Our morning visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios continues. In Part One, we took a look at what to expect from rope drop and identified the optimal arrival time given much heavier opening crowds in the wake of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Part Two followed with a visit to Toy Story Land first thing, with the hope that Smugglers Run would woo the majority of those arriving early and they would head there instead. In Part Three, the crowds caught up with us on Sunset Boulevard as we discussed the best way to experience Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, given the fact that they’re now both Tier 1 FastPass+ opportunities and you can only hold one or the other at a given time.
You might remember that this is the way I have my FastPass+ set up:
In order to book a fourth FastPass+ for an available attraction, I either need to use or let expire all three of my initial FP+ selections. I’ve used my FP+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which saved me more than an hour in line, and at Star Tours, where I saved about a half hour of waiting. Since you can typically let a FP+ expire and have it count as “used” as far as booking a 4th FP+ is concerned, I could have booked an available attraction for the 9am to 10am slot and then after scanning at Star Tours, I could have begun refreshing for a 4th FastPass+ sooner. For the sake of future-proofing the plans in case Disney eventually closes the “loophole” and requires everyone to actually scan their MagicBand/tickets for each of their three pre-selected FP+ in order to book a fourth, I usually set up my day assuming that I’ll need to do that.
At Hollywood Studios, one other wrinkle is that FP+ for the Tier 2 attractions aren’t typically available until after 10am because most of the selections are shows that don’t begin until 11am or later. Muppet*Vision doesn’t open until 10am, so we can’t book that for 9am to 10am. The first Voyage of the Little Mermaid is also scheduled for 10am, so a 9am FP+ won’t be available there. But you may be able to schedule a “throwaway” FP+ here or at Epcot or Animal Kingdom in order to book that 4th FastPass+ earlier in the day for a higher priority attraction that you actually want to experience.
Muppet*Vision was sort of a throwaway FP+ in my plan. If the wait to see the show was just a couple of minutes, then I was going to sit and watch. If the wait was much longer, then I was simply going to scan, hang around long enough where I could pretend like I needed to use the restroom, and then head on to my next stop. You don’t want to make it obvious that you’re simply scanning the MagicBand and moving on because it’s a little on the gauche side of the spectrum and you also run the risk of the cast member voiding your FastPass+ use on their screen, and it will be like you never scanned. Once someone else scans after you, that ability basically goes away.
You’ll want to practice this at home, though it’s important that you circle around at the door until someone comes in after you.
It turned out that I had just missed the previous show.
And I’d have to wait the 18+ minutes for the next one to start. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with waiting, particularly if you enjoy the gags or would like to spend the time refreshing FP+ availability for that elusive 4th FP+ at a quality Tier 1 attraction.
FastPass+ availability is probably not going to be great right off the bat. This is what I saw for four people at 12:25pm:
To refresh availability, you simply click on a new time at the top of the screen. If there are more than three return times available on the app, then you can click on a specific attraction to pull up all of the available times by swiping right next to the line of return times. As it stands, the earliest that a Tier 1 attraction is available is 2:45pm for Tower of Terror, which is more than two hours in the future.
That also means no availability for a wide range of attractions, even before 12:30pm:
The quality of your 4th and subsequent FP+ attractions and return times will come down to luck and your propensity to refresh.
Here’s one refresh later:
For four people, Alien Swirling Saucers has become available and Toy Story Mania is now offering a 2:20pm return time, which would be convenient if you were planning on riding Smugglers Run now along with a lunch stop. But you’ll notice that all three of these available Tier 1 attractions only have two possible return times available at most.
Here’s another refresh:
Saucers is available three hours sooner and a 1:40pm Tower of Terror has shown up. Since it’s almost 12:30pm, and I haven’t had lunch yet, the return time would probably be convenient if I wanted to head back over there.
As always, if you see an attraction and a return time that you want, you should go ahead and grab it. If you click into a certain attraction to check for more times, then it will also refresh availability, and whatever time you originally saw may not be available. Here’s what that screen looks like:
You can refresh all of the available return times that Disney is willing to provide by swiping right on this screen. Once you do that, you’ll need to hit the back button and go back to the previous screen to refresh all of the attractions again before you can refresh a single attraction a second time. Refreshing FP+ availability works because any time somebody cancels or changes a FP+ that they’ve booked, then that experience becomes available for anyone else to grab almost instantaneously. The better the FP+ experience, the less likely someone is going to release it, but with enough refreshing, you can get virtually any attraction on virtually any day.
