Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You love it. I love it. So we’re back.
According to the joy that is the internet, April 9th was supposed to be the first day that Toy Story Mania would operate without FastPass+. But like most things internet-related, that turned out to be mostly or completely false.
Toy Story Mania FastPass+ are currently unavailable to book in advance of a date, but they are currently available to book on the day of. FP+ seem to be released around 8:45am for the rest of that day; above is the situation for April 14th when I checked FastPass+ availability at 8:58am on that same morning. I have the opportunity to book Toy Story for immediate use at 9am.
The rope drop touring strategy that follows assumes that Toy Story Mania FP+ will be unavailable as they may well turn out to be at some point between tomorrow and Toy Story Land opening on June 30th. But in the screenshot above taken at 1:58pm on April 12th, the day that we’ll be touring below, I’m able to book my 5th FP+ for immediate use at Toy Story Mania. The current situation makes it much easier to book Toy Story as a 4th or subsequent FP+ selection as the vast majority of people have already made their FP+ selections at other available attractions prior to arriving at the Park. It’s also more likely that Rock’n’ Roller Coaster FP+ will open up as people switch their selections to Toy Story after realizing that the ride is available. On the day of my visit, I could have booked Toy Story FP+ over and over again for near-immediate use every time. Check the My Disney Experience app or DisneyWorld.com to check on availability beginning around 8:40am on the morning that you’re planning to visit. If availability doesn’t show up that early, experiences may be released later in the day. Keep checking.
Here’s the scene outside the entrance at 7:55am on Thursday April 12th.
I have my choice of tapstile while those with pre-opening breakfast reservations at Hollywood & Vine line up down on the far left.
As always, if you’re running late, it’s smart to hang out down there and wait for the tapstiles used for breakfast reservations to be switched over to regular admission. That usually happens at about 8:20am. You can then move over to the newly-opened set of tapstiles and be right around where I am with my early arrival. Be sure to say hello to your fellow easywdw.com reader.
Here’s the scene at 8am. There’s nobody else here.
Ten minutes later, at 8:10am, people have begun to arrive. This is right around the sweet spot between arriving unnecessarily early and finding yourself somewhere in the back of the mass of people.
Five minutes later, a hundred or more people have arrived.
And by 8:20am, the lines are backed up past the ticket booths, as they are every morning.
And 8:25am, which is about five minutes before we’ll be let inside.
I can hardly contain my excitement.
There is a very short opening ceremony featuring Donald and Daisy Duck. If you have kids that might want to be the “lucky” ones selected, line up early in front of a middle tapstile. For some reason, I never get picked, despite wearing my best blue fisherman’s shirt and sporting my best death glare every single time. A pity, really.
The highest morning priority remains Jedi Training Academy signups, which you’ll find down to the left past Hollywood & Vine and 50’s Prime Time Cafe.
People do run over there. Keep in mind that the child interested in participating needs to be present. After signing up or if you’re running late, you may want to use this path if you’re headed to Toy Story first.
This is what Hollywood Boulevard looks like behind me at 8:45am – it’s a below average number of people. If you’re going to be behind this, either shimmy your way up the left side of the street or head through the store on that side of Hollywood Boulevard so you can position yourself much closer.
Here’s spring break last year, for example, as seen in this post. I’m trying very hard to retire before Star Wars Land opens.
My early arrival allows me to march right up to the front of the holding area in front of Sunset Boulevard and outside the Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks, which is open if you want to drop by for a quick coffee or snack. If you’re headed to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror, you want to stay to the right.
Once the Toy Story cast members arrive to walk us back, it’s just about go time. Start sharpening those elbows.
And at 8:49am, we’re off.
I’m flanked by the group that was waiting to the left of Hollywood Boulevard where that arrow was a couple of pictures ago.
The website used to recommend going through the narrower opening up here, but that seems to offer a disadvantage.
Too many people now try to do the same and we’re actually held for a moment while those heading through the main archway have an opportunity to make the turn and pass us. Sad!
If you have a stroller, be ready to push it in the general direction of this cast member on the left before you arrive at Pixar Place.
There’s no place to park them up ahead.
On our last rope drop post that covered Magic Kingdom touring during Easter week, there was some amount of derision over the fact that I am a single person running around the theme parks much faster than anyone else could possibly hope to move. You would think that the hundreds of people in front of me would paint a somewhat different picture, in addition to the fact that stopping to snap a picture every ten steps probably takes some time. But who knows, I am very new at this.
It took all of four minutes to walk back here and Toy Story Mania is posting its 30-minute default wait time. That probably doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to take a half hour. Test Track over at Epcot is the same way – it posts 30 minutes at Park open every day even if you are the first person to arrive.
A friendly welcome, at least for the next nine weeks or so.
As has been true for a while, the old attraction entrance is out of commission.
We’ll be heading through this unceremonious doorway and through a short hallway.
After winding around out here.
With hundreds of people behind me.
Even with a lot of people managing to pass me on the walk over, I was still on-board at 9:03am, or just three minutes after the Park officially opened and 14 minutes after starting to walk over. That seems good.
