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How to rock and drop

In the past, there was one big question in regards to touring Hollywood Studios and that was which strategy to use to experience both Tower of Terror and Rock 'n Roller Coaster with minimal waits. While the addition of Toy Story Midway Mania has changed the scenario somewhat, nonetheless, many park guests still look for an effective overall strategy to experience both of these Sunset Boulevard super headliners. If you're looking to experience both attractions with the least amount of wait possible (and who isn't?), then let's take a look at what I consider to be the best methodology for riding both rides while minimizing that wait.

First, we have to make some assumptions about whom we are talking about.   Let's assume this is a group of people who want to ride both attractions together.  This eliminates the single rider line at Rock 'n Roller Coaster as a viable option.  Looking at both attractions, I've generally found the line to be longer at Rock 'n Roller Coaster as Tower of Terror seems to be able to handle crowds better overall. Given that observation, the best option for the first hour or so the park is open would be to head to Rock 'n Roller Coaster first and then ride Tower of Terror.  But what if you want to ride both at some other point in the day?  In that case, you should go to Rock 'n Roller Coaster first and grab a FASTPASS and then get in the standby line for Tower of Terror to ride and then return to Rock 'n Roller Coaster later with your FASTPASS.  As you may notice, you are better off dealing with the standby line at Tower of Terror and avoiding the standby line at Rock 'n Roller Coaster.  

What if you're riding alone?  Well, the single rider line at Rock 'n Roller Coaster can come into play now.  Again, if the park has just opened you can opt to simply go for the standby line but during the rest of the day you'll need to evaluate the lines.  If the standby line is less than 20 minutes long, the benefit of the single rider line isn't that great, in my opinion, and you're better off in the normal line.  But since the standby line during the day can get rather long, your best bet is to again ride Rock 'n Roller Coaster via the single rider line first and then wait on Tower of Terror. 

As with any standby line at Walt Disney World, you need to be prepared to call an audible if you see something out of the ordinary.  Knowing that the wait times that are posted are reactionary and proactive (meaning the wait times are what a guest that has already gone through the line experienced and really has no meaning as to what the wait is right <i>now</i> since a huge tour group could have come right in between that guest and you), if you see a 20 minute wait posted but the line extends out the entrance to the queue, it's a safe bet the wait is going to be longer than 20 minutes. These are what the insurance industry calls "acts of God", meaning something totally unforeseen has occurred such as a breakdown or some other incident that has totally stopped the attraction in it's tracks.  In these cases, my advice is avoid the attraction and try again later.  The waits can get really backed up during these times and most of the time the attraction will "recover" eventually and return wait times more close to what they ought to be.

The flip side of the "act of God" is when say a huge tour group goes through the ride or perhaps a guest causes a temporary stoppage.  Regardless, you'll see a really long wait time posted with a short line in view.  At Rock 'n Roller Coaster, you can see the length of the line more easily than on Tower of Terror but if the line looks to be a lot shorter than what is posted (remember, the wait times are reactionary and are based on what has already happened, not what will happen) then you could roll the dice and hope to ride without a long wait.  When wait times are posted and are very long, many guests skip the attraction and you could end up with a much shorter wait since the wait times have scared many others off.  It's a gamble, but veterans of Hollywood Studios ought to be able to anticipate this.

Here's the bottom line.  When in doubt, opt to FASTPASS Rock 'n Roller Coaster and then subsequently wait on line at Tower of Terror rather than the other way around.  There are bound to be exceptions to this based on a variety of unforeseen scenarios, but they are just that..unforeseen and when planning your trip to Disney World, you have to plan for only what you can reasonably expect.  By following this advice, you can be more efficient with your time and that can leave you with more time to, well, ride again!

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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 12, 2009 by