A note from Mommy Frog: Starting Sept. 23, Disney World will pause the use of virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios may experience this incredible attraction using a traditional standby queue for the first time since it opened in 2019. Boarding Groups may return to Rise of the Resistance at a later date, or from time to time as needed during peak times.
Disney's Hollywood Studios is one hoppin' park! With the additions of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, it's no surprise that the park has a high demand at the moment. In fact, Disney Park Pass reservations tend to fill up faster for Hollywood Studios than the other Disney World theme parks. Of all the parks, Hollywood Studios continues to see the highest wait times, and we expect this trend will continue, especially during busier times. While that might be worrying for those of you with upcoming visits, we're here to take the stress off.
We frogs are very excited that more entertainment has returned to Hollywood Studios! As of Aug. 1, Wonderful World of Animation lights up the Chinese Theater nightly with projections highlighting more than 90 years of Disney animation. Also, the iconic Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage show is back on Sunset Boulevard.
As we look further into 2021, there is no question Hollywood Studios will continue to be a big draw for guests who are still looking to experience the newer attractions for their first time, and of course, frogs who just can't get enough (like us!). For those of you planning visits for the rest of the year, now is definitely the time to purchase tickets and make your Park Pass reservations if you haven't already! We know there will be even more demand after the opening of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the immersive Star Wars hotel, that is expected to open sometime in 2022.
If you have questions about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or catching sight of your favorite Toy Story pals, you've hopped to the right spot! We're here to help if you plan to visit Hollywood Studios during this time.
Getting into Disney's Hollywood Studios
We understand that most of you will want to try your luck at getting a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Starting Sept. 23, Disney World is pausing the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance, so there will be a traditional standby queue. There will be more details later in this guide (we also have an entire post about how to navigate Boarding Groups),
We mention this because, if the virtual queue is utilized at certain peak times, you'll want to try for a Boarding Group before you even arrive at the park! The virtual queue now opens at 7 a.m. each day, and guests can check for an available Boarding Group as long as each person in their party has valid admission and a Disney Park Pass for Hollywood Studios. (Note: You can only try joining a Boarding Group on the day of your visit — it cannot be made in advance.) This can be done in your Disney hotel room, or wherever else nearby you may be at that time (we successfully got a Boarding Group off-site about 20 miles away). The virtual queue reopens at 1 p.m. as a second chance for anyone who didn't get a Boarding Group in the morning. For this second distribution time, guests must be inside the park.
Lately, Boarding Groups have been filling quickly (and by quickly, we mean within seconds), so we suggest taking advantage of both distribution times if the ride is a top priority.
The parking lot opens about an hour before the park is scheduled to open; parking trams are not currently available. The Disney Skyliner is typically up and running an hour before the park's official opening time from Disney's Caribbean Beach station, which is a great option for anyone staying at the resorts along the Skyliner route. When we stayed at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, the buses started running by 8:50 a.m. for a 10 a.m. opening (typically, bus service is supposed to start an hour before park open).
Security check and park entrance's touchpoints were a breeze, and we passed through with minimal waits. Security is now using touchless detectors that you simply walk through. Note that finger scans at the touchpoints have returned.
If you're planning to hop to any of the three other parks, park-to-park buses are now available, starting at 1:30 p.m. so you're able to arrive at your second park right when Park Hopper hours start at 2 p.m. Cast members will be scanning either your MagicBands or park tickets to confirm that you have Park Hopper access. You can also take a Friendship Boat or Disney Skyliner (or a bus when it's busy) if you're heading over to EPCOT.
For a look at updated mask protocols, check out our guide to mask policies at theme parks.
Disney's Hollywood Studios Attractions and Wait Times
As the crowds have steadily come back to Hollywood Studios, so have the long lines and high wait times. Rope drop procedures have returned, so we recommend arriving at the park about an hour before opening to enjoy a shorter wait on a popular attraction. For a 9 a.m. opening, we arrived at the parking plaza about 8:05 a.m. and walked through the turnstiles around 8:20 a.m. Once in the park, you'll want to know which ride you'll be wanting to do first. Those headed to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge were directed left. Those headed to Tower of Terror or Rock 'n' Roller Coaster were directed right and held down Sunset Boulevard. The main group on Hollywood Boulevard were for Toy Story Land or Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway. At 8:30 a.m., cast members walked the groups to the ride queues. We got off Mickey and Minnie's around 9:15 a.m., so while others were just getting into the park, we had accomplished one headliner already!
