Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly known at MGM Studios) has become a must-visit park while in the Orlando area. When it opened in 1989, visitors claimed it was worth a half day trip at most; attractions and rides being bland and limited. Shows and rides have come and gone, some originals still standing and innovative additions always popping up. Nowadays, there’s so much to do, you’ll have a tough time figuring out which rides and attractions are the best.
The most recent addition has been Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge which debuted August 29, placing Star Wars fans directly onto the planet of Batuu. A little bit earlier, Toy Story Land opened in 2018, bringing popular rides like Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, and Toy Story Mania! A hit among the younger crowds, it’s one of the many different areas that Hollywood Studios is broken into. Below is a comprehensive list of the rides and attractions along with their FastPass+ tiers, and which section of the park they can be found in.
- Disney Junior Dance Party!
- Star Wars Launch Bay
- Walt Disney Presents
- Mickey & Minnie – Red Carpet Dreams
Toy Story Land
Best Rides and Attractions at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is home to some classics and some thrillers, but the top 5 have to be: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania!, and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. These are the rides that you want to make sure you snipe a FastPass+ for, as the lines can get really long in the busy season. Find their rankings and more information about each attraction below.
1. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Disney World’s Tower of Terror can be seen from monorails and ferries surrounding Hollywood Studios for miles. Standing at 199 feet tall and featuring a 13 story elevator car drop, the tower is one of the tallest attractions in the entire park. Set in the storyline of the TV show “The Twilight Zone”, the haunted hotel takes you back to Halloween night in 1939 when a storm strikes the hotel and guests go missing, standing empty ever since.
The wait line is true to character, as is the staff. Stone cold faces of the hotel employees paired with cobwebs and a dark, antique-style lobby set the scene before the pre-show. Little ones could be a little scared when shuffled into the small library-esque room for the backstory on the haunted hotel. The lights suddenly go off and the sounds of a thunderstorm, can be on the scary side if you’re not expecting it. Once you actually board the ride itself, you’re seated movie theatre style, all facing one direction. Each seat has its own lap seat belt as the ride only moves forward and then the obvious up and down drops.
The sequence of drops are completely random, so if you go more than once, you’re experience might be different every time. Wait times for Tower of Terror can get pretty long, and the large majority of the wait is outdoors, so if you’re vacationing in the summer, this is a priority for a FastPass+. As a newly categorized tier one, these FastPasses are valuable, but were probably changed from tier 2 to lessen the competition between the rides in Toy Story Land. The thrill ride isn’t for the faint of heart, but only has a requirement of 40” when it comes to height.
2. Slinky Dog Dash
One of the newest rides in Hollywood Studios, Slinky Dog Dash is located Toy Story Land, easily one of the coolest constructed world of Tinkertoys and all things colorful. The entrance to the ride is in the middle of Toy Story Land, but the ride itself stretches over and around nearly half the new area. Opening in the summer of 2018, many vacationers are still riding for the first time, so if you don’t reserve FastPasses, expect to be waiting well over an hour. If you hit a particularly hectic day, the line could stretch out into Toy Story Land. In that case, there are usually umbrellas set up along the line to block out the heat.
Once you’re in the main queue, the atmosphere is incredible. There are photo ops, interactive references and there’s even a game on the Disney Parks Play app specific to Slinky Dog Dash. Once on the ride, it’s two to a row and a pouch in front of you to put your belongings. May guests compare the experience to Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, meaning it’s a smooth ride with some height and dips, but there are no loops and definitely doesn’t fall into the category of a thrill. It’s definitely recommended to ride at night if possible. Since the coaster is outdoors, the view of Toy Story Land illuminated by gigantic christmas bulbs is priceless. At the same time, this means it’s impacted by poor weather.
Rider height restriction is a minimum of 38”, making it an all around great family ride. Standing in the 95th percentile of peak weights, along with being a tier 1 ride, Slinky Dog Dash is a FastPass+ must.
3. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is an all indoors thrill ride with loops, loud music, and a ton of speed. Based on legendary rock band Aerosmith, the queue takes you through the group’s studio when their manager interrupts to tell them they’re late for a gig. Before rushing out, the band invites the line to hop in the limo and join, hence being buckled up in what looks like a stretch limo.
