The SATURDAY SIX Spends a Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! We’ve been making our way around the Orlando theme parks to see what has changed since they reopened after an unprecedented closure. So far we’ve been to the Universal theme parks and Volcano Bay, along with Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Today we are going to look at the park which is the most difficult of all to get into this Summer, Disney’s Hollywood Studios….

# 6 – Arrival and First Impression

When going to any Disney park now, one thing you’re going to notice is that the “good old days” of an early morning rope drop are gone. For our visit this week, Disney’s Hollywood studios opened at 10AM, and they were actively turning cars away from the parking plaza at 8:30AM. The Cast Members were telling everyone to come back at 9:15AM and they could start letting people in. The good news is that with the new parking procedure, everything is open from the point at which you park your car to actually stepping into DHS. The bad news is that the first release of Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue times is promptly at 10AM, so you may give yourself several mini-heart attacks when making sure your entire party is inside the park for that.

Did you know there is a virus going around? (photo by Michael Carelli)

All guests get their temperature taken upon arrival. After that is bag check, which has gotten a million times better with the debut of newly installed artificial intelligence scanners.

Temperature check tent. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Face coverings are required to enter the park, and if you don’t have one Disney has a mask vending machine available.

In five years, face mask vending machines will either be something ubiquitous across WDW property, or something that we’ll be saying “you won’t believe this, but Disney once had a machine here that sold masks.” Let’s hope for the latter. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Right now the current procedure for Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue is that boarding groups are released at 10AM and at 2PM. For the most part, these groups are taken within seconds, so you have to be prepared. Even then, there’s a good chance you might not get a boarding group, which is why the Guest Relations area almost always has one of the largest lines in the entire park.

What’s also interesting is that after guests get (or more importantly, don’t get) a Virtual Queue spot at 2PM, much of the park completely clears out. This is where it becomes crazy that Disney doesn’t allow park hopping. At the very least allow people to hop on over to EPCOT to spend some money dining. Instead, Disney is cutting overall park hours, which will most surely turn Disney Springs into a madhouse at night. To me it seems like a very shortsighted decision that may make stockholders happy at the expense of Cast Members and the overall guest experience.

Some things never change. (photo by Michael Carelli)

There are health and safety reminders throughout the park.

Health and safety reminder. (photo by Michael Carelli)

You’ll also find hand sanitizer stations in many places that you go.

Hand sanitizer station. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Building your own lightsaber is much more of a formal procedure now.

Lightsaber. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Trashcans have had their lids propped open so that you don’t have to press on them when disposing your garbage.

A “table for two” at EPCOT. (photo by Michael Carelli)

2020 branded merchandise has recently been put on BOGO status, which is a pretty rare discount at Walt Disney World.

Who is going to want to remember this year? (photo by Michael Carelli)

The park’s newest attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, consistently gets the longest wait throughout the day.

Runaway Railway. (photo by Michael Carelli)

However, large sections of the parks now can have almost no one around, especially when you’re in an area with not much going on. With meet and greets discontinued and Launch Bay being used as a rest area, the Animation Courtyard can be a ghost town. For those who have been following the @TouringPlans account on Twitter, our own Len Testa has been out and about in the parks and giving tips based on his experiences. One recommendation that Len has is coming to this area in the morning as you prepare for the morning release of Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue spots.

Star Wars Launch Bay. (photo by @nitro230)

While Disney officially closed down some attractions last week, including Stitch’s Great Escape at Magic Kingdom and Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom, it has been rumored that Voyage of the Little Mermaid at DHS won’t be coming back either. Granted the show has been around forever, but I always thought it was an underrated gem with some neat effects. I loved the way they simulated that the audience was under water.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid. (photo by @Nitro230)

You’ll be seeing some shockingly low wait times if you head to the parks.

Star Tours. (photo by Michael Carelli)

This past week Disney had their earnings report, and I wish someone would have asked what the plexi-glass/plastic budget was for this year because it is everywhere.

