We continue our day at Hollywood Studios after finding some amount of success inside Toy Story Land with stops at Star Tours and then Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
This is where I’ve been:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:45am – 9:15am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 9:20am – 9:50am
- Toy Story Mania with FastPass+: 9:54am – 10:17am
- Star Tours: 10:34am – 10:58am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with FastPass+: 11:12am – 11:37am
And this is where I’m headed – through the open doors in between the entrance to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the venerable Pretzel Palooza.
Few of us probably remember Club Disney, the ill-fated dance party that opened in Sunset Showcase back in December 2015 and only lasted a couple of months.
It may not have been the worst idea in the world – a number of attractions had closed or were about to close for Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge construction and the Studios needed capacity. But the space was huge and its location somewhat obscure, despite being located just past what was once the most popular attraction at the Park.
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy opened in the same Sunset Showcase space about a month ago.
The area is made up of about four parts with the main holding area for the Lightning McQueen show off to the left.
The show runs continuously from regular Park open through regular Park close, typically with a 15-minute posted wait on the sign. When crowds are heavier, you’ll see the wait time posted on the My Disney Experience app either as 5 minutes or 15 minutes. Either way, you’ll likely just need to wait for the start of the next show, which will be between one and twelve minutes.
If you see the number of people above, the start of the show is probably about five minutes away.
With more people waiting, you’re probably closer to showtime. With the number of people above, you’re probably looking at a solid 12-minute wait. Conservatively, you might plan on spending a half hour in the area. If there’s few people waiting for the show, then you’ll have an opportunity to do the meet and greets before showtime. With a lot of people waiting, you could put off the photo ops until after the show. Of course, with a couple hundred people exiting the theater at the same time, the lines for the photos will be a little longer immediately after show time.
If front row seats are important and the area in front of the doors is already filling, then you can easily just wait until the current show fills and stand in front of the side door closest to the stage waiting for the following show to load.
Here’s the setup for the 12-minute show with what are probably the best seats in the middle section.
If you were the only one in the theater, being further back from the stage is probably best, but your view ultimately depends on the height of the camera of the blogger sitting in front of you. Lightning will appear on stage in the center with about eight screens wrapping around the front and sides of the theater.
A couple of trivia questions will greet you.
Lightning appears on-stage about five minutes after the doors to the show initially open.
And it’s actually a pretty neat production as Lightning takes to the (simulated) track.
If you haven’t, you can preview the show here.
With kids interested in the Cars franchise, this is probably a must-do. Adults may also enjoy the show, considering the effort required to see it is minimal. Perhaps like most things, it’s neater in person than it is in the video.
Waits to meet Cruz Ramirez are short to nonexistent, just as they were back in her Pixar Place days. If you’re looking for a restroom in the area, the set behind the meet are larger and nicer than those found in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster courtyard or out by Tower of Terror.
A picture with what is apparently DJ is also available with even shorter lines.
Predictably, there is a dance party element with cast appearing at 10am, 10:40am, 11:20am, 12pm, 12:40pm, 2:15pm, 3pm, 3:40pm, 4:20pm, and 5pm to blow bubbles in your face and try desperately to engage a few of the people in the area. It’s not that much different from me trying to drum up interest for this website on Twitter.
Overall, Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is a nice addition. Even if you have no interest, it still pulls some number of people away from whatever it is that you want to do. And that’s always a good thing. Seeing the show once is probably enough for most people, but I think it’s worth the investment. On the other hand, I’ve seen the show 612 times now and still can’t drive.
At 12:08pm, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s wait has dropped 15 minutes to “just” 95. People must be moving on to lunch – not a bad idea after more than three hours of touring.
Or perhaps they’ve moved over to Tower of Terror, where the posted wait is still 90 minutes.
But at least a little more of the available space has been filled in.
Tower of Terror’s standby line is legitimately long as it files all the way around the garden.
With FastPass+, I’ll ideally be inside the pre-show in about five minutes.
And that ended up being how long it took.
The Twilight Zone has been resurrected by CBS All Access and Jordan Peele with ten episodes available exclusively on the streaming service. I’ve watched each episode so far and while parts of certain episodes are quite good, I feel like the production overall is a miss. I’m not sure I can say much more without spoiling it.
My favorite thing about Tower of Terror is the fact that if you elect to walk the queue, but not ride, then you still have to take an elevator down to the gift shop.
“The Twilight Zone” has already been picked up for a second season on CBS All Access.
I’m guessing that we won’t see any changes to our Tower.
At Disney California Adventure, the ride was re-skinned to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
So much space and we still have to lose Great Movie Ride for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Meanwhile, Disneyland, with “literally” no available space, is getting the same ride without losing a thing.
With FastPass+, I arrived at 12:12pm and was back out front at 12:30pm, for a total experience time of just 18 minutes, which is below average.
Standby continues to spill out closer to Hollywood Scoops than the ride’s own entrance.
With the 90-minute wait remaining true.
