Our visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios continues from the morning of Monday, November 4th, 2019. In Part One, we covered what to expect from the rope drop crowds and procedures and how we might best be able to position ourselves for a successful day. Part Two followed with rides on all three Toy Story Land rides in standby to start the day.
It’s 10:11am and Buzz Lightyear is out meeting guests in front of the entrance to Toy Story Land. In the past, the line for Slinky Dog Dash has stretched all the way outside the entrance and back past Walt Disney Presents and inched towards Voyage of the Little Mermaid. With Galaxy’s Edge now pulling the majority of the people at rope drop, and even more once Rise of the Resistance opens on December 5th, that likely won’t be an issue moving forward. Buzz may still set up shop out here. It’s kind of fun to see him welcoming guests to the Land.
As a reminder, this is where we’ve been:
- Slinky Dog Dash: 8:53am – 9:12am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 9:15am – 9:26am
- Toy Story Mania: 9:29am – 10:09am
That’s a pretty decent start. I would have liked a shorter wait at Toy Story Mania, but that may not be possible with so much of the ride’s capacity going to FastPass+, particularly with Mania’s propensity to have a track or two down for technical trouble early in the morning. Our next official stop will be Tower of Terror on Sunset Boulevard.
While the Incredible Celebration officially came to a close on September 30th, you’ll still find event signage throughout the Municiberg city block that used to be Pixar Place. The Edna Mode Meet and Greet remains open from 10am to 6pm up ahead on the left and the small marketplace kiosk is also open. Sometimes you’ll see Mrs. Incredible or another character hanging out back there as well, though the dance party is no longer scheduled throughout the day.
Edna’s wait shouldn’t exceed ten minutes most of the day, making it an easy stop. I’m not a big character person myself, but Edna is pretty hilarious and the barrier to entry is so low that she’s worth a visit.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a smart late afternoon or early evening FastPass+ opportunity. There’s nobody outside waiting to get into the…waiting area at this point in the morning, but when we swing back around, the outdoor queue will be full. FP+ are plentiful later in the day and then once you scan your MagicBand at the first touchpoint, you can refresh availability looking for something else. I like to stop in the afternoon to get off my feet in plentiful air-conditioning and a pretty comfortable, plush seat. What a life.
The launch of the Disney+ streaming service is less than a week away, with “The Mandalorian” and its 100-million dollar budget leading the way. I’ve committed to three years of the service myself, thanks to a D23 promotion a couple of months ago. I just figure Disney needs the money. I’m actually relatively excited to see what kind of 4k content they provide, as there isn’t a lot on Amazon Prime or Netflix. Just to stream in 4k on Netflix, I had to pay an extra three dollars per month, which is almost what I’ll be paying for a month of Disney+ after the promotion.
Posters for “The Mandalorian” are all over and a dedicated kiosk is apparently coming to Disney Springs to advertise Disney+ outside Paddlefish and Terralina Crafted Italian on launch day. It will be interesting to see how Disney+ fares on opening day as just about everyone with a pre-order is going to be firing up a bandwidth-hogging show. I’ll be streaming “The Mandalorian” on as many devices as possible. Hopefully they are using a character other than Stitch to pass along technical problems. He gets enough abuse as it is. Perhaps Jar Jar is available. “How wuuuuuuuude. Yousa try again.” Instant unsubscribe.
Hollywood Boulevard is bustling at 10:18am.
Tower of Terror is already posting a 60-minute wait, which is actually about half of what it was posting a few minutes before I took this picture.
Here’s what wait times looked like over the course of the morning of my visit:
I’ve highlighted 10:15am, since that’s around the time that we’re looking to visit our next attraction. The overall average wait time for attractions that post one is 41 minutes at that point, so if we were going to pick an attraction at random, that’s about as long as we could expect to wait. Five of the Studios’ seven rides are posting a wait of an hour or more, with Star Tours and Swirling Saucers coming in around a half hour. At this point in the morning, it’s probably time to begin relying on FastPass+, while mixing in the available shows and meet and greet opportunities.
