that if you are riding alone, they give you your own ride vehicle. This is one of the reasons the ride capacity has shrunk even lower which makes redeeming your boarding passes painfully slow.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Hollywood Studios’ newest ride was only open for a couple of weeks before the park closure, so you can imagine there have been big lines to get on it. 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 30 minutes early in the day, which is half of the usual wait time. It has gotten as high as 55 minutes, but those are rare moments in the morning. In the late afternoon and evening, the average is 15 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 10 minutes, and they hardly get above 20. Most 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 10 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 30 minutes right now, a lot 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 30 minutes on average, but it feels like less. Late in the day is the best time to ride when it falls to only 15 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 10 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.