We pick things up from Part 1 of our rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios after already experiencing Toy Story Mania and Star Tours with minimal hassle. At least as long as you consider arriving an hour before official Park open and standing there to be minimal hassle.
Show-wise, the Frozen Sing-Along remains the highest priority with most shows nearing capacity most days. As we’ll see later, the same could be said for Beauty and the Beast, Indiana Jones, and others as well.
Animation Courtyard is beginning to fill as we pass by at 9:47am.
It looked like this a half an hour earlier.
If you’re planning on seeing Voyage of the Little Mermaid in standby, shows before 11am or after 5pm are typically best.
This is 12 minutes before the 10am show starts and the crowd is already filling the holding area and about to spill outside.
Luckily, we’re just a couple of “IF YOU CAN SEE THE FLOOR IN FRONT OF YOU THEN YOU’RE NOT CLOSE ENOUGH” announcements from pushing our way inside.
I like the 17-minute show.
Perhaps mostly because it’s indoors and air-conditioned with relatively plush seats.
It’s also a pretty calm show for anyone over the age of ten.
I know, I know. Controversial statements. The show features a skillful mix of puppetry, live action, and song.
The massive 12-foot tall Ursula puppet impresses to this day.
But with the darkness, smoke, and loud noises, this section does have a tendency to startle those prone to such things more than something like Festival of the Lion King or Beauty and the Beast. I actually made a deal with Ursula myself to get this blog. I think we both lost.
Otherwise, the show is perfectly pleasant and a good choice when you’re in the mood to get off your feet and relax a little. Use FastPass+ if you’re planning on seeing an afternoon show – they’re easy to get as a 4th or 5th selection.
I emerged from the theater at 10:17am with the next show scheduled at 10:25am.
Between DisneyWorld.com and the My Disney Experience app, you can pull up exact showtimes/meet times for nearly every show and character meet. It’s a nice change of pace from a couple of years ago when you’d see “intermittently between 9am – 3pm and 4pm – 8pm.”
Sunset Boulevard at 10:20am is getting busier, but remains more than manageable.
You can always check in on your celebrity blogger status and see if lunch is going to be free that day. They shake their head in unison as I approach.
Tower of Terror is at 35 minutes, which signals that it should be operating on all cylinders…or…elevators.
I used FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first because wait times are almost always longer than Terror and it’s more likely to be backed up earlier in the day.
Riding towards the end of my FP+ return window also allows me to enjoy shorter standby waits earlier in the morning. As we know, wait times typically rise throughout the morning. If I’m using a FP+ at 9:30am that I could just as easily be using at 10:30am, then it means that I’m not experiencing an attraction in standby when it will have a shorter wait. In other words, I rode Star Tours in standby at 9:25am when the wait was about three minutes. If I were to use my FP+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at 9:25am and then head over to Star Tours around 9:50am when I’m done, the wait would be closer to 10 or 15 minutes. It’s not the end of the world in this scenario, but unless using FP+ early in the window is going to significantly cut down on walking or is necessary in order to make another attraction/show/appointment, then it makes sense to use the FP+ towards the end of the window. The exception is the third FastPass+, when you may want to use it towards the beginning of the return window so that you can book a 4th FP+ earlier in the day when there will likely be a little more availability.
As I reminder, this is how my FP+ stack up. I was able to enjoy a couple of quick attractions in the morning before using my first FastPass+. Then I’ll be able to see Beauty and the Beast, use my Tower of Terror FastPass+, and grab lunch before moving on to my third FastPass+. After visiting Star Tours, I can refresh the app to check on additional availability.
The posted wait for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is 65 minutes at 10:25am. As usual, you can use your FastPass+ up to five minutes before the window and up to 15 minutes after, so my “actual” return window is 9:20am – 10:40am. I typically recommend against planning on using the FP+ during the grace period because that’s when you can run into some real delays. With a reasonable excuse, cast members will typically let you in late, but you might as well avoid that confrontation if you can. I knew Voyage of the Little Mermaid would get out at 10:17am, which gave me up to 23 minutes to get over here. The walk ended up taking eight.
