We’ll set out for Hollywood Studios to see how this summer’s Frozen event impacts crowds, wait times, and what we can expect to accomplish during the day. For more specific text advice, see this forum thread: How Frozen Affects Your Day at Hollywood Studios (in short):
Rope Drop and Morning Touring:
As crowds accumulate:
This isn’t particularly bad for Hollywood Studios, even if each line stretches back past the ticket booths by 8:30am. 8:15am is the ideal arrival time in order to be among the first people inside the Park. An 8:30am arrival means about a thousand people already inside the Park before you even scan your tickets.
As always, people tend to congregate in long lines in the center. Head down to uncovered Mickey Readers on the right or left to find shorter lines.
Studios continues to aim for its first guests to enter 15 minutes prior to official open.
It’s 8:45am as we head toward the Sorcerer’s Hat.
A couple of years ago, Disney did away with the Studios’ opening show, instead allowing guests to freely walk toward the attraction of their choice upon open. Frozen brings back an opening show along with the internal ropes that accompany it.
Guests taking a right on Sunset Boulevard toward Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster won’t have an opportunity to see the show at the stage in front of the Hat.
But they’re held anyway.
Guests headed toward Jedi Training signups should stay left while everyone headed to Toy Story Mania waits on the right.
Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/frozenlooms.jpg. The looming crowd just 10 minutes after we’re let in at 8:53am. Several hundred more people will arrive before we’re let through toward the attractions.
All for this lousy introduction. Check out the walk to Toy Story Mania with the crowd behind me at 4:22 and again at 6:40.
Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/stilllooming.jpg. 8:59am at Toy Story Mania.
And we’re in a minute later.
With few FastPass+ returners this early, the queue moves fairly quickly.
And despite a few hundred people passing me on the march over, I’m back outside 20 minutes later at 9:20am.
More on Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post/Funland later, but it’s located here past Toy Story Mania. If you have kids and aren’t headed to Sunset Boulevard for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, you may want to head to the Toy Story characters across from Toy Story Mania after riding the attraction, followed by the Sofia the First meet and greet in Animation Courtyard before heading to Oaken’s Funland. At Oaken’s Funland you’ll find ice skating ($10 per person for 30 minutes), photo opportunities, snacks, and an area where kids can make snowmen out of “real snow.” We won’t run into much of a line to get in later in the day, but it’s much more crowded, particularly in the snow play area. Heading over early will result in less crowding.
As it stands, we’re headed back the way we came to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Legacy FASTPASS machines are being removed property-wide and are already gone here at Toy Story.
The Sorcerers Hat characters continue meeting between 9am – 12:30pm and then again from 2pm – 3:15pm intermittently.
Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Stitch, Donald, and Daisy are who you can expect to see.
Tower of Terror still posted at 10 minutes.
Arriving at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at 9:26am, there’s no posted wait, which usually indicates downtime.
Couple that with the fact Hollywood Studios isn’t recommended and we’re in for a bit of a wait here.
You may remember the Cheat Sheet Ideal Morning prior to Frozen arriving:
Ideal Morning Touring Plan:
- Use FastPass+ at Tower of Terror (9am – 10am), Toy Story Mania (10am – 11am), Star Tours (11am – 12pm)
- Ride Toy Story Mania: 8:55am – 9:10am
- Ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: 9:20am – 9:35am
- Ride Tower of Terror with FastPass+: 9:40am – 10:05am
- Ride Toy Story Mania with FastPass+: 10:15am – 10:35am
- See Voyage of the Little Mermaid: 10:45am – 11:10am
- Ride Star Tours with FastPass+: 11:20am – 11:40am
- Visit a FastPass+ kiosk and select The Great Movie Ride for after lunch.
- Have lunch: Studios Catering Co., Backlot Express, and ABC Commissary are nearby. Sci-Fi Dine-In and 50’s Prime Time are nearby inexpensive table serve restaurants.
- Ride Great Movie Ride with FastPass+: 12:30pm – 1pm.
This allows you to ride Toy Story Mania, arguably the Park’s most popular attraction and the second most popular ride resort-wide (to Mine Train), two times. If you prefer two rides on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and/or Tower of Terror, it makes sense to head there first thing and rely on FastPass+ at Toy Story Mania later in the day. The main obstacle to touring the Studios is the tier system:
Tier One (Choose One):
- Toy Story Mania
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- The Great Movie Ride
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
Guests may initially select one tier one attraction, which makes it a struggle to ride both Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with a late arrival. Most guests want to select Toy Story Mania and ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster standby early in the morning. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster offers a single rider line, though waits are usually in the 20 to 30 minute range due to the way the vehicles are loaded and it’s impossible to gauge how many people are in line until the final loading area. Select Great Movie Ride as a 4th FP+ or ride after 6pm to minimize waits.