Star Tours queue. (photo by Michael Carelli)

When it comes to seating, the rows are staggered, with every other row having guests.  Within the seated rows there are plastic dividers as well.

Star Tours. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Lower crowds also means you get more alone time for photos, such as in the exit area for the Mickey Mouse short film Vacation Fun.

Potatoland photo-op. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

If you were ever looking to sharpen your photography skills with not having many people in the background, now’s your chance.

Muppets Courtyard fountain. (photo by @Nitro230)
Muppet-Vision 3D. (photo by @nitro230)

It has been a long-running joke in the theme park universe to “move forward and fill all the available space,” but as soon as Scooter mentioned this in the Muppet-Vision pre-show, a Cast Member quickly reminded guests NOT to do that. Instead we were directed to stand in specific spots.

Not so fast Scooter. (photo by @nitro230)

There are several Relaxation Stations at DHS. This is the only place you can take off your face masks outside of eating or drinking in a specific spot.

Relaxation Station. (photo by @nitro230)

One thing Disney has gone ALL IN on is mobile ordering. They are trying to make sure every single guest uses mobile ordering, to the point where Cast Members will teach you how to download the app if you don’t have it on your phone. Here’s the thing though, if you mobile order, you have to wait outside until the app says your order is ready to pick up. From our experience, each of the quick service locations does have a place inside where you can place your order and pay with cash, but – also from our experience – the Cast Members will do everything they can to dissuade you from doing that.

Mobile ordering at Backlot Express. (photo by @Nitro230)

Like Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical at Animal Kingdom, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular has not had shows since the reopening of the park.

Indiana Jones. (photo by Michael Carelli)

# 5 – Character Cavalcades

We mentioned that meet and greets have been at least temporarily stopped, but the parks have found a fun way around this. At Animal Kingdom we saw that characters were on floating barges. At DHS, there are small motorcar parades in which characters pass by guests. There are three different “cavalcades” to experience. One features Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale. Another features characters from Disney Junior shows. The third has Toy Story characters.

Chip waving hi to the camera. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Minnie Mouse. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Pluto. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
The Big Cheese himself. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Fancy Nancy. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Doc McStuffins. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Vampirina. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Vampirina. (photo by Michael Carelli)

# 4 – Disney Junior Play & Dance!

Now, the reason shows like the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular aren’t taking place right now is because of a disagreement between Disney and an equity actors union. An equity actor is generally a Cast Member who has a speaking or performance role in front of guests. Recently, DHS has restarted two shows in the park with some changes in them to get around this stalemate with the equity actors. The first is Disney Junior Play & Dance! and here we have some Disney Junior characters and a DJ playing music from Disney Junior shows. The characters include Mickey Mouse (in his Roadster Racers outfit), Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, and Timon (from The Lion Guard).

Disney Junior Play & Dance! (photo by Michael Carelli)
Disney Junior Play & Dance! (photo by Michael Carelli)
Doc McStuffins interacts with the DJ. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Mickey Mouse. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Timon. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Mickey-themed disco balls. (photo by Michael Carelli)

The other tweaked show? Well, we will get to that right after we check out one of our favorite ride experiences in all of Walt Disney World.

# 3 – Tower of Terror: Still Great

For us, no trip to DHS is complete with a ride on Tower of Terror. Everything about this attraction is E-Ticket, including the iconic facade.

Tower of Terror. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Tower of Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

This photo from the Tower of Terror lobby may be a sneak peak of our upcoming service at the US Post Office if our government gets its way.

Tower of Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The creepy atmosphere throughout the Tower of Terror queue is perfect.

Tower of Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The boiler room area takes it up a notch.

Tower of Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

In normal conditions, this is the point in an attraction when you have to make an educated guess on which way will be the fastest. If you’re like me, you always choose the wrong one. In our “new normal,” most of the choice is made for you because the attractions are only using one side.

