All eyes have been on Disney’s Hollywood Studios since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened a little less than a month ago. Since then, most of our visits have focused on morning touring during Extra Extra Magic Hours. We first visited Smugglers Run first thing to see how the rope drop process to the far back regions of Batuu would go. We followed that up with a Toy Story Land rope drop to Slinky Dog Dash.
While a surprising number of people continue to choose Toy Story Land over Galaxy’s Edge first thing, heading to Andy’s Backyard continues to make the most sense. The walk is shorter and more pleasant. And even if you gingerly walk over and end up waiting 15 minutes for Slinky Dog, it’s about the same amount of time that you’d wait if you got in line after first riding Smugglers Run. As we learned from our many morning visits, actual waits for Smugglers Run are typically just 15 to 30 minutes between 8:30am and 9am, which is more than reasonable given how quickly the line moves and how much there is to see in the queue. Heading to Galaxy’s Edge after experiencing the other attractions will also give you ample time to explore the new Land after. If you were to start with Galaxy’s Edge at 6am, you’d probably want to move on right after finishing up with the ride and then you’d have to circle back around to look around later in the day, in turn taking even more time.
The Disney Skyliner is currently testing for eligible cast members along with their friends and families. I offered some preliminary thoughts based on my initial couple of rides in this post, coming away feeling mostly positive about Disney’s newest mode of transportation. One thing I didn’t discuss is the anticipated operating schedule once the system officially opens on September 29th. The Epcot line will begin operation one hour before the Park opens, which is 8am six days a week, and then 7am on the day with morning Extra Magic Hour, which is typically Thursday. It will shut down an hour after the Park closes, which is typically 10pm, but may be 10:30pm during Festival of the Holidays, 11pm on some Fridays and Saturdays during the Food and Wine Festival or for evening Extra Magic Hours, and then 11:30pm or 12am depending on other similar factors.
The schedule should make the Skyliner ride back to your resort after Park close relatively convenient. IllumiNations and its various replacements begin at Park close and should run for about 15 minutes. That gives you 45 minutes after the show ends to get back to the International Gateway to hop on the careening closets of consternation. If you’re running late, then buses operate until all guests are returned to their resorts, so you can always make your exit through the main entrance at the front of the Park.
The morning start, an hour before Park open, should also be okay for rope drop, but as noted in the Skyliner review, we are expecting a whole lot more people to be using the International Gateway with 6,700 more rooms theoretically using the entrance/exit attached to World Showcase. Some number of those people will use the buses or drive their own vehicles, but we’re definitely going to see an influx of people in that area before Park open once the Skyliner begins dropping off guests from Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resort, and eventually the Riviera Resort.
During the Extra Extra Magic Hours period, which goes through November 2nd, the Hollywood Studios Skyliner line isn’t scheduled to begin until 5:45am. Even with a short trip from Caribbean Beach Resort, you’re barely going to make the 6am start of Extra Extra Magic Hours, even under the best of conditions.
With that ~6am arrival on the Skyliner, you’ll find yourself at the back of this mass of humanity.
Currently, buses destined/doomed for Hollywood Studios begin picking up guests at the resorts at 4:45am. Assuming that continues at Pop Century/Art of Animation/Caribbean Beach come September 29th, then the bus is your best bet if you’re shooting for a 5:30am to 5:40am arrival at the Studios for EEMH, which is smart if you’re heading to Galaxy’s Edge or Slinky Dog Dash first thing. The end of Studios’ Skyliner service changes quiet a bit.
Here’s the current schedule through the second week in December.
The Skyliner may run an hour later on Tuesdays because that’s the day Epcot hosts evening Extra Magic Hours and resort guests may be heading there after the Studios closes.
The Skyliner schedule may offer some insight into when the Park will open after the Extra Extra Magic Hours period ends. Through November 2nd, we have a 5:45am Skyliner start for a 6am Extra Extra Magic Hours opening. The opening then changes to 6am or 7am through November 20th. The Studios is currently expected to host morning Extra Magic Hours on Sundays, but it looks like Friday will also be a morning EMH day, unless Disney starts a paid morning event again. The Park could also open an hour early to everyone on Fridays. Or they could just really want to get people to the Studios plenty early on the last weekday before the weekend.
It also looks like Park hours will be extended considerably over Thanksgiving, given the fact that the Skyliner is set to operate from 6:45am through 1am. We may see a morning Extra Magic Hour added each day at 7am from November 22nd through December 1st and the potential for 12am closes each day. November 21st may see an 8am Extra Magic Hour or 7:45am could be a typo.
Here’s the current operating hours as they stand. Through November 2nd, the operating hours are the same as November 2nd:
Disney still typically extends Park hours just about 2.5 weeks before the start of a given month, so we may not see November’s final hours until October 14th or so. Based on the pattern that we’ve seen so far, it looks like the days when the Skyliner opens consecutively at 45 minutes after the hour indicates a morning Extra Magic Hour that begins 15 minutes later. So with Thanksgiving’s 6:45am opens, we should see a 7am morning EMH added each day. Days when the Skyliner opens an hour earlier than other days during the week likely means a morning Extra Magic Hour starting an hour later. When the Skyliner starts at 7am instead of 8am two days a week, it looks like those dates will likely see morning Extra Magic Hours or earlier opens for everyone. We’ll see what Disney does when it extends the hours in November in a couple of weeks.
