Our morning continues outside Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, where we just had the show to ourselves. It looks like about ten people will learn how to defraud the government out of 3.9 million and then drive off in a Lamborghini during the next show. At least, that’s why I was there. In Part One, we covered the Studios’ arrival experience and how best to sign up for a Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding group. In Part Two, we started our day at the Runaway Railway.
So far, this is what I’ve been able to accomplish:
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: 9:32am – 10:18am, including the ~30 minutes it took for the Park to open.
- Tower of Terror: 10:23am – 10:47am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: 10:51am – 11:12am
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy: 11:13am – 11:32am
That’s a pretty solid 90 minutes of Park time, first hitting the highest standby priority in the Park in Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Moving over to Sunset Boulevard after is smart, with waits of about ten minutes at both thrillers. I then enjoyed sitting down in air-conditioning for about 15 minutes before starting the trek back to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Disney apparently doesn’t even want you posing with Cruz Ramirez. At least the wrap is on-theme. If I were ever to become a mummy, hopefully they would wrap me with navy blue on top and a tasteful brown on the bottom, so you still know it’s me under there. You’d think the “Cars” characters would be ripe for a character cavalcade…since they are already cars. We’ll check on those miniature parades momentarily.
The cleverly-named DJ…who is a DJ…is still out with a rope blocking closer access.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly since Rise of the Resistance pushed thousands of people towards earlier arrivals, the longest waits you’ll experience at the Studios are in the first 90 minutes of operation.
Here at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, your actual wait would be closer to five minutes than the ten I experienced. With no Park Hopping and no nighttime spectaculars to keep people around, crowds and wait times will only go down from here.
Since we visited, Tower of Terror’s posted wait has halved to 15 minutes. That’s about how long we actually waited. I wouldn’t consider a 15-minute wait prohibitive, but if you really don’t want to wait, you could start your day with Star Tours, Muppet*Vision, the Mickey Shorts, and then head to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. We would finish up with that around 11:30am. At that point, you could do lunch, ride Rise of the Resistance if applicable, or slam beers at BaseLine. Not that I would know anything about the latter. By 1pm, crowds and wait times will be significantly lower. Potentially, you could also arrive early, experience a super-headliner, and then head to those anytime attractions to avoid slightly longer waits elsewhere.
You could also show up shortly before 10am to sign up for Rise of the Resistance and then hop on the Skyliner or a Disney bus for breakfast. Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera is about ten minutes away on the Skyliner and accepts reservations through 11:15am. You could also continue over to the International Gateway at Epcot beginning at 10:30am and grab something to eat there. Five or six hours at the Studios is enough to basically experience all of the attractions that the Park currently offers. I’ll be on my way out at 4pm, or six hours after the Park opened. I’ll have visited every operating attraction.
So far, I’ve waited about ten minutes for each of the attractions that I’ve experienced, which doesn’t sound too bad. Here at 11:35am, crowds are far from overwhelming even if they will continue to go down.
Someday we will return to Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage. There may just be more side-eyeing than fighting and high leg-kicking on socially-distanced dots rather than arm-in-arm. We all have to make sacrifices.
There is quite a bit closed at the Studios on the quick service front, including Hollywood Scoops. It may not make a lot of sense to close a venue that sells ice cream to tourists who are outdoors during the summer in Florida. But the indoor area is so small that they probably can’t operate it safely and efficiently.
Disney is keeping Fairfax Fare closed along with Catalina Eddie’s at Sunset Ranch Market.
Rosie’s All-American Cafe is open in the back. Anaheim Produce, for snacks down on the left, is also open.
If you’re after a quick burger/hot dog/chicken nuggets, Rosie’s may be a good option if you prefer to sit outside at the moment:
That Fried Green Tomato Sandwich is surprisingly good, too. Just don’t look at how they’ve chosen to decorate their garden. Although, grabbing the gas mask off what is hopefully a mannequin may come in handy.
There are a number of solid vegetarian options in the Park at the moment, including the Hummus we’ll see later at Backlot Express and the Falafel at Docking Bay 7. Above is that Tomato Sandwich.
While most of the retail on the other side of Sunset Boulevard is closed, Legends of Hollywood is open. It may not be a coincidence that the Pandora store, along with much of Disney’s high-end merchandise, can be found over there. The entrance to the store is down on the left.
Keystone Clothiers on Hollywood Boulevard is closed.
Mickey’s of Hollywood, on the other hand, is open.
Here at 11:38am, it remains easy to keep our distance.
And few people are coming in. I would suspect 80% of the people visiting the Park arrive before opening.
We started our day at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway because it’s the Park’s highest priority.
The 60-minute posted wait may be slightly optimistic, particularly if you run into the 20-minute deep clean that happens every two hours.
It would be slightly faster to get to Galaxy’s Edge by taking the path to the right that goes past ABC Commissary and Sci-Fi Dine-In.