This past week should prove to be one of the least crowded of the year – this is the scene outside Toy Story at 9:11am.
With a 55-minute posted wait.
And the end of the line now starting on the other side of the street. That’s why the early arrival is so important. Yes, I did arrive at 8am and wait for a half hour for the Park to open. Then I waited 19 minutes on Hollywood Boulevard. And then three minutes for the ride itself. But I’m also on my way to my next attraction 11 minutes after Park open. Those that arrived at the main entrance at 8:45am are going to wait that same hour to ride Toy Story and then wait much longer at every other attraction for the rest of the day because wait times are so much longer at 10:15am than they are at 9:15am.
During our last Hollywood Studios rope drop, I played it safe and visited some other attractions like Star Wars Launch Bay and Star Tours after riding Toy Story Mania.
This is partially due to the fact that I’m still traumatized from when I tried to experience what used to be all five rides at the Studios in standby, almost two years ago to the day.
But even more recently, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s line has looked like this just a few minutes after Park open. This picture is from 8:56am last December as seen in this rope drop post. The back of the line stretches back to Tower of Terror.
But given the fact that the Park didn’t “feel” crowded and the fact that I had recently bummed around doing other things on a recent rope drop, I decided to head over to Sunset Boulevard to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror in standby.
Here we are at 9:16am.
“Feels” fine, but you never really know. Everyone could be in line.
Tower of Terror was posted at 13 minutes, which is probably a good sign.
Looking back at 9:21am.
The scene outside Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster looked pretty chill.
The fact that the walkway into the building is clear is a good sign, in addition to the 15-minute posted wait.
I arrived at 9:22am and was right outside the door heading inside a minute later.
And managed to squeeze into the end of a pre-show just two minutes after that.
There weren’t even enough people waiting to fill the back of this ride vehicle. So much for filling in all of the available space.
Nobody waiting in single rider, either, though it wouldn’t save you much time at this point.
I was back out front at 9:35am for a total experience time of 13 minutes, which is incredibly short.
I should have went off to Tower of Terror, but I was interested in what the actual wait would be if I got in line again. If you were delayed a bit at Toy Story or otherwise aren’t a single adult visitor taking a picture a minute, you might find yourself at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster around this time instead.
This time around, I was backed up further.
And worse, a lot of FastPass+ users were arriving.
But I was still in the pre-show just 12 minutes after getting in line.
And back out front at 10:01am for a total experience time of 26 minutes, or about twice as long as my first ride. With FastPass+ later in the morning, my total experience time will be 16 minutes.
The posted wait is now 65 minutes, which is probably exagerrated given that the standby queue is just about as long as it was when I got in line a little under a half hour ago. But with the maximum number of FastPass+ users returning and even less capacity going to standby, the actual wait could easily be 30 minutes before arriving at the pre-show. Maybe a little more.
The posted wait for Tower of Terror was 15 minutes at 10:04am.
Morgan Freeman voice: But the wait was not 15 minutes.
Short posted waits are not always to our advantage, particularly with what is often a delay between the actual wait rising and the posted wait going up. That’s part of why rides like Toy Story Mania post 30 minutes at Park open by default. If it didn’t, someone would have to increase the wait from 5 minutes at 8:52am to 10 minutes at 8:53am to 20 minutes at 8:55am to 30 minutes at 8:56am to 45 minutes at 8:58am, and so on. It’s easier to post 30 minutes at 8:52am and then 60 minutes at 9am.
Most of my wait is going to be due to the maximum number of FP+ users arriving after me and riding before me given the fact that about 70% of the ride’s capacity goes to FP+.
Add unplanned capacity problems, as are common on Tower, and you have very few standby guests having an opportunity to ride during each cycle.
But it does afford an opportunity to take some pictures:
I arrived at 10:03am and wasn’t in the pre-show room until 10:44am.
I was then on the ride about ten minutes later.
Happy belated Friday the 13th.
I was back out front at exactly 11am for a total experience time of 57 minutes.
And a more accurate posted wait. With FastPass+ later in the day, my total experience time will be 19 minutes.
The moral of the story is one that we already knew: probably don’t get in the standby line at Tower of Terror after 9:45am.
Here’s how I set up my FastPass+ choices the night before:
I’m in a good spot to head back over to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror with FP+ before moving on to a snack and Star Tours.
Otherwise, not a whole lot about our touring strategy has changed, whether Disney continues to distribute day-of FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania or not. Even if they didn’t, I was still able to experience the ride first thing with a short wait. After, I have the option of visiting moderate priority attractions like Star Tours and Voyage of the Little Mermaid or I could visit an early showing of Disney Jr. or the Frozen Sing-Along. And there’s always characters that will see higher waits later in the day.
With the relatively low crowds, I didn’t have a problem riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster immediately after Toy Story, perhaps in part because more people were heading towards the Pixar ride first thing given their inability to use FP+ With fewer people heading to the roller coaster first, riding immediately after Toy Story seems viable, particularly over the next six-or-so weeks when crowds are relatively low.
We’ll continue with the day in Part 2, which can be found here.