When my husband and I were planning our trip to Orlando, almost everyone we talked to asked us the same question, “Which park are you going to?” I would have loved to hit up all of them, but time didn’t allow for that so we had to choose just one park. If you didn’t know the title of this post, you might guess that we went to Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios. *wink* But instead, we chose Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Why Hollywood Studios?
The biggest reason was because it was literally right next to our hotel, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. We didn’t have a car and the option to take a water taxi or walk the 10 minutes to the park was very appealing to us. Plus, with only one day to take in an entire park, one of the larger parks would have been harder to get through and Hollywood Studios is the smallest of the Disney parks in Orlando.
Pre-Planning for a Day at the Park
We bought our tickets to the park before we left for our trip. Ticket prices went up at the beginning of March and we didn’t want to pay the extra money. Plus, it was really convenient to go to the Disney Planning Station at our hotel and have them give us our tickets there rather than waiting in line at the park. A perk of buying your tickets ahead of time is that you can actually sign up for fast passes through your My Disney Experience website. The catch is that you can only sign up for three fast passes and then you have to use all of them up before you can reserve more. So we got fast passes for Tower of Terror, Star Tours and Toy Story Mania. Fast passes go quickly, especially if you’re trying to get them the day you are in the park, or you might not get any at all. Keep checking your My Disney Experience app to see if times happen to open up and you might get lucky.
Planning for Weather
We visited the park in late March. I checked the forecast before our trip and it showed an average of 80 degrees and partly cloudy. The day we went to the park, it opened at 9am and it was still a little cool for my liking. I wore a short sleeve shirt, capris and tennis shoes. We brought water bottles and filled them up throughout the day to stay hydrated. We walked a total of 9.5 miles, including back to the hotel for dinner and then back to the park in the evening. I changed into pants and brought a sweatshirt with me that I got from Rad Swim. They have the cutest swimsuits and coverups! You can check out their website HERE. (Note: I received the sweatshirt at no cost from Rad Swim but all opinions are 100% mine.)
My Favorite Rides and Shows
Hollywood Studios is a pretty even balance between rides and shows. This makes it fairly easy to switch between the two and fill up the time in between any of your fast passes with other rides or shows. The longest we waited in line for anything we didn’t have a fast pass for was about 30 minutes which isn’t long at all. I’ve listed my top 5 favorite rides and shows below (in no particular order):
Tower of Terror – This was the very first ride we went on using our fast passes. We only waited for about 20 minutes before we were loaded into the ride. I went to Hollywood Studios for the first time back in high school when it was still called MGM Hollywood Studios and we rode the Tower of Terror then. Everything was exactly as I remembered it, except I could have sworn the ride lasted for longer than a minute. Also, Hollywood Studios is the only Disney park in the United States that has this ride, since the one at Disney’s California Adventure is being turned in a Guardians of the Galaxy ride.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (starring Aerosmith) – If there is one roller coaster ride that has been ingrained into my memory for how fun and fast it is, it’s the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I wish we’d gotten a fast pass for this one instead of Star Tours because I would have like to ride it more than once. It was the last ride we did before the fireworks show at the end of the night. The roller coaster shoots you forward from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and you experience 4.5 G as you enter the first turn (which is more than an astronaut experiences being from a shuttle launch). I absolutely cannot help but smile and scream the entire time.
Toy Story Mania – We didn’t have time to do the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Disneyland when we went a couple years ago, so I was excited to do Toy Story Mania this time around. To be completely honest, I didn’t exactly know what to expect but it didn’t take long to figure it out. My husband and I rode in a car together so we played against each other. The only bummer was that they had some technical difficulties a couple of times during our ride so we had to sit and wait for them to fix it before we could move onto the next game. My kids would absolutely love this ride and I can’t wait to do it at Disneyland the next time we go.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – While waiting to use our Toy Story Mania fast pass, we decided to get in the stand-by line for the Indiana Jones stunt show. Having seen the show during my first visit to the park in high school, I knew what to expect because the show hasn’t been changed since they opened the park. It is a huge set and it’s pretty amazing everything that goes on during the show. They recreate scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with stunts and pyrotechnics. It’s a really entertaining show and a fun way to get a glimpse into what a real movie scene might be like.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular (a fireworks show) – Originally, I had been looking forward to watching Fantasmic, but instead we got to see a combination fireworks and projection show. They project parts of all the Star Wars movie onto the side of The Great Movie Ride. There are lasers, fireworks, fog, searchlights and of course, the iconic soundtrack. I asked a cast member what the best spot was to view the show and he told me on the corner of Sunset and Hollywood Blvd. It was a great way to end the night.
Have you been to Disney’s Hollywood Studios? What are your favorite rides, shows and food?