Previously I’ve done posts on how to do Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney Resorts with multiples (see those posts here). It’s about time I did Disney’s Hollywood Studios, isn’t it? I’m also extremely honored to be using some photos from my pal Mike Thomas of Magic and Memories (a fantastic site you should frequent if you are a Disney fan).
Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously called MGM Studios) is every old film fans dream. The park is set up like Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s. Personally, I love just strolling the streets and looking at the buildings, watching the “characters” on the streets, and just taking it all in. Now grab your coffee, tea, or depending on what time you are reading this, wine glass, sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Getting to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Parking
- If you are not staying on Disney property during your trip and will be driving to the parks there is a $14 charge for parking. This parking is good for all parks that day and that day only. So let’s say you decided to drive over to EPCOT after your day at Hollywood Studios, just show your parking pass at the toll plaza and you will not have to pay again.
- If you are staying on Disney property there a few options. For the majority of the resorts this will involve taking a bus to the park. However, if you are staying at Disney’s Boardwalk, Disney’s Yacht Club, Disney’s Beach Club, or The Swan and Dolphin, you can take a boat or walk to the park. Now the walk isn’t a quick walk, but it’s pretty nice.
- The parking lot at Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s is not huge, so it is up to you if you want to fold your stroller and board the tram or if you want to just walk in.
- Before you start hoofing it in or jump on the tram, stop, look down at the end of your row, and locate your row name and number. Take a phone, text it to yourself, do whatever you have to do to remember it. In about 8 hours that is information you will be glad you have, unless you want to walk around hitting the emergency button on your car so you can find it.
- If none of those options work you can always flag down security at the end of the night and they can help you find your vehicle.
- Before you can get into the parks you have to go through bag check. My husband Scott would like to remind everyone that a camera bag still counts as a bag, as does a fanny pack.
- Before you get to the table try to start unzipping all your zippers and have all your bags pulled out. They will also ask to look in the baskets under your stroller.If you do not have any bags, camera bags or fanny packs, you can go directly through the center no bag line. Strollers cannot go through this line since the baskets need to be checked.
- Scott also wanted to share some security tips with everyone to help make their stay more enjoyable (FYI Scott works in Disney Security). The next few tips are from him.
- When you arrive to the park each day take a photo of your children, either on your camera phone or actual camera. That way if you are separated for some reason you have a photo from that day to show security. It has been Scott’s experience that nine times out of ten parents cannot remember what their children were wearing that day, and the photo eliminates that problem all together.
- Do NOT leave your valuables in your stroller while you go on a ride. Just because you are at the happiest place on earth doesn’t mean that you are completely safe from thieves!
- If you do for some reason become separated from a child it is important to find a cast member and let them know. The sooner you do this, the sooner every cast member in the park knows to look for your child. If one of the parents walks off to look for this child on their own while another stays behind with a cast member, make sure you both have phones and can communicate (sounds so simple, but is one of the biggest mistakes).
- Close and lock your doors/trunk. Scott cannot even begin to tell you how many times he has personally seen trunks and doors wide open, or windows rolled down. Also, if you have a GPS take it down and put it out of sight, the same goes for any other valuables you have in the car.
- Do not lock your keys in your car unless you can get them out on your own. Disney cannot pop your locks, they have to call a locksmith and you will be charged.
- Do not try to sneak alcohol into any of the parks, they will find and sadly, it will be dumped down the nearest drain.
- While glass jarred baby food is allowed, it may slow up the process of getting in. Try and bring the plastic tubs if you can.
- No weapons of any kind are allowed. However, if you are licensed to carry a weapon and have it on you, it must be checked with security. Any federal or local law enforcement agencies also have to comply with the weapon check.
Tickets and Main Entrance
- As far as tickets go children ages 3-9 are considered a childs ticket (Under 3 is FREE), 10+ is considered an adult. Visit Disney’s site for more ticketing information.