But we’ll see how things look on the main drag. Dockside Diner remains closed.
Somewhat strangely, the My Disney Experience app didn’t originally tell you what Rise of the Resistance boarding group they were on. You’d have to rely on in-park signage. That changed on July 30th, 2020, when they began displaying the current boarding groups on the app. That sort of change is just another in a flurry of moves Disney has made in the last two weeks since they reopened the Parks.
The My Disney Experience app does (theoretically) send a push notification when your boarding groups is called. There is also an “estimated return” that is likely inaccurate given the amount of downtime the ride accumulates. You can always pull up the app to check on your status and see if your group has been called. With multiple people in the group, someone should notice the push notification. Disney averages about eight groups per hour, so if you’ve been assigned group 48, you’re looking at riding about six hours into operation. That’s around 4pm.
Outside of Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, keeping your distance from people at the Studios remains pretty easy. Of course, those are also the two areas where you’ll likely spend the most time.
Disney has once again modified their face covering protocols, now banning mesh masks, those with any kind of holes, and those with exhalation valves.
Here’s the updated signage:
I would recommend bringing along at least one extra mask per person. Between sweat, water rides, and general ickiness, putting on a fresh mask half-way through the day is a welcome relief.
Wait times are already fairly reasonable at 11:40am. Back in January or February of this year, Slinky would still be posting a 75- to 90-minute wait at this point in the day. Toy Story Mania would have been around 50 minutes and Swirling Saucers would fall in at 35 minutes. Smugglers Run, still without an apostrophe, continues to see surprisingly-low wait times given the newness of the attraction. I’ll basically be walking on in the early afternoon.
Hollywood & Vine remains closed, while 50’s Prime Time next door is open.
Like the other live performances, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is closed.
Vacation Fun in the Mickey Shorts Theater is open as an anytime attraction. We’ll stop by later. Oasis Canteen on the other side is closed.
Signage has not exactly been updated as the Mickey & Minnie Greet is closed. On the other hand, a sign pointing to a restaurant that’s closed because you’re passing it at 3am isn’t necessarily inaccurate. The restaurant is still there. It’s just not operating. You could replace the Meet and Greet with PizzeRizzo, but that would probably cause people to immediately about-face.
Just about any time is fine to ride Star Tours. Jedi Training next door is dark.
Our march towards the tunnel leading into Galaxy’s Edge will be an easy one.
Or, at least, easier than trying to sell Disney Vacation Club right now. What do you mean you don’t want to spend 80 more years of this? And then give your points and access back to us at the end of the contract? It’s a great deal!
Soon, my love.
The entrance to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is just inside the Land on the left.
As before, you’ll scan your ticket or MagicBand to confirm your spot in the virtual queue. It took about two minutes from the time I got in line until the time I was on my way.
Your experience with the Rise of the Resistance queue, and the amount of time that you spend in line, will depend entirely on whether or not it goes down. When things are going well, it should be 10 to 20 minutes before you’re in the first pre-show. The second pre-show then runs right after. It should then be about ten minutes until the third pre-show. At the conclusion of that, you’ll board your vehicle. That’s a total of about 30 minutes from the time you first get in line to the time you’re on-board the ride. As a best case scenario.
Unfortunately, technical trouble persists. Rise of the Resistance is down, on average, about three hours a day, typically spread over three or four periods. If the ride goes down while you’re in line, you’ll typically have two options:
- Wait it out for an indeterminate amount of time.
- Leave the queue and you’ll likely receive a readmit for after the ride reopens. That basically functions as a new, anytime boarding group pass. If you opt for that option, you typically have to reenter the line at the end and wait again, hoping that the same thing doesn’t happen for a second (or third) time.
Fortunately, I didn’t run into any issues:
I’m not entirely sure why, but there is a second MagicBand/ticket check about halfway through the queue. You’ll want to keep those handy. Potentially, there is a small chance that someone could sneak in line, but it’s also unlikely that they would be turned away at this checkpoint, even if their ticket/Band didn’t properly register.
We’ll continue on:
The queue looks about how you’d expect given what we’ve seen elsewhere. Plastic barriers block certain pathways, while original queue elements block others, and other corridors remain free and clear.
Fortunately, Disney is running the full Rise of the Resistance experience, including all of the pre-shows.
You’ll be assigned a number before entering the first room, and then continue finding that spot on the floor in the subsequent areas.
Spot “3” offers the most direct view in the second pre-show. Spot 1 is in the front left and Spot 2 is in the front right. Then 4, 5, and 6 are in back. Spot “6” offers the best view of what’s happening in back and has a relatively clear view of the front.
After the second pre-show, you’ll wait 10 to 15 minutes for the third pre-show, and then boarding:
I got in line at 11:46am and was finished at 12:29pm, for a total experience time of 43 minutes. That’s just about best case scenario. I’d bank on the entire experience taking between 40 and 60 minutes, on average. You can very easily run into 20 minutes to an hour or more of downtime.
