What I’m sure will end up being a stunning conclusion to our day – if for no other reason than I’ve managed to stay at Hollywood Studios for more than five hours – gets underway here on Hollywood Boulevard just after 1:20pm. We continue from part one, which discussed what to expect from rope drop. Part two focused on what to do immediately after. Part 3 included a stop for one of the best quick service salads in any theme park, in the Fairfax Salad, with stops at Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
After finding some amount of success in the most popular theme park in the world, the Geek Squad/Guest Experience Team has taken up residence at a variety of kiosks inside Hollywood Studios. My big dream in life – actually the only thing that I’ve ever really tried to achieve – is becoming a very small bug on the wall inside Guest Relations, so I can listen to all of the ridiculousness that tourists must bring in with them all day, every day. If you have a question or just want someone to look at you with a blank face for a little while, then the Guest Experience Team may be able to offer some basic advice. There is probably a reason why I have never held a guest-facing position in my life. I would just say, “It’s Hollywood Studios. What exactly were you expecting?”
With FastPass+ being down for technical problems, more people than usual were trying the FP+ kiosks without any luck. It occurs to me that the Guest Experience Team is probably just the front-line cast members that used to hang around the kiosks now deployed elsewhere.
Refurbishment work continues on Keystone Clothiers as well. You might remember that the newly-minted Legends of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard is also under refurbishment.
There isn’t much notable on the Studios’ table service menu front. As promised, we’ll get back over to Mama Melrose with a fresh review at some point. I don’t think the advice on whether or not to visit has changed – I’d go for a pizza and potentially a shared appetizer or two over some of the spendier entrees. Our April 3rd podcast discusses dining all over the Studios, including some advice on what to order at some of the better options. My contention is that as a whole, the Studios is an underrated spot for dining. What’s currently available at something like Backlot Express might surprise you. If you’ve already read the review or suffered through the podcast then it may very well not.
I also remain a proponent of Hollywood Brown Derby lunch – an incredibly relaxing meal with what is usually fantastic service and food that’s less expensive than a lot of the other options.
You can pull up my most recent review here for some additional details. I’ve been back several times since then, always with great luck.
Our visit predated Fancy Nancy’s arrival, a character that replaced Sofia the First earlier this month.
You’ll find a better look at her here. She meets to the right of the entrance to Disney Junior Dance Party from 9:30am through 6:30pm to 15 to 20 minute waits. That’s about the same gig as Sofia.
Expect to wait a little less earlier and later in the day. Sofia the First is no longer a meetable character at Walt Disney World.
You’ll find Doc McStuffins, Pluto, and Vampirina in Animation Courtyard alongside Nancy, all in separate lines.
Dance Party! has proven to be roughly as popular as the Live on Stage! show that it replaced.
You can pull up showtimes for a given day here. Above is the standard schedule.
Just in time for Galaxy’s Edge to open, the Star Wars universe will apparently be taking a three year break from the big screen, instead focusing on other mediums such as the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. Not that Disney seems too concerned about thematic cohesion, but it won’t make a ton of sense for these characters to meet in Star Wars Launch Bay with Galaxy’s Edge “literally” on the other side of the Park. On the other hand, that is Batuu, whereas this is Animation Courtyard – an entirely different planet.
I’d expect to see some Rise of Skywalker paraphernalia show up at the Launch Bay later this year with Episode IX coming out December 20th.
Star Wars, A Galaxy, Far, Far Away, the stage show that’s performed in front of the Chinese Theater about a half dozen times a day, had been canceled for wind. You’ll hear an announcement a minute or two before the show is set to begin if it does happen.
When the show is canceled, a couple of the characters may appear around the Launch Bay for about 20 minutes.
Boba Fett does not ordinarily meet here and back in his Star Wars Weekends days, waits were typically over an hour.
This stormtrooper remained stationary for the duration of his stint, much to the amusement of those around us. Is he a statue? Just a guy doing his best trying to play hide and seek in a bulky spacesuit? Maybe he’s guarding the spacetime equivalent of Baby Sussex? Maybe he’s taking a nap.
Maybe you want to take skinny hipster Darth Vader home with you? This has to be the least imposing guy in the universe. But don’t tell him I said that.
