Ed. note (and in this case, I, Laurel, am the editor) – So your friendly TouringPlans bloggers were chatting on Slack, as we do. And despite our use of channels, sometimes our conversations….meander. Joe brought up the reduction in capacity from April 9 to May 7 of Toy Story Mania. Julia mentioned that that makes a park with a lack of things for kids to do even more problematic. Jamie said he hasn’t even been to the Studios in his last two trips (and mentioned that the first article he ever wrote for us was Is Disney’s Hollywood Studios Still Worth Your Time?) (His answer in 2015 was “yes.”) Guys, that was early three years ago and we’re still asking ourselves this question. More anecdotal evidence of a lack of things to do at the Studios. Your humble author was on crutches for more than a week and tried walking there because “if I have to bail, I won’t feel sad that I missed anything.” Wait, where was I? Anyway this stream of consciousness is pretty much how we talk amongst ourselves on Slack. Oh yeah, what to do instead of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Let’s start with the good news. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Toy Story Land is coming this summer. Construction is churning away on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The Studios still has the only roller coaster that goes upside down in all of Walt Disney World. But, wow, right now we’re telling ourselves and our friends that their time and money is better spent in other places. So here’s some ideas of things to do instead of going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. My one criteria was that the idea wouldn’t add too much to the cost of your trip, because Walt Disney World is already expensive and it’s just adding insult to injury to have to pay more because there’s not a lot to do at one the four major theme parks there. So I’m not recommending you go to Universal. But if you have the money, this is a great option.
Spend an extra day at Animal Kingdom
Free assuming you’ve already bought your tickets for your trip.
Pandora is a hit and totally worth your time, but just experiencing Flight of Passage is like planning a military maneuver. Why not take some extra time to enjoy all the great things that aren’t Avatar at Animal Kingdom park? Your kids can blow off some steam at the Boneyard. (Did we mention that the awesome Honey I Shrunk The Kids playground was an early casualty of expansion construction at Hollywood Studio?) You can experience the animal trails, where you may see baby tigers. Baby tigers are even better than cat videos. You and your kids can go through the park doing the very highly rated Wilderness Explorers game. You can get your thrill on at Expedition Everest. And if you miss the upscale dining of Hollywood Brown Derby, there’s Tiffin’s.
Go to a Disney water park
It’s $25 to add the water park option to your park hopper ticket or less than $60 for a water park ticket for admission before May 26 this year.
Blizzard Beach is open now and Typhoon Lagoon will reopen from its yearly maintenance period March 19. Disney water parks are delightful. And if you’re not a wimpy Floridian who walks around in a puffer when the temperature drops into the 50s, This is a great time of year to hit a water park. Parking is easy. Both parks are beautifully themed. Your kids will sleep really well after a day there. (You will too.) I can’t say enough good things about Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
It’s Flower & Garden time!
Free with Epcot admission, plus optional cost of beer (or other food and drink of choice). Runs February 28 to May 28, 2018.
Let’s face it, Epcot festivals are all about the food booths these days, but there are still some flowers and gardens at Flower & Garden. Explore the exhibits, attend a seminar, enjoy the fabulous topiaries and gardens. Let your kids run around the playground while you sip a cocktail (parenting FTW). Flower & Garden is worth spending extra time at Epcot.
Hang out at your resort (or someone else’s)
Free with your paid reservation
You’re paying a premium to stay on Disney property, even if you’re staying at a value resort. Why not enjoy everything your resort has to offer? Most resorts have free to low-cost activities from movies to crafts to tours of the property. Many of these are available to people not staying at the resorts. Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge are two of my favorites for places where I like to just hang out. Ask yourself, “Self, would I rather get in a line at Toy Story Mania that’s so long Disney has eliminated retail to make room for it? Or would I rather kick back at Geyser Point after a couple of long days in the parks just watching the boats on Bay Lake?”
Do Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire at Disney Springs
$30 per person
Now, for a family of four this is $120, no small amount. But Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire is awesome. You want a glimpse of how cool Galaxy’s Edge will be? This is it. Immersive. Fun. I’m not going to spoil it, but everyone we’ve talked to who’s already done it loves this experience.
What about you? If you or your friends are headed to Walt Disney World in the next few months, do you plan to go to the Studios? Would you tell your friends to do something else? What else would you do? Talk about it in the comments.
Do you think I buried the lede about Toy Story Mania and have questions about that? Don’t worry, we’re on it. We’ve confirmed with folks who have vacations that cover April 9 that FastPass+ is indeed not offered after that date. You can also see all FastPass+ availability on our site.