We pick things up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, mid-morning, on a busy Saturday after first visiting all three Toy Story Land rides.
So far, I’ve accomplished:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:45am – 9:15am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 9:20am – 9:50am
- Toy Story Mania with FastPass+: 9:54am – 10:17am
Given the crowds – the line to ride Slinky Dog Dash fills the entire queue and spills out of the Land before 9:15am – I’m doing relatively well for myself. You can read all about the rope drop procedure and what to expect from Toy Story Land first thing in the morning in this post.
The Incredible Celebration continues in the old Pixar Place space through the end of September.
While the festivities officially get underway at 10:30am, the area opens with the Park and Edna Mode begins greeting at 9:30am, even if that isn’t officially posted anywhere. I have a lot more information about what the Celebration entails in this post. With kids, it may be worth your time to stop by the dance party. Without kids, look for that Key Lime Pie on a stick, which is tastier than it has any right to be.
Given Edna’s short waits, even during the hours that she’s officially scheduled to meet, it’s relatively unbelievable that they would send her out an hour early, completely unannounced, while Mike & Sulley in Walt Disney Presents see 25+ minute waits virtually all day. They don’t arrive on-scene until 10am. We’ll stop by to see how things are going later. Spoiler: the wait will be about 30 minutes, as it almost always is.
It’s going on 10:30am, and while the most popular attractions are already slammed, most secondary attractions continue to see short waits. That’s part of why our early morning touring is so effective. You could walk right into the next showing of Voyage of the Little Mermaid now. Later in the day, the wait will be 25+ minutes as the theater fills earlier and earlier before showtime as more and more people look for something to do.
Disney announced that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway won’t open until the Spring of 2020, which is about a year later than we were expecting and at least six months later than the previously-announced Fall 2019 opening. Ostensibly, the Railway was a means to pull some of the crowds away from Galaxy’s Edge at opening and add much-needed capacity to the Park. Come August 29th, when Star Wars opens, the Park will only add one new ride in Smugglers Run, an attraction that might move through 1,500 people an hour under the best of conditions – which the opening will certainly not be.
If daily attendance hovers around 30,000 guests at the moment, then you’d have to imagine that we’ll see at least a 40% increase once Star Wars comes online, or about 12,000 more people per day. Over the course of a 12-hour day, that means Smugglers Run can move through 18,000 people – barely enough to cover just the additional number of guests expected to visit on your average day.
To help combat capacity issues, Disney has made an almost-unprecedented move by adding three hours of “Extra, Extra Magic Hours” at Hollywood Studios every day from September 1st through November 2nd:
You can pull up the original announcement here. Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom also see single-hour morning Extra Magic Hours every day from August 29th through November 2nd. This is good news for those who are staying on-site and able to get up early. For those staying off-site, late night touring will become all the more important. If you’re ineligible for the morning EMH, it basically makes it impossible to experience Avatar Flight of Passage without a 100+ minute wait as thousands of resort guests will fill the queue before you’re even eligible to enter. At Magic Kingdom, waits at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight will already be prohibitive by regular opening. We’ll battle Galaxy’s Edge in a number of ways, including what to expect late into the evening, once the new Land opens.
As it pertains to a current visit to the Studios, nighttime touring is the easiest way to experience Toy Story Land. You can read how to go about doing that here. Basically, you just show up 75+ minutes before Park close and tour in reverse of our morning order, first visiting either Toy Story Mania or Alien Swirling Saucers with FastPass+ and then experiencing the other in standby. After moving through those two attractions, simply get in line for Slinky Dog Dash with just a few minutes before Park close – the actual wait should be under a half hour most nights. Ideally, if Disney resort guests show up in droves between 6am and 9am once Galaxy’s Edge opens, then the Land will clear out even more towards the end of the night. That will likely mean multi-hour waits for Smugglers Run, but it should still be far better than earlier in the day, unless you’re going to commit to a 5am or earlier arrival. What a vacation.
Disney has been replacing the celebrity signatures in front of the Chinese Theater. I still haven’t been invited to provide mine.
Maybe I will get my own window as the memorabilia looks to be switched out there too.
About ten months after the Alien Popcorn Buckets sold out in just a couple of hours on Toy Story Land’s opening day, they’re back in stock at the $25 price point. They’re pretty cute, but perhaps $10 overpriced for what you’ll get.
Having experienced half of the Studios’ rides in the first 90 minutes of operation, I’m headed to Star Tours, which should continue to see short actual waits later into the day than the other five rides.
It’s just after 10:30am as crowds look to be light around Echo Lake.
Olaf, who meets in the building across from Star Tours, continues to see waits that hover around 15 minutes most of the day. I could walk right in at this point, but it makes sense to visit other attractions that will see waits that rise faster.
Here’s Olaf’s posted wait times in April:
From a wait time perspective, it looks like 10:30am is right around the best time of the day to visit, outside of first or last thing. Considering the 13-minute average wait, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to prioritize the snowman. If you’d like to meet Olaf, I’d fit him in whenever it’s convenient later in the day.
I can’t imagine what the wait time would have been at Magic Kingdom five years ago – two or three hours, at least.
Star Tours is posting a 30-minute wait around 10:35am, which is about what we should expect given the elevated crowds.
With the standby line extending outside, we’re at the mercy of how many simulators are operating. Hopefully on a busy day like today, the ride will be running at full capacity and we’ll be able to move right through, but there’s really no telling. At least at outdoor attractions like Primeval Whirl, where the two separate tracks are in full view, we can quickly ascertain whether both sides are operating. If they’re not and the line is long, then it doesn’t make much sense to get in line because very few standby riders will board. At Star Tours, one simulator could be running. Six simulators could be running. Or something in between.