Here’s a look at Terror’s wait times in April:
By 9:30am, wait times are already prohibitive on busier days with a 43-minute average in that slot for the month. By 9:45am, the average wait climbs 15 minutes to 58 minutes and by 10am, you’re looking at actual waits of over an hour through 5pm or thereabouts. That’s why we don’t try to rush over here after Toy Story Land. If you are able to be among the first people to arrive at Slinky Dog Dash, then you could feasibly ride Toy Story Mania or Alien Swirling Saucers in standby immediately after and then try to get over here as early as possible and potentially find a short wait, but as we’ll see next, waits climb at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster just as fast. Most people will need to rely on FastPass+ for both Sunset Boulevard thrill rides, ideally around 11am when waits have begun to peak at most attractions.
Sunset Ranch Market is the name of the quick service conglomerate currently to our right on Sunset Boulevard. With shared seating, you’ll find Catalina Eddie’s serving Disney’s standard reheated pizzas and Caesar salads, Rosie’s All-American Cafe serving burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches, Hollywood Scoops serving ice cream, Anaheim Produce serving churros, Mickey pretzels, snacks, and drinks, and Fairfax Fare with a menu that’s now largely focused on Latin food. For a look at all of the Studios’ quick service outlets and menus, see this post from earlier this year.
Fairfax Fare offers some interesting flavors these days:
The Fairfax Salad is the only item that remains from the old barbecue menu. Given the fact that we’re in for about five months of 90+ degree days, it looks like Hot Cocoa Flights are off the menu.
You might remember that I reviewed the Pork Tamale, which was added earlier this year, favorably, noting the much-larger-than-it-probably-looks portion size.
The Rice Bowls, available with Pulled Pork, Roasted Chicken, or Vegan Chili are above average as well.
I returned to an old favorite in the $10 “Fairfax Salad – Pulled Pork, Wedge Salad, Bacon, Fire-roasted Corn Medley, Crispy Tortilla Strips and Cheddar served with a Jalapeño Ranch Dressing.” It’s available without the Pulled Pork for two dollars less.
While it still advertises a “Wedge,” the Salad is more of a mixed greens situation with the lettuce nicely chopped for you.
If you tried the previous version, the Salad was actually a Wedge that required a lot of awkward cutting in the shallow cardboard tray with plastic forks and knives. One other difference is the fact that the Pulled Pork used to be tossed in the same tangy barbecue sauce as what was served with the Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich. Now, the Pork arrives the same as what’s served in the current Mojo Pulled Pork Sandwich.
For ten bucks, the Fairfax Salad is a lot of food – I thought the Pulled Pork was a little on the bland side on its own, but the creamy Jalapeno Ranch does a nice job of infusing some spice into a salad with a nice variety of textures with the crispy lettuce and crunchy Tortilla Strips. The Corn Medley provides a little bit of a roasted flavor along with a sprinkle of what is probably the least expensive cheddar cheese money can buy. Overall, it’s a fresh, light meal that’s filling without being heavy. A real bargain at ten bucks.
As usual, I elected to use mobile order via the My Disney Experience app:
There’s a nice amount of customization available, in addition to the opportunity to be harassed about ordering dessert on several different screens.
The new app layout makes it a lot easier to check in on your mobile order status as well. The button is available right there on the home screen.
Unfortunately, the FastPass+ system went down that afternoon, making it impossible to book additional FP+ opportunities via the app.
Or the website.
When downtime occurs, it’s always a good idea to check both the app and the website, as occasionally, only one or the other will lose functionality. On this particular day, FP+ was unavailable for about an hour, from 12:45pm to just before 2pm.
Even when functionality was restored, FP+ was still unavailable at the majority of the shows.
Of course, when booking FP+ is unavailable, cancelling them is also out of the question, making it more difficult to snag additional opportunities. With some studious refreshing, some quality options will eventually become available, like this Tower of Terror with a return time of just about an hour in advance.
With some additional refreshing, Star Tours and Toy Story Mania are available. A better Star Tours time should become available with some additional refreshing.
It’s going on 1:15pm and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is posting a 95-minute wait.
But it could be worse. I actually watched this cast member walk back the extended queue sign and deposit it next to the line for future use. A close call, indeed.
Here’s a look at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s posted waits in April:
During this particular month, waits actually build a little slower than Tower of Terror. At 9:30am, the roller coaster posts “just” 36 minutes, while Tower of Terror is already up to 43 minutes. 15 minutes later, at 9:45am,” the two rides share the same average posted wait at 58 minutes. From there, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster shoots up much faster and peaks much higher with an 85-minute average at 10am, compared to 71 minutes at Tower of Terror at the same time. Whether the average wait is 60 minutes or 70 minutes is potentially of little consequence as you probably don’t want to be in either line, which is again why we utilized FastPass+. Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster are easily the top two FP+ priorities outside of Toy Story Land. Nothing else comes close.
The line for Tower of Terror is even longer at 1:10pm.
Now with a 110-minute wait.
In what I’m sure will be a rousing conclusion, we’ll take a look at how the Studios looks in the afternoon.
We’ll also check in on the construction outside the Park with the gondola, tram, and security work.