Because there are fewer rides at Hollywood Studios and most of the shows are not running, there are less options for everyone to space out, which means lines can get pretty long. It's even more noticeable when a popular ride doesn't open immediately or breaks down. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Toy Story Land specifically feel more crowded in the morning as those pathways are more narrow. However, the lines generally keep moving. We've noticed that now the wait times remain the same throughout the day, only dropping at night an hour or two before park close. The popular attractions are often over an hour wait, sometimes peaking at 100 minutes.
In terms of accuracy when it comes to the posted wait times, we've noticed it can be a hit or miss. Sometimes, the actual wait time is considerably less than what is posted. For instance, Toy Story Mania! had a 45-minute wait with the line starting outside of Toy Story Land, but it only took 14 minutes before we boarded the ride vehicle! For other rides, the posted wait time was more accurate, but we've rarely waited longer than expected (and if we did, it was only by a few minutes).
Every attraction and show is now filling all rows, so prepare to be seated with another party. There may still be safety measures in place, including touchless hand sanitizer dispensers and plexiglass barriers in the queues. Only the standby queue is currently being utilized — Disney has announced that FastPass has retired and will be replaced with the new Disney Genie system. However, people with a Disability Access Service card or those taking advantage of Rider Switch will typically use the FastPass+ line (now called the Lightning Lane). The process may vary by ride, so if you're looking to utilize Rider Switch or DAS, be sure to ask the cast member at the attraction for instructions. Specific safety measures vary by ride or show, and are subject to change.
All rides are open, but many of the shows are not available, such as Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and the Jedi Training experience. However, Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and Beauty and the Beast — Live are open. Wonderful World of Animation returned as of Aug. 1. Other nighttime entertainment Fantasmic! and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular remain temporarily suspended.
Character Experiences at Disney's Hollywood Studios
We've been loving the character cavalcades and boat cruises at other Disney World parks, and we also really enjoyed the motorcades for the Hollywood Studios' reopening! Instead of traditional meet and greets, you'll be able to spot Disney's very own stars and celebrities strut down Hollywood Boulevard. There are two motorcades with different characters:
- Mickey & Friends Motorcade: Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale
- Pixar Motorcade: Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Edna Mode, Sulley, Green Army Soldiers, Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear
Both of the motorcades begin near Guest Relations at the park entrance, proceed down the street to the Chinese Theater and turn left, ending near the Jedi Training Academy stage. You can now find the times when the motorcades will appear in the My Disney Experience app! Don't worry if you catch the end of one ... the motorcades hoppen often throughout the day, though the Mickey & Friends Motorcade usually only appears in the afternoon. Nothing can stop us now!
There used to be a Disney Junior Pals motorcade, but now you can catch the Disney Junior characters at the Disney Junior Play and Dance! show in Animation Courtyard.
Recently, characters have started making short pop-up appearances in the grassy areas in front of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant. On a recent visit, we watched Chip 'n' Dale have a picnic lunch (with acorns, of course)! The duo stayed out for about 10 minutes to greet guests, and appeared randomly throughout the day. We've seen Minnie waving from the rooftops, Donald and Daisy watering plants and Goofy and Max fishing at Echo Lake.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Don't you worry ... we didn't froget about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and the rest of Batuu! Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is quite literally its own separate universe, so we thought it'd be best to have an entire section of this guide dedicated to the land.
Note that starting Sept. 23, Disney World will pause the use of virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. We will keep this information available for when the virtual queue is active.