I promise that I won’t turn into “that guy,” but here’s a look at the 13mm wide camera on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which is almost as wide as my Canon 11-24mm lens, which cost $2,700 on its own. This is 4:01pm on the afternoon of Monday, September 23rd, 2019. If you see a wide photo, it’s from the phone.
If you see a picture that looks “more zoomed in,” it’s with my usual Canon 5D Mark IV, here with the Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art lens.
Crowds “felt” a lot heavier than they had over the first couple of weeks in September, in part because we’re later in the month and families are considering traveling again. Couple that with fall breaks and the fact that it’s later in the day.
But even with some amount of congestion on Sunset Boulevard, Tower of Terror was posting a 20-minute wait at 4:10pm, which is about as good as it gets.
All of the Guest Experience Team stands have these electronic wait time signs. I’m surprised they haven’t changed Galaxy’s Edge’s status to, “You know already.” We’ll see if Thanksgiving crowds are enough to fill the Land and force the return of the boarding pass system, which caps the number of people inside the Land, but I doubt it.
We’ll get over to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run later in the day, but we can clearly see that the wait for Slinky Dog Dash is higher. To say that Slinky Dog is “more popular” because of the wait time disparity isn’t necessarily true, given the fact that Slinky accepts FastPass+ and Smugglers Run currently does not. Slinky’s capacity is also about 25% lower to start with, so even if FastPass+ was not offered at either, and Slinky’s wait time was ten minutes longer, there would still be a similar number of people in line. But Smugglers Run is designed for re-rideability (not a word) and the fact that only about 1,200 people are in line for the attraction doesn’t exactly point to an incredible amount of demand for the space simulator.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is posting a 40-minute wait at the same time, so Smugglers Run is definitely more popular than that!!1!1
The posted wait is probably about accurate. Without FastPass+ and with the same number of people in standby, the actual wait would be about 20 minutes, if that.
The Dance Party that used to occur outside Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy sounds like it’s set to close along with a number of other entertainment cuts, some of which were already planned.
Fortunately(?), you can still pose next to Cruz Ramirez and DJ. The Lightning McQueen show itself hasn’t seen any reduction in the number of shows offered, either. You could feasibly see Disney moving to McQueen shows on the half hour, instead of averaging a little more than three shows per hour as the schedule currently stands. Actually, scheduled shows might help fill theaters and reduce waits. I love the fact that Impressions de France begins 15 and 45 minutes after the hour. It makes it much easier to time the show after slamming some champagne and trying to eat an ice cream macaron in one bite.
Here we are at 4:15pm.
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away isn’t going anywhere.
I would have to go with Dantooine. If I was in the Galactic Empire’s Imperial Army and somebody told me to go there, I’d probably just assume that they meant Tatooine and drive my precious little spacecraft over there instead. I’d never find the rebel base.
A couple more walls are up in front of the Chinese Theater. We’re still anticipating the opening of the new ride in “Spring 2k20.”
A couple of days ago, Disney ran this spot on the Parks Blog, featuring a select number of cast members. They look like they’re just relieved that their jobs aren’t being eliminated, and they also don’t have to go to Galaxy’s Edge, as they gush about seeing basically nothing having to do with the ride.
The only thing I want to hear about Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is an opening date. Apparently, at least Universal thinks that announcing projects and opening dates and basically any details whatsoever about what they’ve got in the pipeline causes people to put off visiting their theme parks. Disney has taken a different approach, already announcing a lot of what’s coming to Epcot and Magic Kingdom in particular. Universal recently opened the operational disaster that is the Hagrid ride, after basically announcing its existence the day before. They’re currently building a colossal Jurassic Park roller coaster with nary a word about it. You wonder if Disney being so open about the delay at Rise of the Resistance, coupled with moving the opening date of the rest of the Land so much earlier in the year than originally anticipated, had a dramatic effect on the lack of interest this summer.
We’ll head to Star Tours and then Galaxy’s Edge. Apparently, this area will become the “theater district,” and Disney will be replacing Path of the Jedi up ahead with “Mickey Shorts Theater,” which will ostensibly show Mickey shorts tying into the Runaway Railway attraction. The newfangled art that Disney is using for the ride and in the new animation is a little contentious. The website goes into everything with an open mind, of course, and we’ll see how it all turns out.
It will be interesting to see if all things Frozen are resurrected later this year when the sequel comes out on November 22nd.
It wasn’t all that long ago when there was an indoor ice rink inside Hollywood Studios complete with a figure skater show. It’s kind of crazy that this is more than five years ago now, but you can read about the joy that was Frozen Summer Fun here. There were parades, special shows, singalongs, themed fireworks, and all kinds of stuff. With the focus on Star Wars this year, a Frozen overlay “feels” unlikely, but Disney may try to do something to drive attendance over here. We do already have confirmation that the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! projection and fireworks show will run from November 8th of this year through January 5th, 2020. So a new Frozen show is out. It may be worth noting that the dessert party for Jingle BAM! is moving to Echo Lake this year. Reservations are already available here.
