Our Ideal 1-Day Itinerary for Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Land Strategy
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage
While this show isn’t necessarily my personal favorite, it is one that guests sincerely love. In my opinion it is better that the feature length Broadway play, due in part to it’s more concise representation of the story, but your opinion may vary. Either way, I’ve seen the Broadway iteration and this theme park iteration of a similar concept is far more impressive that I tend to give it credit for. If you enjoy the movie, you’ll love the show! If this one is on your list, as it likely should be, I recommend the afternoon showings. Arrive early for the performance to avoid sitting in the bleachers in the very back of the theater. If you’re late or arrive at the last minute, overflow seating is incredibly hot in the afternoon sun and is not covered as well as the rest of the theater.
Years ago, my next must-do pick would have been a stop by the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. At one point, this was one of my favorite shows in all of the Disney parks. Today, it has remained so unchanged for so incredibly long that I can’t say it holds quite the spot it once did for me in this park. At the same time, it is a really neat experience for first time guests that can’t necessarily quote the entire scripted performance. It’s a great look at what it takes to film a scene in a movie while taking a few creative liberties along the way to make it comical and entertaining. If you choose to view this show, I recommend doing so in the afternoon before or after Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage. Check the time guide for that particular day in the parks to choose which showing works best for your day.
Truthfully, these are the main things I would put on an itinerary for the park as it sits right now. Dining is a whole different topic so we’ll dive right into that. Dining at Hollywood Studios isn’t quite as expansive as many guests anticipate it to be. Personally, I see it as a good place to catch a counter service meal but the options are pretty limited when you get away from burgers and fries. One option is PizzeRizzo, and others are the array of different stands in the “marketplace” area of sunset boulevard. The food offerings vary but if I had to pick one dining experience to add to a day in this park, it would be a table service offering outside of the park (only a short distance away) over at the Beach Club. The ride to the Beach Club via boat takes around 15 minutes and the views are spectacular. You can also walk over but transpiration is provided if you choose to use it.
If you’re looking for table service, the Beach Club’s Cape May Cafe is our top pick. The seafood is unlimited, the macaroni and cheese is incredible, and the atmosphere is far better that nearly anything you’ll find in Hollywood Studios. Skip Hollywood and Vine and head here instead if you are looking for a quality buffet!
Nighttime at Hollywood Studios has become the highlight of the park in my opinion. The shows will have wrapped up for the night, but the attractions continue to run until the park closes for the day. However, this is the ideal park to take some time to simply enjoy being there and to explore without having to deal with lines or overly heavy crowds. It’s a pleasant place to hang out for the night and the atmosphere, complete with the neon glow of Sunset Boulevard, will exceed your expectations.
As far as nighttime fireworks shows are concerned, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is a great show. It is rather lacking in the department of large fireworks bursts but the scenes it helps portray from the film, not only through the projections but also in the 4 dimensional space around you, is pretty great to experience in person. Don’t expect a Happily Ever After-esque performance but it is an interesting show nonetheless. If this is one day of a short trip, I would likely recommend park-hopping over to Magic Kingdom to see Happily Ever After a second time, but it’s going to depend largely on your affinity for the Star Wars franchise.
The other main nighttime show is Fantasmic. Fantasmic is unique in that it often fills to capacity. The show is different and largely a performance rather that a strict fireworks show and it has become a guest favorite. Go early (up to an hour early) to grab a seat or risk missing it entirely once the theater fills.
In my opinion nighttime entertainment could be better in this park and if your time is limited you may be better off spending the night at Epcot or Magic Kingdom. Toy Story Land is show stopping at night and could sway a necessary visit to this park at night, but it will largely depend on your length of stay and desired outcomes of your trip.
As always, use our itineraries as a guide but don’t follow them to a science. Alter the plan to make it work for you. Don’t over-plan your day and be sure to stop and smell the roses along the way. Sometimes the simplest of moments and the simplest of experiences can make all the difference when you least expect them to occur. As a final parting note for today, if you’ve yet to take the time to enjoy the random performances of the Citizens of Hollywood, add that to your afternoon and you wont regret it! Enjoy the parks, and we’ll talk with you again soon!
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