Disney’s Hollywood Studios Review: Worth It or Worth Skipping?

Outside of Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run ride, where large replica of Millennium Force ship is visible in front of large rocks at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World Resort

The first time I went to Walt Disney World, this park was known as Disney MGM Studios. I may be dating myself, but I think I’ve finally gotten into the habit of calling it by its newer, proper name: Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Let’s take a look at what this park has to offer in this Disney’s Hollywood Studios review.

Thrill Rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 8/10

Arguably, if you want thrill rides at Walt Disney World, this is the place to go. Ever since opening in 1989 as what some would call a dreaded “half-day” park, Hollywood Studios has really amped up the volume of things they offer, especially thrill rides. It’s hard to have a Disney’s Hollywood Studios review without talking about this park’s thrill rides.

The most famous thrill ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has to be The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. This unique drop tower has all the makings of a great thrill ride: excellent theming and storytelling, laughable fun, and, of course, thrills. This is probably my second favorite Disney ride ever behind Expedition Everest.

Next door is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which is currently themed to the music of Aerosmith, though rumors have been circulating that that could change in the near future. This roller coaster launches you from 0-57 mph in 2.8 seconds, which really takes your breath away. This is also the only ride at Disney World that turns you upside down, and it does it three times. The ride has pouches you can store your items on inside the car, or you can buy these shorts with zipper pockets to keep your items secure!

Though some may argue it’s a family ride, I tend to consider Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance more of a thrill ride, for reasons I don’t want to spoil. However, the theming of this ride is truly immersive. It feels strange even calling it a ride; it’s almost in its own breed of experience.

These three rides in particular tend to get very long wait times, so plan on arriving and knocking them out early. Also keep in mind that Rise of the Resistance does not take Genie+ – you have to pay extra to skip the line on that ride.

Family Rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 6/10

While Hollywood Studios has some fun family rides, this is one of the areas the park could improve on in my opinion. With so many big, thrilling rides, the park needs some more family rides to spread those crowds out to other things.

However, there are some gems here that I wanted to call out for this Disney’s Hollywood Studios review, especially in Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. True family fun using some of the best projection mapping I’ve ever seen. I do miss the old Great Movie Ride that this replaced, but this is truly a fun experience worthy of being at a Disney park.

I also happen to enjoy Toy Story Mania quite a bit, though this also tends to get some pretty long lines. I like the fact that it’s basically a bunch of mini games you play and shoot at while you ride. Plus the Toy Story theme is pretty fun.

A lot of people really like Slinky Dog Dash, but it’s personally not for me. The line (as with most of Toy Story Land) is in the sun with very little shade, and because the line tends to get pretty long, you’re just waiting in the baking, Florida sun for too long. And then after waiting in line, the ride just isn’t really worth it in my opinion. Don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen!

There’s also Star Tours, and older simulator themed ride that’s strangely not connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It’s fun, but it tends to make me a bit motion sick (one of the few rides at Disney World that does). So if you get motion sick like me, make sure to take some Dramamine before riding this one and possibly Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, which uses a similar ride type.

Food and Restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 9/10

A few years ago, some people would have said that Hollywood Studios doesn’t have much in the way of food, but I feel like they’ve really stepped it up in the last few years. I’m pleased that this park scored this well for this Disney’s Hollywood Studios review. Just remember – heartburn medicine is your friend on theme park days.

One of my favorite places to eat on Disney World property is the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant. If you make a reservation ahead of time, (which you can do with the help of a travel agent), you sit in tables themed to old, 50s-style cars in front of a large movie screen playing clips from retro horror movies and commercials. As someone who love this kind of stuff, I thoroughly enjoy myself every time. The food is typical American fare, but better than a quick service location. I’ve never left unhappy.

Newer to the park is Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Toy Story Land. This is a really fun experience, especially if you have kids who love Toy Story. You pay one price and get unlimited apps, entrees, and deserts of your choosing. When I went, adults paid $48 and I felt that this was worth it for the amount of food you got. Decked out in Toy Story theming, everyone makes sure to freeze when they announce Andy is coming!

Entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 9/10

For what the park lacks in family rides, it somewhat makes up for in its entertainment options.

You have shows like the Frozen Sing-A-Long and Disney Junior Play and Dance, which are fun for kids who love those particular movies.

For me, one of my favorite shows here is the Beauty and the Beast stage show. It tells a condensed version of the classic story, but retains the music, costumes, and charm from the Disney movie. I definitely recommend checking this one out.

There’s the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which is, as the name suggests, a stunt show themed around Indiana Jones. Truthfully, I wish there were more stunt shows out there. I know they were a fad in the 90s that have gone away, but they’re pretty fun.

The best entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, though, and my favorite nighttime show at any Disney park, is Fantasmic. No way was I going to do this Disney’s Hollywood Studios review without talking about it. Inside this giant outdoor amphitheater is a stunning show filled with water, fire, and plenty of Disney characters to share. Sing along to your favorite songs, enjoy seeing your favorite Disney characters, and join Mickey as he goes through his imagination. This is one of my must-dos every time I visit the park.

Experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 6/10

So outside of the rides and shows, there’s not a ton of experiences per sey. The reason I gave this the score I did is because in a way, the whole theming of this park is kind of its own experience with the immersion of some of the lands playing a special part.

