keys to the kingdom : hollywood studios

Pssst: Be sure to check out all of our updated tips, here.

Good day, all you fab vacationistas!

It’s time for our next installment in our Keys to the Kingdom Series, here at The Handmade Home.

If you missed our introduction, and would like to read all about the deats of where to stay, food for thought, fast pass/rider swap 101, an overview of the magic kingdom, or epcot, feel free to click on over and read all about it. This series is three moms’ takes on their vacationing experiences with Walt Disney World, and while we realize that novel upon novel upon novel could be written on this subject matter, our series is meant to serve as a nice, basic overview introduction for those of us who may be first timers, and wish to familiarize themselves with the basics… all while balancing the whole young family gig. So feel free to poke around, and check it out!

Cristin is back, to dazzle us all with her knowledge…With a few rogue rando thoughts in italics per me…So take it away, oh master park hopper…;}

Hollywood Studios.

Lights, Camera, Action! Hollywood Studios takes you inside the movies with its action-packed attractions, shows, and ambiance. Upon entering the park, you are whisked back in time to true old school Hollywood. In fact, most of the park is set up to look like you are on the set of a movie. But don’t worry, there is still plenty for your kids to do at this park, even if they are too short to ride the bigger roller coasters. So quiet on the set- let’s get this tape rolling.


Here’s a little symbols key for this:

* means don’t miss it!

< means grab a fast pass for this attraction.

Occasional Italics: Ashley’s two cents with three small kids.

• **<< Toy Story Mania :  Yes, I realize I just put double signs before this ride. That is simply because this ride a) has without a doubt the longest line of any ride in the park and b) is the ride that your kids (and you) are going to ride over and over again! It’s only been around for a few years and it is definitely a winner! Easily the most fun ride in the park. And if you do get a fast pass and the line isn’t horribly long, stand in line just for the heck of it. They did an amazing job in the line queue. Ash’s two cents: Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. Go straight there. Be that person, and knock people over if you have to, to be FIRST in LINE for this. If you venture to this park, and you have small children, this is the ENTIRE reason you are in this park. You’ll thank me later. absolutely a crowd fave. For ALL ages. We got to the park at 9 that morning. Immediately went for fast passes. Fast passes were for 5:00. GET there, ASAP, or you’ll spend all day pining away in the park, waiting for that one ride!

• *< Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster : If your child is big enough and doesn’t scare easily with roller coasters, this is a must do. The ride is a quick “car” ride which is supposedly taking you to see an Aerosmith concert. The ride does go upside down and is in the dark, so beware. But it is one of the most fun and thrilling rides in all of Disney World. Fast passes are highly recommended for this ride.

• Star Tours : Calling all Star Wars fans! This ride is more like a 3D simulator, so if you tend to get motion sickness pretty easily, you will probably want to skip this one. It’s a fun one for older kids who are really in to Star Wars, but it has been around for a loooong time, so in my opinion it could use a little juicing up. Ashley’s two cents: not sure if they’ve always had C3PO as part of the attraction, but Aiden LOVED it… the younger two were not tall enough to ride. Even everything in the line. He’s at the hardcore star wars age (6), so it was right up my alley. I braved my way through the motion sickness part.

• * Star Wars : Jedi Training Academy : Via Ashley: if you have a child who totally digs star wars, don’t miss out on this one. One of my regrets. If anything, take your kids to watch for a few minutes. Aiden is super shy, so I’m not sure how he would have done, but they work with the kids, and if you sign them up ahead of time, they can totally participate in fighting against Vader himself. I really hate that we missed out on this one, and plan do to it next time. Apparently, you have to sign up the day before, and by the time we found out about it, it was one of our final days, so we couldn’t do it. Just be ready, if this is something you think your child would love, DO it. Check out this link for more info. It’s super cute, and where else can they say they’ve fought the ‘real’ Vader?

• *< The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror : My absolute favorite ride!! I always ride this one at least 5 or 6 times while I’m there! This ride is definitely for the older kids as there is a good bit that is in the dark, does contain freaky music and ghosts, and you drop. Straight down. A lot. But my personal opinion is that this ride is perfection with all of its weird freakishness! And each time you ride, the drop sequence is different than the time before thanks to modern day technology!


