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Saving on a disney vacation series hollywood studios

This is part of an ongoing guest post series on Disney World Savings, written by a life long Disney lover.

Hollywood Studios offers plenty to do and it can get tough trying to plan your day here.  Let’s look at all the options available and see what you want to do.

Hollywood Studios

Formerly known as MGM, this park has more in the way of thrills than the others.  As the name suggests, the theme for this park is movies.  I love Hollywood Studios because it does such a good job making you feel like you are either on a movie set or in the movie itself.  There are several fun rides, but this park also has many great shows to enjoy.  Here are some favorites:

Most Popular Rides (longest wait):
Rockin’ Roller Coaster
Hollywood Tower of Terror
Toy Story Midway Mania

Indiana Jones
Beauty and the Beast
Lights, Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show
Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Other Good Rides to Do:
Back Lot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon
The Great Movie Ride

Head here for a full list of Hollywood Studios attractions.

Hollywood Studios is actually larger than Magic Kingdom, but somehow feels a lot smaller.  Much of the fun in Hollywood Studios is just the atmosphere created by the buildings and scenery as you walk around.  One thing that is nice about Hollywood Studios is that Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Hollywood Tower of Terror, two of the most popular rides, are literally right next to each other in their own little cove of the park.  I suggest grabbing a Fast Pass for the longer line and ride the other ride as you wait for your Fast Pass time to come up.  Another ride that is a must is Toy Story Midway Mania.  It’s the newest ride (read: longest line) in the park and is so much fun for the whole family.  You wear 3D glasses and are ushered around on a moving car as you play carnival games with the Toy Story characters.


The shows are also a great experience.  All the shows have set times that they play during the day.  Disney recommends (I do too!) arriving at least 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the show to ensure seats.  For many of these shows, there are really not bad seats.  The Lights, Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show has a few sections that are not so good because pillars block the view of the show.  I highly recommend the Indian Jones Stunt Spectacular and Beauty and the Beast.  I’ve found that we don’t much care where we sit, but during the peak times of the park the arenas may fill up quickly.  Shows can also provide a nice, relaxing break from the hustle of the park.


Dining in Hollywood Studios is a lot of fun.  Two of our favorite restaurants are the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and 50’s Prime Time Cafe.  Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater may be the most intricately themed restaurant we’ve ever been to.  The lobby is nothing special, but the dining area is really fun.  You walk in to a huge dining area that looks like an actual drive-in theater.  The ceiling is painted like the night sky, the walls depict a view of old Hollywood as seen from the Hollywood Hill.  While you eat they play trailers and clips from cheesy, old Sci-Fi movies.  The tables are designed to look like cars with a table shelf in front of you to put your food on.  It’s very comfortable, the food is traditional American cuisine, and it is a great experience for the whole family.  50’s Prime Time Cafe is a lot of fun too.  Again, this is traditional American cuisine with a little more emphasis on home style cooking.  The theme is entertaining as the waiters are your “brothers and sisters” while “mom” is cooking.  They make you eat your vegetables and mind your manners too!  Again, it’s really a lot of fun and a neat deviation from the traditional restaurant experience.  There are many other restaurants to choose from as well, here’s a full list of Hollywood Studio dining options.

Parade, Concert & Fireworks

Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun is the parade in Hollywood Studios.  This parade happens everyday at 3 pm and features a lot of the newer Disney/Pixar characters.  Hollywood Studios also has a concert everyday called Disney Channel Rocks.  This concert has a lot of energy and features many of the popular Disney Channel songs.  “Fantasmic” is the night time firework show.  This show is different from the others as it is held in a theater and you must arrive early for seats or else you really won’t be able to experience it.  This fireworks show is really fun as it is truly a show with fireworks.  Jets of water are shot in the air and there are lighting effects while music plays and fireworks go off.  This is a really nice way to end your day at Hollywood Studios.

What are your tips and tricks for navigating Hollywood Studios?

Tomorrow I’ll jump into Animal Kingdom.

    • Secret Couponer

      We are looking at a Disney Cruise with our large family. Could you do a series part on that? PUHLEASE!! :)

      • CS

        Hi, my husband and I have been on 4 Disney cruises (Wonder, Dream and Fantasy) and have two more planned this year. Feel free to email me at chrissmith0423@yahoo.com I can pretty much answer any question you have. :)

    • Susie

      Best tip for this park: When you check in at your Disney Resort ( can’t book it until you actually check in) ask for the availability for preferred seating at Fantasmic by eating at either Hollywood and Vine or Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios for dinner the day you do this park. They are both participating in the Disney Dining Plan as a table service meal anyway, and you get great seats for the nightime show that’s a must (Fantasmic) in this park. It’s so worth it because the show seats something like 30,000 people and you guarantee your preferred spot seating without having to waste so much time standing in line to get into the show since there’s a seperate entrance (and exit) for the preferred seating folks at Fantasmic.

      • NonnieMouse

        For Fantasmic a few years ago, you didn’t have to stand in line for seats, but you did have to sit early to save them. Not a problem, however, since the pre-show rates almost as well as Fantasmic itself. This is apparently a well-kept secret, as the stands were almost completely empty during the pre-show comedy. This is one I wouldn’t even count as a ‘wait’, unless you have trouble sitting for extended periods.

    • JenneyG

      Rockin’ roller coaster and tower of terror are must ride rides, get fast pass. In the courtyard there’s an exhibit called one man’s dream featuring the lifetime story of Walt Disney. I enjoy that every time I go. As it to shows, my favorite is voyage of little mermaid which is 20 minute musical(mermaid’s singing is always beautiful). American Idol is a new attraction to imitate a live show experience of AI, any audience can audition prior to the show and it’s fun to watch. Indiana Jones and Beauty and Beast are seated outside with a ceiling above you which allows very little breeze(imaging sitting there in a hot summer day). My kids have to go to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, it’s like no other playground you’ve seen and it gives parents a break. After all that, there’s the star tour 3D motion movie. Fantasmic is literally fantastic but the show time could be late since they have to do the firework after dark. You have to arrive an hour early for that or the stadium fills up in no time.

      Disney control all the restaurants inside of the park. For table service regardless the theme/cuisine you are looking at $20/adult and $10/kids. For quick service/fast food stand, it’s about $10 per person. Lunch is inevitable in the park but I much prefer eating dinner outside of the park…

    • KRichardson

      We have a 2 and 4 year old and have done Magic Kingdom (three times) and Animal Kingdom – both have been great. We are hoping to go to Hollywood Studios in January, but is there enough to do with little ones? Meaning, no height requirement and not scary??

      • Jjjj

        Plan to go to the Disney Jr show (Mickey Mouse, Einsteins, Handy Manny, and Jake & the Neverland Pirates). Then, cross the street to see The Little Mermaid Show. Also, the Muppet Show and Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground are huge hits. Do get a fastpass for Toy Story early because they run out quickly. Finally, be warned that they’ve turned the Lightening McQueen and Mater photo spot into a character meet and greet except they didn’t want the kids touching or walking around the cars. My four year old almost melted down because he “just wanted to get a good look at Mater).

        If you’re using the meal plan, Pizza Planet doesn’t require you to get a kids meal for their counter service credit. Order the regular meal which comes with salad and awesome cupcake instead.