Otherwise, waits for the characters that continue to appear, including Chewbacca, BB-8, and Kylo Ren, are probably only getting shorter.
Here’s BB-8 over the last month:
The 13-minute average for the day has to be lower than the majority of the other characters around, including the Disney Junior folks just outside.
The average wait is five minutes longer with a lot more 20+ minute posted waits throughout the day. If you’re visiting the Launch Bay to meet the trio, then it makes sense to prioritize Chewie.
Kylo Ren is, predictably, less popular:
The 13-minute wait for a talking character is almost unbelievable. Just about anybody else would command longer waits.
Launch Bay otherwise remains largely a respite from the heat and rain, offering a few interesting models and artifacts to inspect.
The store stocks some interesting merchandise – everything from Lightsaber umbrellas to Skywalker Vineyards Olive Oil.
Speaking of upcoming movies, Disney is previewing the live-action Aladdin in Walt Disney Presents.
It premiers May 24th.
Inside, Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. continue to see 25- to 35-minute waits. At 1:40pm, the wait is probably closer to 35 minutes. Once you get inside the actual queue, the wait will be about 20.
The duo meets from 10am through 6pm with a break from 1pm to 1:30pm. As long as you’re in line by 6pm, you should be able to meet them. To be safe, you might still get in line around 5:30pm. The wait should be around 25 minutes.
There’s not a whole lot to promote Aladdin.
We do have this dress along with a spoiler of the entire movie.
The movie previews, which are typically around 12 minutes long, are worth seeing for the rest and relaxation. The theater is comfortable and there’s typically only enough people waiting to fill 15% of it, if that, so you’ll have an opportunity to get away from the bloggers for a precious handful of minutes as well. Anybody that doesn’t make one of their wishes unlimited Disneyland churros must be confused. The movie, helmed by Guy Ritchie, looked good aesthetically, but it’s a little awkward listening to someone sing, perfectly-pitched and obviously standing in an empty room many thousands of miles away from Agrabah, as they spring and swing through the crowded streets. We’ll see how it all comes together, but I wouldn’t want to be the guy that has to be compared to Robin Williams’ iconic genie.
Over at Edna Mode, where Buzz and Woody used to meet during the Pixar Place days, waits remain under ten minutes most of the day. As long as you’re waiting inside the building, the wait should be under fifteen minutes.
You may still see a much longer wait posted.
Just after 2pm, Toy Story Land crowds are pretty thick.
It’s possible that it simply took a few months for the Land to catch on. You might remember that over its first few months of operation, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s wait times continued to outpace Slinky Dog Dash, while Toy Story Mania’s wait times were lower during the summer of 2018, the first year Toy Story Land was open, than they were during the previous summer.
Toy Story Mania is up to 85 minutes, which is just about as high as it gets without considerable downtime.
The end of the line for Woody and Jessie isn’t visible in this picture.
Or in this one, as the characters might not be either.
Here’s the end, around the corner and technically part of the Toy Story Mania exit.
Disney announced that a new sit-down barbecue restaurant would be coming to Toy Story Land.
Called Roundup Rodeo BBQ and looking to be situated to the right of the large static Woody figurine that welcomes guests to the Land, the BBQ looks like Pizzafari threw up in the Toy Story Mania queue. Pizza Planet is such a stupidly-obvious fit here. “But Josh, it’s Andy’s Backyard. How would Pizza Planet make sense?” Well, millions of kids over the years have enjoyed these Playskool McDonald’s playsets. It would be feasible for Andy to enjoy a similar Pizza Planet playset at his own house. And even if it didn’t, it would still make more sense than opening Galaxy’s Edge in August with one ride.
Swirling Saucers was posting a 70-minute wait at 2:09pm, making my 25ish-minute wait earlier in the morning look pretty good.
You don’t want to be in the end of this line with 100% of it outside and at least 75% uncovered.
Woody’s Lunch Box was serving lunch via two registers, but the line is actually quite short given the fact that everyone is in line at Saucers.
Or over here.
