Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Walt Disney World

Lisa Fritscher November 11, 2010 2 Comments

Hollywood Studios Disney World

Disney's Hollywood Studios immerses guests in movie and television productions

Opened in 1989, Disney’s Hollywood Studios began life as Disney-MGM Studios. The two companies parted in fall 2007 and the park was renamed to reflect a change in focus. While some sections of the park celebrate the Golden Age of Hollywood, many attractions now highlight the present and future of film and television. Whether your kids are movie buffs or thrill ride junkies, there is truly something for everyone.

Hollywood Boulevard

Grauman's Chinese Theater Hollywood Studios

Grauman's Chinese Theater houses the Great Movie Ride

As you step through the turnstiles, you are immersed in the glamour of 1920s Hollywood. Strollers, wheelchairs and ECVs are available for rent at Oscar’s Gas Station, although prices are a bit steep. Guest Relations, located to your left, is a one-stop shop for any questions or concerns. If anyone in your group is disabled, stop by to learn about the park’s many accommodations to make your stay a bit more pleasant. 

Take your time wandering down Hollywood Boulevard. Improvisational actors known as “Streetmosphere” portray known Hollywood types from directors to ingénues, and they love to involve park guests in their skits. 

At the end of Hollywood Boulevard is a giant Sorcerer’s Hat–a tribute to Mickey Mouse’s role as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia. Behind the Hat is a reproduction of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The theater holds a spectacular ride through the movies, aptly named the Great Movie Ride. The ride is appropriate for all ages, although very sensitive children may be afraid of scenes from the 1979 thriller Alien. 

Sunset Boulevard 

Tower of Terror Hollywood Studios Disney World

On the Tower of Terror, you will step inside the Twilight Zone

Sunset Boulevard is best known for its two thrill rides: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. On the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, you enter an abandoned hotel where a video clip of Rod Serling sets up the premise and invites you to enter the Twilight Zone. Interestingly, although the ride opened 20 years after Serling’s death, he is indeed the actor in the clip. Appropriate video footage was reused, and a voice actor provided new dialogue. Many people believe that Disney digitally erased Serling’s trademark cigarette, but in actuality he simply did not have it in that particular clip. 

The ride itself uses lighting, sound and video effects along with a random sequence of 13-story drops to create a new experience each time. The ride is intentionally scary and the height requirement is 40 inches. Child Swap is available, in which one adult waits with the children while the other rides, and then switches places without standing in line again. Ask an attraction attendant for details. 

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Hollywood Studios Disney World

Aerosmith fans will love Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a high speed roller coaster with multiple inversions that takes place entirely in the dark, while Aerosmith music provides a soundtrack. The ride is fast and intense, with a height requirement of 48 inches. Child Swap is available if needed. 

The Theater of the Stars offers a live-action tribute to Beauty and the Beast. The 20 minute show covers most of the highlights, and is great fun for all ages. Sit in the middle of the theater for the best view. 

Animation Courtyard and Pixar Place 

Voyage of the Little Mermaid Hollywood Studios Disney World

Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a must-see for fans of the film

Animation Courtyard is perhaps the best area in the park for smaller children. Originally the beginning of the Backstage Studio Tour, today the Animation Courtyard is home to several small but worthwhile attractions. 

Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a spectacular indoor stage show that combines film, live action, puppetry and special effects to retell the popular story. There is nothing to fear here, especially if your kids are fans of the movie. 

Playhouse Disney Live on Stage! is heavy on audience participation. Arrive early and grab a seat near the front for the best chance at making your kids part of the show. Characters are drawn from the Playhouse Disney programming lineup, including Handy Manny and Little Einsteins. 

Magic of Disney Animation Hollywood Studios

Learn how animated films are created at the Magic of Disney Animation

The Magic of Disney Animation begins with a short theater show in which a Disney artist interacts with Mushu, the dragon star of Mulan. After the show, you will enter an interactive exhibit area where you can meet Disney characters, learn to draw from a Disney animator, or play games involving light and sound. 

Stop by Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream for an insider’s look at the man who started it all. Rare memorabilia and voiceover narration tell the story of Walt’s life. A short film at the end is actually narrated by Walt himself. 

