Living in Florida has its perks. Perhaps the best one for me is being near enough to Walt Disney World anytime I want, and being able to purchase a Florida resident annual pass. For those reasons, my family frequents the Disney parks often.
Top Things to Do at Hollywood Studios from a Local
Hollywood Studios is my adult children’s favorite park; they love the movie references and attention to detail at Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story land. When I visit, these are the top things to do at Hollywood Studios I never miss, ranging from top rides and lands to places for the best eats at the park.
It may not take you the entire day to get through Hollywood Studios, so I recommend doing it after Animal Kingdom or Epcot’s World Showcase.
#1 Ooh and Aah Over Toy Story Land
Just the looks of this part of the park is enough to make anyone happy. Designed in all primary colors, the set is made to look like Andy’s back yard, full of life-size toys from his childhood (blocks, toy soldiers, etc.). It is an overload of fun! While you’re here, meet Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, and Woody. Selfies with the characters are my favorite thing to do at all Disney parks.
Toy Story Land has rides, attractions, and a tasty snack stand. Hopefully, you will get to see the Green Army Drum Corps put on a lively percussion performance.
Pro Tip: I’m a big fan of the delicious cinnamon-apple “pop tart” at Woody’s Lunch Box; try one.
Fun Fact: Tim Allen himself was even at the land’s grand opening!
#2 Ride the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
This is my favorite ride at Hollywood Studios! Riders watch a short video and then ride with Aerosmith get to a Los Angeles concert in a fast-paced, curvy, looping, bass-thumping stretch limousine-themed coaster car. The sometimes 60 mile-per-hour thrill ride is inside and in the dark, with a dazzling light and glow-in-the-dark show to boot.
Note: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster goes down for maintenance a lot.
#3 Experience Star Tours
If you thought people were mad for Disney, wait until you see the crowds that Star Wars brings! At Star Tours, in an Ewok village venue, join the rebellion in a fun 3-D ride as you prepare to battle the empire. The ride is savvy and has several different formats (over 50) so that each ride isn’t exactly the same. Try to land a FastPass+ for this ride, as it is very popular.
Pro Tip: Babies and small children are not allowed on this ride. Rider Switch is available.
#4 Dine at 50’s Prime Time Cafe
One of the coolest restaurants at Walt Disney World is the 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios’ Echo Lake. The restaurant is a circa 1950s home, decorated with kitschy retro memorabilia and old timey re-runs on TV, with servers that treat you like family members. They demand you not put your elbows on the table, clean your plate, and the list goes on and on.
50’s Prime Time serves comfort food favorites, such as Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop, Mom’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast, and Cousin Megan’s Meatloaf, my personal fave. The restaurant is decorated in kitschy retro memorabilia and shows old-times re-runs on the TVs. I like wearing my “I cleaned my plate” button around the park after finishing all of my meal.
Pro Tip: Add to the retro feel by having your Coca-Cola flavored with cherry or vanilla, always a flavorful addition for me.
#5 Ride Slinky Dog Dash
Slinky Dog Dash is the roller coaster in Toy Story Land. While it looks tame and gives the feel of a child’s ride, it has some excitement to it. There is one little run where the track is up and down in succession (glides and drops like an actual Slinky toy), which is my favorite part.
You get epic views of Toy Story Land from the ride, and it’s good for the whole family. Plus, it’s just so darned cute, you can’t help but be happy just seeing it. The creativity level of this land makes you feel like and want to be a kid again.
#6 Do Some Hollywood Studios Shopping
Hollywood Studios is my favorite park for shopping. The stores on Hollywood Boulevard are all worth a visit. Once Upon a Time (art-deco cinema building) is a cool shop for Disney jewelry and apparel. Mickey’s of Hollywood and Celebrity 5 and 10 are other options to check out for Mickey ears, pins, MagicBands, and housewares. Near the back of the park, be sure to visit It’s a Wonderful Shop, a year-round Christmas shop with ornaments, advent calendars, snow globes, and personalized items. I now have several items in my Christmas decor from this shop.
Tip: Grab a Starbucks to sip along the way.
#7 Indulge at Hollywood Brown Derby
Having eaten at the Hollywood Brown Derby for lunch, dinner, and snacks, I’ll have to say that it is fantastic! You can eat indoors or dine outside on a cute little patio setting (the lounge) for timeless cocktails and appetizers. Movie themed decor of Hollywood’s Golden Age era decorate the restaurant with a primo location in the park.
For lunch, try the Cobb Salad, created at the original Hollywood, California location of this eatery. Everything is diced into small pieces and tossed with dressing to perfection. I’m hungry just thinking about it. For dinner, order the Wagyu Beef Burger.
Pro Tip: Get a table on at the lounge (outdoor area) and enjoy a martini or margarita (blood orange, classic and pomegranate) flight to sip on. Or, indulge in a slice of Grapefruit Cake–a Brown Derby original dish that is light, refreshing, and sensational!
#8 Scream on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror has been delighting Hollywood Studios guests for 25 years. I was one of the lucky ones who got to ride this when it first opened. My children were small so they waited with their dad while I enjoyed the thrill all by myself.
It has the right amount of suspense as you wait in the queue of a dilapidated setting to get to your elevator shaft, then the gut-wrenching feeling of free-falling 13 stories from the top of the 1939 hotel. The fall isn’t the end of the ride, but instead, the elevator bounces up and down quite a few more times, all the while you hear noises of it in distress. You also hear a lot of screams coming from those on the ride, but it’s all in good fun. This is one of the things to do at Hollywood Studios you cannot miss.
#9 Fan Girl at Galaxy’s Edge
At long last, Star Wars’ Galaxy’s Edge, where characters from your favorite sci-fi movie series come to life, is open. When you first step into the land, it is truly like you are in a movie set, as the details are so spot on. I like being there during the 4-5:00 hour, when the sun is somewhat setting and photography is optimum.
In Galaxy’s Edge, you can ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, which will require at least a few hours wait due to popularity. I rode Millennium Falcon opening week at Disneyland and it was pretty amazing. They did a great job designing the whole experience.
Be sure to stop by Oga’s Cantina for dreamy alcoholic (or non) concoctions in a very cool setting. Reservations are required.
#10 Delight in Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
I absolutely love Pixar’s Cars and have always been so jealous that we don’t have the cool Cars attractions in Florida like Disneyland has. Enter the newly added Lightning McQueen Racing Academy, where riders can learn what it takes to be a racing champion.
An animatronic Lightning McQueen vehicle is your emcee and the 10-minute attraction does a great job of portraying and stressing friendship and perseverance throughout the race. Follow your progress on the state-of-the-art racing simulator with impressive wrap-around screen.
Hollywood Studios: A Star-Studded Day
And there you have it. My list of 10 things to do at Hollywood Studios should pretty much get you through the whole park, a full stomach, and with a bag of goodies to take home with you. Have a fantastic time!
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