Unfortunately, it’s currently impossible to hold FastPass+ for both Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror at the same time; they’re both in Tier 1, and you can only select one of those experiences in advance. FastPass+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster are more limited than Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith-helmed coaster sees longer average waits than Tower of Terror. That’s why I’ve selected Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster as my initial Tier FP+. On this particular morning, Terror’s wait time has shot up because of technical trouble closing some of the elevators. The following day, Tower of Terror’s posted wait was 50 minutes at 10:15am with no significant downtime. That’s about what you can expect to see over the next month given solid up-time. On November 6th, the wait was 120 minutes at 10:15am before it peaked at 165 minutes at 10:30am. That’s again due to significant technical problems cutting capacity.
Make Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster your FP+ priority over Tower of Terror, either by choosing it as your last FP+ of the original three you booked, or as your 4th FP+ selection once you use the first three. After scanning at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, pull up FP+ availability on the app or at DisneyWorld.com, and refresh the options until a viable Tower of Terror FastPass+ return time shows up. You may want to plan your visit on Sunset Boulevard, and your stops at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, around a time where you have other things to do in the area. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is a good way to kill 15 to 25 minutes and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage will swallow 30+ minutes of your day. There’s also the potential for lunch, dinner, or a snack at one of the Sunset Ranch Market eateries. Shopping is also plentiful on both sides of Sunset.
I was in “Well, let’s just see” mode, which meant my plan was to get in the Tower of Terror standby line to see how long it would actually take.
And that ended up being quite a while as we were backed up further than wherever this is. It’s never good when you’re outdoors in line and can’t see the 13-story building that you’re trying to enter.
I got in line at 10:22am and wasn’t inside the hotel until 11:05am. While 43 minutes is longer than I’d like to wait by about 42.5 minutes, it was a far cry from the 115 minutes that had just been posted before I got in line. It can always be worse.
Even not plugged in, this phone is probably more reliable than My Disney Experience.
I was then in the library pre-show six minutes later, at 11:11am.
I have that same platter.
This should be updated so the hotel runs on wind power.
“Only” one elevator was out of commission as I approached the loading area, which is why I only heard a cast member come over the intercom and threaten a longer-than-posted wait twice while I was in the queue. Fortunately, it ended up being less, due in large part to me yelling at everyone to fill in all of the available space while we were in line. You can easily decrease the wait by 99% by doing that. There’s actually no reason why anyone should wait any amount of time at any Walt Disney World attraction. If people would only fill in all of the available space.
There’s a picture worthy of a guidebook cover.
I arrived at 10:22am, and was back out front at 11:23am, for a total experience time that was exactly one minute longer than an hour. That’s a little more than twice as long as the ride typically takes with FastPass+.
There is probably no good way to get over to the Sunset Boulevard thrill rides in time to experience a short wait if you’re headed elsewhere first. Theoretically, I could have done Slinky Dog Dash first thing and then raced over here by 9:20am or so, when the wait for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster should be under 15 minutes and then Tower of Terror’s should be 20 to 25 minutes after that. But on a good day, Tower of Terror is going to be posting a 30-minute wait at 9:30am, and that’s going to go up to 40 minutes at 9:45am, and 50 minutes at 10am. Figuring out how to work FastPass+ here and at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster into your day is your best bet. We may have time to try that in the next week or so, though it’s important to keep in mind that our plans are probably going to change substantially with the opening of Rise of the Resistance on December 5th. Once that happens, I expect even more people to be headed to Galaxy’s Edge first thing, in turn opening up the other attractions even more.
I had to book it over to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to use my first FastPass+ of the day. I originally wanted a 10:30am to 11:30am FP+ slot, but had to move R ‘n’ R up to 10:10am in order to grab an 11:15am Star Tours FastPass+, as you might remember. The posted wait for Aerosmith was 75 minutes at 10:24am.
With FastPass+, I was into the pre-show room just three minutes after getting in line.
Between our standby experience at Tower of Terror and FastPass+ experience here, I think we can conclude that FP+ is great when you have it, and sucks when you don’t.
Single rider is an option at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with the line on the left. I don’t typically recommend trying to use single rider here as you’ll have no idea how many people are waiting until you get into this final area. At that point, if there are a lot of people in line in front of you, it’s either awkward to try to leave the line, or you’ll end up waiting as long or longer than whatever is posted in standby. Choosing single rider when the wait is 60+ minutes is not exactly an original idea, and the seating situation, with two people per row, puts single riders at a disadvantage as the vast majority of groups are two or four people.