In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge you can pay to create your own lightsaber, which is pretty cool. There’s also a kind of scavenger hunt you can play on your phone as your roam about the land. Just remember to bring something to charge your phone with, like a FuelRod or portable wireless charger.

You can also pay to get packages that include dining and Fantasmic seating, which isn’t a bad idea if you know you’re going to want to get a good view of the show without fighting the large crowds for one.

Occasionally, the park will also have “after hours” events like Jollywood Nights, where for an extra price you can visit the park after its normal hours and experience some shows and rides with lighter crowds and sometimes some free quick bites.

Theming and Atmosphere of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 9/10

Though the theming here isn’t entirely consistent (it fluctuates between the older “Hollywood”-style theming and newer immersive lands), I really enjoy it here. And the immersion of lands like Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are definitely worth noting. I just wish that last one had more of a theme I was passionate about from that franchise.

My personal favorite area in the park is Sunset Boulevard, home to Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Fantasmic, and the Beauty and the Beast show. I love the view down the midway of all the palm trees and the “golden age of Hollywood” feel as you walk down it.

Outside of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway are hand prints of famous celebrities, and it’s always fun spending some time to see which of your favorites you can spot here.

During the holidays, Echo Lake is themed to retro Christmas decorations, including a hat on the large dinosaur sculpture, Gertie, which I really enjoy as well.

Operations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 7/10

As with most Disney parks, the operations of this park are pretty good. You’re going to have rides get long lines, but you can tell the cast members are really trying to move through people as much as possible. It’s not the cast member’s fault that the lines can get long. Because so many of the big Disney World rides are here, the lines tend to get pretty long. It would be nice if there were more smaller rides to spread that out a bit.

Of course you get cast members that are usually really friendly. They’re happy to help. They’re happy to point you in the right direction and give you like fun information about the park. The Disney cast members are awesome. Always treat them with respect. 

If you’re somebody who doesn’t like being on their phone, unfortunately, Disney has become very smartphone dependent. You can use their app to do things like mobile order for food, store your tickets, your passes, and sometimes even your hotel room key. You’ll also use it for Genie+, so if you’re trying to do anything to expedite moving through lines, you’ll do it through the app. 

Also, if you stay on Disney property, there are a few ways to get to Hollywood Studios from your resort. The Skyliner has a stop here, and runs to Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Riviera, and EPCOT. Water transportation is available to the Boardwalk-area resorts (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Swan, and Dolphin). And there’s bus transportation to all the resorts as well, including resorts like All-Star Sports and Coronado Springs.

Again this is something that’s only offered on Disney property. Some off-property hotels also offer a shuttle, but they don’t run as often, so you’ll have to check with that specific hotel to see what the options are.

Trams in the parking lot have also made their return since the pandemic, so you don’t have to walk as far on foot to get to your car after a long day at the park.

Affordability of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Score: 5/10

I’m going to be honest with you as part of this Disney’s Hollywood Studios review – there’s no denying that this is a Disney park and so it’s going to be expensive. You definitely get quite a bit with this park, like some of the best thrill rides on property and immersive lands. You get a great experience overall, so while it is more expensive, it is usually worth it in the case of this park. Check out the Ronto Wraps in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – they’re delicious!

I also feel that Disney has pretty reasonable quick service food prices. I don’t find myself paying more for basic theme park food like chicken tenders or burgers. Sometimes it’s actually cheaper than other theme parks like Six Flags.

I also feel that in order to really enjoy everything this park has to offer, you need to purchase Genie+ or spend money on coming for another day. However, if you’re buying Genie+, that is also cheaper than it is at lots of other theme parks. Genie+ costs anywhere from $20-$40 a day. Other theme parks sometimes start at $65 – Universal can easily get to be over $200 for each day when it’s really busy.

But again this is Disney, and Disney is expensive. You can also work with a travel agent, who sometimes know of some special deals that you may not know about. You usually don’t pay a travel agent to give you a quote and help you out (they get a commission on the total cost of the trip you take), so they may be able to give you some deals as well as expert tips to make your visit truly magical.

Scoring the Park and Conclusion of This Disney’s Hollywood Studios Review

Final Score: 59/80 (75%) – World-Class

Overall, this is my second favorite Disney World park, so I enjoyed talking about it for this Disney’s Hollywood Studios review. I love the thrill rides at this park – they’re truly some of the most fun and unique experiences out there. The shows are pretty great, especially Fantasmic, which is my favorite nighttime show at any Disney park. And the food has gotten to be pretty good in recent years.

I think that if you’re traveling with small kids, I think they’ll really like this park, especially if they like Star Wars, Toy Story, or Frozen. There’s also a few shows that they’ll probably enjoy seeing as well.

However, if you’re somebody who wants a park that’s a bit slower paced and doesn’t tend to have longer lines (I recommend Disney’s Animal Kingdom), this probably isn’t the park for you. A lot of Disney World’s most popular and thrilling attractions are here, meaning the lines tend to get pretty long. This also means you can start feeling like you’re running around trying to get everything done. Have a travel agent help you plan your visit to minimize this!

What do you think of Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Is it your favorite Disney park?

Christian McIlwain

Christian has been a fan of theme parks since he was a child. He has over twenty years of experience both researching and working in the industry. He grew up visiting Kennywood Park throughout his childhood. Currently, he lives in Atlanta, GA where he frequently visits Six Flags Over Georgia and Orlando area theme parks.

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