Our morning at Hollywood Studios continues after beginning the day in Toy Story Land as covered in this post. So far, this is what we’ve accomplished:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:38am – 8:49am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 8:53am – 9:05am
- Toy Story Mania: 9:08am – 9:32am
At this point in the morning, we’ve got a few different directions that we could go. On one hand, it makes sense to do whatever we can with short waits in standby before using FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, which are two major priorities that we haven’t yet experienced.
On less crowded days, Tower of Terror will still see a 10ish minute wait around 9:45am with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster closer to 25 minutes. That’s what we saw after our Early Morning Magic event concluded back when I reviewed it in October. On busier days, Tower of Terror will already be 30+ minutes and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will be looking at 40+ minutes by 9:45am with waits going up from there. Star Tours and most of the Meet and Greets will see short waits through 10am even on busier days, making them safer bets than trying to do Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror in standby as 10am approaches.
It’s 9:43am and Sofia, Vampirina, Pluto, and Doc McStuffins are all sporting waits of under five minutes each.
Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and BB-8 will all be under ten minutes. Animation Courtyard is convenient to Toy Story Land since you’ll have to pass it on your way elsewhere in the Studios.
You can also spend a moment to take a picture with these gals unabated.
As I mentioned in the Magic Kingdom rope drop post last week, these sorts of morning tours typically include a bit of experimentation. Knowing that I could experience Star Tours or other attractions with short waits, I thought I would head down Sunset Boulevard to see how things were shaping up over there. With the expectation that waits will be prohibitively long, I booked FastPass+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster from 9am to 10am and Tower of Terror from 10am to 11am.
Tower of Terror is already showing a 30-minute posted wait at 9:50am – longer than I probably want to wait at this point in the day.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is posting the same 30-minute wait.
Looking at the line, it isn’t backed up that far.
But with a lot of FastPass+ users arriving by 10am, it’s probably about 25 minutes to the merge point with FastPass+ and then another ten minutes in line after that when you consider the length of the pre-show along with the wait before finally loading.
I elected to use my FastPass+ at 9:51am, which put me in the pre-show at 9:56am and on the ride at 10:05am.
I was back out front at 10:11am for a total experience time of 20 minutes and a 60-minute posted wait.
At 10:13am,Tower of Terror is posting 40 minutes.
That’s probably about accurate.
The standby line wraps around a good distance away from the hotel’s entrance:
I arrived with FastPass+ at 10:14am and was inside the pre-show library just two minutes later.
And I’m back out front at 10:32am for a total experience time of 18 minutes, which is a few minutes below average. The posted wait remains 40 minutes, which puts the total standby experience time around an hour.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is posting a 70-minute wait at the same time as crowds begin getting heavier throughout the Park.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror with short waits in standby after experiencing all three Toy Story Land rides is not particularly viable on days with crowds any heavier than below average. If you can get over here by 9:30am, then you’d be in a lot better shape than I was arriving closer to 9:50am. That would be possible if you are just riding one or two of the Toy Story Land rides in standby first thing.
Instead, it makes more sense to visit other attractions where waits remain short and then hit up Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror with FastPass+ beginning around 11am. Of course, you could head over to Sunset Boulevard as I did with FastPass+ in hand and then play things by ear. A 25-minute wait for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster isn’t the worst thing in the world and single rider will likely be a five or ten minute wait at most that early in the morning if that’s the direction you want to go.
Using FastPass+ earlier in the day also means acquiring 4th and subsequent FastPass+ opportunities earlier.
At the Studios, acquiring FP+ for the major attractions is going to be an exercise in patience as it will likely take quite a bit of refreshing to find anything decent. The above screenshots are from the night before when searching for availability for just one person. There’s “literally” no FastPass+ availability for anything in Toy Story Land along with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Fantasmic. So the only FastPass+ that will become available for those attractions on the day of will be from people that change or cancel their plans.
After a brief hiatus, Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away is back on the mobile stage in front of the Chinese Theater, currently scheduled at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm and 5:30pm. I like to see the show from further back in order to have a better view of the characters on the stage over the tops of the various shoulder children. Arriving about 20 minutes before a show is scheduled to start will also put you in the front of the crowd. It’s a little more comfortable to find yourself waiting out there this time of year, though the high on December 2nd is 85+ degrees.
Star Tours is still posted at 20 minutes as we approach at 10:54am.
I rode in standby and was back out front at 11:20am for a total experience time of 26 minutes. That’s not bad at all. With the number of FP+ experiences distributed for the simulator ride, acquiring additional FP+ is much easier than the other rides in case waits are prohibitive.
For whatever reason, demand to sign up kids for Jedi Training continues to wane, making it relatively easy to sign them up at 11am or later. If it’s a key part of your trip then I’d still head over there by 10am or whenever you’re done with Toy Story Land. Better safe than sorry.
We’re heading back into Toy Story Land at 11:30am to check on crowds and wait times, in addition to seeing how long it takes to ride Slinky Dog Dash with FastPass+.
So presh. You can take a look at all of the Studios’ holiday decorations in this post.
Toy Story Land is relatively crowded as Woody and Jessie try to make their way back to their meet and greet towards the right of the frame.
Toy Story Mania is posting a 70-minute standby wait at 11:32am, making my 10ish minute wait earlier in the morning look pretty good.
There’s a lot of people waiting for Woody and Jessie. Neither the start or the end of the line is visible in this picture, which I guess you could say makes me pretty bad at this.
This sign says Slinky Dog’s wait is 95 minutes at 10:36am as the queue continues to spill outside the entrance.