Let's get to the most important business first — landing a Boarding Group to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. As we mentioned before, the virtual queue opens up two times during the day at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. You still have to act quickly because the spots fill up fast (within seconds). In the morning, set an alarm on your phone before each time the virtual queue opens, as it's super easy to lose track of time amid all of the day's excitement! We recommend setting your alarm 5 to 10 minutes in advance because you don't want to be in the middle of riding Tower of Terror when the clock strikes the hour. Stay off of Disney's Wi-Fi, find a secluded spot and refresh the page just before it's time for the virtual queue to open. If getting on this ride is top-level priority, it's easier to remember the 7 a.m. time because it'll likely be one of the first things you tackle in the morning. Plus you have another chance if you don't get a Boarding Group on the first try. However, it's definitely worth mentioning that these have been notoriously difficult to get as of late. If you have tadpoles, it's definitely worth setting the expectation early that getting to ride is a bonus, not a guarantee, to avoid disappointment.
If you're lucky frogs like us (we scored Boarding Group 2 during our initial visit!), then you'll be able to head to the ride entrance when your group is called. There is a one-hour return window once that happens. Once you obtain a Boarding Group and ride, you cannot sign up for another Boarding Group that same day. All of the pre-shows are working now, so you'll get the full experience! Plexiglass has been removed from the pre-show rooms and the ride vehicles.
As for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, the line is generally much longer in the morning, and decreases as the day goes on. The pre-show with Hondo Ohnaka has returned and plexiglass has been removed from the ship. The Single Rider line is open once again, so you can save even more time if you don't mind that your party is split up.
Hungry after battling the First Order or piloting the Millennium Falcon? It's best to come prepared if you want to eat in Batuu. Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, Ronto Roasters and the Milk Stand require mobile ordering. While most locations used to only allow mobile ordering, we've noticed more areas are allowing either. While getting Blue Milk, the cast member heavily promoted mobile order but would let you join the regular line as well. We recommend mobile ordering either way as it saves time. You'll also need a reservation for Oga's Cantina (walk-ins were not accepted when we asked). Note that some mobile ordering locations in Galaxy's Edge are unavailable later in the day. However, Oga's and Savi's have recently had some reservations available after park close, so keep an eye out!
For shopping in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, you'll want to head to the Black Spire Outpost Marketplace and Dok Ondar's Den of Antiquities for unique merchandise any Star Wars fan will love!
You can build your own droid at Droid Depot! The building experience is $99.99 plus tax and reservations are highly recommended. When we passed by on a busy day, they were not accepting walk-ins, but they told us to check back later in case there are any cancellations.
The ever-popular Savi's Workshop allows you to build your own lightsaber! This unique experience is $219.99 plus tax, and reservations are available 60 days in advance. Spots fill up very quickly so we recommend booking well ahead of time if building a lightsaber is a priority. The Gatherers outside have told us that they have a standby waitlist, but it can also fill up quickly if the park is too busy.
Chewbacca, Rey and Vi Moradi may not be roaming around Batuu actively recruiting Resistance members, but it doesn't mean they've stopped their secret missions entirely! You may be able to spot the spies hanging out at the speeder garage (across from Droid Depot). Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and his Stormtroopers interrogate Batuu citizens and intergalactic travelers at the First Order's TIE Echelon (across from the Milk Stand).
Restaurants at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Out of all the parks, we find the most quick-service options for mobile ordering are at Hollywood Studios. In addition to Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, Ronto Roasters and the Milk Stand in Batuu, you may be required to use mobile ordering at ABC Commissary, Backlot Express and PizzeRizzo. Mobile ordering is recommended but generally not required at Fairfax Fare, PizzeRizzo, Woody's Lunch Box, Dockside Diner and Rosie's All-American Cafe. If you plan to eat at a quick-service restaurant, we still suggest avoiding peak dining periods. You can choose the arrival window when you place your order, but once you hit "Prepare My Order," it may take a bit before you can pick up your food, as there are many mobile orders being processed. We personally haven't had issues with mobile ordering, but we have heard from other frogs that it can take a while. We've waited up to 10 minutes. Likewise, keep in mind that you can create your mobile in advance. For hoppenin' spots such as Woody's Lunch Box, available pick-up times can book up quickly; if you know it's a must-do, we recommend getting your order in as soon as you get in the park.