Tier 2 (Choose Two):
- Tower of Terror
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Star Tours
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Disney Jr. Live on Stage
- Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
- American Idol Experience
- Muppet Vision 3D
Toy Story Mania has very limited availability on the day of and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster won’t have much availability as a 4th FP+ option even if you select it right after using your initial three right around 11:15am, if it has any availability at all. So our options on Toy Story, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror are ride very early in the morning, very late at night, or with FastPass+.
Note that while it might seem like all attractions have FP+ availability on the signs inside the Park, Toy Story Mania is never actually listed.
It took 25 minutes to get into the pre-show area, which is about 10 minutes longer than it would if the Studios was recommended.
And 11 minutes until I’m back out front, for a total wait/ride time of 35 minutes, which is about 15 minutes longer than it should take. It didn’t help that cast were letting in eight to ten FP+ users for every standby guest. But such is life on a non-recommended day and given the delay waiting for the Olaf welcome.
Tower of Terror is posted at 30 minutes at 10am.
Actual waits looked closer to 20 minutes, but we’ll use FastPass+ to skip ahead.
Just 7 minutes later it’s about time to board.
Tower of Terror took all of 14 minutes with FP+ from the time I got in line to the time I was looking at the on-ride photo. That’s at least 5 minutes better than average due to the usually longer wait in the boiler room after the library pre-show.
Now with a 45-minute wait.
More congestion on Sunset Boulevard.
The 11am Frozen Processional Parade
Here at 10:25am, Hollywood Bouelevard is mostly lined with people for the 11am processional. Having stood here for hours on end waiting for the Star Wars Parade during Star Wars Weekends, I can attest to the fact that it’s extremely hot and extremely annoying as late arrivers inevitably try to nudge you one way or another to “create space” that isn’t there. The construction walls blocking 30% or more on one side don’t help.
Unlike the Star Wars Parade, the Frozen Processional continues toward Star Tours in an official capacity. The circled areas are recommended viewing areas. The area circled on the left is right next to the Premium viewing area and affords a view of the stage.
At 10:55am, there is literally nobody waiting to see the Processional in this area, which is perfect because the short beige walls keep anyone from pushing in at the last minute – not that it will be a problem with zero people around.
The American Idol steps are another good choice and the roof provides some shade, though there is no view of the stage.
The side I’m on across from American Idol offers a bit better view. The screen above the stage is visible and it’s a more direct view of the characters as they come toward us.
On the downside, you won’t have an opportunity to see much of this 3-minute introduction that takes place on the stage in the middle of the show.
With the number of people following the Processional from the entrance to the stage, it’s going to be difficult to see much of the stage anyway, particularly for shorter kids who are theoretically the target demographic. I’ve been part of this struggle for numerous Star Wars Weekends and my advice is to skip Hollywood Boulevard and see the Processional across from American Idol Experience, where you’ll need to find spots around 10:55am instead of 10am and have a much more enjoyable experience. With few people in that area, it’s much more likely the princesses will wave and smile at the kids, which may be worth more than an hour of agony and a short princess introduction in the distance anyway.
Disney is offering a “Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package” at a cost of $59 for adults and $34 for kids ages three to nine. A lot more information is available here. One of the three major components is reserved viewing for the Procession. This is the reserved viewing area at 10:25am, five minutes before Disney says guests are even eligible to pick up their “credential” for the day. There are about six rows of kids sitting in front and at least four rows of adults in back 35 minutes before the Procession even begins. Reserved viewing doesn’t save much time and the view isn’t much better than it would be a bit further down Hollywood Boulevard. And of course, we can turn the corner and have a clear view with virtually no wait necessary.
Check-in for the Package is here near Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner.
A video of the Procession. At 10:35, Anna and Elsa even look excited to see me. You can just imagine how much more excited they would be if I were a small child with an Anna doll and an Elsa dress.
Back to Touring:
It’ll be about 11:15am by the time the Procession passes the American Idol area. So far we’ve done:
- Toy Story Mania: 9:01am-9:17am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: 9:24am-10:01am
- Tower of Terror with FP+: 10:03am-10:19am
- Frozen Procession: 10:20am-11:15am
It would have been intelligent to hit Star Tours after Tower of Terror and before the Procession because I ended up waiting there for 40 minutes with nobody else around. Above is a picture of the Great Movie Ride at 11:20am when the extended queue is already in use and posted waits are 30 minutes.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid’s actual wait is around 45 minutes as a full show’s worth of people are already inside waiting.
Returning to Toy Story Mania with FP+ at 11:28am. My window was 10:30am-11:30am so it would be easy to head over after the Procession.
A 55-minute wait looks to be about accurate.