• * Fantasmic : This is the fireworks show for this particular park, but it is more than that. You watch it from inside an outdoor arena and the show cannot be seen from several locations throughout the park like at Epcot or Magic Kingdom. So if you are interested in this show, send someone to sit on the bleachers EARLY and mark spots for your entire group. Trust me- it fills up quickly and no fastpasses are available. Expect most of your favorite Disney characters but also the dreaded villains.

Lights, Motor, Action Extreme Stunt Show : We enjoyed this car stunt show a lot. Even the little girls enjoyed it. However I do believe the men in our group liked it the most. If you have boys that are in to the movie Cars- see it for sure!

• * Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage : this is a 25 minutes Broadway style musical based on the movie. We always make a point to see this one. So well done! Check upon arrival into the park on show times for the day. And as always, arrive a bit early to secure a decent seat! It’s worth it!

• * Disney Junior Live on Stage: If your kid is ANYTHING like mine, they are obsessed with at least one show on Disney Junior. That being said, don’t miss this show featuring all of the Disney Junior main characters from Jake and the Neverland Pirates to the main mouse himself! Ash’s two cents: MAJOR hit, probably second fave thing in the entire park for my three. All of them LOVED this little show, and it has major audience participation to keep them engaged.

Disney Channel Rocks : A street show that performs at specific times throughout the day. These shows tend to change pretty often (last time we were there it was the High School Musical 3 show). Usually pretty entertaining and a good way to take a quick break during the busy day.

• * Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun : A parade full of all of the precious Pixar characters! Ash’s cents: kids loved it.

• * The American Idol Experience : My family loves this show. It is so much like the real thing! Watch as 3 people literally audition for a spot to try out for the real American Idol. They have 3 judges which act like the real judges from TV and you get to play a part in the final decision!

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular : This show has been around as long as I can remember. It’s a fun show based upon the movies filled with some thrilling stunts and a little humor. If your husband, dad, son, etc. is a fan of the movie, this will be entertaining.

• * The Great Movie Ride : This ride is a slow moving one which takes you through scenes of some of the most famous movies ever such as The Wizard of Oz and Indiana Jones. There are some very fun parts of this ride, but beware. There are some scary parts such as when you go through the Aliens part of the ride when a literal alien jumps out at you as well as a part of the ride where you “become” part of a movie. If your child scares easy, you may want to skip this one. Agreed. My kids got over it, but I kind of forgot that part, and had another MOTY moment.

• * Muppet Vision 3-D : Even before the most recent Muppet movie came out, this was a must see show for us. It is a 3-d movie all about the Muppets, and it’s really cute. Perfect for the kiddos.

• * Voyage of the Little Mermaid : This is a unique show which uses a mix of puppets and real people to reenact the movie. Cute special affects and filled with all of the fun music from the movie! We love this one! Emerson (3) was all over this one like white on rice. The boys loved it too, and it was just long enough without them growing impatient.

Studio Backlot Tour : For all of you movie buffs out there, don’t miss this behind the scenes walk and tram ride which shows you up close and personal how they made some of the most unforgettable special effects from the movies. This is a fun mostly kid friendly ride.


Walt Disney One Man’s Dream : I had this one starred, but then removed it because I realize most people that go to Disney World are not quite as in awe of Walt Disney as I am ;} My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this up close look into the life of Walt Disney himself. There is some really cool memorabilia, artifacts, and fun facts about his life. The short movie of his life literally brought tears to my eyes.

The Magic of Disney Animation : a 20 minute show showing how the artists of Disney movies bring the real movies to life.

Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure : This is a fun over-sized play area where it appears as though you have actually been shrunk! A fun thing to walk through and a great way to let your kids out of the stroller to get some energy out. Another favorite of the kids-we had to corral them out of there. Parents be wary: really keep an eye on them. Though there was a cast member standing at the exit, and I get that they’re all top notch with their security, I’m not really sure what they were doing to keep someone from ever so nonchalantly stepping out with your child. Just be sure to keep an eye on them. Places like that make me nervous, you never can be too on top of it, and it was a challenge with three.