- I am sorry to report that there is no such thing as a multiples discount at Disney World. The only discount offered on admission is Florida resident, AAA, and military. Please see the Walt Disney World website for more details on tickets, prices, and restrictions. Also, please please please do not buy tickets on the side of the road that say they are cheaper (these operations are actually illegal since you are renting a ticket, not purchasing a ticket). You will get ripped off and will not get a refund. Just remember if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booths before the main entrance if you have not previously purchased them.
- Now since I used to work the turnstiles at Magic Kingdom many moons ago (fun fact: that’s how I met Scott) I have some special tips to share: it does not matter how you put the ticket it, right side up, upside down, it’s all the same, you just can’t put it in sideways.
- Make sure you remember what finger you used with your ticket, and remember which ticket is yours. If you use your husband’s ticket you will get denied (put your name on the back of your ticket so this doesn’t happen).
- Do not keep your tickets on top of your credit cards, it will demagnetize them and you will have to have them reprinted.
Maps and Times Guides
- I cannot stress enough that you should really grab both the map and times guide to help maximize your experience. Both can be found immediately when you walk into the park, at Guest Relations, at the Tip Board located before the Sorcerer’s Hat, and throughout the shops in the park.
- The park maps are available in several languages, see Guest Relations if you do not see the language you need.
- Guest relations offers translator headsets in the following languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Japanese. These headsets are free of charge, but you are required to put down a deposit that will be refunded upon their return.
- International calling cards are available for sale at Guest Relations at each of the four theme parks. Pay phone instructions are printed in Japanese, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese. Another nice feature of the pay phones is the ability to dial directly to international locations without the need for operator assistance.
- If you are interested, Guest Relations offers guided tours (there is a fee for this). If you are traveling with small children (who can’t wait in long lines) during a peak attendance time, VIP tours will allow you to bypass most lines for the rides. This is NOT cheap, but well worth it if you have the means. The tours do need to be set up in advance, especially if you require them in a foreign language. If you need a foreign language, the tours are offered in English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Italian.
- Guest Relations also handles currency exchange, but it is limited. If you are needing currency exchange simply call the Disney Operator to ensure that it can be done at Guest Relations. If not, it can be done at the Suntrust Bank located across the street from Downtown Disney.
- If you would like to make dining reservations you can do so at Guest Relations. You can also make reservations prior to your trip by called 407-WDW-DINE (407-933-3463).
- Also if you are celebrating anything, or it is your first visit stop by to get a free button!
- At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guest Relations is immediately on the left hand side once you enter the park. Baby Care is also located inside Guest Relations.
Stroller and Wheelchair Rentals
- Stroller rental at Hollywood Studios is located on the right hand side of the entrance. You will see an old tow truck right where the entrance is. These strollers really are great, and very lightweight.
- Double strollers are 31.00 per day, and singles are 15.00 a day, with discounts on weekly rentals. Wheelchair rental is 12.00 per day, and ECV(electric wheelchairs) rental is 50.00/day. Disney also offers a length of stay price for stroller rentals, you just need to make a one time payment for the amount of days you will be needing the stroller. The discounted rate is 13.00 a day for singles and 27.oo a day for doubles.
- If you rent a stroller at the a Disney park, and decide to park-hop to another park, you can get a stroller at the second location for no additional charge (same for wheelchairs).
- Wagons are not allowed at any of the Disney parks, or Downtown Disney, as they can be a tripping hazard.
- If you do bring your own stroller, opt for the lightest one you own that folds up the easiest for you. If you do any bus or boat traveling after/during your day at the park, there is a good chance that you will have to take the kids out of the stroller to get on the vehicle.
- First Aid is located next to Guest Relations in a back courtyard.
- Disney’s first aid is staffed with registered nurses that can assist you with any concern you have.
- If you have medication that needs to be refrigerated you can check it at first aid and they can store it for you so you don’t have to haul a cooler.
