Hollywood Studios is a film- and Hollywood-themed park at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The park opened in 1989 and has housed some great Disney classics over the years.
This guide contains basic information about the rides and shows at Hollywood Studios. For ones that can be tricky to fit in, we give quick tips for riding or seeing them. But if you're primarily looking for help planning your ride strategy at Hollywood Studios, check out our Walt Disney World Fastpass+ guide and our Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ guide.
Hollywood Studios is in a rebuilding phase. Toy Story Land just opened on June 30, 2018 after years of construction (on a budget smaller than originally expected). Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is a much more ambitious area, expected to open in Fall 2019. Finally, a new trackless dark ride, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, is also expected to open in 2019.
This rebuilding phase has been hard on the park. At one point in 2018, it only had three operational rides. Even with Toy Story Land open, the park only has six rides, though it does offer a wide selection of shows.
More important for us, though, is that this state of flux makes it hard to predict things like crowd levels and which rides will have the longest waits. Also, while we do not prioritize the Toy Story Land rides just because they're new, plenty of people will.
If you're concerned about Hollywood Studios being "too much" with Toy Story Land, worry no more! While slower parties may find it hard to fit every single thing in, the park is not a true challenge. For example, Kenny the Pirate was able to ride all six rides within the first 2 hours and 23 minutes of Extra Magic Hours beginning on just the second day Toy Story Land was open.
Finally, we have not ridden the two new Toy Story Land rides—Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. We’re basing our opinions about those two rides on (1) videos of the rides, (2) reports from people who have ridden them, and (3) in the case of Alien Swirling Saucers, our experience on an identical ride system. Fortunately, these aren’t really complicated or “have to experience it to understand it” type rides.
Best Rides At Hollywood Studios
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Height: 40in / 102cm
Type: Thrill Ride / Drop Ride (Intense)
Tower of Terror is a nearly perfect ride. Like Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom, Tower of Terror looms over those who approach it, intimidating you before you’ve even reached the queue.
Throughout the early queue, you’ll hear the screams of other guests on the ride. When you finally enter, you’re surrounded by one of Disney’s better spaces, the spooky lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
From there, well, c’mon the ride is a classic, thrilling and chilling experience. The Walt Disney World version of this ride is still the best, even better than the beautiful and creative counterpart at Tokyo DisneySea.
Riding It: Tower of Terror is worth one of your advance Fastpass+ Tier 2 slots.
Toy Story Mania!
Type: 3D Game / Dark / Indoor
Toy Story Mania! is a fun-for-all-ages carnival 3D carnival-style game attraction. You and a partner (along with the two people on the other side of your vehicle) ride through five carnival games, using your cannon to throw/shoot/toss virtual objects at targets to score points.
As the best family ride at Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Mania always commands a long wait. The nice thing, though, is that the queue is almost entirely indoors and, while not perfect, it is a fun piece of Imagineering.
Riding It: Toy Story Land has not overflowed Hollywood Studios like we might have feared. If anything, it seems like the new Toy Story Land rides are keep the Toy Story Mania! line more reasonable, making it worth considering for standby. Feel free to use a Tier 1 Fastpass+ on it, though, and head to Slinky Dog Dash at rope drop.
Slinky Dog Dash
Height: 38in / 97cm
Type: Kiddie Coaster
Early reports are that Slinky Dog Dash is better than your average kiddie coaster. Some people are even saying it's better than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We only find SDMT to be okay, but we get that some people really love it.
It's these positive reviews, from people we trust, that earn it a spot in our Best Rides at Hollywood Studios. It's unlikely it will ever be a personal favorite of ours, but we try to provide some balance in these guides.
Riding It: With the positive reviews, it's pretty clear that Slinky Dog Dash is the cornerstone of Hollywood Studios planning for the immediate future. Grab a Fastpass+ in advance or arrive at the park for rope drop.
Type: Indoor 3D Show
We have a soft spot for Muppet*Vision 3D, but we're definitely not alone. This 15-minute show is premised around the Muppets showing off some new 3D technology, complete with a few "cheap 3D tricks." It's Muppet humor at its finest, and a staple of our visits to Hollywood Studios.
Walt Disney Presents
Type: Walkthrough Museum
Walt Disney Presents is a small museum celebrating Walt Disney. The exhibits are attached to the building that rotates (on a long-term, not daily, schedule) between showing movie previews and the short film about Walt Disney, One Man's Dream. The museum contains some great artifacts and anecdotes about Walt Disney and the development of the Disney parks. It's definitely worth a visit during any trip to Hollywood Studios.
The Rest of the Rides At Hollywood Studios
Alien Swirling Saucers
Height: 32in / 82in
This ride is the same ride system as Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in Disney California Adventure Park, so we're familiar at least with the mechanics of it. It's sort of a teacups-light system where you'll be weaving around the platform but not whipping around with the same force at the teacups. Besides being a new ride, nothing really attracts us to this one.
Riding It: Alien Swirling Saucers is the least popular of the three Toy Story Land rides, thought it sometimes has a wait longer than Toy Story Mania. We probably wouldn't waste a Fastpass+ slot on it, just head there early or suffer through a 30-minute wait at some point in the day.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Height: 48in / 122cm
Type: Indoor Dark Roller Coaster (Fast, Upside Down)
There aren’t many things in Disney parks I dislike more than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. When I was a teenager, though, I absolutely loved Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Am I just getting old? Surely that’s some of it.
If you’re looking for a high-speed, thrilling roller coaster with loops and corkscrews through the dark, fine, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is what you need. If you don’t like roller coasters, definitely skip this ride. If you love roller coasters, definitely ride this ride.
