Disney made some changes to the operating schedule at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for dates in March today. The changes are highlighted in green:
On March 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, they moved the Studios’ close to 8:30pm from 8pm. That also pushes evening Extra Magic Hours to 8:30pm to 10:30pm from 8pm to 10pm on March 1st. We will assuredly see a plethora of operating schedule changes for February and March as we move through February, so the random 30-minute extensions during the first week in March may be some sort of clerical move on Disney’s part. I don’t see any reason to make the extensions now, or why March 3rd would be excluded. The reasoning may become clearer at some future date.
It’s also apparently possible that your return window for Rise of the Resistance will be one hour instead of two:
In the screenshot above, I’ve received a notification at 10:13am that I may return to ride Rise of the Resistance at any time over the next two hours. As we know, the virtual boarding group process is intended to allow Disney to control the number of people waiting in line to experience the attraction at any given time. It seems like Disney typically wants about 20-minutes-worth of people waiting. With downtime for technical problems still a common issue, it’s hard to say when a specific boarding group will be called on a specific day, but based on about two-months-worth of data, this is about where you can expect the boarding group process to be throughout the day:
The two-hour return window is nice because it offers enough time to finish up whatever it is that you’re doing in the Park and make it over to Rise of the Resistance with enough time to ride. Even if your boarding group is called at 12:30pm, and you’re just sitting down to lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In or Hollywood Brown Derby, you can be reasonably assured that you’ll be done and on your way in two hours. That would not be true with just a one-hour return window. Two hours also gives people enough time to return to the Studios from other locations, whether that be Epcot, All-Star Sports, or your house at Golden Oak.
Potentially, a one-hour return window could be a mechanism for Disney to try to keep people inside the Studios, but it seems like it would create too many problems. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, and other attractions routinely post waits well over an hour. If you’re arriving for Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage a half hour before it starts, as Disney suggests, then you’d probably also miss your Rise of the Resistance return window if you stayed for the show.
Fortunately, while a couple of people have apparently seen the one-hour return windows, they don’t seem to be prevalent just yet. You will want to be sure to double check the return window when you receive the notification that your boarding group has been called. Also double check the app itself, because sometimes Disney doesn’t send the proper notifications, or the settings on your phone may disallow them.
The “My Status” button the main My Disney Experience home screen will let you know the details:
If you run into an issue where the return window doesn’t give you enough time to make it over to ride, stop by Guest Services at the front of the Park or at a Guest Experience Team kiosk for assistance. There is a 0% chance that Disney will bar you from riding should you have acquired a boarding group and some sort of delay has caused you to miss the return window. Chances are that a cast member at the attraction itself will be able to assist you, but you may want to start at the closest Guest Services checkpoint.
As always, we’ll continue to keep up with whatever is going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I really have nothing better to do.