If there’s one park that seems to be getting a lot of attention in a reopened Disney World, it’s Hollywood Studios. Not only is this park home to the still-new and very high demand Rise of the Resistance attraction in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but it also remains the location of Disney’s newest attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
With such big draws, a reopened Hollywood Studios has looked somewhat different from the other parks. The closures have meant some VERY GOOD things for this park and some not-so-good things. So, let’s take a look at why the closure was the best AND worst thing for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Why It Was The Best
First, let’s look at the VERY big pro (at least in our books!) that came from the closure of the Disney parks.
Hollywood Studios has long left something to be desired when it comes to the variety and quality of food. We’d much sooner snag quick-service in Animal Kingdom or EPCOT! Sure, it’s got some gems like the Ronto Wrap from Ronto Roasters. But spots like ABC Commissary and Backlot Express are more known for serving up underwhelming theme park basics.
Now, though, the reopenings of a few Hollywood Studios locations — including ABC Commissary — have brought with them some SERIOUS menu revamps that are making us fall for Hollywood Studios dining in a whole new way. The closure helped the food in this park to redeem itself!
As we mentioned, ABC Commissary did see a major menu revamp prior to reopening and we were SO pleased when we tried out the new options. The new taco and rice bowl options took this spot from drab to fab. We’re calling it one of the biggest comebacks of the closure!
And that’s not the only Hollywood Studios restaurant that saw some improvements. Prior to the reopening of Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine, the spot received a big update to the menu. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the food was MILES above what we had at our last pre-closure visit.
See what we mean? What a comeback! Food is (obvi) a major piece of a Disney day for us so it turns out the closure was the BEST thing to happen to Hollywood Studios when you’re thinking about dining.
We’ve touted Character Cavalcades as one of our FAVORITE post-closure changes time and time again, and we’re gonna do it right now too. A BIG plus that came from the closure was the addition of the Character Motorcades in Hollywood Studios!
Hollywood Studios definitely has SOME opportunities to see characters — you can meet Mickey and Minnie, Disney Junior stars, Toy Story toys, and Star Wars characters; there are some surprise greetings; lots of characters cruise by during Fantasmic! — but the pickings can be slim compared to the other Disney parks.
Now, characters cruise by often in their own custom cars and we are LOVING IT. You can wave at the Mickey and Friends Motorcade, the Disney Junior Stars Motorcade, and the Pixar Pals Motorcade. So many opportunities to spot your favorite characters!
Why It Was The Worst
But, with every pro there is a con — and in this case a solid LIST of them. Let’s look at why the closure was the WORST for Hollywood Studios.
First off, Hollywood Studios has definitely been the park with the most crowding. Not only is it on the smaller side but it also has more dead ends and bottleneck areas than any other park. Add in the fact that it’s got two of Disney’s highest-demand attractions right now and things can start to get packed.
Opening day in Hollywood Studios gave us a bit of a shock when the other parks felt so empty, and now there are weekend days where Hollywood Studios feels just like it did pre-closure (meaning: BUSY!). That can make social distancing a bit of an issue — especially earlier in the day.
With the concerns of health and safety during this time, that can make moments in Hollywood Studios downright unpleasant, so this has been a pretty significant negative when it comes to a reopened park — Hollywood Studios just isn’t built to accommodate social distancing as well as the other parks.
Theme Park Availability
What happens when you combine must-do attractions with limited theme park availability? You get a booked-up park pretty often! Disney’s Hollywood Studios books up faster than any other park in a reopened Disney World, so if you’re looking to snag a Disney Park Pass reservation, you need to do so well in advance.
We’ve seen Hollywood Studios book up very early for holidays including Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, and even New Years Day. This happens MONTHS in advance, and it’s not just the holidays either. Hollywood Studios books up most weekends and even many weekdays, even on weeks where you wouldn’t expect it.
This con can be summed up by saying that it is much, MUCH harder to get into Hollywood Studios than it was prior to the closure. Pre-closures, you could brave the crowds in Hollywood Studios if you wanted to but now, plan wrong and you flat out might not get IN! It takes some serious forethought and planning, so don’t get caught the day-of with no reservation.
Rise of the Resistance
And our final con is that, despite the lower capacity and changes to the Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue system, it is still SUPER difficult to get a spot on Rise of the Resistance! In fact, we polled our readers and 77% DIDN’T get a Boarding Group when they tried to snag one.
When the parks first reopened, there were three potential times to snag a Boarding Group — very different from the ONE before the closures. After a few weeks, Disney reduced it to only two times with guests getting their chance at the queue once at 10AM and once at 2PM.
Lately, Rise of the Resistance has gotten plexiglass barriers which might help to increase capacity on this attraction but it’s still tricky to get that Boarding Group when you want one. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with tips!
Plus, Rise of the Resistance switched up the way Boarding Groups work. Starting November 3rd, instead of getting a group at 10AM and 2PM, you have an opportunity to get a Boarding Group at 7AM no matter WHERE you are as long as you have park admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation that day. You’ll still need to be in the park if you want to try for the 2PM Boarding Group drop, but this change might make it a little less stressful to get your chance on the ride. First day of this new system and, believe it or not, we scored Group 1 from our home! Crazy!
Overall, there are a few more points in how the closures were the WORST for Hollywood Studios, but we do think those pros are pretty great too! What do you think? Do think the closure was a good or bad thing for Hollywood Studios? One thing is for certain: this ever-evolving park is definitely still a very big draw for guests and doing what it can to keep up!
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Have you been to Hollywood Studios since it reopened? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!