I was in the pre-show room nine minutes later.
Three rides have single rider lines at Walt Disney World – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Test Track, and Expedition Everest.
I typically advise against using single rider at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster because you don’t know how many people are in line until after the pre-show and the seating arrangement of two people per row doesn’t benefit single riders.
You’ll see a lot of couples and a lot of groups of four riding, which means no single riders are placed. But if you have to ride in standby or single rider, single rider should see a shorter wait time than standby the vast majority of the time. It may just be a savings of a couple of minutes though, which means you could wait 50 minutes with a 65-minute posted wait.
I was back out front at 10:51am for a total experience time of 26 minutes, which is a minute or two longer than average, despite the actual ride duration coming in around 90 seconds.
With some delays in the loading area, this is the end of the FastPass+ line. It should move quickly, but it’s a choice opportunity to hear hilarious and original lines like, “I thought this was the fast pass line NOT THE SLOW PASS LINE.” So funny I forgot to laugh.
Tower of Terror is up to a 60-minute wait at 10:53am.
Despite being over 25 years old, Beauty and the Beast continues to play to mostly-packed houses.
I arrived just five minutes before showtime and was able to find decent, albeit off-center, seats.
This is another pleasant diversion that mixes live action and singing into a 25-minute production:
I only take the time to see the 25-minute show once or twice a year, but it’s worth seeing if you’re spending most of the day at the Studios. Arrive 20-30 minutes early for better seats closer to the center of the stage or 5-10 minutes early if you’re happy hanging in the back corner. I was happy with my 30-minute investment.
Now we head over to Tower of Terror to use FastPass+ towards the end of the return window.
A posted wait of 65 minutes at 11:28am.
It can be difficult to gauge the actual wait from the length of the line at Terror because of the number of switchbacks that can be opened inside the queue.
But the fact that the line is stretching outside the entrance is rarely a good sign:
I basically walked right into the library pre-show, which is probably why the wait is now 75 minutes and the line is still backed up outside the entrance. I arrived at 11:28am and was back out front at 11:47am for a total experience time of 19 minutes. That’s six minutes better than average despite the above average posted wait.
Sunset Boulevard crowds are similar to what they looked like an hour ago, here at 11:52am.
People lining up for the 11am March of the First Order.
My Star Tours FastPass+ window started in 20 minutes and I was on the hungry side, so I decided to grab a Kids Power Pack from ABC Commissary. I’ll “review” it in a separate Studios update covering what else is going on around the Park.
I was again debating what to do next. A lot of the time, I walk us through a specific plan to show what works. Other times, I’m interested in seeing how things look and what might be changed to make a plan even more efficient. This is more of the latter. At 12:45pm, I could have gotten in line for seats at the 1:15pm Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
That was what I was planning on doing, to the point where I moved my Star Tours FastPass+ out to 1:35pm, but I decided I didn’t really want to stand there waiting for a half hour.
There’s always Disney Infinity on XBOX.
Or Path of the Jedi. I think people were more interested in catching up with the franchise prior to the release of Episode VII. Now it’s hard to keep up with all the Star Wars stuff that they’re currently releasing, let alone trying to remember some of the key trade details from whatever Episode II was called.
A big crowd for the 12:40pm Jedi Training Academy next to Star Tours.
Had I not pushed my Star Tours FP+ return time back, this would be a good time to ride. The posted wait changed from 55 minutes to 40 minutes in the amount of time that it took me to snap a picture. So much for the narrative.
I opted to head through the Grand Avenue section of the Park to see Muppet Vision 3D:
I arrived at 1:03pm with the next show starting at 1:15pm and was then back out front at 1:32pm for a total experience time of 29 minutes.
That’s about half the time investment that Indiana Jones would have taken.
I returned to Star Tours to use my FP+ at 1:38pm.
I was standing at my designated bay six minutes later.
And was back out front at 1:56pm for a total experience time of 18 minutes.