Once on the physical ride you’re in rows of two and have an overhead buckle come down. The limo waits for a countdown to take off and blasts different Aerosmith songs including “Walk This Way”, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Back in the Saddle”, and “Love in a Roller Coaster”, a twist on the original “Love in an Elevator” through an extreme sound system. Taking you on a ride of a lifetime, the race to make the concert starts with a high-speed launch of 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds.
With a total time of 1 minute and 22 seconds, the typical long wait is worth it. The overflow line is outdoors but has a covering. Once you’re on the inside you can expect the line to move quickly, especially because the decor makes it look like an actual recording studio. Because it’s an indoor coaster, it moves, rain or shine. Typical wait time is over an hour, so it being a tier 1 FastPass+ ride, it’s on the recommendation list to reserve. With a height restriction of 48” it’s a great ride for anyone who loves to feel the wind in their hair.
4. Toy Story Mania!
Toy Story Mania! Is such a unique ride because it’s interactive, competitive and fun for everyone in the family. The wait time can get crazy and it’s a tier 1 ride so you may have to make a choice within the Toy Story Land rides depending on your vacation schedule. This one is great if you’re traveling with little ones because there are no height restrictions and parents can ride with little ones tucked next to them.
- The competitive toy ride features five games as your cart travels around. The five games include:
- Hamm & Eggs- using your firing mechanism to shoot eggs at targets in a barnyard
- Rex & Trixie’s Dino Darts- shooting darts to pop the balloons on the screen with a volcano background
- Green Army Men Shoot Camp- fire baseballs at dinner plates
- Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers- ring toss with an alien twist
- Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery- shoot suction-cupped darts just like in Woody’s TV show
Each cart fits four people but they’re facing back to back, so there are two to a side. The firing mechanism is a pulley string that you have to be strategic with (place the end ball between two fingers and flick your wrist really fast for speed). Expect to be sore! 3D glasses are provided during your time in the line.
5. Beauty and the Beast- Live on Stage!
This live iteration of Beauty and the Beast is a must see sped up show, especially when your group needs a break from being on their feet. The lines can get a little long, so if you want to get a good seat you should arrive 20-30 minutes before the set start time. On normal days, the show will run about 5 times (11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 5pm), so as long as you can dedicate some time to securing a good seat, reserving a FastPass+ isn’t an absolute must.
The outdoor theater has a downward slope and fits 1,500 people, but is covered only by a shade roof so it’s not exactly a hideaway from rain. The seats are bench style with plenty of legroom, but it can be tough on the back after a while. Pretty much every seat is a good seat, and you can hear what’s happening on stage from everywhere in the stadium. If by chance you don’t get a seat however, there’s plenty of standing room in the back.
The show is 25 minutes in length and captures the full story of Beauty and the Beast in a recapped version. All of the main songs are played over loudspeakers and the main characters are hooked up with microphones, giving a truly live action performance. Make sure you check the app for any cancellations, the rain can put a damper on an outdoor show.
New Rides and Attractions at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios has recently undergone some dramatic changes, the biggest being the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened Fall of 2019. The area totals 14 acres and is home to brand new Star Wars attractions, shops, iconic features and a restaurant that served the infamous “blue milk” drink. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is a thrilling interactive space mission that’s currently open but does not take FastPass+ reservations. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will open December 5, 2019.
The FastPass+ tiers are also new starting August 29, 2019. The tiers mentioned in this post are up to date, but if they look different than they were during your last trip, that’s because they are. The change comes from trying to move around the tiers so that no one ride or land is too overcrowded.
Other Noteworthy Spots
Hollywood Studios is home to so many cool shops, food destinations and shows, so even if you’re not a ride person, there’s something here for you. If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, check out Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The Sci-Fi Theater is indoors but has high ceilings and is set to look like it’s outside and you’re eating in the lot of an old-time drive in movie theater. The food is pretty good, but you’re paying for the experience. At the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the employees treat you like a grandparent would treat a child, and it’s all part of the theatrics. “Get your elbows off the table”, “Finish your vegetables”; it’s unique and hilarious if you have a good sense of humor.
Also be sure to check out Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind shop on your way in or out of the park. You’ll fine art and collectibles that you won’t find anywhere else.
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