I’m heading into Galaxy’s Edge through the main entrance on Grand Avenue.
It’s 12:35pm, so crowds have largely peaked.
The entrance for Rise of the Resistance is just inside Galaxy’s Edge on the left. Fast forward a month and there will be a million more people standing here. Or at least that’s what Iger and co. would like us to think.
Until then, we’ve got a lot of available space to fill in.
There are two good ways to get to the entrance for Smugglers Run. I prefer walking through the Marketplace, but you can take the long way around to the right as well.
We’re heading straight through.
At the end of the Marketplace, you’ll walk through Ronto Roasters and then end up here. The entrance to the Docking Bay 7 quick service is on this level and then the entrance to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is down these stairs. The line for the ride currently spills out of the entrance and winds its way around the Land.
Here’s a look at the average posted waits for Smugglers Run since Monday, when the Studios started opening at 9am to everyone with no (E)EMH:
The chart follows the same trends as most priority attractions, with the highest waits of the day in the early morning when just about everyone present for Park open heads to one of a couple of places. Despite the first wait of the day being posted as 60 minutes, those who arrive among the first thousand people will wait a half hour or less, with those arriving first walking right on. From the chart, it’s clear that the second best time to ride is last thing at night, which you could say about virtually any ride. The fact that waits drop all the way down to 15 minutes at Park close means you could basically walk the queue and ride should you get in line at 8:59pm with the typical 9pm close. With a wait of 40 minutes or less posted from 6:30pm onward, you could also get in line earlier in the evening and basically just walk the interesting part of the queue before boarding the Falcon about a half hour later. The lack of FastPass+ keeps the line moving, which may mean that you want to visit Smugglers Run before finishing the night in Toy Story Land with Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, and Slinky Dog Dash. Slinky Dog’s wait times are going to be longer with the maximum number of FP+ experiences being distributed until the very end of the night. It makes more sense to get in line for that ride at the very end of the night than it does for Smugglers Run, since wait times for the space simulator drop earlier. You could potentially also get in line for Smugglers Run around 6:30pm, be done by 7:30pm, and watch Fantasmic! or the fireworks after.
Against my better judgment, I was still in, “Well, let’s just see” mode, which meant I got in line for Smugglers Run at 12:40pm to see how long it would take with 75 minutes posted.
The line wasn’t backed up too far outside of the entrance…
Disney does seem to have a knack for building headlining rides without queues long enough to hold all the people.
The implementation of FastPass+ here should just about double standby waits with 70% of the attraction’s capacity going to FP+ priority. When wait times rise, fewer people will elect to get in the standby line, thus reducing its length. If FP+ was currently offered for Smugglers Run, and this many people were in line, the posted wait would exceed three hours.
The queue winds around the Falcon outside.
It’s not necessarily the worst place to be as you’ll move forward with regularity.
And pieces of Galaxy’s Edge are visible. I’m probably in about 30 vlogs right now from where I’m standing.
I got in line for the ride around Oga’s Cantina at 12:40pm and was inside Ohnaka Transport Solutions at 1:16pm, or 34 minutes later. From here, it should be less than 20 minutes until we’re in front of Hondo in the first major pre-show area.
There’s quite a bit to look at, which helps pass the time.
Smugglers Run offers a single rider line with waits that are typically under 15 minutes, if there’s any wait at all. I’d potentially recommend going that route for a second ride, but you do bypass most of the queue elements and won’t have an opportunity to select your position on the Falcon, so it’s best used on repeat visits.
I made it to Hondo at 1:34pm, or 54 minutes after getting in line.
That’s about what I was expecting.
We have a clear shot to take a picture at the chess table should we elect to take advantage.
I was back out front at 1:51pm for a total experience time of about 70 minutes.
Obviously, a 50ish minute wait isn’t ideal, but you may have other plans for the afternoon and evening, and it’s nice knowing that you can ride the Falcon with an actual wait of under an hour for the majority of the day. For first-time riders, there should be enough to see that the wait isn’t terrible. I’d much rather be in line for Smugglers Run than any other ride at the Studios. It’s largely covered, mostly air-conditioned, and not as loud as something like Toy Story Mania.
