Too many times than I care to remember, I have heard friends and family members say they are avoiding Disney's Hollywod Studios (DHS) on their trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) because (and I quote) "there's nothing for kids there". Let's reflect on this statement, shall we?
Of course, for young children, DHS can't compete with Magic Kingdom for the fantastical attractions. Although DHS brings the movies to life, you won't find carousel-type rides as found in Dumbo the Flying Elephant, flying boats as found in Peter Pan's flight, or mine cars as found in Snow White's Scary Adventures. What you will find, however, is an opportunity to introduce your children to wonderful live performances, whether it's by the singers in Beauty and The Beast - Live on Stage or the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the stunt drivers in Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, or the actors in Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, as well as a chance to subtly and subconsciously instill an appreciation of the many genres of movies from the old classics featured in The Great Movie Ride, to the new Pixar movies characterized by the new Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade.
I have a 27 month old (daughter) and a 6 month old (son). My 27 month old has been to WDW four times, and my 6 month old has been once so far. Each trip we have brought them to DHS with no regrets. We start our day at Toy Story Mania (TSM)!. People are always surprised when I tell them that, yes, babies and toddlers can ride TSM! My 2 year old really enjoyed pulling on the spring-action shooter and seeing all of her favourite Toy Story characters on our last trip. My husband and I then head over to Sunset Blvd where we "baby swap" for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (my personal favorite ride). I usually don't find baby swapping worth the time it takes for both parents to ride, but nothing will keep me away from this ride! While my husband has his turn, I take the kids shopping along Sunset Blvd. We also like to fit in as many shows as we can. As I mentioned above, DHS is awesome for top-notch performances. My daughter really enjoyed Voyage of the Little Mermaid and, of course, Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage (we are anxiously awaiting the revamped version since it has changed to Disney Junior!). The Great Movie Ride is usually next on our list. Reluctant to take a baby on this long ride (which has no exit until the end of this 20 minute journey!)? Simply time it so you can feed the baby during this ride. A toddler is no problem. My daughter was completely mesmerized, especially by the gangster scene. The Studio Backlot Tour is usually the last ride that we like to do with our kids. It is another perfect ride for feeding the baby, or letting the baby catch a quick catnap. Whose baby wouldn't be put to sleep by the rocking motion, blazing warmth, and running water sounds from the canyon special effects scene?!?!. On our way out, we usually make sure to catch the latest parade. If your children have seen Toy Story, they will probably enjoy dancing and singing along with Woody and Buzz in the new Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade as much as my daughter did (even if it's not the most engaging parade from the parents' perspective!).
The truth is, there is still more we would like to show the kids, but we always seem to run out of time (heading back to the resort for a nap is a must at their ages!). Beauty and The Beast - Live on Stage, and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show are at the top of our list. So, the moral of my story is: parents, please don't deny DHS the chance to surprise you! I guarantee you will be equally surprised at how much fun your children will have ;-).