Disney is OBSESSED with details.
They’ll go the extra mile to add in a secret or two when it comes to constructing a park, theming a new attraction, or creating a new experience. And, a lot of it is so secretive that the average park-goer will completely miss it. From nods to history to secret levels in rides and loads of other cool things only Disney can do — we’re letting you in on all the secrets that Disney packed into Hollywood Studios to make the park extra special for new and long-time visitors.
You’re barely even in the park when Disney starts throwing hidden details at you! Right after you scan your park ticket, you’ll spot a retro gas station to your right. Unless you’re looking to rent a stroller (which can be done at this location), you might buzz right by without even a second glance. BUT, this is the home to our first Hollywood Studios secret.
If you look closely, one of the gas pumps displays 05-01-1989. That’s the date that Hollywood Studios opened! And, real Disney history buffs will know that the park actually opened under another name — MGM Studios.
As you make your way down Hollywood Boulevard, you’re welcomed by one of the park’s landmarks –the Chinese Theater. And, this theater is a lot cooler than you might think. Yes, it is the home to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but that’s not what we’re talking about! The theater is actually an exact replica of the Grauman Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, California.
And when we say exact, we mean it! If you were to look at photos of the two next to each other, you might not guess which one is in Disney World if it weren’t for the ride logo. Disney Imagineers used the same blueprints that the original theater was constructed with back in 1927. And, they even added footprints and handprints from all the stars who have graced the Chinese Theatre at Hollywood Studios with their presence!
So, why did Disney choose this to be the symbol of Hollywood Studios? Well, many notable Hollywood stars have been to the original theater (and placed their signature, handprints, and footprints in the concrete) and it was the location where Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope premiered in 1977 (along with MANY other movie premieres still to this day!). It seems fitting that the park themed after all the glitz and glam of Hollywood have a noteworthy theater at the center.
Indiana Jones Stunt Show
This secret is one that will make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, but you’re actually unlocking a hidden secret at Hollywood Studios! To find this one, you’ll want to head over to Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, but don’t go all the way in!
Near the entrance to the theater, you’ll spot a well that is dug into the ground with a pulley system. Next to it, a sign says “Warning! Do
Not Pull Rope.” It’s 100% sending mixed messages and basically begging you to pull it — so pull it!
Put on your listening ears when you pull the rope because you just might hear something coming from that well! Funny enough, this same gag exists on the West Coast in Disneyland at Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye! So, yes, this is a rule you SHOULD break at Disney World (and Disneyland!).
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Speaking of listening, you’ve REALLY got to pay attention to catch the next Hollywood Studios secret. There are a ton of little hidden details on Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, but this one is so intricate that we kind of want to give it a standing ovation.
Every ride vehicle has a different Aerosmith song playing on you high speed journey, but if you happen to hear “Love in an Elevator” blast over the speakers, listen closely! The lyrics to the song are changed to “Love on a roller coaster” — how fitting! Aerosmith actually rerecorded this version of their song just for the ride!
If you’re hunting for more hidden secrets on your super-stretch limo tour, listen for the names being called over the P.A. (they’re the Imagineers that worked on the ride) and take a peek at the license plates on the ride vehicles!
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Pull out a notebook for this one, because this secret is one that you have to unlock! Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the home to the Millennium Falcon and, while Han Solo is away, the kids will play. You and a crew of five others can team up and test your pilot skills to help Hondo Ohnaka collect coaxium canisters from around the galaxy.
As much as we love hearing Hono Ohnaka dis us for hitting obstacles, there’s a way to unlock an even better co-pilot — Chewbacca!
No kind of luck is going to bring Chewie into the cockpit — you have to follow some pretty exact steps! Here’s how it’s done. Both pilots need to move their controls to the far left or right and far up and down BEFORE pushing the activation button. And, the rest of the crew needs to hit one of the white buttons on their controls before hitting the orange activation button.
Do all this before the Cast Member secures the cabin and clears you for take-off and you’ll be taking a flight with Chewie himself! Be warned though, Chewie speaks Shyriiwook, which sounds a whole lot like yelling to us English speakers. 😉 May the force be with you.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Before Disney even opened Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Walt Disney World, they revealed that we should expect a subplot and secret Easter eggs hidden within the ride. And, wow did they deliver! But one of the coolest secrets in the ride isn’t something that you can see, it’s something that you hear!
A few of the sound effects incorporated into the ride were developed using the original equipment from the 1930s. And, one of those is the same tri-tone whistle used in Mickey’s Mouse’s debut cartoon back in 1928!
You’ll hear the OG locomotive whistle whenever Goofy sounds the Runamuck Railway. Another fun audio factoid? Minnie was voiced by Russi Taylor (her final role voicing Minnie over a long career). Her real-life husband, Wayne Allwine, was the voice of Mickey Mouse for over 30 years!
Now that we can travel to Batuu, Star Tours hasn’t gotten nearly as much love as it once did. But, if you’re a Star Wars stan, this is still a must-do ride and PACKED with some top-secret details that you can decode.