You can pull up my review of last year’s show here.
Star Tours is posted at 20 minutes with an actual wait that’s probably closer to half that. Since the queue is indoors, air-conditioned UNLIKE THE GONDOLAS, and with plenty of stuff to see, it’s not necessarily the worst place to spend a few minutes.
We’re still waiting on the bathroom expansion to open across from Sci-Fi and Star Tours.
You’d have to think that initially, the plan was to have these restrooms open in time for Galaxy’s Edge, with the expectation that a lot of people would be camped out here waiting for their turn to enter a Land that’s almost always at capacity.
Of course, that’s not what happened. The reservation/boarding system has not been in use since the first day.
PizzeRizzo is already back to closing early, operating from just 10am to 4pm daily.
Originally, I think Disney thought demand would be high enough from those waiting outside Galaxy’s Edge that Rizzo would be full into the evening.
We’re just about ten weeks away from the opening of Rise of the Resistance, which will be located through this relatively nondescript entrance just inside the Land on the left.
One wonders if it was a mistake to open Galaxy’s Edge months “ahead of schedule,” only for interest to be thin for the single ride and handful of expensive add-ons. Here at 4:30pm, there’s room for a thousand more people just along this walkway.
Bob Iger famously said he’d have to do nothing to hype Galaxy’s Edge other than tweet that the Land was open. This week, Disney is pushing a “Star Wars Takeover,” with Galaxy’s Edge featured on the following shows: “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “Tamron Hall,” “Strahan, Sara & Keke,” “Nightline,” “black-ish,” “The Goldbergs,” “Modern Family,” “American Housewife,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Rookie,” “Dancing with the Stars,” Freeform, “SportCenter,” and shows on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior. That’s just this week. You can pull up the full schedule here.
I’m guessing these Stormtroopers are asking the child if he or she is familiar with Savi’s Workshop, and if that’s too expensive, Build-A-Lightsaber in Tatooine Traders.
Oga’s Cantina seems to be the most popular location in Galaxy’s Edge, with reservations that are typically hard to find. All of the people waiting here are not doing so in standby. The 30+ folks all have reservations and are simply waiting for someone inside to leave after their 45 minutes and/or two-drink maximum has been exhausted. If you can’t initially find availability online, be sure to check the day before you intend to visit. Cancellations are most common within 48 hours of a given date.
As expected, Smugglers Run is posting a 45-minute wait. The wait for single rider is likely around five.
Considering the length of the line, the actual wait is probably about 45 minutes. For Disney’s newest attraction, and one that probably cost more than 250 million dollars, that’s really not too bad for 4:35pm. If you had told me that the average wait for Smugglers Run was going to be less than 50 minutes during its first month of operation on both coasts, I’m fairly certain I would have died laughing, and never have known that it would eventually become reality. Maybe that would have been better than seeing it.
Galaxy’s Edge has allowed access from Toy Story Land for the majority of the day over the last couple of weeks. Things are wide open here. If you’re planning on heading into Galaxy’s Edge from Toy Story Land after 12pm, then I’d expect that you would be able to more often than not. The later in the day it gets, the more likely it will be an option. The big issue is the length of the line for Smugglers Run, which may initially stretch back this far in the morning.
Swirling Saucers is posting a 30-minute wait.
Slinky Dog Dash is 55 minutes. Not great, not terrible.
With Galaxy’s Edge access from Toy Story Land opening much sooner in the day than just about anyone had anticipated, crowding in Toy Story Land might have actually gone down.
Even Woody and Bo Peep have a little elbow room as they walk over to their meet and greet location, which is still uncovered and out in the elements.
Toy Story Mania with a wait that’s five minutes longer than Smugglers Run. GUESS IT’S MORE POPULAR.
Disney is supposed to be building Roundup Rodeo Barbecue back here – a project that they announced back on April 30th, or four days before the Extra Extra Magic Hours announcement and about a month before Galaxy’s Edge bombed during previews in Disneyland. One wonders if we will see that restaurant built given the lackluster attendance. It wouldn’t surprise me if the project was put on hold until the end of the year, to see how things play out in a world that includes Rise of the Resistance.
We’ve got a billboard for the animated version of a movie whose live action version did over a billion dollars at the global box office.
And 1961’s “101 Dalmatians” is just now coming out on Blu-ray. A live-action spinoff of that, titled “Cruella,” is expected in 2021.
The Incredibles Dance Party will be going away come September 30th, as originally scheduled. Apparently, the Edna Mode Meet and Greet will continue, along with the food stand and some of the photo opportunities.
So far, Galaxy’s Edge has done little to the Studios outside of extend hours and reduce wait times just about everywhere. Who would have thought that we’d be welcoming the billion dollar land with such little fanfare. But that is still the case. We’ll see what Rise of the Resistance does once it opens and continue to monitor the situation to see if wait times rise enough to outpace what we saw last year.