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10 Tips to Wait Less in Hollywood Studios

Imagine this: You're going to Walt Disney World soon and you're planning what you're going to do in Disney's Hollywood Studios on your day (or two) there.  You plan the dining reservations, attractions to hit and even compile a FASTPASS strategy.  Sounds perfect, right?  Surprisingly there's a lot of little things you can do to cut down on waiting in line while in Hollywood Studios and it doesn't require you to be knee deep in spreadsheet hell.

Arrive at Hollywood Studios at least 30 minutes before park opening

If you do nothing else, follow this tip.  Arriving at Hollywood Studios at least 30 minutes before the park is slated to open is the single best tip you can ever follow. By being on hand for park opening, you'll have a major advantage over other guests by being able to knock out the major attractions without much wait.  If you play your cards right, you should be able to see three headliner attractions in the first hour the Studios are open.

It's also worth mentioning not to torpedo yourself by avoiding food or bathroom breaks in the first hour.  That first hour is the absolute best time to do things in Hollywood Studios, so don't waste a minute!

Use the middle turnstiles

Generally speaking, I've found the middle turnstiles to have the shortest lines.  I think it has to do with the fact the middle turnstile lines are generally in the sun, while the other lines are usually shaded but I'd rather be in the park faster than wait longer in a less-hot line.

See the first show of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show

There are usually 2 or three showings of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show on a given day.  Always shoot for the first show because most guests don't make their way back to that area of the park until later in the afternoon.  If there's three shows and the first show is at around 11am, that show will be barely half full and is ideal to see.

See the last showing of Fantasmic!

This is a tip I always recommend and it's still true.  When there's more than one showing of Fantasmic!, always go for the last showing of the evening.  It will be far easier to get in and much less crowded.  The first show suffers from families that want to see Fantasmic! before they head out of the park (i.e. families with young children) so the last showing requires less wait time and is easier to get into.

Make your dining reservations before noon, after 1, before 5 or after 7

If you want to eat a sit down meal without committing a long time, then try eating lunch before noon or after 1pm.  For dinner, anytime before 5 or after 7 will be your best bet.  These times are going to be ideal for avoiding the meal rushes.  If you really want to avoid the crowds, try to eat at the first seating the restaurant is open.  That way, there will be no other orders ahead of you and all the tables open.

Watch the parade on the side of the street you want to exit to

If you're going to check out Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! parade, be sure to pick a spot based on what you want to do after the parade.  If you want to go ride the Tower of Terror after the parade, then watch it on Hollywood Boulevard on the Sunset Boulevard side.  The conclusion of the parade really snarls up foot traffic for a good 10-15 minutes after its over so avoid the mess by positioning yourself ideally.

Bypass the crowds at Star Tours

If you're walking from Echo Lake and trying to get to the Backlot area or vice versa, avoid the congested areas in front of Star Tours by taking a shortcut.  If you're coming from Echo Lake, on your right immediately following Sounds Dangerous is a walkway to passes behind the restrooms in the area and will take you past Star Tours and exit out on Commissary Lane.  Alternatively, you can follow the same path if you're trying to get from the Backlot area to the front of the park.

Exit One Man's Dream quicker

If you're going to see the exhibits at Walt Disney: One Man's Dream but do not want to watch the film, there's an easier way to get out of the attraction than backpeddling all the way through the attraction.  Near the Disneyland mural (across from Walt's Office) are a set of doors you can open that will exit onto Mickey Avenue near Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  Don't worry, there's no alarm and guests are allowed to use these doors.

Skip the show and see the characters at Magic of Disney Animation

Many guests want to meet the characters at the conclusion of the Magic of Disney Animation but would prefer not to watch the film starring Mushu.  You used to be able to enter the Animation Gallery gift shop and go through it to enter the character area, but there's no need to do that anymore (besides, Disney prohibits that practice now).  

Disney has now set up two lines at the entrance to the Magic of Disney Animation.  The line to the left is for those that want to see the film and experience the entire attraction.  The line to the right allows you to walk right into the character area and bypass the film.

Bypass a crowded Hollywood Boulevard

If Hollywood Boulevard is extra crowded because of a Citizens of Hollywood performance, or perhaps from an incoming/outgoing Disney Channel Rocks! performance, there's two alternatives to getting through Hollywood Boulevard.

On either side of the street are a line of shops and just like the Emporium on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, these shops are interconnected and really just one large shop.  Feel free to duck into either shop and walk the breadth of Hollywood Boulevard without being stuck somewhere on the street.

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About this column

A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 by