Best Eight Hollywood Studios Rides
A few years ago, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was flying at half-mast. Theme park analysts sneer at some places by calling them half-day parks. In the middle of 2017, the former Disney-MGM Studios barely qualified as a quarter-day park.
Oh, how times have changed. With the introduction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, this park has become the hottest thing at Walt Disney World. And Orlando. And the entire theme park industry.
In the latest edition of Best Nine, let’s evaluate which rides you must do during a visit to Hollywood Studios. Actually, this one will just be a Best Eight, as the park only has eight rides until Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens in three months.
Alien Swirling Saucers
You will need to balance your time a bit to ride everything at Hollywood Studios right now. The Galaxy’s Edge attractions will require a serious time investment due to their crowds.
In fact, this park comes with a strong imbalance. Half of the attractions that I mention here will have short lines most of the time. The other half will take some effort to ride.
At Toy Story Land, you’ll have the easiest time boarding Alien Swirling Saucers. Its wait-times have shrunk by about 70 percent over the last 18 months. You’ll want to ride it, though.
This attraction brings the fun in a silly, somewhat violent way. Passengers slam into each other during the swirling parts, which causes kids to laugh uproariously. Kids at heart do it, too.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Disney deserves a great deal of credit for the launch of this attraction. From the very beginning, cast members have managed the lines so efficiently that the situation has backfired. Critics have loudly wondered where the crowds are.
In reality, Smugglers Run delivers such consistent throughput that it churns plenty of guests in a short time. For this reason, the wait-time generally falls in the 60-minute range, which is less than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That’s a somewhat older attraction, one not at Star Wars Land.
At this point a year ago, everyone assumed that Smugglers Run wait-times would average two hours or more. Take advantage of Disney’s efficiency by riding this one at least once. Depending on the Single Rider lines, you may get to ride it more than that.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
The lines at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster rarely make sense to me. Yes, this thrill ride will satisfy any rock star, but it’s often stuck with a wait-time of 60 minutes or more.
I would never stand in a line that long for this attraction. However, I’ve ridden this coaster dozens of times over the years. So, I’m somewhat jaded. Even allowing for that, I strongly suggest that you take advantage of the Single Rider here. The ride experience is identical, but you’ll spend only a fraction of the time in line.
Slinky Dog Dash
In a surprising turn of events, Slinky Dog Dash usually comes with longer lines than Smugglers Run. In fact, before Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened, only Avatar Flight of Passage forced guests to wait longer than Slinky Dog Dash.
You may expect the new Star Wars attraction to pull traffic away from Slinky Dog Dash. Instead, it’s a “rising tide lifts all boats” scenario. Everything at Hollywood Studios requires a longer wait at this time as guests flood the park in record numbers.
I firmly believe that Slinky Dog Dash is well worth its 80-minute wait-time average. However, unless you spend 12 hours or more at the park, you may have to pick between this and Rise of the Resistance. Since the Star Wars ride is about four times as long, ride it if you can.
Now that The Great Movie Ride has closed forever, Star Tours enjoys rare status. It’s the oldest operating ride at Hollywood Studios. In fact, it celebrated its 30th anniversary on December 15th, 2019.
The original version of Star Tours opened only six months after Hollywood Studios did. At the time, the park suffered from a scarcity of rides. So, the Star Wars-themed attraction quickly became an anchor attraction at the park.
While The Adventure Continues feels like it’s been around for a while now, it’s less than 10 years old, having opened in 2011. Since Disney continues to update it with stories for Star Wars films, it’s certainly an attraction that you should visit while you’re at the park.
It’s also the only current ride in the B tier of the FastPass system. Ergo, you shouldn’t have to wait in line any for this one.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
When I talk about the imbalance at Hollywood Studios, I’m referencing the fact that half the rides listed here have reasonable wait-times. Others have Single Rider lines that make them bearable.
And then there’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which has proven so unbelievably popular that Disney’s changing park hours because of it.
Yes, since the introduction of Rise of the Resistance, Hollywood Studios has frequently opened hours ahead of schedule to accommodate the unholy demand for the ride. Park officials have limited guests to a single ride per day.
Even VIP Tour participants weren’t guaranteed to get a ride during the early days. Folks, the lines have been crazy!
You’re naturally wondering whether this attraction is worth the effort. The answer is undoubtedly yes. It’s the best theme park ride in the world today and may hold that title for years to come.
Rise of the Resistance blurs the line between standing in line versus experience the attraction. You’ll spend 15 satisfying minutes engaged in a Star Wars story that you will never forget.
Importantly, you won’t wait long in a line at the attraction. Instead, Disney has set up a boarding pass system on My Disney Experience.
You’ll need to arrive before the park opens to assure that you get a boarding pass. Assuming that you do that, the system will stick you in a digital queue and then notify you when it’s your time to ride.
You’ll want to use this time to explore the rest of the park. You can enjoy all of the other attractions listed here while you wait. You’ll have two hours to return once your boarding pass window opens. And you’ll love every second of Rise of the Resistance.
Toy Story Mania!
This ride is somehow ten years older than the themed land that hosts it. Toy Story Mania! opened in 2008, while Toy Story Land wouldn’t arrive until 2018.
The insane popularity of this ride explains why Disney built the entire themed land. For a decade, crowds never diminished.
Eventually, Disney added a third line queue to improve throughput by 50 percent. Combined with the introduction of Slinky Dog Dash, the rides here have shortened a bit. You can ride in 45 minutes or less most of the time, which is night and day better than a few years ago.
My advice is to ride Toy Story Mania! as many times as you can. It’s addictive.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Star Tours may be the oldest ride, while Rise of the Resistance has become the hottest ride. Even so, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has claimed the title of the most recognizable ride at Hollywood Studios since its 1994 debut.
Based on the Rod Serling television series, this attraction has earned that recognition due to its outstanding quality. For many years, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror won awards as the best dark ride in the world. Even now, it generally finishes in the top five in the industry’s most respected awards, the Golden Tickets.
The theming of this attraction seems every bit as impressive now as it did 25+ years ago. From the moment you enter Rod Serling’s study and listen to his narration, you’re immersed in a spooky, mystical alternate reality. It’s a place where even an elevator ride doesn’t provide safe harbor.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror embodies everything spectacular about Imagineering. No visit to Hollywood Studios would ever seem complete without riding it. Period.