We return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the morning of Tuesday, February 25th, 2020, for one last rope drop before Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens on March 4th. It’s 5:57am in the picture above, and bag check is about three minutes away from opening, as guests line up in front of the tables and metal detectors.
The Disney Skyliner won’t come online until 7:30am, which is more than 90 minutes away. The gondola system would get you to Hollywood Studios just in time for the 8am opening if all goes smoothly, but any guest looking to arrive before 6:15am should drive their own vehicle if they have one, or strongly consider taking advantage of Uber/Lyft. Disney buses should begin dropping guests off before 6:30am, but service is typically spottier that early in the morning. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can always check the My Disney Experience app for the estimated bus arrival times. Should it say that a bus is approaching soon, you might head out to the bus stop first to see, and if it doesn’t materialize, then pull up the Uber/Lyft app. The cost of the rideshare should be under ten dollars from anywhere on property, which is a worthy investment for some peace of mind.
We don’t want to neglect Disney’s Animal Kingdom, despite the fact that there aren’t really any major ongoing projects happening inside the Park. Outside, work continues on moving bag check farther away from the main entrance, in addition to rerouting the parking lot tram.
We’re arriving just after 12:30pm, so we can take a few minutes to enjoy the sights and sounds in The Oasis. Typically, we arrive early for rope drop, and have to hurry through the calming area that leads into the Park as we try to make it to the holding area in front of the bridge over to Pandora for Flight of Passage as quickly as possible. Fortunately, touring strategy hasn’t changed much at Animal Kingdom over the last couple of years. We’ll still get back out there to see how things are looking in Avatar Land first thing. For Flight of Passage, an arrival 60 to 75 minutes before Park opening is ideal. That will put you in front of the crowd heading to what is now Disney’s second most popular attraction, and allow you to easily ride Na’vi River Journey in standby after, before continuing on with your day in Africa, Asia, or DinoLand.
We return to Epcot to continue our walk around Future World. In the last Part, we took a good look at everything that’s happening on the Future World West side and out in front of the Park, with an emphasis on how the current run of construction projects will affect your rope drop plans. As we’ll see shortly, Test Track remains closed for refurbishment until later this week. We’ll return after it opens to reconsider our touring strategy, but chances are that little has changed on that front, even with the walls sending people in exactly two different directions to start. Ratatouille’s opening in the France Pavilion in a few months will likely cause some changes to how we go about our day, and may even change which entrance we prefer to use to enter the Park. The International Gateway entrance is located in between the France and United Kingdom Pavilions, and guests heading in from there should have a substantial advantage due to its proximity to the rat-based attraction. A year ago, the number of people organically entering via the International Gateway would be minuscule, but with the Skyliner dropping thousands of rooms full of guests from the Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera resorts, there’s the potential for a lot of people streaming in from over there. We’ll certainly take a look at it from all angles once the new ride opens.
While construction walls dominate Future World, and will for the next couple of years, the fact of the matter is that little has actually closed in the last couple of weeks. Electric Umbrella and the pin store behind Spaceship Earth are really it. Chances are, you’d walk right by both anyway. There are plenty of opportunities to buy pins, and as we’ll see, much of Electric Umbrella’s menu is available at other locations. The Mouse Gear store also sees a temporary location inside Innoventions East during its closure.
Our visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the morning of Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, now comes to its stunning conclusion. On paper, my day has gone great so far. I’ve been able to accomplish:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8am – 8:06am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 8:08am – 8:20am
- Star Tours: 8:32am – 9:03am
The picture on the ground is a little less pretty. We continue to see an unprecedented number of people arriving before Park opening with little more than their backpacks and the dream of acquiring a guaranteed boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. There are typically fewer than 65 such boarding groups, and snagging one will take a combination of quick fingers, sound refreshing, and a little bit of luck as those groups fill in their entirety in about 30 seconds every morning. To see how the boarding group signup process went, see Part One of this series. Part Two continues with a look at the incredible Toy Story Land crowds with a stop at Star Tours, our last hope of sneaking into a ride in standby and not waiting over an hour.
Fortunately, what we see today is not the Studios’ final form.
Just as a heads up, Disney has formally extended the operating hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from March 15th through March 28th:
The Park will now open at 8am. At some point in the future, Disney will move the opening on March 29th through 31st to 8am. Some of the heaviest crowds of the year materialize during spring break in March, and this year, will continue into April with Easter falling on April 12th. Disney does not look to be interested in extending the hours any further, despite an unprecedented number of people arriving before Park open to join the Rise of the Resistance lottery. You can see what crowds look like on a busy day in our recent series of posts during the week that followed Presidents Day, here and here. The majority of spring break will see similar or worse crowds and wait times if Disney doesn’t move the opening to 7am or extend the close out to 10pm or later.
Disney has already released FastPass+ during the 8am-9am time frame: