Disney Hollywood Studios - What to see and do before Star Wars Land opens




One of the Star Wars- Galaxy Quest wall murals you can pose for photos

With the opening of Toy Story Land on 30 June 2018 and the opening of Star Wars Land (Galaxy Quest) sometime in mid 2019 our family were in two minds whether it was worth visiting Disney Hollywood studios (HS). I love Star Wars, so I knew I would just love this park – but was there enough to do before these two large headline attractions opened? The answer is a resounding YES. There are heaps of shows to watch, a Walt Disney exhibition and plenty from the Star Wars universe to see and experience.

We decided to visit this park first on our WDW trip itinerary as: 

#1 This park has the smallest number of attractions thus only required a shorter day (we were expecting jet lag after a long trip to America from Australia).

#2 There are a lot of shows – so if we were still tired we can rest in the shows (this is particularly important for our child who doesn’t cope with jet lag well). The shows were also often in air-conditioning – so this was another bonus to cool down and rest.
The ironic thing is – we flew from Australia to Florida at night time all the way – about 20 hours in the air - and we didn’t really get jet lag in the U.S!

So what is there to do in this park before Toy Story Land and Star Wars land opens??

Toy Story Mania
This is one of our favourite rides in our family.  We didn’t have a Fast Pass for this ride so as soon as we got to the park we went straight to this ride. The waiting time was about 50 minutes. 
Toy Story Mania is a 4D ride, where you sit in cars and aim for targets on a screen that is loosely based on classic ‘carnival midway games’. You spin in the car from screen to screen and try and shoot as many 3D moving targets as you can.  You get a score at the end. It’s a great ‘all ages’ ride and can be quite competitive as you score points. The ride is extremely popular (In  Japan this ride is incredibly popular -where lines can be over 2 hours long in the standby queue).

The entrance to Toy Story Mania - but I do wonder if this will have a completely redesigned entrance when Toy Story Land opens in June 2018

Walt Disney Exhibition 'One Mans Dream'

A great place to visit and also escape from the Florida heat is the Walt Disney Exhibition and film Walt’s Own Words. The Gallery exhibition is self-guided – and you can take as long as you like.

There are some great artifacts to see like Walt's 2nd Grade school writing desk (which he etched his initials into the desk as a child!), samples of early animation, to the actual desk he worked at as an adult.



Walt's actual desk from Year 2! He carved his initials into the table and the table is on display.

Walt's Writing Desk (as an adult)


There are a lot of pictures of Walt around Disneyland

There are models of Disney’s castles from around the world. Models of the Toy Story land rides and Star Wars Land ‘Galaxy Quest’. So if you are going to miss out on the opening of Star Wars (and Toy Story land), you can at least view what they have planned – and it looks amazing. Apparently, as of April 2018 – Disneyland Anaheim is slightly ahead of schedule with Star Wars land – and Hollywood Studios is slightly behind schedule. It is said that Hollywood Studios is behind schedule as with all theme park attractions in Orlando, the Imagineers need to deal with the ‘swamp’ conditions first – something Anaheim doesn’t have issues with.

In April 2018 they were testing the new Toy Story land rides including ‘The Slinky Dog Dash’. It is supposed to be a very ‘smooth’ ride coaster and it is hoped even a 2 year old could potentially ride it. HS wanted to make the rides more family friendly (all ages) in Toy Story Land.

After the tour of the Exhibition – there is a fabulous 15 minute movie theatre style presentation of Walt Disney. It filled in some blanks for me I had about his life so it was worth seeing as a lifelong fan.

Live theatre Shows at Disney Hollywood Studios

There are several live shows at Disney Hollywood Studios. There is definitely less walking in this park and I found it more relaxing watching the shows (thus a good park to go to when you are tired!).

Voyage of the Little Mermaid – Air conditioned luxury, this was a great show with great music. Do not sit at the far left of the theatre though (in spite of what the cast members tell you to keep moving to the left) – as you won’t be able to see Ariel properly. I had to move. The effects make you feel like you are literally under water. It is very clever and fun for all ages.

Beauty and the Beast on Stage – This is in an undercover outdoor theatre and is really good – although due to time constraints the story is extremely condensed (!).  However, all the characters, the songs and the romance are still there. The costumes, singing and dancing are wonderful. The Fast Pass ride is rather long and convoluted. I am not sure why we ever did a Fast Pass for this as it didn’t seem any quicker to get a seat or even a ‘better’ seat. If anything, having a Fastpass meant it was harder to exit the theatre. We could have saved time by just going in the standby line rather than getting to the Fast Pass line and then having to wait for the show to start.




Indiana Jones – Epic Stunt Spectacular – This is also in a large undercover outdoor theatre and is also quite good. I love Indiana Jones and its nice to see some of the effects recreated from the movie – including that ‘out of control ball’. I do think HS is missing out on not having an Indiana Jones ride like Anaheim and Tokyo  (Disneyland Paris is another version of Indiana Jones which is quite different from the others).  It is one thing to watch the Indiana Jones show – and another thing to experience the ball actually coming towards you on the ride itself! Overall, its quite a good show and should be seen at least once. To beat the crowds exiting, sit on the far right, at the top.