- Baby Care is located inside Guest Relations. Here you will find several changing tables, a nursing room, separate feeding room, and a small toilet (that’s not an auto flush) for kiddos that are potty training. There’s even a comfy couch to relax on if you don’t happen to be the one on diaper duty!
- This is a great place to visit if your child is becoming overstimulated, and need to be away from the excitement for a while. A little relaxation in an air-conditioned room (with cartoons, of course) may be in order if anyone starts feeling overwhelmed (them, or you!).
- Unfortunately strollers are not allowed in the Baby Care Center.
- This is the main area when you walk in. It is filled with shops, the tip board, hands down the best popcorn stand (I’m very serious), the Sorcerer’s Hat, The Hollywood Brown Derby, and the Great Movie Ride.
- The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, open for lunch and dinner in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, serves contemporary American cuisine. Seasonal specialties include seafood, steak and poultry selections. (Price range $15-$35.99 per person). I have amazing memories of this restaurant as a child. One time a “hopeful actress” (one of the street performers) came in and auditioned for a man in the middle of the restaurant. She sang the Oscar Mayer Weiner song. I remember it like it was yesterday and I think I was 7 or 8 years old when it happened.
- The Great Movie Ride is an all age ride through the movies. You are transported through films like Singin’ in the Rain, Mary Poppins, Casablanca and, of course, The Wizard of Oz. There are a few moments on this ride that may scare younger riders, so be prepared for that. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy your ride through some of the greatest films of all time.
- This is the area immediately to the left of the Sorcerer’s Hat, it includes, Star Tours, The American Idol Experience, The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey, as well as a variety of restaurants.
- The American Idol Experience offers you the chance to watch, perform, and vote. I’ll be honest, I have yet to experience this, but all of my friends who have gone to it love it. If you are planning on auditioning be sure to read all of the rules (and there’s a few of them). Click on the link above to see what they are.
- Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey is a 12-minute audio show for big kids and adults starring the comedian. Portions of the show are in the dark, which may be frightening for some kids (and maybe some adults).
- The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is a scheduled 30-minute live show that recreates many of the memorable scenes from the Indiana Jones movie series—and reveals the secrets behind the stunts and special effects. I, personally, love this show and so do both of my kids. The show times are listed on your times guide, so be sure to check that when you get to the park. Also, this is a pretty popular show, so you’ll want to get there at least 15-20 minutes before the show if you want a seat.
- Star Tours is back with new destinations, new characters and new adventures—now presented in brilliant digital 3-D! Board a Starspeeder 1000 for a thrilling journey through George Lucas’ Star Wars universe. This ride does have a height requirement of 40 inches, but don’t worry, rider switch passes are offered for this ride so both parents can enjoy it. I haven’t been on this since it reopened, but again, I’ve heard really great things about this. One of the coolest things I’ve heard is that it is different each time you ride it.
- For dining, there are several options in this area. For sit down service there is Hollywood and Vine and 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Hollywood and Vine is a character buffet during breakfast and lunch with characters from Disney Junior (Special Agent Oso, The Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, and Jake the Neverland Pirate). There is also a dinner buffet, but it does not have the characters. We’ve done the lunch buffet twice over here and it is amazing. I am not a buffet fan, but I love this place. Plus, the characters are great and there are plenty of opportunities for the kids to interact and have fun while you (read: me) sit and stuff your face with another piece of red velvet cake. Breakfast and Lunch is $15-$35.99 and Dinner is $36-$59.99. 50’s Prime Time Cafe is all about comfort food, but you have to mind your manners. No, really. You cannot put your elbows on the table and you better eat your veggies. The restaurant is decorated with old TV memorabilia, which is really neat to look at. The price ranges from $15-$35.99 and they serve both lunch and dinner. If you’re not looking for sit down service, there are a few options in the area. There’s Backlot Express, Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner, and Oasis Canteen. The Backlot Express (Fun Fact! This was my husband Scott’s first job at Disney.) covers your basics like burgers, chicken fingers, hot dogs or vegetarian sandwiches. Everything here is priced under $14.99. There’s also plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, just try not to go here after an Indiana Jones show lets out. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner offers frankfurter in a pretzel roll, chicken Caesar salad sandwich and Italian sausage with peppers and onions (YUM!). Oasis Canteen is a quick snack place that has soft serve ice cream and funnel cakes. It’s right outside of Indiana Jones and makes a great stop before the show.
