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:
We pick things up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the morning of Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, at 8:06am. In Part One, we arrived before 6:15am in order to move through Slinky Dog Dash this quickly, and ideally join a guaranteed low-number boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. I went one for two, which would be good if I were batting cleanup in the All-Star game, but potentially less good if I only had one shot at experiencing Disney’s newest ride, and my entire family was relying on me to get them there. Fortunately, things will end up coming together pretty well as we move about our morning, despite a considerable amount of chaos happening around me. Let’s see what we can expect from the Studios on a legitimately busy day.
While being at Hollywood Studios at 6:15am would not ordinarily be near the top of my list of where I’d like to find myself, being at the end of this line for Slinky Dog Dash would be much further down that list. The line extends all the way out of the Land and back into Animation Courtyard, where you’ll find Star Wars Launch Bay and the Disney Junior show. Slinky’s posted wait is currently 120 minutes, but it will very quickly hit 165 minutes, which is nearly three hours. To the right, we have a small glimpse of the extended outdoor queue for Toy Story Mania already filling. In 15 minutes, the posted wait will be an hour, and the actual wait could very well be worse. Rise of the Resistance, and the necessity of arriving before Park opening to have any shot of being able to ride, continues to drive morning crowds higher than they’ve ever been before. Given the long length of the line for Slinky Dog, some number of people make the obvious choice to bypass it, instead heading to Toy Story Mania. This phenomenon will make it difficult or impossible to ride all three Toy Story Land attractions in standby with short waits first thing in the morning. The actual wait for Toy Story Mania at 8:05am is about a half hour, which isn’t all that bad considering what we’ll see once we get to Sunset Boulevard.
We head out to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the morning of Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, which is/was the first day that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run offered FastPass+. In an effort to get this post out in a timely manner for once, and considering I have plans to return to Hollywood Studios for a longer visit tomorrow, these pictures are unedited. Usually, I go through every picture I take and edit/crop/etc. it in Lightroom. I took 475 pictures at the Studios over the course of about five hours. If it takes 30 seconds to edit each picture, on average, then you’re looking at about four hours of work before the writing process even begins. We’ll return to our usual low quality images with the next series of updates, but very low quality will have to do for this round. You should be able to more or less make out what’s happening.
In the image above, I’m arriving at 6:07am with the 8am stated opening, and there is no wait for bag check. Last month, I penned a post titled, “A Super Early Arrival at Disney’s Hollywood Studios May No Longer Be Your Best Bet, Plus Updated Hours and Star Wars Rise of the Resistance Strategy.” The main point was that arriving at 6am, only to wait two hours for the Park to open, didn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense. That was back when Smugglers Run didn’t offer FastPass+, and actual afternoon waits were typically around 45 minutes. Now, Smugglers Run offers FastPass+ and afternoon waits are closer to 90 minutes. The FastPass+ Tiers were also much different prior to February 19th, with all rides other than Star Tours comprising Tier 1. Now, most rides are in Tier 2. It was also before Disney changed the rope drop procedure. Everyone used to be held on Hollywood Boulevard and slowly marched at the same time back to Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. Now, we’ll be able to get a lot closer to the attraction of our choice after entering the Park. We’ll reassess our plan of attack as we move about our morning, but the early arrival may be back in our good graces, as much as we might prefer to sleep in “on vacation.”
All segments of the Disney Skyliner system currently come online at 7:30am, which may not be early enough to get you inside the Park before 8am during a holiday week like this one, especially if you’re coming from Pop Century/Art of Animation, where the trip is longer and you’ll need to take the time to transfer at Caribbean Beach Resort. If you have a vehicle, then you’ll likely want to drive yourself to Hollywood Studios to have more control over your arrival time. Without a vehicle, I’d strongly recommend considering Uber/Lyft if you’re planning on arriving this early. The cost of that ride should run about $10 from anywhere else on property. The drop-off area is to the right of where I’m standing, almost even with the Skyliner entrance/exit. Bag check is less than a minute away, so it couldn’t be much more convenient. The regular Disney bus stops are somewhere off in the distance. If you’re relying in Disney bus transportation, then you should be able to get over here by 6:30am, but it may be a bit stressful as you either wait at the bus stop with nobody else around, or watch on the app as the bus arrival time gets later and later. You’ll also be behind everyone else who arrived earlier via other modes of transportation.