And back out front 16 minutes later.
Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Funland
Located in between Toy Story Mania and Backlot Tour, Wandering Oaken’s has two entrances both with extended queues outside. On recommended days, there shouldn’t be much of a wait to enter either in the afternoon. On opening day, waits to get into the Funland were 2+ hours.
Those uninterested in Frozen can skip both areas. This is the store portion:
Frozen continues to print money for Disney. Your mileage may vary, but they had everything in stock from Elsa dresses to reversible plush last Thursday.
Funland right next door.
Waits to get into Funland vary – if it’s more than 20 minutes you probably want to try again later.
With the ice rink in the next room, it’s at least well air-conditioned as long as the line doesn’t start outside.
There isn’t necessarily a whole lot to Funland.
Kids have an opportunity to build a snowman.
There may be a bit of a wait here as “snow” is replenished from the ice skating rink.
There’s a refreshment stand.
With the same cupcakes as most quick services.
Ice skating is $10 for 30 minutes and includes skates, socks, and a helmet (all required or interestingly, you can bring your own).
Before enjoying kids skating for the first time eating it out on the ice.
About 15 people at a time are let out onto the ice with the help of the two ice skaters from the demonstration.
A couple magical shots are setup inside with short lines. It doesn’t look like there’s much to the background, but Frozen characters are added digitally to make them a little more interesting.
Another is located across from Voyage of the Little Mermaid/One Man’s Dream.
And another across from Wandering Oaken’s.
And another to the right of Backlot Tour.
And another on Hollywood Boulevard.
Located in the Premier Theater, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is currently scheduled at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm and 7:00pm daily.
(“Free”) Tickets to each specific show are distributed near the theater from Park open through the final show (or whenever they run out, which they probably won’t).
Guests have the option of choosing which show they would like to attend in addition to the number of tickets. If you’d like to attend more than one, you’ll either need to get in line numerous times or have someone else in your party wait in line and then request their desired time. I picked up two tickets at 12:30pm and they still had 1:30pm available in addition to stacks of tickets for every other time. Acquiring tickets is not a major priority. Plan to pick them up when it’s convenient – in my case in between walking from Toy Story Mania to Star Tours.
It’s 12:35pm and FP+ for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror are either gone or severely limited in supply. The others should still have plentiful availability and we’ll be picking up a 4th FP+ for Great Movie Ride and a 5th FP+ for Voyage of the Little Mermaid before the day is done without incident.
Continuing with the modified Cheat Sheet Ideal Morning, it’s time to use FastPass+ at Star Tours. I originally set my window for 11:50am – 12:50pm and it’s 12:35pm with a 50 minute wait.
Surprisingly, the line actually stretched outside into the extended queue and looked to be at least 40 minutes long.
With FP+ I got in line at 12:38pm and was back out front at 1pm.
That’s about five minutes longer than average.
Having used my initial three FP+ selections, I’m now eligible to select a 4th FP+ at an in-park kiosk:
- Main tip board near the end of Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat
- To the right of the Muppet Vision 3D entrance
- Tower of Terror’s old FASTPASS machines to the left of the attraction entrance
- Toy Story Mania’s old FASTPASS machines to the right of the attraction entrance
- There are usually Cast Members behind Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat with iPads that can help
In this case, we’re closest to Muppet Vision just around the corner.
After waiting in line just under ten minutes, I’ve selected The Great Movie Ride with a return time less than 10 minutes in the future. Once I use Great Movie Ride’s FP+ or the window expires, I would be eligible to select another FP+ attraction based on availability.
Backlot Express, located in between Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Star Tours, is a kinda-decent-enough quick service at the Studios, bolstered by air-conditioned seating and self-serve soda machines, which means free refills. The single queue for about a half dozen registers tends to speed things up. Despite what appears to be a lot of people, it was just eight minutes between the time I got in line and had food and a drink at a table outside. All air-conditioned tables inside were occupied.
The same Frozen treats are available at most quick services, including Backlot.
This Pressed Turkey Club – Turkey, Bacon, Swiss, Roasted Red Pepper, Arugula and Multigrain Bread served with Carrot Sticks or French Fries – $10.49 was pretty lousy.
A couple slices of limp bacon, few slices of cheap lunch meat, and melted swiss along with the accompaniments.
Studio Catering Co. sandwiches are better and more diverse. This does the trick and doesn’t appear to be a gut bomb that will take years off our lives, but it’s bland and forgettable too.
After lounging around for 30 minutes it’s time to get going at 1:49pm. My Great Movie Ride FP+ was originally for 1:20pm-2:20pm, which means I’m not going to be able to get over there and see the 2:30pm Frozen Sing-Along, which people are already getting in line for. I whipped out the My Disney Experience app to change the FP+ time to later in the day. Despite “getting better,” virtually nothing My Disney Experience goes to plan and this situation is no different. You’ll notice that I have a FP+ for “Unknown Experience.” Nonetheless, it knows what I’m talking about and selecting 2:20pm-3:20pm will change the FP+ time for Great Movie Ride.