Streets of America
- This is the area immediately behind Star Tours. From November until after New Year’s this is where you will find the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (a must see!). I love walking the Streets of America and looking at all of the details that are put into each section.
- Streets of America is where you will find Muppet Vision 3-D which is an absolutely adorable 3-D film featuring the Muppets. This is a 17 minute film and appropriate for all ages. Plus, Sam Eagle is in it, and really what’s not to love about Sam Eagle?
- Light’s, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is inspired by a similar show in Disneyland Paris. The 33-minute stunt show is appropriate for all ages and even features Lightening McQueen. Be sure to check your times guide for show times. During the slower seasons this show does not run everyday. During peak season this show will run multiple times a day and Fastpass is available. Both of my kids love this show and my husband not-so-secretly wants to be one of the stuntmen in the show. This is definitely one of my recommendations for a must-see while at Hollywood Studios.
- Studio Backlot Tour is a 35 minute guided walk (very short walk) and tram ride. On this ride you get to see a lot of behind-the-scenes tricks, props, and stunts. This ride is appropriate for all ages, however, there is one part of the ride, during a stunt, that may frighten small children.
- At the exit of the Studio Backlot Tour is a character meet-and-greet area for the characters of Monsters, Inc.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is a colossal 11,000 square-foot play area for little ones and preschoolers. This play area is SO COOL! Plus, it’s a great place for the kids to run around and burn off some energy.
- There are a few dining options in this area: Pizza Planet (yup, that Pizza Planet!), Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, and Studios Catering Company. Pizza Planet is a quick service restaurant that has individual pizzas, meatball subs, salads, and arcade games. Pricing here is $14.99 and under. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano is a crazy delicious Italian restaurant that features flatbreads, pasta, and the signature dish- chicken parmigiana. Mama Melrose’s serves lunch and dinner and the price ranges from $15-$35.99. Studios Catering Company is right next to the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure. The sandwiches here are crazy delicious, specifically the buffalo chicken sandwich. The Studios Catering Company is open for lunch and dinner and the prices are $14.99 and under.
- This is the area between Streets of America and Echo Lake. Basically all that is here are two restaurants, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and ABC Commissary.
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is a unique dining experience. Your tables are actually convertibles and it’s like you are at the old drive-in theaters. While you eat old 1950’s and 1960’s monster movies play on the big screen. Sci-Fi is open for lunch and dinner serving burgers, sandwiches, ribs, seafood, pasta, steak and salads. The price range is $15-$35.99.
- ABC Commissary is a quick service restaurant that features food that you don’t typically find at a fast food restaurant. If you are looking for something different, like say chicken curry, you will find it here. The price range here is $14.99 and under.
- There is only one ride in this area, and it is by far the most popular ride in the entire park, Toy Story Mania. I don’t care what day you go, there is always at least a 30 minute wait for this ride. If you have any intention of getting on this ride, bolt for it at park open, grab a fastpass and then hop in line. Chances are by the time you get your fastpass it will be for 3-4 hours from the current time, if you’re lucky. I’m not even exaggerating, I have seen people sprint like they were running a marathon to get fastpasses for this ride. Having said all that, you need to ride this ride, it is amazing. There is no height requirement for this ride and the ride is in 3-D.
- Across from the ride is a character meet-and-greet area with characters from Toy Story.
