So, you’re about to embark on your first-ever visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World Resort. Perhaps you haven’t been back since the days when it was known as Disney-MGM Studios. Or maybe you’ve never even been to the Park, ever. Either way, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has undergone many massive reimagined changes in recent years, and for the most part, it’s a whole new Park.
As you ready yourself for a full day in Hollywood Studios, the biggest questions on your mind probably revolve around what to do while also quietly evaluating which experiences you can afford to forego and still have a quality experience. While we can’t speak to the answers regarding the subjective latter, we do have eleven essential suggestions for you to keep in mind — the very things we feel that a Disney rookie absolutely must do at Hollywood Studios.
11. See the Live Shows and Performances
If you’ve never been to Hollywood Studios before, don’t make the mistake of avoiding all those stage show production-based attractions. After all, Disney Parks aren’t only about rides. And you know that this Park, named for Hollywood, has its fair share of star-studded performances to take in.
Our recommendations for what is considered Hollywood Studio’s rites of passage include: Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage, Muppet*Vision 3D, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.
These shows seldom have a lengthy wait time and are easy to get into, especially when you’re at that busiest part of the day and unable to ride some of those popular rides. You haven’t truly done Hollywood Studios until you’ve tackled these.
10. Character Meet and Greets
Meeting all of your favorite characters is absolutely crucial for any Walt Disney World visit. So, of course, this is on the list for rookies attending Hollywood Studios for the first time. At Hollywood Studios, you will find a versatile cast of a thousand residing among your favorite faces.
These characters include Toy Story pals, Sulley from Monsters, Inc., a host of Disney Junior Pals over in Animation Courtyard to satisfy the interested kiddos in your group, and Olaf (who’s always around to keep things cool). But one opportunity you absolutely can’t miss out on is meeting Mickey and Minnie at Red Carpet Dreams.
Minnie dons a glamorous Hollywood A-List worthy gown for the grand occasion, while Mickey sports his famous Sorcerer’s getup. You’ll want to snap some photos and snag autographs, for sure.
9. Walt Disney Presents
It’s sad how many people pass on visiting this wonderful onsite museum set-up that is housing relics and memorabilia from Disney’s past. This is the ultimate tribute to Walt Disney himself, and you can go at your own pace, taking in all of the different props and artifacts from Walt’s past, starting from boyhood up through the earliest days of the Walt Disney Company and its founding.
Even if you’re in a rush trying to tackle all the rides, shows, and other attractions, we encourage you to make time for a stop by here as well.
8. Play Around at Toy Story Land
Now that there is an entire Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, it’s an absolute must-do for both newcomers as well as for those who haven’t been back to the scene in several years. And there’s just so much to check out in Toy Story Land, including those three must-ride attractions — Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania!, and what is hands-down the hottest hit in all the land: Slinky Dog Dash.
And while you’re there, don’t forget to refuel by grabbing some grub at the favored quick-service stop Woody’s Lunch Box.
7. Explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan per se, this is another newer Park addition that you won’t want to skip. There’s just so much to see and do here, including two new rides that thrill-seekers are going to love: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance.
Then there are all of those other interactive excitements to take in within this section of the Park as well, including stellar merchandise venues (that even allow you to custom design and build your very own lightsabers and droids) as well as unique food and drink options. And yes, they have Blue and Green Milk for the taking as well. Spending time at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is indeed an absolute must for newcomers.
6. Don’t Forget About Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
While you’re busy exploring all of the newest highlights comprising Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, don’t forget about that preexisting, earlier Star Wars classic attraction that’s been such a staple at Hollywood Studios for so many years. We are, of course, referring to Star Tours – The Adventure Continues.
This is a thrilling high-speed dark ride that’s been garnering praise and popularity from visitors long before there was an entire Star Wars land, but be mindful that this ride isn’t located within the limits of Galaxy’s Edge. But it’s a must-do just the same, so don’t overlook it.
5. Get the Drop on the Tower of Terror
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is perhaps one of the most anchoring attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So, it goes without saying that most folks coming out here have the intention of taking this daring plunge for themselves. Sure, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the most part, it’s definitely worth pursuing as a first-timer.
4. Reach New Speeds with Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster
A secondary priority that most Guests come to Hollywood Studios with the intention of seeking out is a thrilling ride along the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. As a fast-moving dark ride coaster set within a stretch limo, it’s the ultimate way to satisfy those need-for-speed cravings.
3. Ride Along with Mickey and Minnie
There is at last a ride that stars Walt Disney Animation’s most iconic cartoon couple: Mickey and Minnie Mouse. So why wouldn’t you want to seize the opportunity to ride said ride? Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Rail is a trackless dark attraction that takes you on a journey likened to that of being in a Mickey Mouse short.
You will find it housed within the Park’s famous Chinese Theatre, the site of the former Great Movie Ride. Whether you are visiting for the first time or you just haven’t been back since the Great Movie Ride occupied this space, we strongly recommend pondering this new train of thought.
2. Eat Treats and Dine in the Park
With all those action-packed activities in the Park, you will no doubt work up an appetite before the day is done. And fortunately, Hollywood Studios is packed with a versatile array of unique dining establishments. From quick-service hits to full-table options, there are many well-known recommendations we can offer up.
The convenience of counter-service picks may work best for those trying to tackle everything on a bustling day. In that case, we suggest strolling around the many restaurants comprising Sunset Ranch Market on Sunset Boulevard. You have everything you need all in one spot and plenty of ample seating to pick and choose from.
If you do have time to spare in regards to full-service dining, we have a couple of suggestions to tell you all about in this category as well:
- 50’s Prime Time Café — A family-friendly diner serving up comfort food to make you feel like you’re eating in a 1950s home.
- Hollywood & Vine — An all-you-can-eat buffet featuring Disney Characters onsite.
- The Hollywood Brown Derby — A timeless classic signature restaurant modeled after the renowned original in California.
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant — A fun-themed mealtime favorite with a drive-in motif, featuring seats that resemble cars and theatrical B-movie sci-fi classic loops playing on a large screen.
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano — An Italian mainstay cooking up beloved traditional classics.
Wherever you choose to dine, or even if you’re seeking a light bite only, make it a point to try something great while out and about at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
1. Stay For Nighttime Spectaculars
Are you feeling zapped out after being in the limelight at Hollywood Studios for a full day? Don’t rush off just yet! If this is your first time visiting, be sure to stay for all the nighttime delights they have in store. While the sensational must-do show Fantasmic! is currently on pause, it is expected to make a return soon. And we can’t recommend it enough!
It’s a pyrotechnic/water production beyond compare, centering around Mickey Mouse and his dreams/nightmares, and his ultimate triumph over nightmares. It’s also an awesome opportunity to see many of your Disney Character favorites (popular and underrated) all in one spot. If you happen to be visiting by the time that it returns, you simply must add this one to your list.
There are also other great nighttime spectacles to take in as well. Every evening, for example, there is a wonderful projection show at the Chinese Theatre known as Movie Magic. Running just over 10 minutes, it is the ultimate collage showcase featuring scenes and clips from beloved Disney Productions new and old alike. It’s truly an experience you won’t want to miss as a first-timer.
Our recommendations may vary from person to person and family to family, but generally across the board, we recommend that Disney rookies visiting Hollywood Studios keep this tentative list of suggestions on hand. There’s just so much to see and do at any Disney Park, and no two experiences are ever the same.
But if you stick to the essentials and what you really want, you’ll do just fine in making the most memorable magical experiences become custom fit so perfectly for what you and your group are in pursuit of.