We close out our day of touring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as we take a look at the afternoon crowds and wait times that we were able to largely avoid with our early morning arrival. Smugglers Run: Millennium Falcon is posting a 65-minute wait at 2:12pm.
This is where I’ve been:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:53am – 9:12am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 9:15am – 9:26am
- Toy Story Mania: 9:29am – 10:09am
- Tower of Terror: 10:21am – 11:23am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with FastPass+: 11:24am – 11:47am
- Star Tours with FastPass+: 12:01pm – 12:21pm
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: 12:41pm – 1:51pm
- Lunch: 1:53pm – 2:12pm
Since this was the first day that the Studios opened to all guests at 9am, with no Extra Magic Hours scheduled, I was seeing how things would go if I booked three initial FastPass+ experiences that anybody could get and then relied on standby lines for the other rides until I was done with all of them. We discussed strategy on how to reduce some of the waits that I experienced in the previous parts of this series, which are linked at the top of the last update. Basically, it comes down to refreshing FastPass+ availability as often as possible to secure the best FP+ experiences that others have either changed or canceled. My wait for Smugglers Run would be significantly shorter if I got in line later in the evening, with the shortest waits found in the final hour of operation. With a 9pm close, those who get in line after 8:50pm shouldn’t wait more than a half hour.
I got in line for Smugglers Run in the afternoon to see how long it would actually take for those who want to finish up at Hollywood Studios and potentially head elsewhere later. Having a plan that doesn’t rely on the fickleness of FastPass+ availability can also make for a less stressful day.
At 2:12pm, the line for Smugglers Run is about ten minutes shorter than when I got in line about 90 minutes earlier. If the line is backed up exactly to the attraction entrance, then you’re looking at a 25-minute wait to get inside the building, and then a 20-minute wait to get to Hondo, for a total wait of about 45 minutes. If the line is backed up outside the entrance, then every 250 additional people in front of you should result in a wait of about ten additional minutes.
Og’s Cantina reservations remain the hottest commodity inside Galaxy’s Edge. You can pull up the online reservation search tool at DisneyWorld.com here should you have interest in checking things out. If reservations aren’t initially available, then keep checking back as people constantly change their plans. It’s more likely that you’ll find a reservation a day or two in advance than 78 or 79 days in advance. Day-of reservations also open up. There’s about 25 people waiting outside Oga’s with a cast member holding a “line starts here” sign in the distance.
They all have reservations. While it looks kind of rough, the wait shouldn’t be more than ten minutes. Without a reservation, you can typically gain access early in the morning and at the very end of the night. But if you’re interested in visiting, you’ll want to be diligent about making a reservation as most people are turned away throughout the day.
Reservations for the Savi’s Workshop Handbuilt Lightsabers are much easier to secure with availability every single day moving forward. You can pull up availability here. Droid Depot reservations, available here, are even more plentiful.
The Milk Stand offers mobile order, which should reduce waits to just a minute or two after ordering should there be a long line. Here in the middle of the afternoon, you could walk right up for an $8 non-dairy drink.
While we’ve probably all seen some complaints online about the lack of roaming characters and droids, those that do appear seem to charm most guests, perhaps with the exception of one vlogger.
You’ll notice a Stormtrooper surveying things from the balcony up above in the distance. Almost everyone has a smile on their face here, which is very rare for Hollywood Studios.
This is the same time as Rey and Chewbacca are roaming around the Millennium Falcon. We’ve got smiles. Selfies. It’s very surprising that this is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The exit from Galaxy’s Edge to Toy Story Land is about two minutes away from Smugglers Run.
Alien Swirling Saucers is up to 45 minutes at 2:17pm.
That makes my 8-minute wait in the morning look good. Fortunately, given cooler temperatures, the outdoor wait will be a little more comfortable over the next few months. But instead of waiting in line for 45 minutes, you’d be better off sitting somewhere comfortably and refreshing FP+ availability.
One thing I’ve noticed over the last couple of months is that congestion in Toy Story Land has moved further back towards Swirling Saucers, which makes some sense with the entrance/exit to Galaxy’s Edge on that side.
In the past, only people interested in riding Swirling Saucers or visiting the bathrooms would continue that far since it was a dead end. This is probably ten times more people than would be around here if not for Galaxy’s Edge.
Woody’s Lunch Box continues to operate with two registers.
The wait for Slinky Dog Dash is 110 minutes if you believe the person holding up the “Line Starts Here” sign, and 105 minutes if you believe the wait time sign over the attraction entrance. We’ll split the difference and consider our 15ish minute wait first thing in the morning to be better than a 107.5-minute wait now.
The end of the line for Woody and Bo Peep isn’t visible in this picture as my blogging skills did not improve over the course of the day.
The line continues in that direction.
Toy Story Land congestion is probably about the same as it was before the opening of Galaxy’s Edge. The additional people are largely offset by the fact that you no longer have to double back and exit in the same direction from which you came.