I’m not opposed to roller coasters, so why do I take issue with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster? First of all, no one cares about Aerosmith anymore (Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris is re-theming the ride around Iron Man). Second, the queue is just awful. A plain cement box is nowhere I want to wait for two hours, especially when the ride itself is only 82 seconds.
Toy Story Land is, somewhat surprisingly, not really cutting into the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster waits, so you still need to give it some priority if you want to avoid a long wait.
Riding It: Use a Fastpass+ slot if you must. Otherwise consider the single rider line or head there early while the crowds are still in Toy Story Land.
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
Height: Any; Ages 4 to 12
Type: Interactive Performance
Disney lists this as "entertainment," but really it is more of an attraction. Guests aged 4 to 12 can sign up to be a part of Jedi Training for this 20-minute show occurring throughout the day. Yes, you can watch it, but it isn't any good. It's really mostly for the kids who get to participate (though other kids may enjoy watching).
Participating: Sign up when the park opens at Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Height: 40in / 102cm
Type: 3D Motion / Thrill Ride
Star Tours laid the technological groundwork for some of the best rides in Disney Parks. Once you enter your Star Tours vehicle with the other passengers, the movement of the vehicle and the screen in front of you combine to take you on a thrilling journey through the Star Wars universe.
There are two really great things about Star Tours, beyond the ride itself. First, the queue is one of the best at Hollywood Studios. Once you’re inside the building, you’re in your storyline, preparing to depart on your tour. Second, the ride is dynamic. Disney has added storylines every few years as new Star Wars movies have come out, so you can have different experiences across multiple rides.
Riding It: Generally, Star Tours is worth a Tier 2 Fastpass+ selection. But if you manage to get Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster with those two slots, you'll probably have a decent shot of grabbing a day-of Fastpass+. Finally, the queue is enjoyable and worthy of up to a 30-minute wait.
Entertainment At Hollywood Studios
While Hollywood Studios continues to be undergoing changes heading into late 2019, there will continue to be minor (and maybe a few major) tweaks to entertainment at the parks. Unlike ride changes, which typically are announced far in advance, entertainment offerings often just come and go.
In this guide, we're going to list the major entertainment offerings. The guide was last updated in July 2018. For the most current and complete offerings, check Disney's own Hollywood Studios entertainment page.
Daytime Entertainment At Hollywood Studios
Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage
Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage is a 30-minute stage performance of songs from Beauty and the Beast. There are a few standout moments in the performance, but for the most part the show is going to tug at the heartstrings of Beauty and the Beast fans. There are usually about five performances a day.
Citizens of Hollywood
The Citizens of Hollywood are a comedy troupe who perform improv with each other and guests along Hollywood Boulevard (the street that heads toward Tower of Terror). Grab a snack or a drink and take a few minutes to watch them between attractions.
Disney Junior - Live on Stage!
We've never seen Disney Junior - Live on Stage! It's a 30-minute stage show featuring characters from Disney's "Disney Junior" network. It's ending September 2, 2018.
For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Another half-hour show, but this one is at least interactive. Monitors display the lyrics to your favorite Frozen songs (as if you needed them), as guests are invited to sing along with Anna and Elsa.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! is our favorite show at Hollywood Studios. Over 30 minutes, it takes you behind the scenes of some scenes from the Indiana Jones films. While it will probably only really impress the younger kids, it is still a good show, and it's much, much better than some attempts to copy if that we've seen at other theme parks.
March of the First Order
Phasma and some Stormtroopers march through the middle of Hollywood Studios. Obviously Star Wars diehards will want to be sure to catch it. Everyone else should be content crossing paths with it. The show takes less than 10 minutes and occurs between 5 and 10 times a day.
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
This is a bad stage show where different Star Wars characters take to the stage at the center of Hollywood Studios to do nothing in particular. It's about 10 minutes long. As with March of the First Order, it's really only for the diehards (and they'll probably be disappointed).
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
This indoor 17-minute stage and puppet show features songs from The Little Mermaid. It's definitely not a must-do, but its shorter length and more frequent shows make it worth squeezing in at some point.
Nighttime Entertainment At Hollywood Studios
Disney Movie Magic
Disney Movie Magic is a 10-minute projection show featuring live-action films from the Disney library. On most days, it is scheduled just before Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. It's not a must-see.
Fantasmic! is the highlight of the Hollywood Studios nighttime shows and, for some, the highlight of Disney's nighttime shows. The show is known for two things: being an amazing show and being and otherwise awful experience.
The show features a variety of sequences from Disney's animated films, and it culminates in a battle between Mickey and Disney Villains. It's a great show, and generally one we'd consider worth the 30-minute length.
But that's the rub. To get a good seat, most commentators suggest arriving an hour early. If there are two shows, the later one is usually much easier to see.
The Fantasmic Ampitheater is tucked away behind Tower of Terror. It's a decent hike to get there from the queue along Hollywood Boulevard, but it's the exit that is worse. Because there's only a single path connecting the amphitheater to the rest of the park, around 10,000 people wind up in the same, relatively small, pathway once the show is done.
You should definitely try to see Fantasmic! at least once. We suggest seeing the second showing in the day, if possible. For the first (or only) show, plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes early, regardless of whether or not you have a Fastpass+.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is a nighttime projection and firework show at Hollywood Studios, akin to Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom. The show is projected onto the Chinese Theater. There is one showing a night. Depending on the Fantasmic! schedule, you may be able to catch both shows.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World Fastpass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.