Tower of  Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Tower of Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Tower of Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Tower of Terror. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Near the Tower of Terror is the Theater of the Stars, which held performances of Beauty & the Beast – Live on Stage. Currently this theater is home to The Disney Society Orchestra and Friends. Again, this is because of the dispute between Disney and an actors’ equity union. The new show features a six-piece band playing music from various Disney movies and TV shows. At the end of the show, we do get to see some a brief appearance by some the characters we are used to from the Beauty & the Beast show, including; Belle, Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Chip, and Mrs. Potts.

Unfortunately, rain stopped shows for the rest of the day during our trip. (photo by Michael Carelli)

# 2 – Toy Story Land

Time for a quick stop into Toy Story Land to see what’s going on.

Howdy partner! (photo by JJ Abrams Hunter Underwood)

Signage and social distance markings are pretty much throughout DHS.

Toy Story Land. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Plenty of dividers have been installed as well.

Slinky Dog queue. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Nothing like a good ride on Slinky Dog, which is MUCH easier now with the lower crowds. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Last year we wrote an article on our favorite Easter Eggs in Toy Story Land, one of which includes the detail on this UPC symbol you’ll see while on Slinky Dog Dash.

(photo by Hunter Underwood)
Wheezy. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Gotta love waits like this for Toy Story Mania!

Toy Story Mania! (photo by Michael Carelli)

This is about the wait that Alien Swirling Saucers is worth.

Alien Swirling Saucers. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Update on where the the Woody’s Roundup BBQ restaurant will be. As you can see, construction wasn’t fast tracked on this. The Woody’s Lunchbox quick service has been shut down, and instead is being used as a rest area.

Woody’s Roundup BBQ. (photo by @Nitro230)

 

# 1 – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

We started off our journey by talking about how DHS is the hardest of all the parks to get into right now. That’s partly because Disney is throttling capacity for Annual Passholders, but also because the park has three of WDW’s newest attractions (Runaway Railway, Vacation Time short film, and Rise of the Resistance). Turns out, theme park guests like “new stuff.” Who knew?

Galaxy’s Edge is still fantastic to photograph.

SW:GE . (photo by Michael Carelli)

It’s generally not this empty, as people are always milling about, but nowhere near the crowds we saw before the park’s shut down. This may be the closest we at WDW get to experience the low crowds Disneyland saw after opening Galaxy’s Edge last year.

Straight ahead is Ronto Roasters. (photo by @Nitro230)

Galaxy’s Edge has a dedicated Relaxation Station.

Relaxation Station. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Safety signs in Batuu are in English, not the made-up Star Wars Aurebesh language.

Star Wars trash cans. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Stormtroopers are out watching your every move.

Stormtroopers. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

You’ll also see the “good guys” like Rey.

Possibly watching an eBay reseller walking about with bags of merchandise. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Chewie, Rey, and Vi. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The Millennium Falcon looks as gorgeous as ever.

The Falcon. (photo by Michael Carelli)

As for the attraction Smugglers Run, each “Falcon” is now controlled solely by one group, which can mean just one person if you’re talking about your average theme park blogger. Previously, your chances of getting “Engineer” were pretty high, but now every group of one or two is “Pilots” with the rest of the ship on auto control.

Smugglers Run. (photo by Michael Carelli)

If Smugglers Run happens to go down during the day, this is the blockade of Cast Members you will see outside the attraction making sure you don’t enter.

Falcon is 101. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Not long ago we had a special PLASTIC IN THE PARKS feature at Disney Springs, and here we were able to get a shot in Batuu.

“Chewie, we’re home.” (photo by Michael Carelli)

Time for RISE OF THE RESISTANCE. There are social distance markings out into the land itself.

Rise of the Resistance queue. (photo by @nitro230)
Close-up. (photo by @nitro230)

While inside you’ll also see the barriers up.