Toy Story Mania’s wait is up to 90 minutes at 2:23pm. My 30-minute wait before 10am was longer than I would have liked, but it’s better than three times that. If you add up the combined standby waits for the Toy Story Land attractions right now, you’d arrive at 245 minutes, which is four hours and five minutes, rather than two hours and forty-five minutes. My total wait ended up being less than an hour with over half of it at Toy Story Mania. Using a 4th FastPass+ at Toy Story Mania may be smart depending on what else you’ve got going on over the course of your day and how much you love to ignore everyone else in your party and continually refresh FP+.
On the right, above the green wall, is evidently the building that will house the future Roundup Rodeo Barbecue. You wonder how many focus groups they had to go through to come up with such a gem of a name.
At this point in the afternoon, crowds begin to decline, though we don’t see significant drops in wait times with just about every available FastPass+ experience getting snagged up by someone.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid may be a good example of that. Early in the morning, I promised that the external queue would be full in the afternoon, and here we are.
Apparently, “The Little Mermaid Live” musical that aired earlier this week did not fare too well.
I did come away with a button, though.
We should be gearing up for a little bit of Star Wars mania with “The Rise of Skywalker” about six weeks away.
We should see some new models and such arrive inside Launch Bay in a few weeks.
It’s too bad Boba Fett isn’t meeting anywhere in the Park.
He was always popular during Star Wars Weekends and they have him available for the Galaxy Far Far Away show.
Chewbacca was posted at 40 minutes, but the actual wait looks to be half that.
Darth Vader continues to meet in place of Kylo Ren. He’s posted at 30, but the actual wait looks to be half that.
The Droid Factory has replaced the awkward display of $1,000+ costumes and models.
If you’re looking to bring a bottle of wine back to the room, then the Launch Bay Cargo gift shop isn’t a bad place to check. Retail on the Rose is $25, so a $7 markup isn’t terrible.
You can also rock some olive oil if you prefer. Retail on this is $25, but after adding $13 shipping, you’d be better off getting it here.
It looks like we’ve got some throwback-style toys branded to the new movie.
Of course, there’s no shortage of other stuff.
You can advertise “The Mandalorian” or the opening of Galaxy’s Edge,
Maybe just the film title.
We’re heading down a busy Sunset Boulevard, just before 2:45pm, if the angle of the sun can be believed.
While I think most of us appreciate the drop in temperatures, we do see an awful lot of grey skies this time of year.
Tower of Terror is posting an 80-minute wait. Acquiring FastPass+ wouldn’t take a whole lot of effort.
That’s 90 minutes for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Finding a suitable FP+ would take more effort than Tower of Terror, but it should still be pretty easily doable.
It depends entirely on how many FP+ returners arrive, but this looks like the actual wait is closer to 60 minutes.
This is about the number of people that you want to see waiting for the next Lightning McQueen show in the distance. We should be about two minutes away from the current show letting out. This and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage would be a good way to kill some time while waiting for a FastPass+ return window to open for Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Above average crowd levels should persist over the weekend, until they drop back down in the middle of next week.
We’ll get back here for a look at the holiday decorations and the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM Dessert Party.
We can wave to Chip and Dale on our way out.
Overall, our day went about as well as could be expected, considering my self-imposed restriction of only using three easy-to-get FastPass+. I would have saved a lot of time by using FastPass+ at Tower of Terror in particular, and by getting in line for Smugglers Run much later. But even so, I was able to move through all of the Studios’ rides in under five hours without a whole lot of backtracking. At 2:30pm, I could begin taking in a few shows, like Indiana Jones, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Frozen Sing-Along, and more.
Moving forward, these are the operating hours over the next month:
Over Thanksgiving, we see a full eight days of 8am opens and 7am morning Extra Magic Hours, which will benefit those visiting during that week given heavier holiday crowds. All other days currently see a 9am open, with just one morning Extra Magic Hour on Sundays. Disney has not yet extended its operating hours for December. We should see that update later this week. With Rise of the Resistance opening on December 5th, you’d think that extended operating hours would be a possibility, particularly if the expectation is that the ride’s opening will be the catalyst for driving attendance higher.
On the other hand, the Extra Extra Magic Hours initiative must have cost Disney a lot of money, and cutting back on operating hours may be the norm for a while. It didn’t make a lot of sense to open Hollywood Studios at 6am every day in September, historically the least crowded month of the year, only for the Park to open three hours later during much busier times.
If you are lucky enough to take advantage of one of those 7am EMHs, then an arrival around 6:30am should be plenty early for those headed to Slinky Dog Dash or Smugglers Run first thing. With fewer people in the Park, and no FastPass+ offered during the morning EMH, you ought to get close to being able to do Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, and Smugglers Run during the morning Extra Magic Hour. After that, hurry to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, potentially using FP+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Word is that the Skyliner is opening about a half hour earlier than advertised.
You could potentially check to see if it’s up on your way to the bus in the morning. The Skyliner should prove to be a convenient way to get back to the resort in the afternoon, at least. Particularly if you have an extra three hours to hang out.
We’ll move on to Magic Kingdom and some holiday stuff.