What’s Good and Bad at Hollywood Studios?
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has earned the admiration of theme park aficionados everywhere for its recent glow-up.
The park went from mostly ignored to overflowing in a period of maybe three years. I got whiplash from watching the whole story unfold.
Now that you’re interested in Hollywood Studios again, it’s time to talk about what works and what doesn’t.
What’s good and bad at Hollywood Studios? Read on to find out…
Good: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
The first theme park in the world, Disneyland, opened in 1955. Somehow, Walt Disney and his disciples chose not to build a Mickey Mouse ride, though.
In fact, the world went 65 years without such an attraction. Instead, we got character greetings and parades aplenty with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
The multi-decade wait eventually proved worthwhile, though. Once Disney finally debuted this attraction, everyone recognized it was a grand slam.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway transports riders inside a cartoon. In this place, their fate hangs in the balance while ridiculous shenanigans unfold.
Seriously, you’ll have a newfound respect for Donald Duck after spending five minutes in the cartoon world with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
No wonder he’s so cranky! They’re bad luck!
Seriously, this ride is a masterpiece. We should all treasure it and be grateful for its existence.
Bad: No More Great Movie Ride
Even as a happily married man, I have a few exes that I fondly recall for our good times together.
In that spirit, I’ve had trouble letting go since Hollywood Studios closed The Great Movie Ride.
I just don’t understand why Disney couldn’t build a new home for Runaway Railway rather than taking this one.
The Great Movie Ride embodied Hollywood Studios for generations of Disney fans.
Good: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
We all have that one “friend” who we know is insane. I’m talking about the person who has been predicting the end of days since they were 14. Revelations is coming at a date that only they know, but it’s soon.
This is the only kind of person still claiming that Galaxy’s Edge isn’t a massive success.
For whatever reason, misery trolls come out in force when anything Star Wars is involved, especially at Disney.
The idea of Star Wars AND Disney theme parks is just too much fun for some people. So, they want to ruin it for everyone else.
For this reason, some folks swore that Galaxy’s Edge would prove disastrous long before it opened. Even now, they stick to this belief in the face of all evidence to the contrary.
We recently witnessed the same thing with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which many people wanted to hate. Even after it sold out for four months, some folks still called it a bust.
I’ll never understand this sort of behavior. I’m not even a Star Wars fan – I’m the opposite – yet I have a terrific time here.
Galaxy’s Edge brings the fictional world of Batuu to life. The theming is brilliant and fully immersive, while the visuals are breathtaking.
This themed land represents the pinnacle of Imagineering.
Bad: The Crowds
Despite what those weird trolls say, everyone knows that Galaxy’s Edge is worth the price of admission on its own.
For this reason, attendance has swelled since this themed land’s debut. When you visit Hollywood Studios, six or seven rides may require waits of 60+ minutes.
So, you’ll accomplish less here than a few years ago. However, everything you do is much better.
Good: Hollywood Tower Hotel
Not many theme parks would possess the bravado to spend tens of millions of dollars on a decrepit hotel.
When you enter the Hollywood Tower Hotel, you’ll recognize that’s what Disney has done. Cobwebs adorn the walls while everything appears decrepit.
In truth, this hotel hearkens back to a previous debate between Walt Disney and his Imagineers. They had wanted to make the Haunted Mansion look similar.
Uncle Walt wouldn’t hear of a rundown exterior at his theme park. Now, the same holds true at Hollywood Studios, as this hotel looks exquisite from the outside.
You won’t realize you’ve entered the Twilight Zone until you walk into the building and notice all the warning signs.
Bad: The Restaurants
I may be hypocritical for saying this. After all, I’ve mentioned that Hollywood Studios hosts my favorite restaurant on the planet, Sci-Fi Dine In Theater.
Despite its presence, the harsh truth about Hollywood Studios is that it’s lacking from a foodie perspective.
Even diehard Disney fans would describe few restaurants here as above average.
Disney spoils us with its upper-tier cuisine. So, we are acutely aware of the places that don’t live up to those lofty standards.
Sadly, Hollywood Studios falls into this category. There’s 50s Prime Time Café, the Hollywood Brown Derby, Sci-Fi Dine-In, and Woody’s Lunch Box.
Everything else falls into the category of “You’re hungry and burning plenty of calories. So, you must eat.”
Good: Rides That Keep Score
In recent years, Disney has prioritized an emerging strategy. Imagineers gamify some attractions to enhance their repeat value.
You’ll discover about five of these places at Walt Disney World, with two of them at Hollywood Studios.
Each time you ride Toy Story Mania! or Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, you can increase your score and add to your bragging rights. In theory.
Bad: Your Wounded Pride
In reality, when you’re in a group of two more people, you’re a coin flip to win at best. On Millennium Falcon, your odds drop to 16.7 percent!
Unless you practice on these rides, you’re unlikely to outscore your friends and family members on both.
Now, I do because I’m awesome…but also because Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is at Magic Kingdom, not Hollywood Studios.
As I walk out of the Space Ranger Spin ride building, I try not to make eye contact with anyone. My scores don’t even cross the Mendoza Line.