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PHOTOS: Welcome Back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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It’s been more than a week since all four of Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopened. Each one offers stringent safety and health practices, which have dramatically changed the guest experience. Fold in the reduced capacity, lack of park hopping, and reservations required to enter any park, and now you’ve got a whole new world at Walt Disney World.

A few members of our team visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios recently and we’d like to share some photos and experiences with you. Each park has their pros and cons. We’ve previously shared a bit of what it was like at Magic Kingdom during the first few days of being reopened. Now, let’s take a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

What a journey this park has been through. A massive, multi-year transformation with the addition of Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and other areas being revamped, culminating in the opening of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Just mere days after the transformation was finally complete, Walt Disney World closed their gates for four months.

With Disney’s Hollywood Studios opening later, at 10:00 a.m., it is easier to “rope drop” this park which can create lines of guests waiting outside the temperature screening and bag screening areas. When our team has visited we’ve noticed good compliance with mask and physical distancing protocols.

Line for Temperature Screening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Entrance
Line for Bag Screening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Entrance
Line for Temperature Screening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Entrance

Park opening has always been a very business time of day in any of the parks, and with Disney’s Hollywood Studios it does make for a few areas to be very busy first thing after opening. Toy Story Land is popular as is Galaxy’s Edge. We also noticed Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway being very busy first thing in the morning. The queue is managed well and moves at a good pace, but keep in mind you will be in an outside queue for quite a bit.

Outside Queue for Runaway Railway
NOT Busy at Runaway Railway Later in the Day

The challenge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a challenge that has plagued the park since its opening day: poor layout. The park was designed originally to be a living studio, Hollywood East as it were. This did not pan out and the layout is not ideal for a theme park. Some areas have wide open spaces and physical distancing is easy. Other areas, like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge have some areas that are smaller and can become bottlenecked.

Plenty of Space on Sunset Boulevard
Black Spire Outpost at Galaxy’s Edge

Many outside merchandise carts are closed to help with traffic flow in the walkways, and I am sure demand for merchandise is down right now. Empty rows are in effect at all attractions. Plexiglas is in use in parts of queues where distancing becomes a little tight such as queue switchbacks and waiting areas. Floor markings to help with physical distancing are found practically everywhere including at attractions, merchandise shops, food and beverage locations, and at certain spots in the park.

Preshow Distancing Markers at Runaway Railway
Empty Seats at Muppet Vision 3D
Empty Seats on Tower of Terror

Character experiences at all the parks have become physically distant appearances. To me this makes it feel like the characters “live” in the parks more so than they did before. Though, at Galaxy’s Edge it is disappointing to lose the walk around, mingle with the crowd interaction.

Kylo Ren Physical Distancing Appearance
Vi Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Physical Distancing Appearance

Our field research team has visited Disney Springs and all four parks, and they have some important tips.

  • Bring a couple of masks, as you will sweat. (And it is Florida in the summer, so you will be caught in the rain.)
  • Make sure you wash your hands any time you touch your mask, including putting it on and removing it. Keep this in mind if you chose to use the Relaxation Stations.
  • Drink water and hydrate.
  • Pay attention in queue lines and follow the ground markings.
  • Use the hand sanitizer provided and wash your hands when you can.
  • Have fun, take breaks, stay hydrated, and be diligent about your health and the safety of others.

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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando Native who loves sharing her hometown with others. She's worked in nearly all of Orlando's theme parks, on board Disney Cruise Line, and in hotel management. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife

4 thoughts on “PHOTOS: Welcome Back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Donald Bucolo

    Thanks again, Dani! I know Touring Plans is updating itineraries. What was the best time to do the Runaway Railway ride? I have been checking the app and it seems to always have a 45 minute+ wait. Stay safe and healthy!

    • I have not been to DHS personally since its reopening, but from what I’ve seen with the rest of the TouringPlans team is the last hour of the day is fantastic. Since there are no nighttime spectaculars to keep people in the park we’ve seen people leaving by the droves in that last hour. The challenge with Runaway Railway is that it can have a fair amount of downtime. When we went on opening day it shut down multiple times before we were able to finally get on. Looking forward to giving you all some more good tips before your trip, take care!

  • Any comments on how Millenium Falcon and Rise of the Resistance is going? If I were there could I figure a good chance of getting on those rides?

  • @Dan: both are the same as they were pre-covid.

    Getting on Rise of the Resistance requires joining the virtual queue at the stroke of 10am. Lots of guides have been written on how to do this, but it’s entirely possible to show up on time but fail to secure a spot in the virtual queue.

    Millennium Falcon, on the other hand, is a “normal ride” that you can visit any time. No special protocols or particularly high demand; its wait times are lower than Runaway Railway and Slinky Dog Dash.

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