I arrived at 11:24am, and was back out front at 11:47am, for a total experience time of 23 minutes. That’s a minute or two above average for a ride that’s over in about two minutes.
Without FastPass+, the standby wait with a line this long would be about 25 minutes. With FP+, the 75 minutes posted is probably about right.
My 45ish minute wait at Tower of Terror was longer than I wanted to wait, but it’s still less than half of the current 95-minute wait.
With slightly above-average crowds for the day, things have picked up on Sunset Boulevard at 11:50am, as wait times reach their peak levels of the day.
We don’t have a lot of people coming into the Park at this point.
If you had told me 18 months ago that Toy Story Land was going to open and interest in Jedi Training signups was going to go down significantly, then I probably would not have believed you. If you had then told me that an entire Star Wars Land was going to open 18 months later and interest in Jedi Training signups was going to erode further, I probably would have slapped you in the face and physically checked you for head wounds. But here we are at noon with plenty of Jedi Training spots still available. The signup area is between the entrance to Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and 50’s Prime Time. If you’re visiting the Studios on just one day, and it’s imperative that the kids sign up to participate in Jedi Training, then I’d still try to get over here by 10am. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen signups full before 11am in the last year. It probably happened around Christmas, though.
I’m heading over to Star Tours to use FastPass+ as I pass by a rare construction wall, in front of what was, for a very short time, “The Path of the Jedi.” Since some number of years had passed between the departure of Jar Jar Binks and the arrival of J.J. Abrams, the short film served to bring guests up to speed on what had occurred in the Star Wars universe over the previous 40ish years.
Path of the Jedi had been closed for well over a year before Disney announced that it would reopen with a run of Mickey Mouse cartoons that tie into the animation that we’ll eventually see at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which still doesn’t have an opening month attached to it. Apparently, this section of the Park will also be renamed the “Theater District.” I guess because there’s one other theater over here. Perhaps I will rename this website, “The Success District,” based on one good month of website traffic in the spring of 2012. You would think this new “attraction” would open alongside the Railway, but it could potentially open sooner to hype the ride or because the Runaway Railway project doesn’t actually exist, and Hollywood Studios is some kind of sick government experiment trying to see how far people are willing to lower their expectations before paying $150/person to be very mildly impressed by very little. I don’t know which scenario is more likely.
I’m approaching Star Tours right at noon.
Another Meet and Greet that has severely under-performed my own expectations is the Olaf Meet, which almost never posts a wait longer than 20 minutes. “Frozen II” may or may not increase interest. If Olaf was in a more visible location, he might be more popular. Few people probably see the sign off to the right, and with the convoluted nature of Disney Park maps, you could very easily miss whatever “2B” is while you’re trying to locate Fast Track.
Olaf is an easy meet should you have interest. 5pm seems to be the sweet spot for the lowest waits of the day outside of the early morning.
The wait for Star Tours dropped from 30 minutes to 15 minutes as I took this picture.
With the extended queue backed up this far, you’d think that the actual wait would be closer to 30 or 40 minutes.
But unless you’re planning on using no FastPass+ at the Studios, then you should have one for Star Tours as it’s the clear Tier 2 priority. Should you have other FP+ plans or priorities, then waits are typically under 15 minutes after 6pm and go down from there.
You could re-ride several times in the evening without much resistance. Get it…like Rise of the Resistance…never mind. On December 20th, we’re supposed to receive new scenes from “Rise of Skywalker.”
With FastPass+, I arrived at 12:01pm and was past the merge with FP+ just three minutes later. Three minutes after that, I was ready to board. Can’t beat FastPass+. When you have it.
I was back out front at 12:21pm, for a total experience time of 20 minutes, which is right around average. The posted wait is up to 25 minutes.
But it certainly looks worse than that given the length of the line. With all six simulators running, they can move through a lot of people in a hurry, even with the maximum number of FP+ users arriving. But it’s hard to imagine that these people aren’t waiting longer than what’s currently posted.
In the next part, we’ll head into Galaxy’s Edge to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and have lunch at Docking Bay 7.