At the attraction entrance, the posted wait is 75 minutes, which is probably closer to being accurate.
With FastPass+, the total experience time was just 13 minutes, which is two minutes longer than it took to ride first thing in the morning. The posted wait has come down all the way to 65 minutes or about a half hour shorter than the wait would have been at 9:30am.
There’s quite a few more people here than we saw around 9am.
Here’s a reminder of what that looked like. The initial walk back here might have been a little congested, but it’s certainly nice once you arrive.
Saucers is posting 40 minutes at 11:53am.
This is just about as many people as I’ve ever seen in line, which makes sense given the higher number of FastPass+ experiences distributed per hour for the whip-around ride. I’d put the actual wait much closer to an hour and perhaps more, making our 7-minute wait earlier in the day look a lot more positive. There’s no doubt that the early arrival pays dividends throughout the morning as we’re able to experience multiple attractions with short waits.
Not everybody is a fan.
Woody’s Lunch Box continues to operate with just two registers. That means long lines and longer waits for those that elect to order in-person. How antiquated.
Mobile order will reduce your wait to receive your food by about 90%, but you’re still looking at all-outdoor seating that’s woefully inadequate. With the long waits to order and just about nowhere else to sit in the Land, you’ve got a ton of people sitting at the tables with no food or drink. Without exaggerating, at least 75% of the tables were occupied by people without food and there was “literally” nowhere for me to go with mine. That’s the main reason why I don’t recommend eating at Woody’s Lunch Box unless you’re doing so at an off-peak time when there’s actually somewhere to sit or stand and somewhat enjoy your food.
No matter how good the food is, it’s not going to be a particularly pleasant experience if you find yourself sitting on the ground while you eat. Of course, if you have someone in your group that can camp out for 45 minutes while you order at one of the two registers, you’ll be in better shape.
Since I was planning on having “actual lunch” elsewhere, I went with the Kids’ Grilled Cheese Half-Sandwich, which is advertised as being served with Potato Barrels and a Mandarin Orange.
One of the nice things about Mobile Order, in addition to avoiding the two registers at Woody’s Lunch Box, is that the app outlines exactly what you can order as sides along with other possible additions and subtractions. With my kids meal, I could opt for “A Cuties Mandarin,” Potato Barrels, Tomato-Basil Soup Dipper, or Vegetable Macaroni Salad. And I can double up if I want. Not pictured is my small Diet Coke, which is also served as one of the drink options alongside the meal. Even if you’re not planning on going through with the mobile order, you might still pull up the app to see customization options that you might not think about.
For $6.59 with tax, this spread is an appealing proposition as a snack or small meal. A Mickey Pretzel costs more and isn’t served with a drink. A small popcorn will set you back five dollars, making the kids’ meal just about a buck fifty more. As it stands, the Grilled Cheese was quite good, stuffed with perfectly melted, ooey-gooey cheese in between two crispy slices of buttery bread. The Tomato-Basil Soup is the same as what’s served across property – if you like it at Beaches & Cream then you’ll like it here. The Potato Barrels are never as crispy as I like as they come out of a toaster oven rather than a fryer, but perhaps we appreciate saving 20 calories. The little cup holds about ten of them, which isn’t a bad gig.
My favorite side on a warm day is the Vegetable Macaroni Salad, but the Soup is incredibly satisfying on the three or four days of the year where it’s cool in Lake Buena Vista.
Toy Story Land at 12:15pm – not nearly as bad as it probably looks in this very artistic photo.
At this point in the day, it’s time to mix in the Studios’ various shows and high capacity attractions with whatever FastPass+ experiences that I’m able to book.
If I was planning a break, then that Toy Story Mania might be useful.
I could use FP+ at the show I’m planning to see then refresh availability while waiting for it to start to try to grab something a little better.
As I search for just one person, availability will be better than if I was searching for availability for three or four people.
After refreshing a few times, Alien Swirling Saucers became available with a return time about 90 minutes in the future. That’s not bad if I’m planning on seeing the Frozen Sing-Along and Muppet Vision 3D or something in the interim.
As a reminder, when I say “refresh,” I mean clicking the different times of day along the top of the screen. When you’re looking for an attraction with very little availability, the time you click doesn’t matter. If I click on 12:30pm and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster becomes available for a 7:30pm return time, then it will show up on the screen just the same as though I clicked 7:30pm.
Overall, it was a solid day thanks to my early arrival and relatively efficient touring. Instead of using FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror that early, it would have made more sense to first experience other attractions where waits would have been shorter first. But it didn’t hamper my plans too much.
My timing came out to be:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:38am – 8:49am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 8:53am – 9:05am
- Toy Story Mania: 9:08am – 9:32am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with FastPass+: 9:51am – 10:11am
- Tower of Terror with FastPass+: 10:13am – 10:32am
- Star Tours: 10:54am – 11:20am
- Slinky Dog Dash with FastPass+: 11:38am – 11:49am
- Lunch: 11:50am – 12:15pm
After Toy Story Land, I end up moving slowly as I was also taking pictures of all the menus around the Park. But that may be more realistic to your own movements as you stop to take pictures and refresh easywdw.com to check for more blog posts and whatnot. (There probably won’t be one, but lightning occasionally strikes.)
Next, we’ll take a look at some projects that are going on around Hollywood Studios, in addition to refreshing our memories about what’s on the menus at the various quick services and restaurants, along with fresh reviews of a number of locations. We’ll also review the new Early Morning Magic at Magic Kingdom after its expansion along with Disney After Hours at both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. It’s a good thing I hate money.