Rise of the Resistance. (photo by @nitro230)

This cool screen was a natural social distance barrier.

Star Wars. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

One of the biggest questions in all of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is why this is the only time we see Rey in an attraction.

Rise of the Resistance. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Hand sanitizer now possibly part of Star Wars “canon.”

Rise of the Resistance. (photo by @nitro230)

One of the best money shots in any theme park. A true “wow” moment.

Rise of the Resistance. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Rise of the Resistance. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Rise of the Resistance. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The ride has its fair share of issues, but when it’s working Rise of the Resistance is pound for pound THE best attraction in Florida.

Rise of the Resistance. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
AT-ATs. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Finn. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Kylo and Hux. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Oga’s Cantina, known for just cramming guests in before the shut down, now has tons of open space for those who go in. The thing about Oga’s – and the theme parks in general – is that we all wanted lower crowds and a more “VIP-like” experience, but not at this cost. The “heart” is gone. It’s still Oga’s, and now you don’t have to stand behind someone and hope they will leave so that you can order something, but the overall experience is just lacking.

Oga’s Cantina. (photo by (photo by Parkscope Nick)
DJ Rex. (photo by Parkscope Nick)
Fuzzy Tauntaun and Yub Nub. (photo by Parkscope Nick)

The Blue Milk stand has gone completely mobile order.

Blue Milk stand menu. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Mobile order sign. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Mobile order placed! (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Mobile order pick up. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Blue Milk and Green Milk acquired. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

How about another bonus Plastic the Parks shot?

This would explain why they are so angry all time. (photo by Michael Carelli)

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Spends a Day at DHS! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

DAVID & DEREK: The Do’s and Don’ts of COVID-19 Safety Protocols at the Theme Parks

6 Pieces of Disney Merchandise That Don’t Exist (but Totally Should)

SATURDAY SIX Presents: The Disney Signage Hall of Shame

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.

The appropriate place for ANY blue or green milk shot. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

7 thoughts on “The SATURDAY SIX Spends a Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • August 9, 2020 at 1:04 am
    Permalink

    So if you arrive at the ‘toll booth’ at 9:15am you are saying when you scan your ticket for DHS it will be open and you can enter before the 10am posted opening time? How much earlier is this?

    Reply
    • August 9, 2020 at 11:13 pm
      Permalink

      It all depends on how fast you can get through the actual parking process, temperature check, and security. Many have been able to park and be inside the park within 10-20 minutes. Others have got much closer to the 10AM official opening time. A few haven’t even been able to get in by 10 and because of that could not even attempt to get a Rise of the Resistance boarding group at 10AM.

      Reply
  • August 10, 2020 at 2:05 am
    Permalink

    Thanks for all the tips!
    What did you mean by this statement?
    “Even then, there’s a good chance you might not get a boarding group, which is why the Guest
    Relations area almost always has one of the largest lines in the entire park.”
    Is there some recourse available at Guest Relations for those who don’t get a boarding group?

    Reply
  • August 10, 2020 at 9:51 am
    Permalink

    @Michelle: If nobody in your party gets into a boarding group, then no, you have no recourse. This doesn’t stop people from going to guest relations to try and complain their way into the virtual queue, but it won’t work.

    Where Guest Relations *CAN* help is when you had a problem with the app and only 4 of the 6 members of your party got into the boarding group; they can manually add the other two. Alternately, if you and the person you’re with join the queue separately and get radically different boarding group numbers, guest relations can merge you into one group so that you can actually ride together. Stuff like that.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2020 at 11:07 am
    Permalink

    Ok got it, that is all good to know. Thanks for explaining.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2020 at 3:02 pm
    Permalink

    Can I get to DHS earlier by taking the bus from The Contemporary when we stay there? Or would I need to take an Uber from the Contemporary to get in before 10am?

    Reply
  • August 10, 2020 at 3:13 pm
    Permalink

    Or is Uber running right now?

    Reply

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