Since the purpose of our visit is largely to gauge what’s possible on a busier day, I elected to get in the back of the line.
And I ended up making good time, passing by C-3PO just six minutes later.
And I ended up being past the merge with FastPass+ two minutes later, or just eight minutes after I got in line.
I arrived at 10:34am and was back out front at 10:58am, for a total experience time of just 24 minutes. That’s only about five minutes longer than the ride would take later in the day with FastPass+. The short actual wait is why we slot Star Tours into the late morning.
Here’s a look at posted waits in April:
Actual waits before 10:30am are reliably under 20 minutes, though rare downtime can push waits up earlier in the day. If you miss the 10:30am mark, waits return to low levels after 5pm most days and just go down from there, to the point where you can walk right on just about any day after 7pm. 4th FastPass+ opportunities are also greater than any other ride with the attraction typically distributing about a thousand experiences per hour.
The area leading into Galaxy’s Edge is going to look a lot different in just under five months.
“Why do you make fun of touringplans josh you are a very mean man”
Because they just changed their crowd predictions at Hollywood Studios during the first week Galaxy’s Edge is open from a crowd level ten to a crowd level one? Seems like that’s at least ten off but we’ll see https://t.co/hk9mxAgAF9
— josh (@easywdw) May 4, 2019
On the other hand, maybe that’s only because there will be far, far fewer people with crowd level *checks notes* 1’s all around.
I appreciated the fact that BaseLine opened a half hour earlier than usual, knowing that most of us would be at least an extra-half-hour stressed out from the crowd levels. But things are going pretty well, perhaps because I have the knowledge that I can stop in for some charcuterie if things take a turn for the worst.
You can pull up my full review of a surprisingly-good stop for food and drinks here. The above is “just” ten dollars.
The car in the photo-op in front of Sci-Fine Dine-In continues to come in and out of refurbishment. This review pits Sci-Fi against 50’s Prime Time Cafe, along with a look at the menus for the other Studios’ table service restaurants. I’ll have a fresh review of Mama Melrose in the coming days as well. Sci-Fi remains my favorite for its interesting atmosphere and relatively-inexpensive sandwiches and burgers.
Chip and Dale move across from Sci-Fi in the morning to waits that typically hover around 15 minutes.
Mickey and Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams typically see the highest posted waits of any of the characters. Waits for Woody and Jessie are typically longer, but you’ll need to judge the length of the line yourself given the fact that there’s no wait time posted. Typically, the wait averages about 90 seconds per group in front of you.
Here’s Mickey and Minnie’s posted waits in April:
Their 32-minute overall average wait, as indicated in the bottom right hand corner cell, is three minutes higher than Star Tours. That probably makes the pair a higher priority should you wish to meet them, particularly considering the ease of grabbing a 4th or subsequent Star Tours FastPass+ in the afternoon. Posted waits for Mickey and Minnie also don’t drop much in the evening as capacity is also reduced.
We’re headed towards Sunset Boulevard to experience Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with FastPass+. The biggest benefit to the WDW ride reservation system is being able to book those priority attractions well ahead of time with certainty about when we’ll be able to visit. Our podcast this week will focus on comparing the MaxPass system out at Disneyland with the FastPass+ system here in Florida. Look for that episode later this week. I may follow up with some written thoughts on the blog. I don’t like to listen to my voice any more than you do.
With the stroller wagon ban now in effect, we’ll be seeing a lot fewer of these Keenz. Exceptions may be made for medical reasons.
It’s always fun to happen upon The March of the First Order, which is currently scheduled to step off from the area in between Guest Relations and the Mickey’s of Hollywood store on Hollywood Boulevard at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm, and 5pm. The Stormtroopers make a variety of threats here on the stage in front of the Chinese Theater before returning the same way in which they came. One wonders if the March, along with A Galaxy Far, Far Away, will continue after Galaxy’s Edge opens. The shows may stay on to keep people excited about their day-long waits for the new rides.
Legends of Hollywood remains closed along with the old Planet Hollywood store. It’s expected that the two stores will become one.
Just after 11am, Sunset Boulevard doesn’t “feel” too crowded.
But as we’re about to find out, that may be because the people are already in line.
Of all the things you don’t want to see on your vacation, other than me changing from my navy blue shirt to my other navy blue shirt, is one of these extended queue signs.
That’s particularly true when the queue for said attraction is already on the longer side of things.
But it can always be worse as even more queue is left unfilled…….for now.
We’ll return to bypass this 90-minute wait via FastPass+ momentarily.
Typically, I schedule FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster before Tower of Terror because the roller coaster is more likely to see a longer FP+ backup earlier in the day. With the expected refurbishment work coming to Tower of Terror later this spring, which will effectively halve the drop tower’s capacity, it may make sense to visit Terror first. But it will probably remain largely a wash.
But no matter how bad Tower of Terror is, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is historically worse, here with a posted wait that’s 20 minutes longer.
And ten minutes shy of two hours might be about right.
Don’t give up if you can’t find the FastPass+ return line. It’s moved slightly to the left.
FastPass+ wasn’t backed up nearly as far as what we saw earlier in the week at Magic Kingdom.
We’ll see what’s going on outside Sunset Showcase next.
I arrived at 11:12am, and was in the pre-show ten minutes later, at 11:22am.
That’s maybe two minutes longer than average.
My total experience time ended up being 25 minutes for the ~90-second ride. That’s a few minutes longer than average, but certainly not bad considering the 110-minute standby wait.
Next, we’ll visit Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, see how long it takes to ride Tower of Terror with FastPass+ when the standby line is backed up closer to Hollywood Scoops than the ride’s own entrance, and have lunch at Fairfax Fare before moving on with our day.