Six Family Tips for Your Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Six Tips for your Day at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Today, Ryan Jacobson takes us through his day at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and shares a review of his family’s unanimous choice for the best restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. Here is how his day went.

My wife Lora claims Ryan has never walked so fast as at Early Theme Park Entry.

Normally, I recommend spending your first day at Magic Kingdom, but we planned to visit Hollywood Studios twice on our vacation. 

1. Utilize Genie+

We were disappointed to learn via the My Disney Experience (MDE) app that the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith would be closed throughout our stay. (You can also find such information on the park calendars at the Disney World website.) That made the Genie+ app even more important because lines at the other attractions would be longer.

We purchased Genie+ and then, at precisely 7 a.m., secured Lightning Lane passes for Slinky Dog Dash—the only ride you should grab first, unless you don’t intend to ride it. (Our pass was for 7:15 p.m. That’s how quickly those Slinky Dog times go.) That’s how quickly those Slinky Dog times go.)

Pro tip: Link your family’s MDE accounts before your trip—or well before 7 a.m. While my wife was getting our Slinky Dog passes, I simultaneously purchased Lightning Lane passes to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Rise). We wouldn’t have needed these passes, as you’ll see in a moment, but we wanted to ride it twice. 

While my wife was getting our Slinky Dog passes, I simultaneously purchased Lightning Lane passes to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Rise). We wouldn’t have needed these passes, as you’ll see in a moment, but we wanted to ride it twice.

Jonah enjoys his glass of Star Wars’ famed blue milk.
Surprise Mandalorian sighting!

2. Get to the park early We felt like the smartest people around when our Lyft ride dropped us off at Hollywood Studios around 7:15 a.m.—well ahead of the first buses. By my count, we were among the first 15 people there. That put us at the front of our line for rope drop (which always seems to come earlier than expected at Hollywood Studios) and put us in the first group to ride Rise. We actually finished the ride by 8:30 a.m., when Early Theme Park Entry was scheduled to begin.  From there, we went straight to Slinky Dog to see if we could beat the rush, but that wait was already approaching 90 minutes. Instead, we hopped onto Toy Story Mania and waited less than 20 minutes. Then we opted for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway—although we stopped at the Market along the way for Jack-Jack’s Num Num cookies.  Runaway Railway was our first misstep, albeit a minor one. The MDE tip board said our wait would only be 15 minutes, but that information attracted a lot of riders at once; the wait time more than doubled a few minutes later. Meanwhile, Slinky Dog saw a dip in wait time. While we stood in line at Runaway Railway for 45 minutes, we could’ve been in line for Slinky Dog with a 50-minute wait time. 

3. Eat lunch (or dinner) at our new favorite Disney restaurant We caught a show, made a Lightning Lane reservation for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, walked on at Star Tours a few times, and did some quick shopping. Then, at 1:05 p.m., we checked in for our lunch reservation at what became one of my favorite restaurants in all the World and in all the world: Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Toy Story Land. To make a long story short, you’re served as much as you care to eat of ribs, chicken, brisket, sausage, tater tots, mac & cheese, and more! Not only is it quantity, but it’s also quality. We thought everything was delicious. That’s not even mentioning the fun Toy Story atmosphere. Andy’s coming! 

Hollywood Studios
Our favorite meal of the week was at Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

4. A Lightning Lane isn’t always a lightning lane My oldest son and I had reservations at 3:05 p.m. for Savi’s Workshop. At 2:15 p.m. we casually strolled to the Tower of Terror to utilize our Lightning Lane passes. Apparently, so did everyone else. At 2:55, we were still stuck in line—and I had visions of being charged for missing our appointment. Fortunately, Disney World has excellent customer service. I was able to call them while in line and push back our appointment to 8 p.m. We stayed in our Lightning Lane and survived the ride—although it did cause us some regret about an all-you-care-to-eat lunch experience!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

5. Speaking of Savi’s Workshop It was totally worth the price. My oldest son and I are Star Wars nerds. Since this was his senior trip, I surprised him by booking a lightsaber-building experience at Savi’s Workshop. It was, in my opinion, the best thing we did all week. Leading up to it, I had some buyer’s remorse. It was quite expensive at $250 per person. But going through the short-but-sweet show that led to a fairly quick lightsaber build was definitely memorable. To be clear, your custom lightsaber isn’t as “custom” as you might think. Your choices are very limited—so much so that I built the exact same lightsaber as another participant. Still, a chance to create a lasting memory with your child while also getting a high-quality collectible to show off back home, it’s worth the hefty price tag. Also, you get a rare, not-sold-in-stores pin, which my pin-collecting wife appreciated. 

Jonah builds his Peace & Justice custom lightsaber

Pro tip #1: Disney doesn’t deliver merchandise to your hotel room anymore, so schedule Savi’s Workshop for the end of your day. Otherwise, you’ll have to tote around lightsabers with blades that are very shatterable.

Pro tip #2: If you’re staying at a resort, Disney happily handles shipping for you. Just bring all of your merchandise and your receipts (to prove that they were Disney purchases) to your resort gift shop. You can ship it home for a flat rate of $39.95. 

6. As great as Savi’s Workshop is, Oga’s Cantina… isn’t We were thrilled to get reservations at Oga’s Cantina, but the experience amounted to $40 for drinks we didn’t really want. There should be characters roaming and scenes unfolding in there, but it was essentially just 30 minutes in a crowded night club. Even for a Star Wars fanatic, I didn’t think it was worth the time or the money.

Oga’s Cantina… at least we got a table

Up next, I’ll tell you about a series of mistakes that almost ruined our morning at Magic
Kingdom. Don’t do what we did!

Ryan Jacobson is the author of more than 60 books. His most popular titles include the Constellations Activity Book, Can You Survive the Call of the Wild?and Up Where the Stars Are.

For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids

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