Toy Story Midway Mania Hollywood Studios Disney World

Toy Story Midway Mania is always crowded, but worth the wait

Pixar Place pays tribute to Disney’s long-standing relationship with Pixar Studios. The major attraction is Toy Story Midway Mania, an extraordinarily popular ride-through virtual video game. There is no height restriction, and most kids seem to love the interactive games. Visit very early or very late, as the attraction almost always has an extremely long line.

Streets of America

Honey I Shrunk the Kids Hollywood Studios Disney World

Your kids can pose for photos on Antie, from Honey I Shrunk the Kids

The Streets of America were once accessible only by tram tour, but are now fully walkable, offering a unique look at the reality of moviemaking. The Lights, Motors, Action stunt show features cars, motorcycles and even jet skis in a variety of stunts. The Studio Backlot Tour is a must-see for those interested in the process of filmmaking, featuring a water effects tank, a tram ride through prop and costume warehouses, and a ride into Catastrophe Canyon. The canyon replicates a disaster scene with fire, earthquake and water effects. Most effects take place on the left of the ride vehicle, so seat sensitive children to the right. 

The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is a wonderful place for kids to run, climb and play, while Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3D uses 3D film and special effects for a hilarious tribute to the popular characters. Arrive early to catch the preshow, and take a few minutes to explore the preshow lobby for some rather amusing effects.

Echo Lake

Star Wars Hollywood Studios Disney World

The Star Wars area is fun for all ages

Half of Echo Lake is devoted to Star Wars, with heavy themeing and plenty of photo opportunities.  At the Jedi Training Academy, kids learn to wield light sabers for an epic battle with Darth Vader or Darth Maul. There is no definitive way to ensure that your child is selected, but showing enthusiasm definitely helps.  See article Disney’s Star Wars Weekends for more info. 

Star Tours is a motion simulator ride through the films. Currently undergoing upgrades, Star Tours is scheduled to reopen in spring 2011. Although no official announcement has been made, the ride is expected to retain its 40 inch height requirement. Child Swap is available if needed. Even if you do not ride, visit the gift shop at the exit. Known as Tattooine Traders, the shop houses an extensive collection of Star Wars merchandise. 

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Hollywood Studios

Learn the secrets of stuntwork at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

Just past the Star Wars area is the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the film series’ most iconic stunts. Adult volunteers over 18 are selected to participate. Arrive at least 20 minutes early to watch the casting process, even if you will not volunteer. 

The American Idol Experience offers park guests the opportunity to compete for a “front of the line” pass to auditions for the American Idol television show. You must be at least 14 years old and pass two morning auditions in order to compete, but just watching the show is a lot of fun. You will have the opportunity to vote for your favorite singer via a keypad embedded in the armrest of your seat. Arrive at least 30 minutes before show time to ensure a seat. 

Dining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios 

Prime Time Cafe Hollywood Studios Disney World

Head back to the 1950s at the Prime Time Cafe

Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers wonderfully themed table service restaurants. At the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, you will be seated in a 1950s convertible in front of a drive-in movie screen that shows a loop of B-movie clips. At the Prime Time Café, you will enter a stereotypical 1950s house, where Mom is in the kitchen and your brothers and sisters serve as wait staff. Mama Melrose is a tribute to the Italian restaurants in New York City’s theater district. Make reservations for table service dining well in advance, and plan to spend at least an hour and a half enjoying the experience. Quick service dining includes a variety of fast food and cafeteria-style alternatives. 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios After Dark 

Fantasmic! Hollywood Studios Disney World

Fantasmic! visits the world of Mickey Mouse's imagination

Located in a massive amphitheater on Sunset Boulevard, Fantasmic! blends film projection, live action and water effects for a dramatic closing show. Unfortunately, the show is no longer presented every night. Check the official Disney website for performance dates, and arrive at least two hours before show time to ensure that you get a seat. On crowded nights, there are often two performances, and the second is usually less crowded. Restrooms, snack stands, and even a designated smoking area are located at the rear of the theater, making the long wait a bit more comfortable. 

After the show, hang back and relax. The stampede for the park exit can be frustrating, and the park is elegant after dark. Grab an ice cream and watch the crowd go by rather than joining the throngs.

avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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2 Comments to “Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Walt Disney World”
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