What’s Different at Hollywood Studios during the Pandemic?
July 15th marked one of the greatest days in Disney history.
On that date, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened. With their return, all four theme parks at Walt Disney World are back in operation.
Obviously, some aspects of the park experience differ somewhat from recent years. Disney had to alter several features to protect guests from Coronavirus.
Here are the park changes you need to know at Hollywood Studios.
Those of you who drive to the park will notice an immediate difference. To maintain social distancing, the parking lots have changed the rules.
You cannot park next to another car now. Instead, you skip a space each time, giving guests on both sides ample room to get in and out of the vehicle safely.
Then, you must pass a temperature check before entering the park. As long as your temperature is lower than 100.4 degrees, you may go inside.
Should you register a higher temperature, a cast member will pull you off to the side.
You’ll sit in a waiting area for a few minutes. Then, you’ll have an opportunity to retake the test.
Star Wars Land
Once you’re inside the park, you should have one thing on your mind: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!
I say this because Disney has changed the process for securing a ride on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
The new procedure allows for two daily attempts at attaining a Boarding Group.
Initially, Disney had authorized three reservation windows, but the extra attempt caused social distancing woes.
So, you can try to schedule a Boarding Group at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.
Even though Disney has limited capacity to less than half of its usual amount, Demand for Rise of the Resistance remains high.
You should prepare to book a Boarding Group the moment the system opens at 10 a.m./2 p.m. Otherwise, you’re likely to get shut out.
Other Star Wars Land Changes
Of course, Disney has changed more at Star Wars Land than just its signature attraction.
Oga’s Cantina no longer accepts walk-ups. You must have a reservation to enter this bar and hang out with your buddy, DJ R3X.
At Savi’s Workshop, Savi is MIA. The actors’ union at Walt Disney World has yet to return, causing the parks to eliminate some of their performances.
The person who portrays Savi falls under this umbrella. And that’s not the only change.
The make-your-own-lightsaber premise comes with several high-touch items, which are no-nos during the pandemic.
So, guests get their choice of Legacy Lightsabers for the time being.
Basically, you can pick one of the lightsabers that are already on sale at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities.
Interestingly, some of the character experiences are still available despite the actors’ union labor dispute.
You’ll catch a glimpse of Storm Troopers during your visit…and maybe even Vi Moradi or Rey.
Characters like Chewbacca and Kylo Ren stand on stages and entertain guests from a distance.
The presentations are less off the cuff than the previous personal interactions. However, they’re still incredibly entertaining.
The other change you should know is that Galaxy’s Edge features a Relaxation Station. You’ll find it just inside the themed land.
Here, you may remove your mask and cool off a bit.
A Walt Disney World Ride Change
Three Walt Disney World attractions feature Single Rider lines. Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and Test Track at EPCOT comprise two of them.
The third is at Hollywood Studios. It’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
You may think that you can skip waiting in the standby line for this roller coaster to maximize your time.
Ordinarily, that idea is correct. Alas, due to social distancing considerations, Disney cannot operate any Single Rider lines.
So, you must wait it out like everyone else. I didn’t mention this in the Animal Kingdom or EPCOT write-ups, but the same is true there.
For now, Single Rider lines don’t exist at Walt Disney World. Plan accordingly.
Other Park Changes
Much of what’s different at Hollywood Studios falls into categories we’ve previously discussed.
You’ll notice plenty of social distancing signs and floor markers. Audio recordings will similarly remind guests to follow the rules.
Hand sanitizer stations are seemingly everywhere, and the Incredi-Crew roams the parks to enforce the policies.
However, some of what’s changed will warm your heart. The Cavalcades at Hollywood Studios are possibly the best at Walt Disney World.
Some of your favorite Disney characters will ride around in themed vehicles.
For example, Edna Mode from The Incredibles gets her own set of wheels, and it’s fantastic.
The best one I’ve noticed is from the Disney Juniors parade. Vampirina sits in the back of a convertible…but you may not even see her.
You might be too busy checking out her sweet ride. Disney has painted spider webs across the car, including the wheels.
When the car moves, the webs spin. It’s an extremely clever detail.
To me, the boats at Animal Kingdom provide the only real competition for best Disney Cavalcades right now.
Other Attraction Changes
Of course, Hollywood Studios presents several shows based on Disney animated movies. Some of them remain closed.
Others are open, albeit conditionally. For instance, Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy has blocked off many of its rows to maintain social distancing.
Other attractions like Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage cannot run due to the previously mentioned union tiff.
This same building currently hosts something different. It’s The Disney Society Orchestra and Friends show.
This presentation feels like one you’d find in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Think of it as a jazz orchestra playing classic Disney music.
Line queues that previously featured interactive elements have also changed. Disney has disabled high-touch areas for rides like Alien Swirling Saucers.
Finally, some rides like Star Tours – The Adventures Continue have added plexiglass dividers to protect guests from the risk of infection.
Overall, the pandemic has impacted Hollywood Studios rides the least. However, it’s hurt the show-based attractions the most.
So, this park is kind of a wash overall. You’ll notice the good and the bad when you’re here.
I suspect that your overall satisfaction with the visit will depend on whether you snag a Boarding Group reservation.
However, what you’ll appreciate the most are the reduced wait-times for attractions.
Virtually every attraction requires less than 30 minutes of waiting in line.
The only exceptions are Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which is still brand new, and Slinky Dog Dash, which has hovered around 35 minutes lately.
You’ll never have more fun at Hollywood Studios than if you visit right now. You won’t see lines this short again in your life.