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Top Things to Do at Hollywood Studios (from a Local)

Here are the top things do at Hollywood Studios I never miss, from exploring Toy Story Land & Galaxy's Edge to the best dining in the park.

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.

(UPDATED JULY 2021) 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.

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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.). You’re sure to slip into a childlike state as you wander through the colored light lined walkways with so much to see and do. While you’re here, meet Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, and Woody. Selfies with the characters are my favorite thing to do at all Disney parks. 

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Toy Story Land has rides, attractions, and a tasty snack stand. I’m a big fan of Slinky Dog Dash, a twisty roller coaster that is fun for all ages. 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.

Hopefully, you will get to see the Green Army Drum Corps put on a lively percussion performance during your visit.

Pro Tip: I’m a big fan of the delicious pop tarts at Woody’s Lunch Box; try one.  

Fun Fact: Tim Allen himself was even at the Grand Opening! 

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Ride the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

This is my favorite ride at Hollywood Studios, and many others would agree. Riders watch a short video, complete with Steven Tyler and the gang having a crisis, and then ride along 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. 

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Experience Star Tours and Star Wars

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. 

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Pro Tip: Babies and small children are not allowed on this ride. Rider Switch is available.

Galaxy’s Edge, an out-of-this-world Hollywood Studios’ land that opened in 2019, features a great selection of Star Wars themed shops, attractions, and plenty to give you a good dose of your favorite Sci-Fi stories ever. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is worth the wait and one of the Galaxy’s Edge stars. Oga’s Cantina is everybody’s favorite place for exotic cocktails, and I love the breakfast options (vegan, too) at Ronto Roasters.

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Eat Your Way Around the Park

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. 

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Another eatery that we like but seems that many people often forget about it is Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. This full-service restaurant is set up like a drive-in and you board your car to place your order, eat your meal, and be entertained by the black and white sci-fi films of days gone by. It’s great fun, though a little dark. Sci-Fi Dine-In’s burgers are really good, plus it’s air conditioned and a great place to beat the heat for a bit.

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Having eaten at the Hollywood Brown Derby for lunch, dinner, and snacks, I’ll have to say that it is fantastic! For lunch, try the Cobb Salad, created at the original Hollywood, California location. Everything is diced small and tossed with just the right amount of dressing. For dinner, order the Wagyu Beef Burger.

You can eat indoors or out on a cute little patio for timeless cocktails and appetizers. I recommend the margarita flight (blood orange, classic, and pomegranate) or a slice of Grapefruit Cake. Golden Age era decorations don the restaurant that has perhaps the best location in the park. 

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Browse Echo Lake and Neighbors

Echo Lake would be the beautiful lake in the midst of the main drag at Hollywood Studios. There is a boat and huge green dinosaur sticking up out of the lake, which is surrounded by lovely palm trees and picturesque scenery. There are fast-food and dessert kiosks around the area, as well as excellent gift shops to browse for souvenirs.

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While there are several shops at each of the Walt Disney World theme parks to choose from, it will only take you a few visits to quickly learn which one you prefer for the best pins, t-shirts, home accessories, toys, and such. I love the Celebrity 5 & 10 for kitchen accents, Disney pins (they have the limited edition ones), and ears, but prefer Sunset Ranch Pins for the best selection of toys and plush pieces.

Near the back of the park, It’s a Wonderful Shop is a year-round Christmas shop with ornaments, advent calendars, snow globes, and personalized items. Unfortunately it is still closed due to COVID, but keep checking…it’s worth it.

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Scream Loudly on Tower of Terror 

The Twilight Zone’s 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. 

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Tower of Terror 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. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to check the ride times on either your My Disney Experience App or on the digital board at the front of the park. Get there early to ride your top attractions with the shortest wait times.

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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.

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Misc. Musts

The plans are always changing at the theme parks. Do as much as you can, stay hydrated, and be sure to make time to just look around at the cool details that have gone into making this experience so special—namely, Sunset Boulevard.

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Attractions you may want to try to work into your day include the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway , character greetings, A Frozen Sing-Along, and Muppet*Vision 3D, a nostalgic classic.

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Hollywood Studios: A Star-Studded Day

And there you have it. My list of 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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