- Mickey Avenue is right next to Pixar Place and features Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. One Man’s Dream is a multimedia gallery attraction for Guests of all ages. Take a self-guided tour through the exhibits of photographs, audio interviews and memorabilia that tell the story of Walt Disney—the man whose life accomplishments still intrigue and inspire people the world over. Specifically created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is a trip through time that starts with his birth in 1901 in Chicago, Illinois and continues through his inventions, innovations and visions for a company that has become synonymous with magic. This is a must see if you are a Disney fan.
- This is the area immediately to the right of the Sorcerer’s Hat. This area features The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, The Magic of Animation, and Disney Junior- Live on Stage.
- The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a 15 minute live show featuring puppets, live performers, and movie clips. I’m not going to lie, this show is the bane of my existence, I cannot stand it but Jill loves it. I mean LOVES it. If your child has even the slightest love of Ariel you must stop and see this show. For me, it’s a great 15 minutes in the AC and out of the heat. Fastpass is available for this show and what’s fabulous is outside of the theater it tells you the next show time.
- The Magic of Animation is a 20 minute presentation where you are invited to discover the process of creating animated characters. After the show, embark on a guided walk to a special landing and snap a picture of the former studios of Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida. After a brief discussion about animation with your guide, take some time to join in a number of different workshops that bring the magic of Disney animation to life. I remember doing this tour when they still had the Animation Studios here. This is a really neat walk through and presentation, however the toddlers/preschoolers may not be as interested as you are.
- Disney Junior- Live on Stage is a great show for preschoolers featuring Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and the Little Einsteins. My kids love this show, it is interactive, fun, energetic and just plain perfect. I’m warning you though, there are no seats, everyone sits on the floor. However, there are benches at the back of the theater. Check your times guide for show times and then after the show go and meet some of the stars of the show at the character meet-and-greet location next to the theater.
- Sunset Boulevard is the area where you will find Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. This is also home to one of my favorite sweet shops on property.
- Beauty and the Beast- Live on Stage, is hands down one of the best shows on property. This is a 25 minute Broadway style show that fills up quickly. Words honestly cannot describe this show, it is a must-see though, so be sure to check your times guide.
- Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster is a high speed, looping rollercoaster set to the tunes of Aerosmith. I love this rollercoaster and scream like a 12 year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert every single time I ride it. The height requirement on this ride is 48 inches. They do offer Fastpass, rider switch, and have a single rider line.
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is another thrill ride where you ride in an elevator and plunge 13 stories. The height requirement is 40 inches and they offer Fastpass and rider switch. Even if your kiddos are 40 inches, they may be absolutely terrified by this ride. I’m 28 years old and the people that work this ride freak me out sometimes, they are that good at their job.
- Fantasmic! is a breathtaking 25-minute fireworks and water show performed select nights that brings together all of your favorite Disney Characters—including heroes, princesses and villains—for the very first time. During the peak season this show fills up fast, so be sure to get there early and get your seats. There are restrooms and concessions inside the theater. Fantasmic! does have a few scary moments, but it is such a great show that is a must see.
- There are a few dining options on Sunset Boulevard. Fairfax Fare ($14.99 and under) is a quick service location that features salads specialty hot dogs topped with mac ‘n’ cheese and truffle oil drizzle, and house-smoked barbeque specialties. Hollywood Scoops ($14.99 and under) is all about the ice cream, make sure you grab a super delicious ice cream sandwich while you are here. Starring Rolls Cafe ($14.99 and under) features baked goods, sushi and focaccia sandwiches. At Sunset Ranch Market ($14.99 and under) you will find tremendous turkey legs to veggie burgers, pizza, fries to fresh fruit, barbeque to hand dipped ice cream sundaes, and frozen margaritas.
Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade
- The Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade starts by Star Tours and ends near the main entrance. This is where you will see all of your favorite Pixar characters. I love this parade, it is so upbeat and I may or may not sing the song from the parade every day all day.