I stopped for lunch at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo.
if they’re not going to serve kaadu then they shouldn’t call it kaadu. if they dont have yobshrimp then they shouldnt have advertised yobshrimp. dont tell me i’m being served tip yip and then hand me fried chicken. i’m glad this bait and switch is finally being put to an end
— josh (@easywdw) October 17, 2019
The Land’s main quick service made some waves a couple weeks ago when they removed some of the “theming” from the menu. For example, what was originally called “Smoked Kaadu Ribs” changed to “Smoked Pork Ribs,” with no mention whatsoever of whatever Kaadu might be. Potentially due to some backlash, or perhaps because it was always part of the plan, Disney has since reinstated some of the Batuuan names. What was originally “Fried Endorian Tip-Yip” was first changed to simply “Fried Chicken.” The name has since been changed to “Endorian Fried Chicken Tip-Yip.” The current menu potentially marries the two ideas, with both the “thematic” elements in the title, along with what the item actually is.
My estimation is that most people, when they’re in line for lunch, are probably hungry, frustrated, and tired, and reading about Felucian Garden Spreads, Surabat Shrimp, and Takodana Veggie Dippers isn’t necessarily high on anyone’s “must dos” list. Add the potential language barrier, confusion over whether or not the Dining Plan covers Tip-Yip, and your typical tourist cluelessness, and I don’t have a lot of use for making things more complicated. Fortunately, the current descriptions do get to the core of the apple. You might look over the menu now and decide if this is something that sounds good, particularly with the above-average price points. The Beef Pot Roast is not the most expensive quick service entree at the Studios – that goes to the Ribs at ABC Commissary – but it’s close.
The “Surly Sarlacc” is a relatively new addition to the menu. You may also enjoy the soft drink logos, potentially confusing things further. After taking a moment to consider the art, the green logo looks to be Sprite, the blue one is Powerade, and the yellow one is Minute-Maid Lemonade. Coca-Cola is apparently dumping the Dasani brand in favor of “new water” called “AHA,” which seems dumb. It’s apparently pronounced, “Aww Hawww,” just like any good sarcastic laugh. By 2021, sparkling water is expected to do over six billion dollars in sales in the United States. This also seems dumb, but I am sitting here sipping a San Pellegrino, but only because it makes me feel like I look uppity.
I ordered the $16 “Surabat Shrimp & Noodle Salad – Chilled Shrimp, Marinated Noodles, Vegetables.”
It’s an attractive dish served in a rustic bowl with a pile of cold soba noodles mixed with carrots, pepper, and cilantro.
Ten plump, nicely-poached (surabat) shrimp with their tails removed top the noodles. Each enjoyed a nice snap and did a good job of soaking up some of the flavors from the salad. There is a distinct, puckery sourness involved, which is brightened a little bit by the orange citrus in the sauce. It’s definitely an interesting flavor combination with the cilantro adding a little more herb-y citrus with a little parsley. There’s a nice mix of textures with the crunch of the vegetables contrasting nicely with the soft noodles and the delicate texture of the shrimp.
I think a soy-based sauce may be more of a crowd pleaser, but I enjoyed the dish, which is close to restaurant quality in terms of flavor and presentation. At 16 bucks, you’re also paying a restaurant price for a dish that isn’t particularly substantial. You might be able to get a better idea about the size of the salad with the fork in there. But it’s certainly a nice change of pace from the hamburgers and chicken tenders that you’ll find close by at Backlot Express or ABC Commissary. Fourteen sounds like a better price point though.
Mobile order also worked well here, with my food being ready just two or three minutes after putting in the order. To get to the mobile order pickup, you may need to cut through the seating area as the counter is on the far left, and if you go into the main entrance, you’ll have to awkwardly slide by the people waiting in line to order to get over there.
On the Dining Plan, Docking Bay 7 is a very good choice with high-priced entrees and beverages. Out of pocket, I’d look at Hollywood Brown Derby for lunch, and potentially Sci-Fi for dinner.
Here’s the Brown Derby lunch menu:
The Andouille-crusted Chicken Breast Sandwich is delicious for the same money as Docking Bay’s fast food pot roast, and a couple of the other Brown Derby entrees are just a few dollars more.
Here’s Sci-Fi’s all-day menu:
Several entrees are around the same price as what you’ll find at Docking Bay 7.
We’ll take a walk around Galaxy’s Edge and check out afternoon crowds and wait times in the final part.