Hollywood Studios (raise your hand if you still call it MGM sometimes) is undergoing a pretty substantial overhaul at the moment. Large sections of the park have been closed in order to construct new Star Wars and Toy Story areas, and while that has left it looking a bit sparse at the moment, in a couple of years it may well be the most exciting spot at Disney World. Because of its two large thrill rides, it’s long been known as the “teenagers’ park”, and there’s lots to offer for grown-ups. Read on for all of my top tips about Hollywood Studios for adults.
Hollywood Studios doesn’t boast a lot of rides at the moment, but the ones it has rank as some of my favorites at Disney World.
- Tower of Terror: My favorite thing about thrill rides is that stomach flipping sensation you get when you drop. In light of that, it’s easy to see why I adore this ride. It’s more than a simple drop ride – you go up and down in a seemingly random pattern a bunch of times – and the theming is excellent. Disneyland’s Tower of Terror has been rethemed to Guardians of the Galaxy, so enjoy this classic ride here.
- Rock’n’Roller Coaster: This is the most intense ride at Disney World by a long shot in my book. It’s a launch coaster with inversions that doesn’t compare to anything on property. It can be a little rough in the back, but I like to ride back there for the better drops (see above). On top of all that, it has a very quotable preshow movie featuring Aerosmith (my siblings and I still yell, “To the Forum!” occasionally).
- Toy Story Mania: I didn’t really get this when it was first announced because there’s already a Toy Story-themed shooting ride at the Magic Kingdom, but it instantly became a must-do when I finally got to experience it. you ride through a track surrounded by 3D screens trying to get the highest score. My only complaint is that my arm gets tired from pulling the cord that controls the trigger after a while, but that’s not enough to deter me. Just make sure that you save some strength for the finale round where you can rack up lots of points in a hurry. I also highly recommend going with a loser-buys-ice-cream wager just to add some stakes to the game.
- Star Tours: I’ve always loved Star Wars, and by extension, this ride, so I was nervous when it was revamped a few years ago. It’s better than ever though and I love that the scenes you go through are never the same twice in a row. It’s also my mission to be the Rebel Spy someday, but that hasn’t happened yet. Even the queue is fun, as it’s styled like a futuristic spaceport with a departures/arrivals board and lots of nods to the classic movies. It is a motion simulator, so beware if you’re sensitive to rides like that.
Hollywood Studios isn’t my top choice for dining (that’s Epcot), but there are a couple of restaurants that I quite like.
- ’50s Prime Time Café: This throwback to the 1950s features servers that insist they’re family and lots of homestyle food. Interacting with the waitstaff is the best part because they won’t hesitate to call you out for not putting your napkin on your lap or having your elbows on the table. And don’t even think about leaving any vegetables on your plate.
- Sci-Fi Dine In: My favorite part about this restaurant is the fact that the tables are shaped like cars. As the name indicates, it’s styled after an old drive-in movie theater, so while you’re eating, you’re treated to the cheesiest of cheesy sci-fi movies.
- Backlot Express: This is one of my favorite quick service restaurants on property. It’s usually packed, but there is a lot of room for seating. It’s located right next to Star Tours, so it naturally has some tie-ins. I love the Dark Side chicken & waffles that features a Darth Vader waffle along with chicken tenders. Their pop fountain also offers the rare free refill in the parks, so take advantage of that as well.
A park themed to Hollywood is naturally going to have some shows. Here are my top picks.
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular: This show full of explosions and fight scenes takes you behind the scenes on an action movie. It loosely follows events from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the really interesting part is seeing how the stunts are done. You’ll get plenty of fight scenes with punches, falls, and fire. Get there early to volunteer as one of the townspeople (you have to be an adult) to watch the action from right on stage. If you stick around afterward, sometimes Indy’s stunt double will come take pictures with guests off to the side of the stage, so keep an eye out.
- Beauty and the Beast: This was one of my favorite movies growing up, so obviously I love the show. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s a great way to chill out for half an hour during the day. All of your favorite songs from the movie are performed on stage, so feel free to sing along.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid: This one runs continuously all day, but it has live performers. The laser intro is a touch dated (but still kind of cool), but the effects they achieve with puppetry and black lighting are incredible. Like the Beauty and the Beast show mentioned above, all of the best songs are part of the show, so you’ll get a chance to sing along. The front row can get a bit wet when the waterfall is active, so choose your seat accordingly.
No Disney trip is complete without some goofy photos.
- Near Star Tours you’ll find one of my favorite props at Disney World. There’s a replica speeder that you can sit on, and it even has a painted backdrop that looks like the forest. On busy days, you may have to wait for a turn to take a picture, but I’ve gone at slower times and been able to snap as many as I wanted.
- Tower of Terror has one of my favorite on-ride photos. I love doing silly poses like holding maps like I’m reading, using other items in my bag as props, and doing other silly things. Do a quick search for Tower of Terror ride photos and you’ll see some good ones. The camera is at the highest point of the drop tower. When the doors overlooking the park open all the way, you’ll want to be ready with your pose because that’s how you know it’s about to snap.
- Pixar Place has some great larger than life props to take photos with. My favorite is the giant cookie jar. I’m sure the upcoming Toy Story land that’s being added will have even more. After seeing the similar area at Disneyland Paris last year, I can only imagine that great things are in store.
Don’t forget to end your day with Fantasmic. It’s an awesome combination of stage show, water screens, and live performers that takes place in a giant theater near Tower of Terror. It features a battle between good and evil (as all Disney parks shows must), clips of your favorite animated characters, and Mickey shooting fireworks out of his finger (sorry for the spoiler). It’s a great way to end the night, and you’ll want to get there early during busy seasons because it does fill up.
The Hollywood Studios is currently undergoing major renovations that will add two seemingly incredible areas to the park (someone remind me to update this post when they open). Several attractions were closed to make way for the new areas (RIP Streets of America, Backlot Tour, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground). The closures have left it feeling a little sparse and made navigating the back area of the park frustrating – there are now dead ends where things used to connect – but in a couple of years it will all be worth it. Check out the plans for Toy Story (opening first) and Star Wars and you’ll be as excited as I am. Until then, use Hollywood studios as sort of an easy day park. Take your time and relax here because on most days, you’ll be able to get through everything you want to.
Did I miss anything? Is there any other vital information I missed about Hollywood Studios for adults? Let me know in the comments.
Read more about Disney World here:
- The Grown-Up’s Guide to Disney World
- The Grown-Up’s Guide to Epcot
- The Most Important FastPass+ at Every Disney World Park
- What to Pack for a Disney World Vacation
- How to Visit Disney Parks Solo
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