Muppet Vision 3D - I had heard very good things about this show, that it was fun for both children and adults. Actually I thought this show was just ok. I am not sure why. My daughter A.J loved this show. The Muppet Vision 3D show is located near where they are currently building Star Wars land. If you stand somewhere high on a garden ledge, you can kind of see the construction over the fencing (HS has gone to great lengths however to stop people doing this though).

Our family had seen both ‘For the First time in Forever – A Frozen sing Along Celebration' and 'Fantasmic' at Anaheim so we skipped these two shows at HS. But they are both amazing shows and good fun. We were limited a bit with time at HS, so we therefore had to forgo these attractions.

Star Wars Attractions

This park you can already see will be overrun with Star Wars attractions in the next year or so and beyond. As a Star Wars fan – there is at the moment quite a lot to see and do – you won’t be disappointed.

Star Tours’ is the classic ride which has been updated recently to incorporate characters and planets from the latest movies. I love this ride (I was the ‘rebel spy’ on the Tokyo version ha ha). Star Tours is a 3D motion simulator ride. Some people do get motion sickness from it, but its a lot of fun as you dodge asteroids, travel through futuristic cities or through forests etc at high speed. It changes every time you ride it.

There are plenty of Star Wars land wall murals depicting what Star Wars land will look like when it opens. These are fun to pose for photographs against. Star Wars land will be about 14 acres and is supposed to be so immersive, it will be just like stepping into a Star Wars movie (aka Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios). We were told by a cast member that there will be two entrances to it – a Dark side and a Light side. The mind boggles over how this will be done. One thing is for sure – it will be fantastic.



The March of the First Order – where multiple Storm Troopers and Captain Phasma march up the main Hollywood Boulevard to the Centre stage. For such a simple show – this was actually a park highlight for me and was quite impressive and scary (if you think for a few seconds what if they were real!). I met a First Order Storm Trooper and he wasn’t that friendly (I had to swear allegiance to the First Order!). Make sure you sit on the left hand side of the stage for the best view.

March of the First Order

 

Star Wars: Galaxy Far, Far Away is a short stage show featuring all the old favourites from Darth Vader to BB8 and C3PO, Rey and more. This show was good to see with lots of pyrotechnics – but if you have to choose between the March of the First Order and this one, go see the March of the First Order’ – just for the spectacle. Both shows are on multiple times a day.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show, filled with pyrotechnics and special effects

Star Wars – A Galactic Spectacular – A fireworks show set to Star Wars themed music. This was on my wish list to see for this park, but starting at 9:30pm we had simply run out of energy to keep going in the park and needed to go back to the hotel. We did see the fireworks partially for this park from our All Stars Music Hotel however! (although not the same as being there with the accompanying music etc)

Star Wars – Launch Bay – Was where you could see props from the latest movies, helmets, light sabers etc and also meet and get photos with Chewbacca, Kylo Ren and BB8 (whom was kinda cute in a robot kind of way!). The wait times were very short – less then 20 minutes. You will also often meet and see Storm Troopers at Launch Bay.


 
Me with Chewie - he is 'hairier' then you think

Me with BB8

Jedi Training – You need to register your child (age 4-12) ahead of time for this show and places are limited, but its great fun to watch the youngest padawan (Jedi apprentice) get taught the ways of the Force with Light Sabers. The Padawan’s then get to fight Darth Vader, Darth Maul and Kylo Ren! The backdrop to the show is one of those huge fighting machines, an At-M6 Walker, recently seen in ‘The Last Jedi’.

An At_M6 Walker is the background for Star Tours and Jedi Training

 
Jedi Training

Dreaming on a Galactic Scale – a short 10 minute movie about the making of Star Wars movies from the point of view of the directors, writers and producers not normally seen. Whilst interesting, I probably would only ever do this again as a time filler.

Toy Story Land opening June 2018

Toy Story Land opens June 30th 2018 and will have rides such as ‘Alien Swirling Saucers and ‘Slinky Dog Dash’. Having been to Hong Kong Disneyland’s Toy Story land – there will be plenty of photo opportunities with oversized toys. The Slinky Dog ride in Hong Kong is not very long or big so it will be interesting to see what the imagineers will have created for Orlando. You can read about my review of Hong Kong Toy Story Land here.

Star Wars: Galaxy Edge will have new ride such as flying in the Millennium Falcon, and another that puts you in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance – the Star Destroyer ride. Galaxy Quest will be set on the planet Batuu – a remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge.

Food Options
We struggled with healthy food options at Hollywood Studios. There was not a great deal of choice for main meals. We ate at the ABC Commissary where I ate a Chicken Club sandwich for just over $10 USD. It tasted good, but not very healthy. Luckily, we only had to have one meal in this park. The recommendation for this park was Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, but you couldn’t ‘look inside’ the restaurant, and you need to prebook. The Trolley Car CafĂ© was also ‘recommended’ as a great, cheap, healthy place to eat (it’s a Starbucks establishment) – you have to ask for the food menu. But their choice of food options was also very bleak. We can however recommend ABC Commissary however as a ‘walk up’ food place to eat reasonably priced food. It might not have been too healthy – but it tasted good! There was also a fruit cart (Anaheim Produce) near the Beauty and the Beast stage show. 


An ABC Commissionary Chicken Club Sandwich for just over $10 USD


Overall, HS was a great park, and due to the high number of shows, the most relaxing one!
Until next week,

KJ 
 

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