As you’re waiting in the queue, you’ll see R2-D2 and C-3PO getting ready for flight. They’re a fun bunch to watch, but you’ll want to direct your attention to P.A. system. You’ll hear them paging for a passenger named “Egroeg Sacul.” Spell that backward and you get George Lucas!
You’ll also hear a boarding call announcement that mentions a landspeeder THX 1138 and a Flight 1138. THX 1138 was actually the first movie that George Lucas directed! Both of these details are so cool that it kind of makes us sad when the ride is a walk-on and we don’t get time to appreciate all the fun things hidden in this queue. Keep an eye and ear out next time you ride — there are LOTS more easter eggs here!
Tower of Terror
The Hollywood Tower Hotel isn’t only a landmark on Sunshine Boulevard, it can actually also been seen from EPCOT. Yep, the parks are THAT close together!
At first glance, you likely won’t notice anything unusual when you’re looking across the World Showcase Lagoon at the Morocco Pavilion (Norway is a great spot to catch this). Pay close attention and you’ll see that Tower of Terror is actually in the background. Disney knew that you’d be able to see the building from EPCOT, so they designed it to blend right in with Morocco!
And, you’ll score some major points for knowing this secret about Tower of Terror. Disney often disguises a 0 minute wait time as “unlucky” 13 minutes on the stand-by entrance sign!
So whenever you see that cursed number, you can bet that the ride is likely a walk-on.
Back when Disney was hosting character meet-and-greets, there was a SUPER secret opportunity to meet some of the rarest Disney characters at Disney World! So secret, it wasn’t even published on any Disney time guides. Character Palooza allowed guests to meet characters-in-training from the finale of Hollywood Studio’s nighttime show, Fantasmic.
If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ll know that some highly sought after, hard to meet characters could be spotted on the finale riverboat and those are the characters that showed up to the party! Character Palooza only lasted a few minutes at various secret locations but it could mean meeting upwards of 10 characters or so at once! It wasn’t really something you could plan for, but if you caught it you’d be rewarded with LOADS of cool character interactions. Hopefully, this will return to Hollywood Studios once we can meet characters again because it really kept us on our toes!
If you find yourself in Holllywood Studios craving something cold, creamy, and delicious, you might end up in front of the big, green dinosaur that lives in the pond referred to as Echo Lake. You may wonder, why did Disney put this ginormous Brontosaurus in the middle of the park and then slap an ice-cream shop inside? Well, this gentle giant isn’t any average dinosaur — meet Gertie.
Gertie was the creation of New York Times animator, Windsor McCay. McCay is widely considered the father of animation and his animation Gertie The Dinosaur was one of the first to be brought to life on the screen back in 1914.
McCay’s work on the cartoon paved the way for Walt Disney and his animation studio and would have served as some sort of inspiration. Oh, and why ice cream? The tagline for Gertie The Dinosaur was “Gertie — She’s a Scream” and Disney Imagineers thought it only appropriate to bring the “prehistoric” cartoon to life screaming for ice cream.
Toy Story Land
You didn’t think Disney would construct an entirely new land without some secret details, did you? Over in Toy Story Land, you become a toy in Andy’s backyard and pretend that the only worry is whether your human is coming home to play with you. And, one of the hidden details that’s in every Pixar movie is actually hidden in the land! You’re going to have to look REAL hard for this one.
Outside of Woody’s Lunch Box, there are some dominoes and blocks in a small grassy strip. Take a look at those dominoes and you’ll spot the numbers 1, 1, and 3. Then, glance up at the building blocks and you’ll see the letter A. So, what is this secret code that you have to hack? What could A113 mean?!
A1-13 is actually the room at Cal Arts that many of the original Pixar animators studied and perfected their craft! But don’t go thinking Pixar came up with this one — this actually is much more far-reaching! While the Disney and Pixar references are possibly the most well-known, MANY students who passed through that famed room went on to sneak the reference into films, like The Truman Show or even one of the Mission: Impossible films, TV shows, like The Simpsons or WandaVision, and even video games! So, it’s a nod to the room where it all started to happen!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Over on the planet of Batuu in Hollywood Studios, there are SO MANY Star Wars Easter eggs. So, we’re going to let you in on a few of the secrets of the galaxy. Batuu Marketplace is the home to a lot of creatures, and you’ll even spot some crawling through the pipes. If you take a sip from the water fountain at the entrance to the marketplace, you’ll notice that there is a slimy, one-eyed creature peeping back at you. This is a Dianoga (or Trash Compactor Monster, if you’ve seen Star Wars: A New Hope!) and there’s even a note in Aurebesh below him warning you not to drink from there!
A Cast Member is sure to be able to explain how normal of an occurrence that is on Batuu and they’ll even give you some details about their life on the planet. Yes, they are TRULY inhabitants of Batuu! Don’t expect them to break character!
Each Cast Member has a detailed backstory that they’ve come up with and they are happy to share their thoughts on the First Order or help out the Resistance if needed.
There you have it, we’ve spilled the beans on the secrets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Now you can master your next visit to the park and point out all the little secrets like the Disney expert you are!
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
What is your favorite hidden detail at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!