Here’s Star Tours wait times so far this year:
Like just about every other ride in the history of Walt Disney World, the best times of the day to ride are earlier or later in the day. It looks like wait times are typically under 30 minutes before 10:15am and after 6:30pm. I’m visiting on February 9th, where the day’s 28-minute average wait is shorter than the average for this 6-week period by two minutes.
The March of the First Order continues to begin at the front of the Park, continue to the stage in front of the Chinese Theater, and then return the same way that it arrived. There’s a short show on the stage that you may want to see if you’re a serious Star Wars fan. Otherwise, you should naturally catch one of the shows as you traverse back and forth across the Studios convoluted pathways.
If you stand along the walkway in between the stage and Animation Courtyard, you can watch the characters from the Star Wars A Galaxy Far Far Away stage show enter and/or exit before and after their show.
It’s your only opportunity to get close to characters like Boba Fett, though they probably won’t stop for pictures or autographs.
After a leisurely lunch at Hollywood Brown Derby, we return to Toy Story Mania at 3:48pm to find a 130-minute posted wait.
The end of the line does not actually start on this side of the street.
That’s the end of the line.
Not sure how long it’s going to be until Disney adds “hula hoops” to the list of attractions at Studios, if they haven’t already. “Twist and Shout with a Disney Imagineer” has a ring to it.
Here’s a look at Toy Story Mania wait times so far this calendar year:
Again, today’s 89-minute average is lower than the overall average of 94 minutes that we’ve seen over the last 6ish weeks. There are not a lot of opportunities to experience a short wait – it’s either absolutely first thing or absolutely last thing. I’d still expect shorter actual waits at the end of the day, but with the attraction operating at two-thirds of its capacity, there’s likely to be more of a residual line from earlier in the day. But getting in line a minute or two before official Park close should still result in an actual wait under 20 minutes.
Here’s a look at wait times last year when the ride was running with all three tracks and Great Movie Ride was still open:
Posted standby waits are less than half of this year with the 43-minute overall average. This year, the day’s average wait has been 70 minutes or higher every day after the first of the year. Part of why the standby wait is so long is likely because Disney didn’t adequately adjust the number of FP+ experiences distributed given the reduction in capacity.
Sunset Boulevard at 4:40pm with Streetmosphere performing.
Tower of Terror is still at 75 minutes.
A look at 2018 wait times
On this particular day, the peak wait was 105 minutes at 2pm with an overall average of 61 minutes. By 10am, the wait is 30+ minutes on about 67% of days, but wait times are more forgiving than Toy Story or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Finally, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is posted at 95 minutes at 4:53pm, which may prove to be accurate given that the extended queue is in use and a ton of people are arriving with FastPass+ priority.
The 2018 chart:
Like Toy Story, the only real opportunities to experience a short wait are immediately after Park opening or last thing. By 9:15am, you’re looking at an actual wait of 30-45 minutes and by 10am, you’re waiting more than an hour.
Overall, my day wasn’t quite as structured as I would have liked, but I was able to accomplish quite a bit with a minimal amount of effort.
There seemed to be quite a bit of concern about the number of people present at rope drop from Part 1, but again, this is a below average number of people. And with our early arrival, it doesn’t necessarily matter how many people are behind us.
Here’s what I accomplished:
- Toy Story Mania: 8:53am – 9:08am
- Star Wars Launch Bay: 9:13am – 9:17am
- Star Tours: 9:22am – 9:39am
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid: 9:47am – 10:17am
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with FastPass+: 10:25am – 10:51am
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage: 10:55am – 11:25am
- Tower of Terror with FastPass+: 11:28am – 11:47am
- Snack and looking around: 12pm – 1pm
- Muppet Vision 3D: 1:03pm – 1:32pm
- Star Tours with FastPass+: 1:38pm – 1:56pm
- March of the First Order: 2pm – 2:05pm
It was a pretty solid outing with minimal waits everywhere I went. I’m in a good spot to continue mixing in additional FastPass+ experiences with the rest of the shows and characters that I’d like to see.
We’ll check out construction and what’s going on with a variety of projects in the next Studios update.