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Cardinal rules to touring Disney's Hollywood Studios

Each of the theme parks in Walt Disney World has special strategies that are unique onto itself.  At Disney's Hollywood Studios, touring this park can be done in a number of different ways but if you want to "see it all" and experience everything the Studios has to offer, then you need to adhere to a few rules that I feel are the most important to doing it properly.

Arrive Early

Anytime anyone asks me for advice for going to Disney's Hollywood Studios, or Walt Disney World in general, the number one thing I recommend is to arrive to the park well before it opens.  Arriving early guarantees you a solid hour of short waits for attractions and it's the best way to knock out the most popular attractions in the park.  

Moreover, arriving early doesn't mean showing up to the Studios at 9am.  Rather, I recommend being at the turnstiles no later than 8:30am (30 minutes prior to official opening).  Doing so gets you right in front of the masses that will show up later and if the park does open up a few minutes early, you will be able to take advantage of it.  I know waking up early on vacation is difficult but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.  If you do nothing else, follow this bit of advice.

Arrive Early (for Fantasmic!)

My absolute favorite night time show at Walt Disney World is Fantasmic! but it's also one of the most difficult to see.  Due to its popularity, it's dificult sometimes to see it.  Thankfully it's back to being shown every night, but you need to arrive early to check out Fantasmic!.  

My recommendation is to always see the last show of the evening.  If you go with that, get in line about 40 minutes or so before show time.  If you insist on seeing the first show, you'll need the queue up closer to 60 minutes early. The good thing about Fantasmic! is there are benches to sit on, so it's not like you have to stand the whole time.  In addition, a favorite strategy is for one person to hold the seats while the other grabs dinner (or just an evening snack).

Arrive Early (for Toy Story Midway Mania)

Whether you plan on riding Toy Story Midway Mania in the standby line or getting a FASTPASS (or both), you're going to need to show up early to ride.  Since most of us would rather not deal with triple digit wait times, the best advice for riding Toy Story Midway Mania is to arrive early.  The first hour the Studios is open is ideal for either strategy.  And if you followed my first bit of advice of arriving before the park even opened, you'll be able to accomplish this quite easily.

In addition to riding Toy Story Midway Mania when the park opens, another opportune time to ride is at about 9:30-9:45am.  By that point the initial rush in the standby queue is mostly gone and the FASTPASS guests haven't really arrived en masse yet.  This usually results in a relative lull in the standby line (relative meaning around 45 minutes).

Pay homage to the man

Any self respecting Walt Disney World fan needs to do one thing while at the Studios and that is honor the man that started it all, Michael Eisner Walt Disney.  One Man's Dream is easy to overlook and label as "one and done" but I recommend everyone take some time in their day to enjoy and pay respect to everything Walt did in his lifetime.  I know this sounds a bit preachy but I think One Man's Dream is a wonderful tribute to the man who these days is forgotten for what he contributed to not just the theme parks but our culture.

I wouldn't fault you for opting to skip the film but at least walk through the exhibit and look at everything he was able to do.  I think most people will enjoy seeing the exhibits again and again simply for the nostalgia factor.  

See the people

If you go to Disney's Hollywood Studios and don't see at least two Citizens of Hollywood skits, then you haven't really visited the park.  The Citizens of Hollywood are among the most talented group of entertainers you're going to run across and you ought to do yourself a favor and see their shows.  A lot.

Each show is different from the next and I have yet to be bored from them.  Heck, even shows where I know what the punchlines are going to be are entertaining because these actors know how to always change it up just a little bit to make it funny. Many people overlook the Citizens of Hollywood on their trips to the Studios but you could easily spend a day just watching them.

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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, July 25, 2012 by