Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios was Walt Disney World’s third park, opening in 1989. This Park has experienced a number of transformations of the years and expanded its footprint by 11 acres with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019.
This Park — which is an ode to Hollywood that in recent years seems to be all about immersing guests in the movies they love — offers a slew of attractions and experiences for everyone in the family.
Walt Disney first had the idea for a park based on the movies more than 40 years ago, but it wasn’t until May 1989 that the Walt Disney Company unveiled the Disney-MGM Studios, where guests of Walt Disney World could witness the inner workings of living, breathing movie and television production facilities. In January 2008, the theme park underwent a major name change and is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Through its exciting attractions, Broadway-caliber shows, and hands-on participation, the Studios not only entertains but also educates. Disney’s Hollywood Studios has nearly doubled in size since it opened, and it continues to expand.
In October 2001, the Studios became the focal point for the 100 Years of Magic celebration, a 15-month-long observance of the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birthday. The celebration marked the introduction of a new icon, a giant Sorcerer Mickey hat, as well as an in-depth exhibit on the life and times of Walt Disney called One Man’s Dream.
In 2015, the Sorcerer Hat was removed when Turner Broadcasting entered into an agreement with Disney to sponsor The Great Movie Ride. In 2018, the Studios welcomed the brand new Toy Story Land. And, the biggest news of all: in August 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened with Oga’s Cantina, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, with the opening of Rise of the Resistance following later in the year, in December.
In March 2020, a Mickey Mouse-themed attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened! The Chinese Theater, home of this new attraction, remains as the Park’s icon.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests enter the turnstiles onto the main street, Hollywood Boulevard, where reality blends into fantasy — neon and chrome, art deco and modern architecture dominate the scenery.
To enhance the old-time atmosphere, Citizens of Hollywood (formerly known as Streetmosphere) characters like 1930s detectives, starlets and gossip columnists, populate the streets, interacting with the crowds they draw.
Colorful shops and restaurants reinforce the feeling of yesteryear — the Hollywood Brown Derby, for example, faithfully recalls the landmark meeting place of the stars, right down to its signature Cobb salad and grapefruit cake.
As you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, immediately in front of you you’ll see a replica of Mann’s Chinese Theater, which formerly housed The Great Movie Ride, but is now home to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
In front of the Chinese Theater, you’ll see where numerous celebrities, including Robin Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley have left their handprints in cement.
To the left of the Chinese Theater is Commissary Lane, featuring several dining options, including the ABC Commissary quick service restaurant and the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant.
The first left you encounter off Hollywood Boulevard takes you past Echo Lake, distinguished by the towering Dinosaur Gertie who serves up snacks and desserts.
You pass by a pair of eateries: Hollywood & Vine, home of a character breakfast featuring Princess Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Vampirina and Roadster Racers Goofy, and the ’50s Prime Time Cafe, where the servers treat you like family — right down to scolding you for putting your elbows on the table!
As you follow around the lake, you encounter the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, a live show with death-defying stunts. Nearby, Star Tours-The Adventures Continue takes you on an amazing 3D journey to a variety of Star Wars destinations, featuring some of the familiar Star Wars characters.
The Hyperion Theater is the location of the For the First Time in Forever Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.
As you make the first right off Hollywood Boulevard, you come upon Sunset Boulevard, with its specialized shops that feature gifts themed to classic films and Disney characters, especially the Disney Villains highlighted in the night-time show Fantasmic!
In fact, the entrance to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, home to Fantasmic!, is just a little further down Sunset on the right. Light dining and snacks can be found at the outdoor Sunset Ranch Market on the left.
Looming menacingly at the end of Sunset Boulevard is the Hollywood Tower Hotel, which dares guests to enter The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Adjacent to the Tower of Terror is the Studios’ thrill ride, the indoor Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
Near Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, say “Ka-chow!” with your favorite race car: Lightning McQueen! The Lightning McQueen Racing Academy brings a stellar animatronic McQueen to life!
Across the street from this coaster is the Theater of the Stars, which houses Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage, a lovely musical stage show based on the hit Disney movie.
Go through the Studios archway to get to the Animation Courtyard. Here you’ll find Walt Disney Presents, which hosts a character meet-and-greet, as well as an exhibit on the life of Walt Disney and sneak previews of what’s coming next to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
You’ll also find the popular Voyage of the Little Mermaid, delighting young and old. Across the Courtyard, children can see their favorite characters like Vampirina, Fancy Nancy, Princess Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins in a character meet-and-greet location.
