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Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a place where Hollywood movies and Disney magic converge to create a theme park that feels more like a back-lot set. However, this is a theme park in transition with two big lands set to open in the next two years. First, Toy Story land opens on June 30, 2018, and then Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens some time in 2019. Hollywood Studios caters to more adult, live-action movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Marvel franchise, but there are still plenty of activities for young kids too.
1 Day Hollywood Studios Plan for Parents of Young Kids
- Disney Junior Live on Stage!
- Character greeting with Pluto
- Character greeting with BB8
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- 11am Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage with FastPass+ for 10:30am
- 11:40am The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror with FastPass+
- Lunch at 50’s Prime Time Cafe
- Watch the March of First Order
- Rest outside the park
- 5pm Star Tours – The Adventure Continues with FastPass+
- Dinner at Backlot Express
- Watch Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple during dinner
- 6:30pm Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party
- Character greeting with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren
- Explore Star Wars Launch Bay
- Disney Movie Magic
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
For our complete 5 Step Disney World Vacation Planning Guide, click here.
Tips, Tricks and Notable Omissions
Consider a Babysitter
As with Epcot, there aren’t a lot of activities at Hollywood Studios for young kids. You can easily do all those activities in the morning. Again, we used Kid’s Nite Out so we could enjoy the Star Wars Dessert Party without a toddler in tow. We were assigned the same babysitter both nights, so we knew Declan would be happy back at the hotel.
We avoid going on rides or watching shows that are the same or similar to those at Disneyland. That meant skipping Fantasmic. It also conflicted with the start time for the Star Wars Dessert Party. Since it’s hosted by Sorcerer Mickey, this would be a good show for young kids. Make sure to check show times though. Fantasmic is later in the summer and young kids might not be able to stay up late enough to watch it.
Other Shows and Entertainment
Hollywood Studios has a few other live action shows or movies including: For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Muppet*Vision 3D. If you have fans of these movies or characters, consider adding them to the plan if time allows.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Have I mentioned that I have motion sickness? Our initial plan involved heading straight to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at rope drop. That is usually the best time to ride if you don’t have a FastPass+ reservation. Or you can use the Single Rider Line throughout the day. However, my Sister-in-Law pulled up a diagram of the track before we left for our Disney World vacation. I’m glad she did because this is serious roller coaster with loops and inversions in the dark! I would have been sick for the rest of the day. Instead, we skipped Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster and went straight to Disney Junior Live on Stage which I would recommend for a kid friendly day.
Toy Story Mania
Toy Story Mania is a must do for most families, but we skipped it due to the similarity to the same ride at Disneyland. This would be a great ride for a morning FastPass+ reservation. Anticipate high wait times when Toy Story Land opens. While they are also opening an additional track for Toy Story Mania, that entire section of the park will be packed with guests when it first opens and for several months afterwards.
Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
After leaving Declan with the babysitter at our hotel, we returned to the park in the evening just before Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. Even though we had FastPasses, we were able to walk right on to Star Tours in the standby queue. Jedi Training draws huge crowds which reduces wait times on Star Tours. After we rode it the first time, we used our FastPasses to ride it again. By the time we finished, we were able to order dinner at Backlot Express and watch the rest of the Jedi Training show. We loved the new scenes that took us to Jakku and Crait as well as the cameos from some of our new favorite characters and villains. The simulator did not seem to move as much as the ride at Disneyland, but we still loved it.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
I love the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which is a fact that I discovered when I rode it one last time before it closed for re-theming at Disney’s California Adventure. When I was younger, I rode it while I had mono and didn’t know it. Needless to say, I was sick as a dog, but not because of motion sickness. I avoided this ride for the next TEN YEARS. But it’s SO AWESOME. I should have stolen Reese’s magic band and rode it twice using his FastPass+. (I have a lot of regrets when it comes to the Tower of Terror.) This ride has a 40-inch height requirement which means it’s not for young kids. It’s a good ride for Rider Switch though so keep that in mind when making FastPass+ reservations.
50’s Primetime Cafe
For lunch, we ate at the 50’s Primetime Cafe. The restaurant is decorated like you’d expect a house from the ‘50’s, the waiters call themselves cousins, and the cuisine is comfort food. It’s a little odd, but the food was delicious. You will be reprimanded for bad manners like putting your elbows on the table or using a “walkie-talkie” during your meal. The pot roast was DELICIOUS. It was a good substitute for our first choice which was Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater restaurant. (There’s always next time!)
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party
Money. Well. Spent. The Star Wars Dessert Party was our second dessert party after the one at Tomorrowland Terrace in Magic Kingdom. While they are similar in price, the Star Wars Dessert Party includes alcohol. It does not include seating. That presents a challenge for parents because you are also not allowed to take a stroller into Star Wars Launch Bay where the party is held. The food was equally delicious between the two and we had a great time. You’re able to meet all the characters in the Star Wars Launch Bay during the party as well as interact with a Stormtrooper or two. Read more about both dessert parties here, but this was our favorite activity at Hollywood Studios.
Shows and Entertainment
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
This is a 25 minute live performance of Beauty and the Beast. It’s held in an outdoor, covered amphitheater. It’s a great place for a snack break since you’re allowed to take food and drinks (including alcoholic drinks) into the theater. We loved seeing one of our favorite movies come to life. And, we loved being able to sit and relax. Young kids might not be able to sit through the whole show, but that’s when bribing them with snacks helps.
Disney Movie Magic
When we booked the Star Wars Dessert Party, we didn’t know that we’d get to see two shows for the cost of one! After the dessert party, Stormtroopers escorted us to the viewing area before the Disney Movie Magic show, so we were in a great spot to watch it. This show involves projecting images from all your favorite live action Disney movies on the facade of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was heavily influenced by Marvel and Star Wars, but there were plenty of classics as well.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
We loved Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular! This show runs through all the Star Wars movies and includes special effects like fireworks, lasers, and force lightning that crackles through the trees around you. It was awesome! The only negative is that the viewing area for the dessert party was so close to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre that the fireworks were partially blocked by the building. If you’re not attending the dessert party, I recommend standing back a little bit, so you can see everything.
Shows and Entertainment
Disney Junior Live on Stage!
Disney Junior Live on Stage was a big disappointment. We recently saw the updated Disney Junior Dance Party at California Adventure and expected the same improvements. Instead, Hollywood Studios still has the puppet show. It’s cute, but it’s not nearly as interactive or upbeat. Also, it’s not very easy for young kids to see the puppets if you sit close to the stage. Afterwards, it was nice to be able to meet several Disney Junior characters right outside of the auditorium including Pluto. While it might look like Declan is trying to run away, I assure you that he was very excited to meet the last of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gang.
Final Thoughts on Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios has a lot of great activities for young kids and adults. You can easily see everything in the park in one day. With the future additions, it’s bound to be one of the most popular Disney World theme parks.