If you want to dine at a table-service restaurant, you need to prepare at least a few days in advance by picking up an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). It's still toadally possible to snag one last minute during the week of your trip, but it's much more difficult to find one on the day of your visit. You can always check the Walk-Up List availability through My Disney Experience or at the restaurant, but more often than not, the table-service restaurants will not have availability; we've had luck with Walk-Ups in other parks, but Hollywood Studios has proved more difficult to snag. Keep in mind if you're making a reservation that you'll need valid admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation and ADR for the same park, on the same day; a dining reservation does not guarantee entry.
We've had luck with getting reservations at both Mama Melrose's and 50's Prime Time Cafe a few days before. Here's what the check-in process looked like on a recent visit, though processes are subject to change. About 10 minutes before our reservation, we received a notification via the My Disney Experience app that it was time to check in. Then, we answered questions about our party mix (how many adults, children and infants would be dining), mobility accessibility, dietary requests and special occasions. We provided our phone number, which was used to notify us that our table was ready via text message. After briefly checking in with the host outside, we were given a QR code to access the digital menu when we sat at our table.
Touring Advice for Disney's Hollywood Studios
As we've mentioned before, narrower pathways make the crowds seem a little more amplified — most notably along Hollywood Boulevard upon entering at park open, as well as inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Toy Story Land in the first couple of hours. Because there's a lower amount of shows, there are more frogs dispersed in the queues. If arriving early, we suggest you don't waste time hopping around the park trying to decide what to ride. There is often a delay in the Disney World app updating with accurate wait times right after opening, and the app doesn't show wait times at all prior to opening — so know what you want to ride and hop in line (they're all going to be lengthy at first).
We prefer starting out near Rock 'n' Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror because we feel that Sunset Boulevard provides more room to accommodate the long lines. (And if they get super long, the queues use overflow space along the pathway to the Fantasmic! stadium, so it's not spilling out on the main thoroughfare.) Plus crowds usually decrease in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Toy Story Land later in the afternoon. We expect that Hollywood Studios will remain the busiest Disney theme park until the 50th anniversary begins Oct. 1.
With an additional distribution time, there is a slightly better chance to obtain a Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance at 1p.m. However, we have to be realistic frogs too. It's worth repeating that there is still no guarantee that you'll be able to ride it. During our last visit, spots filled up within seconds, but we were successful for the second try. We don't want to be the bearer of potentially bad news, but we also can't promise that you'll be able to snag a Boarding Group pass during your visit.
We highly suggest waiting to hop in line for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway until the afternoon or evening. The queue reached an all-time low of 35 minutes at around 5:30 p.m. the last time we visited.
Overall, while busier compared to the other parks, we've still managed to get a lot accomplished each time we've visited, although the visits have been long days with a lot of hopping around!
In regards to park hopping we expect that the mornings will continue to be busy with guests sticking around until 1 p.m. to try their luck at obtaining a Boarding Group. When we hopped to Hollywood Studios right at 2 p.m., we were able to get into the park without any long lines, so there were fewer people hopping along with us than we expected.
Additional Disney's Hollywood Studios Reopening Tips and Tidbits
- Lines for popcorn carts and food stands such as Anaheim Produce do not have mobile ordering, so they may have long lines around meal times.
- Keep in mind that you can often jump in the ride queue as long as it's before the park's posted closing time. If you have a post-park closure reservation for Savi's or Oga's, it's generally just enough time to hop into a longer ride queue prior to hopping back to Galaxy's Edge for your cantina or saber experience.
- Out of the four parks, it's the hardest to see characters (via the special motorcades) at Hollywood Studios. Also, if you're in Galaxy's Edge, Toy Story Land or on Sunset Boulevard (where the majority of rides are), you would not be able to see them. But now that the motorcade times are posted in My Disney Experience app, you can plan to watch them whenever it's most convenient for you!
It felt good to be reunited with Rey, Chewbacca, Woody, Jessie and friends! Do you have any additional questions about the Hollywood Studios reopening? Let us know if you're planning a trip soon.