The Disney Junior Live! show features Disney Channel characters. The Star Wars Launch Bay, which is currently the primary location outside of Galaxy’s Edge for fans to celebrate all things Star Wars, opened late in 2015 in the space formerly occupied by the Magic of Animation Tour.
In this multi-sensory space with an outdoor queue area lined with special concept artwork, guests can interact with beloved Star Wars characters, tour galleries featuring treasured memorabilia and replicas of large-scale Star Wars artifacts, and play the latest Star Wars interactive video games, plus have access to special Star Wars merchandise.
The former Streets of America area in the Studios has been reimagined by Walt Disney Imagineers to become Grand Avenue.
The area captures the spirit of present-day Downtown Los Angeles, with vintage office buildings and warehouses representing the different vibrant districts and cultures of the city. The BaseLine Tap House, a cheerful corner pub specializing in beer and wines from California has opened on the site of the former The Writer’s Stop.
The former MUPPETS COURTYARD is now part of this area, and the theater has been renamed The Grand Arts Theatre. In the theater, the Muppets star in Muppet*Vision 3D, which combines Jim Henson’s puppets and special effects with Disney’s famous Audio-Animatronics.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
At the end of Grand Avenue guests find one of two entrances to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (The second is located off Toy Story Land.) Galaxy’s Edge’s Grand Avenue entrance opens to the land’s Resistance area, featuring the innovative attraction Rise of the Resistance.
As guests explore Black Spire Outpost (the village that is Galaxy’s Edge) on the planet Batuu, they encounter shopping in the Market, where Toydarian Toymaker, Creature Stall, Jewels of Bith, and Black Spire Outfitters embrace the other-worldly theme.
Other popular shopping locations include Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, First Order Cargo, and Resistance Supply.
Guests can build their own droid at Droid Depot and seize power by building their own lightsabers at Savi’s Workshop.
Dining in Galaxy’s Edge includes snack stalls — Kat Saka’s Kettle, Milk Stand, and Ronto Roasters — a quick service restaurant — Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo — and a watering hole called Oga’s Cantina.
The land’s second attraction — Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — features the land’s centerpiece: a life-size Millennium Falcon. The fastest hunk of junk in the universe is parked in the back center of the land.
TOY STORY LAND
Turn right in front of the Chinese Theater, then make a left to discover Toy Story Land.
It is home to the extremely popular Toy Story Mania, which opened to the public May 31, 2008.
The Green Army Patrol, Buzz Lightyear, Bo Peep, Jessie, and Woody appear in this area intermittently throughout the day. There’s also a photo opp with Forky from Toy Story 4.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens daily at 9AM, but since the opening of Rise of the Resistance, the Park has routinely had earlier opening hours. Check times before leaving for your trip and before the day of your visit. Closing times vary according to the season, with the Park staying open later during summer months and holiday times.
Plan to arrive at the Studios about half an hour before Park opening — unless you want to ride Rise of the Resistance. At publication, Rise is using a virtual queue with boarding groups, and you must be scanned into the park in order to get a boarding group via My Disney Experience.
Fantasmic! is shown several times a week at park closing. During busier seasons, Fantasmic! may be performed nightly or may have two performances nightly. When this is the case, the later show is much less crowded — consider staying for that if it’s practical for you. Or take advantage of the Fantasmic! Dining Package for special seating, to avoid the long wait. If you don’t mind waiting, though, plan to arrive at the theater early to ensure getting a seat at this popular show.
Visit Shopping the Studios At-A-Glance page for info on the various stores around the park.
Visit Dining at the Studios At-A-Glance for an overview of the main dining options at the park.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has several opportunities for children to meet and greet their favorite characters.
The HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon”, a 13-part drama, was in production in two sound stages throughout 1997.
Films shot at the studios include: “Marvin’s Room,” “Passenger 57,” “Oscar,” “Quick Change,” “Ernest Saves Christmas,” “Splash Too,” “Separate But Equal” (Emmy-winning TV mini-series, starring Burt Lancaster), and “Instinct.”
Some of the many television shows which have taped at Disney’s Hollywood Studios include: “ER,” “Full House,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “ESPN College Football Awards,” “Talk Soup,” “Step By Step,” “Barbara Walters Special,” and “Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee.”
Among the hundreds of actors, comedians and entertainers who’ve appeared at the studios are: Charlton Heston, Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler, Warren Beatty, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Hanks, Liza Minnelli, Billy Joel, Christie Brinkley, Michael J. Fox, Samuel L. Jackson, Lou Gossett Jr., Drew Carey, Oprah Winfrey and Susan Lucci.