- The parade schedule varies depending on the season, so check your times guide to see when the parade starts.
Disney Channel Rocks!
- Disney Channel Rocks is a live concert featuring tunes from Hannah Montana, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, Sonny With A Chance, Shake It Up!, JONAS, StarStruck and more. This show moves from the main entrance up to the Sorcerer’s Hat.
- Disney’s PhotoPass Service gives you professional photographs of your Walt Disney World vacation. View the photos online, order prints and create custom photo keepsakes. You can also purchase/view the photos in the park.
- To use PhotoPass simply see any of the photographers located throughout the park and they will hand you a card that will store all your photos. Simply create an account when you get home and you can edit the photos and create fun gifts. Be sure to check out their website for more information.
- This is hands down the best invention ever! Simply put your ticket in the FASTPASS machine and come back to the ride at the time it tells you. It virtually eliminates having to wait in line and allows you to see more of the park. Check out Disney’s site for the list of rides and for more information on FASTPASS services.
Rider Switch Pass
- Rider Swap is when you can take turns waiting with kids too small to ride a certain ride then “swap” with another adult from your party to experience the ride without standing in line twice.
- If you’re not sure if the ride offers rider swap, simply ask the cast member at the entrance.
Dining Tips/Dietary Concerns
- If you are going to eat at one of the casual dining locations call ahead for reservations, most can be made 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
- If you have any food allergies let them know when you are making your reservation for your casual or fine dining location, that way a note can be made in your reservation.
- Disney also recommends that if you are staying on property you make note of food allergies or dietary concerns at least 14 days in advance.
- If you are celebrating something special (first trip, birthday, anniversary, engagement etc) let them know and they can fix something special for you. Scott and I eat at a Disney restaurant every anniversary since we were married there and have gotten anniversary menus to keep from each place.
- If you have food allergies and are eating at a quick service location they can bring someone out to show you what foods are best suited for you.
- Some of the dining restaurants now require a credit card to hold your reservation. If you cancel within one day of the reservation or if the dining party is a “no show” for the meal, a cancellation fee of $10 per person will be charged to the credit card used at the time of booking.
- (May-June) Star Wars Weekends is an annual special event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park that celebrates the legendary Star Wars Saga and the animated television series, The Clone Wars. Join Jedi Knights, Sith Lords and Star Wars celebrities for special shows, presentations and memorabilia.
- (November-Beginning of January) The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park is a massive seasonal display featuring millions of holiday lights perfectly synchronized to music.
- The best time to visit Disney with multiple small children is of course, at the least busy times. I have found that right now (mid-to late-January until Spring Break) is one of the best times, as schools are generally in session in all areas of the country. You do run the risk of some slightly cold weather, but I’m betting it’s still going to be warmer than wherever you are from:) Once “spring break” time hits, it’s going to be crazy for a while.
- In general, weekdays are less crowded than weekends and holidays.
- During your day at the park, be flexible and ready to leave and take a break if needed. A day at Disney with several small children will be a blast- but will also be pretty physically and mentally demanding. Watch for your kids’ cues, and head for the exit before you have a multiple meltdown!
- If you are traveling to the park with your kids and are the only adult, it IS doable, but you will not be able to do most of the attractions unless your kids are old enough to walk on their own and stay with you.
- If you are visiting the park on vacation, bring as many spare hands as possible! To be able to enjoy ALL of the attractions, you will want at least one adult per small child. If you are saving up for your Disney vacation and want your kids to truly enjoy every single aspect, consider waiting until at least age 3 or 4.
- If you or someone in your party has a disability (mobility, visual or hearing) please visit the Guests with Disabilities page on Disney’s website for more information.
- Visit Disney’s website and request a vacation planning DVD, it will have even more information than we provided and it’s free!
Be sure to visit my friend Mike’s site Magic and Memories for some amazing posts about Disney World. Thanks Mike for letting me use your amazing photos in this post!