I also had the option of changing the FP+ to another attraction at the Studios without returning to a kiosk.
The return line for the Frozen Sing-Along is in the same area as ticket pickup. Premium Package users have been waiting out in the sun longer than most other people.
Anyone who has attended a Star Wars Weekends’ Premier Theater show will recognize this line at 2:10pm. Fortunately, Disney set up numerous umbrellas to help shield guests from the sun. The return time for each Sing-Along is between 40 and 10 minutes before the start of the show. I recommend arriving toward the beginning of that window.
You’ll be able to wait under cover where it’s dry and cooler and be able to find better seats once it’s showtime.
The theater is nicely air-conditioned and comfortable. I managed to score seats just about two feet away from the Premium Package users, who are seated in the first four-or-so rows in the center section.
Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed the Sing-Along, which is a funny and endearing stage show. Note that Elsa only appears for about five minutes at the end. Anna is on stage for around seven minutes and Kristoff is around for about the same amount of time.
Back to Touring
Muppet Vision’s queue actually spills outside with an extended queue ready to go. Thanks FastPass+!
At 3:20pm, it’s time to use The Great Movie Ride FP+ with a 30-minute standby wait.
We’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Back outside 28 minutes later at 3:49pm to a 35-minute posted wait.
Earlier in the day, there should be a dozen or more cast members with iPads to help guests set up their FP+ selections. They’ve since headed elsewhere.
So we head a few steps away to where the wait time board used to hang to set up a 5th FP+.
At 3:56pm I was able to grab Voyage of the Little Mermaid for 4:05pm to 5:05pm.
So that’s that. What I did:
- Toy Story Mania: 9:01am-9:17am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: 9:24am-10:01am
- Tower of Terror with FP+: 10:03am-10:19am
- Frozen Procession: 10:20am-11:15am
- Toy Story Mania with FP+: 11:25am-11:41am
- Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Funland: 11:43am-12:24pm
- Picked up Frozen Sing-Along Tickets
- Star Tours with FP+: 12:36pm-12:59pm
- Acquired Great Movie Ride FP+: 1pm-1:10pm
- Lunch at Backlot Express: 1:15pm-1:48pm
- Frozen Sing-Along: 2:05pm-3pm
- Great Movie Ride with FP+: 3:20pm-3:50pm
- Acquired Voyage of the Little Mermaid FP+: 3:51pm-3:53pm
Evening Attraction Closures:
To accommodate fireworks’ fallout, the following attractions close early:
- Great Movie Ride: 8pm
- Toy Story Mania: 8pm
- Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream: 8:30pm
Coolest Summer Ever Dance Party
Beginning daily at 5:30pm, this is another of the various dance parties, which give kids an opportunity to interact with the costumed characters in a low key setting without set lines.
Goofy, Donald, Mickey, and company dance with guests prior to the fireworks beginning. Visit closer to 5:30pm to avoid the fireworks crowds which will begin to form by 7:30pm.
Frozen Fireworks Spectacular
The Frozen Fireworks Spectacular begins at 9:45pm through August 16th and then at 9:15pm from August 17th – September 1st with the exception of August 23rd when the festivities are not scheduled to accommodate the Unleash the Villains event. If you’re trying to see Fantasmic on the same date, seeing the second Fantasmic will be much easier. If you see the first show, you’ll exit about 15 minutes before the fireworks begin. Thousands upon thousands of people will have already set up position, in addition to all the people exiting Fantasmic.
If you must see the first Fantasmic and also want to see the fireworks, exit on the far left as you look back at the exit. This will spit you out right around the entrance where there will be a bit more room to maneuver. It’s unlikely you’ll get anywhere close to Hollywood Boulevard if you exit with 7,500+ people after the show at the main exit in back.
Like with the Star Wars Weekends Premium viewing, the location in the same spot as the Procession is good for the stage show, but lousy for the fireworks because the stage and hat block so much of the show from the close vantage point.
All in all, the Frozen festivities shouldn’t disrupt your day at the Studios much. If you have no interest, it will only serve to pull thousands of people away from the other attractions. If you do, seeing the Processional is easy from the American Idol Experience area. Getting tickets to one or more Sing-Alongs is easy. Lines should be short or nonexistent for Oaken’s Funland and Trading Post in the afternoon on recommended days. See the Dance Party earlier to avoid the fireworks crowd. The fireworks can be a bit of a hassle to see – arrive early and hang back a bit to avoid congestion.