Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios

By Giles Kennedy

Family and Travel Columnist

Opened in 1989; an original concept was the Disney/MGM Studios.

In recent years, the MGM nods have faded away. With Disney’s acquisition of Lucas Arts; the main theme of the Hollywood Studios has been the Golden Age of Movies and Star Wars.

Then, some famous loud band of Boston rock fame and a nod to the Twilight Zone adds to the mix of a great family park.

Although smaller than Epcot and Animal Kingdom, 135 acres gives this a respectable and enjoyable all day event.

As mentioned before; Dining Plans can have character meals at select sit down restaurants. If able, I do highly recommend starting your day with the Hollywood and Vine character meal featuring original Disney friends.

It features Donald, Daisy, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. The sit down restaurant is next to the 50’s TV Diner. The buffets at any of WDW restaurants will fuel your day well.

There are several areas to the Hollywood Studios. I will highlight the ones visited on our trip. Link from a Walt Disney World tip site, is below for the park map pdf. The current map on WDW’s official site has not been updated



We explored Echo Lake, leading to Star Tours. Also; we dipped into Sunset Boulevard, Pixar Place, Toy Story Land and Animation Courtyard.

Who ever said the Hollywood Studios is a half day park is dead wrong.

Tanya, Hannah and I indeed spent the whole day there and thoroughly enjoyed our experience.

Echo Lake

Heading down Hollywood Boulevard to Echo Lake; the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and the Backlot Grill precede the Star Tours Complex. Every building tells a story at each WDW park. Hollywood is no different.

Once we approached the Star Tours entrance; Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy is a live show. Your youngling can (ages 4-12) can register to be part of the actions. Spaces fill up fast; so if Fast Pass or time permitted, use the Force. Sign up and buckle up for a great live interactive experience.

Star Tours: The Adventure Continues is a great motion sensor ride. I have never sweated on a simulation ride. I did on this one. Rebels and Imperial passengers of all ages will enjoy this ride. Again, get a Fast Pass if available.

Once done there, we headed to the main courtyard of the park. Passing the main live stage, a replica of Grumman’s Chinese Theater stood to whisk us away to Pixar Place. A mini version of Munciberg; home of the Incredibles features a live show.

The girls and I split up to explore some more. I did check out Animation Courtyard.

Animation Courtyard

It had another hidden gem. Star Wars: A Galaxy Far Far Away live show ended with a Rebel and Imperial parade to Star Wars:Launch Bay.

It is unknown at this time if this area will remain; once Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge opens late August 2019. Please check Hollywood Studios website for updates.

Featured in Launch Bay is meet and greet area with select characters as well as a film on the Star Wars universe history. It also features props and costumes from various Star Wars films. Oh, yes, there is a gift shop for your Rebellion or First Order fixes.

Animation Courtyard does feature live shows of Disney Junior and Disney favorites for the kids and kid at heart.

Sunset Boulevard

The Golden Era of Hollywood is the main theme on the thoroughfare. It leads to the two main rides. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock N Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith is in the far corner of this area.

The Rock N Roller Coaster is next to the entrance to the Tower of Terror. Its neighbor stands tall in the landscape. Lighting McQueen’s Driving Academy is also in the area; right next door to the Coaster complex.

To say this ride is intense is an understatement. I have ridden many rides at Cedar Point, Kings Island and other parks. This is them all rolled into one. The theme is rushing the boys from Boston through LA traffic to their gig. You are in a high speed stretch limo along for the ride.

Literally after that insanity, we stood in line for the Tower of Terror.

Another WDW visitor’s tip. Pack a poncho. Our nearly hour wait in the stand by queue line had Florida’s rainy wrath. The weather is unpredictable. Be ready and stay dry.

Once inside the main Hotel awnings and waiting hall; it threw you back into an abandoned hotel from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Once divided up for your seating arrangement; the secure ride car takes you through a maze of images and decor changes to take you into the Twilight Zone.

The wait was long, we chatted with a dad and daughter from Baltimore; it was well worth the rainy wait.

Another thing about the Walt Disney World is the stand by lines. You more than likely will run into friendly folks. Sharing their 1st or 100th visit is a great way to learn tips and share stories. It really does help kill the time until you are called to the next ride car.

Toy Story Land

After Sunset Boulevard, we explored a bit more walking to Toy Story Land. Once in Toy Story Land; we came upon the Toy Green Soldiers from Toy Story.

Hannah became part of the mini show. These surprises are throughout all the parks. It’s even a bigger surprise when you or your young recruit gets called in duty.

Whether you get a Fast Pass or wait in line, Toy Story Mania is fun for all ages.

Woody and the Gang get you into a midway world of shooting games and missions. It’s extremely delightful and fun for all.

There are many areas to explore and dine. A small version of the Hollywood Brown Derby, the Trolley Car Cafe’ and many other diversions make this park a great day trip.




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