Journey Into Narnia Prince Caspian : Skip.Unless you guys are a big fanatic of the movie, it’s a big summary of just that, and then a mini museum with set stuff. Our kids were all, why did we just wait in line for this? That’s all?

Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carrey : skip. This is a short film which eventually goes completely dark. Each person wears a headset and the whole point is to show the fun that can be had with sound. However, it is not funny or entertaining enough to put your kids through it…

All in all, this is a super fun park, and amazing for an older family. In our opinion {the Mills’} it’s geared more ideally towards older children {probably 8 and up} and teens. For families with young children, Hollywood Studios may be best if planned for as a medium-paced, or half day, if the lines aren’t too bad. There aren’t many rides for them, and its more of a shows kind of park, for young children. So just decide ahead of time what you think they’ll want to sit through. We found ourselves waiting for our fast passes to come up for Toy Story, and wish we had arrived earlier to get into line. It was kind of crazy with the busy-ness of the parks, so just be sure to think ahead, and gage what you can do with small children. But all in all, it is a great park!

Thanks so much again, Cristin, for your amazing (as usual) expertise. Anything you recommend with small children in this park? What’s your fave ride? Any of you planning a trip soon? Please do tell!

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Responses to keys to the kingdom : hollywood studios

  1. Yarnista says:

    Great tips! We just returned from Disney World as well, and I agree with everything you said about Hollywood studios here. Sounds Dangerous and Journey into Narnia are both closed (as of November 2011), but from the sound of it, we didn’t miss much.

    Have you ever been at the holidays and done things like Mickey’s Christmas party? We loved it.

  2. Tamie says:

    Stars Tours has had a complete overhaul and is brand spankin’ new again. Still a simulator, so there still could be some motion issues for people. If you have huge Star Wars fans you may want to head to this one right away (after you get that Toy Story Mania fastpass). This is a great park to sit and people watch. They have performers who come out throughout the day to interact with guests, very fun.

  3. Amanda says:

    We are going to Disney in January. We will be at the parks for 5 days. I had planned to do two days at Magic Kingdom and then one day each at Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Magic Kingdom. We have 2 girls, ages 4 and 2. Do you think we would be better off doing 3 days at Magic Kingdom and skipping Hollywood Studios til next time when they are older? Or just go and stay as long as they are interested and hit the pool that afternoon? I would love your thoughts.

    • Amanda says:

      Sorry. I meant one day each at Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom…

      • Holly says:

        Hi Amanda,

        I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here. We just got back from Disney. Our girls are 5 and 3. We did one day at Hollywood Studios and they really enjoyed it. They aren’t big enough for a lot of the rides, but they loved the Disney Junior Playhouse show (it was one of their favorite things at any park, because that’s what they associate with Disney – the characters from the morning tv shows). They also loved the Toy Story ride, the Muppet 3D show, the Little Mermaid show, and the Beauty and the Beast Show. We watched the Jedi Training and they thought that was fun as well. I would definitely recommend that you go to this park. It’s cute and has some cute shows. We spent all day there. I think I would recommend skipping Fantasmic (we saw it, but my girls were scared of all the villians, etc.). We only did one day at Magic Kingdom. Two would be fine, but for us, three would have been too many. We went in early Nov. and the lines were super short, so we didn’t need more than one day at each park. Anyway, your girls will have a blast. Enjoy!

        • Amanda says:

          Thanks so much for your input! I think we will proceed as planned then and do 1 day at Hollywood Studios and 2 at Magic Kingdom. I’m glad that you said that about Fantasmic. It is actually not showing the day that we are there and I was wondering if I should re-arrange my days to accomdate it but it sounds like I can leave as is! Thanks again!!

  4. Kelley says:

    For the Toy Story Mania ride, I have my husband walk REALLY fast get to get fast passes first. Then as soon as I get there, you know pushing my way through the crowd, we all then get in line for the ride. The line goes really fast when it first opens. Now we have fast passes for later in the day at a decent time! Take this into consideration that this works for January dates when it’s less crowded.