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Disney's Hollywood Studios for adults

The Grown-up’s Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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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.

The rides

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 at Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • 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.

The food

Hollywood Studios isn’t my top choice for dining (that’s Epcot), but there are a couple of restaurants that I quite like.

Dark Side chicken and waffles at the Backlot Express in Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • ’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.

The shows

A park themed to Hollywood is naturally going to have some shows. Here are my top picks.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • 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.

Photo spots

No Disney trip is complete without some goofy photos.

Disney's Hollywood Studios for adults

Little brother and sister having fun

  • 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.

Fantasmic

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 construction

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.

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Top tips, tricks, and advice for visiting Hollywood Studios as an adult. Disney World | Disney without kids | Disney World for grown-ups

Top tips, tricks, and advice for visiting Hollywood Studios as an adult. Disney World | Disney without kids | Disney World for grown-ups Top tips, tricks, and advice for visiting Hollywood Studios as an adult. Disney World | Disney without kids | Disney World for grown-ups Top tips, tricks, and advice for visiting Hollywood Studios as an adult. Disney World | Disney without kids | Disney World for grown-ups Top tips, tricks, and advice for visiting Hollywood Studios as an adult. Disney World | Disney without kids | Disney World for grown-ups

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18 Comments

  1. I love Voyage of the Little Mermaid! So glad to see it included. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing on #disfanchat. I completely agree about some of the awesome rides in Hollywoods Studios and can’t wait for the additions for Star Wars and Toy Story. I’m still working on that high score at Toy Story Mania!

  3. I love Hollywood Studios! Though I am a bit miffed as I heard rumours of them removing the Muppets hot air balloon! Shameful for a muppet fan like me 😉 I hope to head back in 2018 to see the new attractions. This year it is Disneyland California 🙂

  4. As a former Cast Member of Disneyland, I just LOVE seeing posts like this! I only visited Hollywood Studios once before and simply loved it! I think we went on Rockin Rollercoaster about 4 times and I would gladly do it again! The Sci-Fi Drive In was fun and delicious as well! My friends and I can’t wait to return once they’re finished with Star Wars land!

  5. Toy Story ride is my fav! I basically just want to do that all day when we go to HS!

  6. Living in Orlando, I had to read your article about Hollywood Studios. I will definitely try some of your recommendations. As you said this park is going through major renovations I can wait to try Toy Story Land.

  7. I have never been to Hollywood Studios yet but if I am going there one day I will definitely check out Fantasmic – thanks for sharing.

  8. Great post! I’m going to Disney World at the end of the year, I love Hollywood Studios even though it’s going through quite an awkward phase. Tower of Terror is one of my favourite rides in any theme park, the theming is just on point. I’ll have to check out your food recommendations, I’ve not been to any of them! xo

  9. I haven’t been back to Disney World in a long time, but I’m so excited for everything they’re doing. I am sad to see that the Honey I Shrunk the Kids park is gone. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to check some of these restaurants and shows out when I go.

  10. Star Tours will always be my favorite! Love the Tower of Terror too

  11. I think that last time I was in Disney I rode Rock N Roller Coaster probably 6 times in a day. And Fantasmic is my favorite show!

    We need a trip back to Disney ASAP!!
    Thanks for a great post!

  12. Hollywood studios looks so much fun! First off, I’m super impressed that you can manage to take silly photos on the tower of terror ride – I won’t even go on it! It looks far too horrific! The Toy Story mania ride sounds much more like me 😊 I went to Disneyland Paris recently and they’ve added a Ratatouille ride which is absolutely brilliant! I hope they roll it out to the other parks too.

  13. Shareen

    Awesome write up!!!! this is one of my favorite parks when visiting Orlando.

  14. Hollywood Studios doesn’t seem to get the same accolades as the bigger parks. Sounds like you had a great day despite the renovations. Will be interesting to see your update after the facelift.

  15. Yup I still call it MGM. And is that Darth Vader you your waffle??
    Cheers
    Diana

  16. I visited long time ago when it was still MGM Studios. From your post, I can see the park has changed quite a lot. I was in my early 20s when I visited and preferred the park over Magic Kingdom and Epcot. I know the parks are appealing more to adults nowadays, so, it will be interested to visit again (even those amusement parks do not attract me that much).

  17. Never been to Disney coming from South Africa but wow looks like there is so much to do and see and you can be any age and enjoy yourself. i think i would have to try every ride. thanks for sharing

  18. I am the biggest Disney nerd! Obsessed. Been going since I was tiny, and it NEVER gets old. Disneyland is still kind of my favorite just for nostalgic reasons (and Indiana Jones), but Disneyworld is amazing! I’m taking my boyfriend for the first time (he’s been to Land) this January. Good to know info about the Hollywood Studios (especially the renovations). I’m a Magic Kingdom girl, myself. Thanks for the fun post!

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