To reduce your wait if the ride is down during your return window, you will likely want to head over as soon as you notice that the ride is operating again.
You’ll know when the ride is operating because you won’t see this at the bottom of the wait times list on My Disney Experience. Since Rise was down from around 10:10am to around 11:10am, you’ve got about 12 boarding groups worth of people who were unable to ride during their scheduled window. Now that the ride has reopened, they’re returning en masse, causing the line to spill outside into the extended area.
But it can always be worse at Hollywood Studios. Physical distancing markers for Rise run back to the tunnel into the Land and theoretically backstage and into the extended Muppet*Vision queue.
Apparently, it had started raining while I was inside. Since it was 12:30pm, it seemed like a good time to sneak into lunch somewhere.
Disney has changed how mobile order works. You’ll now need to select a return time for when you’d like to pick up your food:
If you’re planning on dining during the busy lunch or dinner hours, then you may want to lock in your order earlier in the day. Here at 12:01pm, I’m eligible to put in an immediate order anywhere other than Docking Bay 7. At Docking Bay, I’d have to wait about 25 minutes before I could even put in for them to prepare my food. Then, I’ll end up waiting another five to ten minutes to be able to pick it up. Theoretically, the return window should mean that a quick service won’t be overloaded with orders at any given time.
Ordinarily, Docking Bay 7 would be my first choice on the quick service front. Having already ordered everything there, I was on the hunt for something different. At 12:29pm, I put in for a 12:40pm to 1:10pm pickup window at Backlot Express. That was the earliest available:
Prior to the extended closure, you could put in for a mobile order and immediately tell them that you were there and ready to pick up your food. Now, it could be 20 to 30 minutes before you’re eligible to put in that you’re ready for pickup. If you know where and when you’d like to eat earlier in the day, then it makes sense to put in your order earlier. As you can see in the screenshot above, you can always change the arrival window or cancel the order altogether. You won’t be charged for the food if the window passes and you don’t put in to pick it up.
Here’s a look at the “Change Arrival Window” screen:
Each window is 30 minutes long. If I was running behind, I could easily move my pickup time later in the afternoon.
PizzeRizzo doesn’t serve great pizza, but it’s likely the easiest overall dining experience at the moment, with plentiful indoor and outdoor seating and reheated pizzas that are basically always ready to go.
We’ll probably try their “Sausage” Sub next time.
With just over ten minutes until I’m eligible to put in for my hummus, I decided to visit Muppet*Vision 3D since it’s on the way over.
We probably don’t want to be backed up this far, though even if we were, we should still get into the next show.
While Disney is stringent in some areas of physical distancing and sanitation, they’ve taken a more hands-off approach elsewhere. As far as 3D glasses are concerned, I’ve had to pick up my own at Muppet*Vision, Toy Story Mania, and Star Tours, while they were handed to me at Flight of Passage and It’s Tough To Be A Bug. Obviously, picking up a pair of plastic glasses would not typically be an impediment, but these things are slightly difficult to untangle without touching other pairs. Then, obviously, you put the glasses on about an inch away from your eyes. Of course, avoiding indoor shows with recirculated air is probably a wise choice whether they hand you the glasses or not. You may want to carry your own disinfectant wipes. Officially, cast disinfect the glasses after each use.
There was a relatively large crowd waiting for Muppet*Vision. This is good because it’s Muppet*Vision, and if people continue to see the show, it will continue to be offered. It also means that the next show probably isn’t too far off.
As with other shows, Disney has roped every other row off. There are also three seats in each row between parties intentionally kept empty.
Cast were letting parties of more than four know that they would need to split up.
Muppet*Vision is always a pleasure.
It’s also the most comfortable way to get off your feet in air-conditioning for about 15 minutes.
It’s always nice to see Sweetums interacting with the show, crowd, penguins, and other various onlookers who may or may not be bolted to their chairs.
I finished up with the show at 12:55pm, which was in the middle of my return window at Backlot Express:
When you’re ready to eat, you can easily pull up the mobile order by clicking the button on the far right with three parallel horizontal lines. Coincidentally, this is also called the “Hamburger Button.” Then, click “Mobile Food Orders.” That will take you to this screen.
The next screen shows my order being prepared, along with some guidance on standing outside until the food is ready:
Mobile order is more or less required at quick services at the moment, unless you have a dietary restriction that requires speaking to someone. If you’ve never tried mobile order before, you may want to try to set it up earlier in the day to pick up a snack. It’s fairly straightforward, but it does obviously require the My Disney Experience app and some sort of payment method, which includes credit cards and Disney gift cards. If you don’t want to input your credit card information, then a reloadable Disney gift card may be the way to go.
In the next Part, we’ll head over to grab our hummus and then see how afternoon wait times stack up at Star Tours and Smugglers Run before moving over to Toy Story Land.