If you haven’t read my general tips for visiting Disney World, read this first. If you’re all caught up, here’s what you need to know to make your visit to Hollywood Studios as incredible as possible!
We visited the park right before Christmas, and arrived as the sun was coming up and the holiday decorations were shimmering in the predawn light.
As the day went on, it was fun seeing how the park had been transformed for Christmas.
Even the professional pictures had a holiday flair!
At night Hollywood Studios is at its best, with Christmas decorations shining brightly through the darkness.
And certain famous sights are given a colorful holiday makeover. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a little less scary when made to look like a gingerbread house!
Speaking of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, it’s the first ride we went on that day.
And it was so much fun we did it twice!
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is another fun ride that we also made sure to experience twice.
Both of those rides are close to each other, so it’s easy to hit them in one fell swoop.
The remaining rides that I recommend (if you’re an adult!) can be found in two popular areas of the park.
Toy Story Land is dedicated to the movie franchise, and the decor will make you feel like a kid again!
Slinky Dog Dash is the best ride in Toy Story Land, and is a lot of fun. It’s a roller coaster that makes you feel like you’re actually riding a slinky!
The new area of the park, that everyone is losing their minds over, is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I’m not a big Star Wars fan, but Greg definitely is, and he walked around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge like a kid at Christmas.
On our wedding day, Greg didn’t have any input on the pictures we took. During our time at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge though, he kept saying, “Take my picture here!” or “Take my picture in front of this!” over and over and over again. I obliged, figuring it’s only fair since it’s normally me wanting my picture taken. But I have to say, it became pretty clear that this, and not our wedding day, was the best day of Greg’s life!
As a non-Star Wars fan, I have to admit that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is really well done. The attention to detail is incredible, and this area of the park does transmit to you another place… ok fine, I’ll say it… to a galaxy far, far away.
While you’re at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there are several things you need to do. The first, is to make a reservation for Oga’s Cantina. It’s an amazingly-decorated bar that offers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. There aren’t many seats (most people stand) and there are just a few snacks, so even though you make a “dining” reservation, you don’t actually dine there. But it is worth it to take in the atmosphere, and enjoy the fun and creative drinks that are on the menu.
“Ashley, take my picture!”
There are currently two main rides in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The first is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. If you don’t have a FastPass (here’s what you need to know about FastPasses) then the wait time can be hours long. However, Greg and I got in the line for single riders, and only had to wait eight minutes. We also got to ride together, since there was a party with only four people and the ride seats six.
I didn’t really care for this ride. The front two people are assigned the role of “pilots” and probably have the best experience. The two people behind them are assigned the role of “gunners” which is probably an average experience. And then Greg and I were “engineers” which is exactly as lame as it sounds. We had to press buttons to the side of our seats, and for the whole ride I felt like I had to choose between looking to the side and pressing the buttons, or watching the front screen simulation a.k.a. actually experiencing the ride. All this to say, we only waited eight minutes so it wasn’t the end of the world that the ride was disappointing, but it’s certainly not worth waiting hours for it!
“Ashley, take my picture!”
The other Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride, conversely, is the best ride I’ve ever been on in my life: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
This ride is brand new, and the park is currently not offering any FastPasses for it. They are, however, managing the line using boarding groups. At 7am on the day of your visit to Hollywood Studios, you use this app to reserve a boarding group, much like receiving a number to wait at the DMV (but with something far superior to look forward to!). Make sure you reserve a group right at 7am, since the boarding groups fill up within minutes. Throughout the day, they’ll call boarding groups in sequential order (via in-app notifications). Once your boarding group is called, you’ll have two hours to make your way over to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. When you get there you’ll be able to get right on the ride, without waiting in line more than a few minutes. This process essentially means that everyone gets a FastPass and no one has to wait in line. And you can’t, actually, wait in line, so if you don’t get a boarding group at 7am and they fill up, you don’t get to go on the ride that day.
We reserved a boarding group right at 7am, received boarding group 78, and were called to go on the ride mid-afternoon. And oh my gosh, it was amazing!
I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say this: even as a non-Star Wars fan, it was the coolest experience I’ve ever had on a ride!
“Ashley, take my picture!”
In addition to the rides, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge also has a Jedi Academy called Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. It’s for children (Greg was so disappointed to hear this!) but looked like a lot of fun, and our nieces did it a few days later and loved it. So if you’re traveling with kids (literally, not just “at heart”) it’s definitely worth doing.
Speaking of disappointing Greg, because he and I were wearing Mickey snowman shirts (which you can buy here – hurry, they’re almost sold out!), I insisted that we take a picture with Olaf. Greg wasn’t too happy about waiting in line for 20 minutes along with young children, but I’d say he made the best of it…
As far as where to eat at Hollywood Studios, I recommend dining at The Hollywood Brown Derby. It offers quality food, which we were definitely looking for after a breakfast and lunch of “theme-park” food.
Another thing you can’t miss at Hollywood Studios are the shows. The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular is a favorite of mine, and one I still enjoy seeing even though I’ve been many times before.
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away is just ok, nothing special.
And Fantasmic! is the best show at Hollywood Studios, if not at all of Disney World!
Greg and I decided to do the Fantasmic! Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience. We were each given a Tupperware-type container of desserts upon arrival, as well as an alcoholic beverage in a light-up, souvenir cup. We were then directed to special VIP seating, where we were given the opportunity to enjoy our drinks and desserts in peace without having to deal with the massive crowds that usually wait in line to see Fantasmic!
The only downside? It was pouring rain that night, so there weren’t the same crowds that there normally are, we didn’t want to open up our dessert containers because we didn’t want to eat wet desserts, and our drinks had rain falling into them. It wasn’t quite the relaxing, dessert-filed experience we had been looking forward to, but Disney can’t help the rain and the show was still an incredible one, even with the terrible weather.
Because we were visiting Hollywood Studios during Christmastime, there is one final show worth seeing: Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! But I’m sad to admit that we were just too tired, and too wet, to want to stay at the park longer. So if you visit Hollywood Studios during the holidays, and the weather is nice, make sure you see Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! and let me know how it is!
Happy Holidays from Hollywood Studios!
For all of my tips for visiting Disney World, click here.
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