Hollywood Studios Disney World Guide

By James | Last updated May 10, 2024

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Hollywood Studios in Disney World (previously called Disney-MGM Studios) opened in 1989 as part theme park and part working animation, film and television production studios. Like its rival Universal Studios Florida®, most of the shows and rides take their inspiration from motion pictures and television.

In 2004 the animation department closed down and today all of the film work has been moved elsewhere but Disney World’s Hollywood Studios still has a lot to offer.

Compared to the other major Disney World parks, Hollywood Studios is quite small; you can usually do it in a day especially with so many attractions currently closed

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is still one of our favorite parks with some of the best rides and attractions; it has a real feel-good factor. If you like the movies then you’ll love Hollywood Studios and with the addition of Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, it has become a major theme park again.

Disney World’s Hollywood Studios has several live stage shows as well as a daily parade and a fantastic evening fireworks display.

Hollywood Studios Areas

Like the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios can effectively be split into several “lands” based upon streets and boulevards:

  • Hollywood Boulevard – an Art Deco-styled street that runs from the main entrance to the park and leads up to The Great Movie Ride (now closed) housed in a replica of Mann’s famous Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The Great Movie Ride will be replaced by Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Sunset Boulevard – the Art Deco style continues, with the famous Twilight Zone Tower of Terror&tm;, the Rock ‘n’ Roller® Coaster starring Aerosmith, Beauty, Sunset Showcase and the Beast – Live on Stage and Fantasmic!
  • Echo Lake – around the lake is the second stunt show, namely the Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular!, the “not to be missed” Star Tours – The Adventure Continues simulator ride, For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing-along Celebration and Star Wars – Path of the Jedi.
  • Toy Story Land – Larger-than-life toys and attractions including the rapid Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania.
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. You explore the planet Batuu, the latest addition to Hollywood Studios. the space features rides like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and the immersive Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
  • Grand Avenue – Inspired by present-day Los Angeles, Grand Avenue presents a bustling urban streetscape. It is home to Muppet Vision 3D and several dining options.
  • Animation Courtyard – This area celebrates the art of Disney animation. It currently hosts two shows and, the Star Wars Launch Bay.
Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run Hollywood Studios
Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run Hollywood Studios – photo by @bankzsnapsdisney

Tower of Terror Hollywood Studios

The Hollywood Studios’ classic thrill experience, and one of our favorites as a must-ride whenever we visit, is the Tower of Terror. Its daunting presence will follow you around the park until you reach the queue area, where you may question whether you should or shouldn’t join the queue. The prospect of volunteering yourself for an elevator drop may leave you a bit queasy. It certainly has a thrilling feel about the experience and is one of the reasons why this ride has stood the test of time at the park.

The hotel tower experience is themed around a horror story from the past. The tale goes that in 1939, on Halloween, there was an incident where hotel guests disappeared during the night and were never to be seen again, leaving them trapped in the ‘Twilight Zone’. As you join the queue, you will hear tales of the eventful night, eventually leading you to the elevator for the hotel where the Tower of Terror begins.

Tower of Terror Hollywood Studios
Tower of Terror Hollywood Studios – photo by @bankzsnapsdisney

The ride is a seated experience, where you sit in a row of seats in the large elevator shaft. You climb the hotel’s 13 floors until you reach the top of the hotel. The elevator doors open and for a very brief while, you get an amazing view over the park. Without warning, you will free-fall back down the elevator and repeat this process several times. You can hear the screams around the Tower of Terror while waiting for your time to board.

Hollywood Studios Tips and Tricks

When navigating Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can take on a crowd and money-saving strategy if you wish to optimize your visit. From dodging the wild crowds to saving a few dollars, these pointers can transform a good experience into a great one.

Avoiding Crowds

  • Arrive Early – For reduced wait times at the big attractions, you should take advantage of the Rope Drop. You can get straight to the front of the queues for the busiest rides when you get through the gates first. Enter early and prioritize the popular rides.
  • Use the Genie+ wisely. Log onto Genie+ when it option allows you to book first thing and secure the high-demand rides first. It’s better to plan the list of the top 5 busiest rides first so you have alternatives on standby.

Saving Money

  • Pack Snacks and Water. This simple step can cut costs significantly as you can imagine. With water bottles, you’re also ensuring you stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Souvenir Strategy: Set a budget for souvenirs and stick to it. Often it’s cheaper to purchase Disney merchandise ahead of time from less expensive retailers.

Hollywood Studios Changes

A “walk-through” attraction that has now closed was called Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow.

Also no longer available is the Star Wars Guided Tour and Music of Pixar LIVE! A Symphony of Characters. Star Wars: Galactic Nights last took place in 2018.