Or over here. Slinky was posting 135 minutes at the same time. Even if you include the hour that I waited before the Park opened, and the 20 minutes that I waited inside the Land, the current wait is still about an hour longer than that earlier combined time. If possible, you’d want to wait to get in line a couple of minutes before Park close if at all possible, when the actual wait will drop to 40 minutes or less.
Here’s a look at wait times over the course of the day:
I’ve highlighted the posted waits when we visited each attraction in standby in green. The times I used FastPass+ are highlighted in blue. At Swirling Saucers, I managed to get in line shortly before the posted wait rose to 30, then 35, and then 55 minutes. At Slinky Dog, the posted wait was still the 60 minutes that we saw first thing, though my actual wait ended up being closer to 25 minutes. Either would be better than the 90+ minutes that the ride posted to the My Disney Experience app at 9am. The posted wait does drop to 40 minutes at the very end of the night, indicating an actual wait that’s probably just under 30 minutes.
A big part of why I elected to use FastPass+ at the third Toy Story Land attraction in the morning is to avoid these kinds of crowds. Obviously, the website was still going to report back on what it found. You may elect to take my word for it and have no reason to return to Toy Story Land during peak hours, which are from 10:30am – 5pm most days.
In other news, ABC Commissary is now closed for refurbishment.
When the Commissary reopens on June 2nd, it will actually offer dinner reservations beginning at 4pm daily. This does not make a tremendous amount of sense to me, but it may help make the Studios “feel” like it has a wider variety of dining options. It may also be a way for Disney to advertise guaranteed availability for food once Galaxy’s Edge comes online. If we’re expecting 15,000+ more guests per day next year than this year, then the dining options already present are going to be taxed even further. Disney elected to ax the announced table service offering inside Galaxy’s Edge, ostensibly to increase capacity by moving through more people faster in a quick service setting. Inside Galaxy’s Edge, it’s unlikely that the food offerings will be able to meet demand without long waits as the options will also probably be tastier than most of the fare available elsewhere.
PizzeRizzo has reopened during the Commissary’s closure, operating from 11am through 8pm or 8:30pm through May 24th. Come May 25th, the quick service is expected to close at 4pm daily, at least for the foreseeable future. Rizzo will probably be a flophouse for those both successful and unsuccessful at getting into Galaxy’s Edge come August 29th.
Construction-wise, there remains little to see from inside the Park.
Here on Grand Avenue, looking towards Echo Lake with Star Tours on the right and BaseLine to the left, there’s a path that’s probably being widened.
That’s at the same time that they added a new DVC booth, in turn narrowing the main walkway into Galaxy’s Edge.
At least we still have Gertie. I’m not sure how many people were expecting that two years ago.
Overall, our visit to the Studios was similar to the way it has been since Toy Story Land opened about a year ago. Everything changes in a little over three months.
Outside the entrance, a considerable amount of work continues on the infrastructure as Disney gears up for Galaxy’s Edge. This is expected to be the new security checkpoint.
That’s the edge of the new building on the left with the current setup to the right.
The tram should drop off here as well.
One more look.
Some amount of work continues alongside the water. We may see the Mickey topiary moved as the majority of people will pass by another area on their way into the Park.
It will be interesting to see where security takes place for those taking the boats and gondolas. If you were to disembark the boat now, you’d head straight through the security area that everyone currently passes through. With the new setup, you’d potentially walk past the main security area closer to the trams. At Magic Kingdom, guests taking the friendship boats from the resorts go through their own security check right after stepping off the boat.
Work continues on the Skyliner, of course, as Disney has unwrapped 55 of the character-themed gondolas.
There’s still no official starting date, but you’d have to assume that it won’t be any later than early August. Of all the soft opens to be a part of, I’m not sure the potential of dangling over Hour Glass Lake for an hour would be my first choice.
Those using Uber/Lyft benefit from a change that brings the pickup/drop-off area much closer to the entrance. You can catch your ride right here next to the gondola station.
Those headed to the buses will find a much longer walk.
As previously stipulated, the furthest permanent bus stops are 97% as far away from the entrance as the temporary bus stops.
How quickly do you really want to get to Hollywood Studios, though?
As usual, charter buses are the furthest out, but it’s nice that they have their own dedicated area lined with palm trees.
We’ll get back over to the Studios much sooner than either of us would like, I’m sure.