**Please note – this post was published before the opening of Toy Story Land, which I have not personally experienced yet. When I finally get down there to check it out, check my site for a review!**
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Disney’s Hollywood Studios – or, as it used to be known, MGM Studios – is a Disney thrill seekers wildest dream. While the classic Magic Kingdom park caters to younger kids and people who prefer the gentle cruise of Pirates of the Caribbean, Hollywood Studios is where you can find some of Disney’s most daring attractions.
Set in the backdrop of old and new Hollywood, the Studios park is in a stage of transition at the moment. Over the past few years, our friends from a Galaxy Far, Far Away have made this park their home. In addition, just this past week Toy Story Land finally opened the lid to the toy box, solidifying Pixar’s spot in the park!
Hollywood Studios has always been one of my favorite parks due to my love for the movies. While I love the whimsical nature of the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios has attractions that give me more of a rush, like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the various walk through exhibits in the park help you truly appreciate how much goes in to creating Disney masterpieces.
Here are the 4 things I recommend to everyone visiting the studios – while all the attractions at the park are worth a go, these 4 in particular are my favorites!
1. Tower of Terror
I have to admit, it took me well in to my teens to get over my fear of this ride. Since then however, Tower of Terror has become one of my absolute favorite rides at Disney. Most of that, honestly, has to do with the storyline of this attraction!
The backstory of the elevator trip of your nightmares definitely sets the stage for a creepy and twisted ride. Fans of “The Twilight Zone” will appreciate all the Easter Eggs in the lobby before you go in to the pre-show. Once there, you’re then told the story of the poor Hollywood citizens who ended up the “Twilight Zone” after lightning strikes the tower. Are you brave enough to get in the elevator and venture there yourself?
Simply put, it’s a drop tower ride. What’s unique about Twilight Zone is that your car goes up, down – even forwards and backwards at parts! – and each ride is different. One ride, you might go up, stay suspended for a few seconds, and then drop. On another ride, you might drop immediately before bouncing right back up! If you’re the type to get queasy, this might be a bit much for you, but the actual drop portion of the ride is pretty short.
I recommend riding it a few times, to get a different ride each time (the drops are not the only thing that change with each ride, the scenes leading up to the drops change as well) and riding it at night! It’s a great way to get a beautiful view of the park before the ride drops down once again!
2. Star Wars Meet and Greet
I recommend this because not only is it fun to meet our Star Wars friends, but it’s also relatively quick and easy to get through this meet and greet. Even in the hot summer, I’ve found wait times are generally no more than 20 minutes to meet the characters. If you’d rather hang out in the cool air conditioning while the rest of your group meets the characters, the Star Wars Launch Bay (where the characters are stationed) is full of movie props and fun facts about the making of the films, so you have somewhere to cool off while you wait for your party.
You can either meet Chewbacca, our Wookie hero and bestie to Han Solo, or Kylo Ren, the young Sith Lord from the new rebooted series. I have to say, while Chewbacca gave a GREAT hug, I think Kylo was more fun, because he was terrifying. I quickly showed him my Darth Vader shirt to prove I was a friend of the First Order because he just stared straight in to my soul. He was extremely tall and menacing – heck, it may have actually been Adam Driver under there.
Pictured: Me, trying to prove my loyalty to Kylo by showing him I’m a fan of his grandpa.
3. Toy Story Mania
Toy Story Mania is one of Disney’s most ambitious attractions. There’s a reason Fastpasses for this ride get snatched up immediately. Not only that, but wait times are often in the triple digits for most of the day during the summer! Starring all our favorite toys from the Toy Story franchise, this ride is not just your typical ride through attraction. You are transported to the world of the toys, outfitted with 3D glasses and a pull string cannon. You then travel through the attraction, stopping in front of screens and using your cannon to shoot virtual pies, darts, and rings at the screen. It’s just like playing various versions of the carnival games you might be familiar with!
Occasionally, your hit will trigger some sort of special “4D” effect. This could include water spraying in your face or a strong puff of air hitting you! At the end, you’ll get to see how your score compared to everyone in your car. If you’re the competitive type, you’ll definitely enjoy playing the game over and over to try and improve your score! The queue line for this attraction is also brilliantly designed so you at least have something to look at during the horrific wait times. There’s even an animatronic Mr. Potato Head!
Finally, I highly HIGHLY recommend seeing Fantasmic!
Mickey Mouse, a giant flaming dragon, special effects, and clips from Disney films projected on water are just a few of the things featured in this roughly 20 minute show. The premise of the show is that you’re entering Mickey’s “imagination” where you learn that in dreams, you can do (or be!) anything. Disney villains get in on the action as well, trying to sabotage Mickey’s dream and turn it in to a nightmare. With the power of dreams behind him, Mickey’s conquers them all. The special effects are the hallmark of this show, and even if you’ve seen the show dozens of times (like we have) you’ll still be in awe every time Maleficient transforms in to a dragon right there on stage.
Fantasmic! usually has two showings, and I recommend going to the second show. That way you can save your Fastpasses for the best attractions and not waste one on the show. During the summer especially, stand by will fill up VERY quickly, so I recommend doing the Fantasmic! Dining Package. For more info on Fastpasses, check out my breakdown of EVERY Fastpass at Disney!
Fantasmic! Dining Package
This special reservation not only gets you a reservation at a select restaurants in the park, but it also reserves your seat! You essentially get a Fastpass for the show – without having to reserve it via Fastpass! I would still arrive 20-30 minutes prior to your show even with this option, as you don’t get a specific seat. Rather, you get a reserved section, so it is still first come first serve when it comes to where in the stands you sit. Depending on when your reservation is, they will tell you which show you are getting a reservation for. Unfortunately, you won’t know this until you get to the restaurant. This is all dependent on how many reservations they have that day. If you want to get the first show, make your reservation for an early time, although this is no guarantee).
And there you have it! As I said earlier, this park is in a state of transition – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is on the horizon, and Toy Story land just opened! Recently The Great Movie Ride was closed and a new attraction centered around Mickey and his friends will take it’s place. With the park changing so much, I’m sure I’ll be able to add to this list in the very near future!
What’s your favorite ride at the Studios? Drop a comment below!