In our previous post, we took a look at Toy Story Land Early Morning Magic. Today, we are going to continue on with our day at Hollywood Studios and see what we can accomplish having already knocked out the Toy Story Land attractions prior to official park opening.
I wanted to make sure to beat the regular rope drop crowd to Sunset, so I exited Toy Story Land shortly before 8:40 and made my way over to Sunset Blvd.
Since the general rope drop crowd is held back on Hollywood Blvd (as seen above), we are able to get a head start on them. We are allowed as far as the Legends of Hollywood store on Sunset.
At right around 8:45 the cast members began leading the way towards Tower of Terror and Rock N’ Roller Coaster. Its fairly common for the rope drop to occur before the official park opening time, which was 9:00 in this case.
I was walking at a leisurely pace which allowed several of the more zealous rope droppers to catch up to and eventually pass me. There are far more folks headed to Toy Story Land first thing so its not a big deal if you are not among the very first to arrive at the Sunset Blvd attractions.
This is especially true since the group will split between the 2 headline attractions at the end of the road, with Rock N’ Roller coaster probably seeing a slightly larger percentage. If you are within the first few hundred or so people, you’ll be fine.
It usually makes more sense to ride Rock N’ Roller coaster first since it typically sees waits build a bit faster, and also consumes less time to experience. For spring / summer of 2019 however, Tower of Terror is operating at half capacity while a phased refurbishment takes place. This causes the waits to build much faster and remain significantly higher throughout the day. It also greatly reduces the number of fastpasses available.
Booking my fastpasses 30 days out, I was only able to get an evening return time for Tower of Terror. I was however, able to get a 9:20 am fastpass for Rn’RC so I am electing to head to ToT first, before using my fastpass over at G-Force records.
Enough folks had passed me during my slow walk down Sunset Blvd that the line was backed up to about 50 yards away from the building by the time I arrived.
This is no big deal however since its still before 9 am and there are no fastpass returns yet.
I am inside the building less than 2 minutes later.
Its nice arriving at the boiler room and not seeing a mob of people waiting.
I was on the very next elevator out.
I exited the gift shop around 9:15 and saw there was still only a 15 minute wait posted. If I had visited RnRC first, I probably would have likely been able to get over to ToT early enough to experience the ride with a minimal wait as well.
Literally 5 seconds after I snapped a photo of the 15 minute wait time, the sign updated to show a 25 minute wait.
Its time to use my fastpass for Rock N’ Roller coaster.
It’s hard to tell in the photo below, but the posted wait time is 35 minutes already. This is why if you don’t have any morning FPs, I would suggest heading here first.
I entered the fastpass queue at 9:19 and was in the pre-show room 4 minutes later. I was back outside at 9:36.
I had not yet had a chance to check out the newly opened Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy so I headed over to the Sunset Showcase theater. The entrance to this area is off to the right of the RnRC queue entrance.
There are only about 15 or so people waiting and we will easily make it into the next show. Each show is about 10 minutes long, plus however long it takes to load / unload the theater.
There are also a few stationary Cars characters you can take photos with in the courtyard area outside of the theater.
I will have a separate post reviewing the new attraction in detail, but to sum it up, I liked it for what it was. The Lightning Mcqueen Animatronic is seriously impressive and the show exceeded my expectations.
This area also allows you to capture some photos of the Hollywood Tower Hotel from some new perspectives.
By the time I finished up with the Racing Academy it was a little after 10:00. ToT is already up to a 105 minute wait! Unfortunately, its unlikely to get much better throughout the day due to the reduced capacity.
For us, its time to start heading over to the other side of the park.
As I mentioned in the Early Morning Magic post, I stopped by Backlot Express once again to grab a quick 2nd breakfast, because why not?
I arrive at Star Tours to see a 10 minute wait posted.
However, this does not seem the slightest bit accurate as the outdoor queue area is mostly full. The actual wait is probably more in the 30 – 40 minute range here. Lucky for us, we have a fastpass!
And I am standing at the load area 3 minutes later.
It’s not germane to this post, but I am glad they got ride of the mandatory visit to Jakku during the 1st half of the ride. For a while after The Force Awakens, this was locked in as the first planet you visit and it really cut down on the number of combinations possible for the ride.
As we make our way over to Grand Avenue, Goofy is meeting off to the left and he has quite a big line. You are probably looking at a half hour there. Off to the right you can see the future entrance to Galaxy’s Edge.
This area of Grand Avenue will basically serve as a large holding area for folks waiting to enter the land. I am assuming Disney will use some sort of virtual queue to at least try and keep this area somewhat organized.
Hopefully all of this will lead a renewed interest in improving the former Muppets Courtyard area. I’m not holding my breath for that but at least Pizza Rizzo is open again. It’s food is pretty terrible but it does have now nice theming touches inside.
What’s a visit to Hollywood Studios without a showing of Muppet-Vision 3D?
Any attraction with animatronic penguins is good by mean. But when you have an animatronic penguin orchestra it just kicks it up to a whole new level!
I seriously love this attraction, however both Waldo (the 3D creature) and Bean Bunny are very annoying in it.
Luckily, their redeemed by the show’s glorious 3 hour finale!
The Mickey and Minnie meet and greet is worth doing to snap a photo with Sorcerer Mickey alone, but Minnie’s costume is unique and fun as well. It’s posting a 35 minute wait mid-morning which is not great, but not terrible either. I could have used my 3rd fastpass here had I not been planning to return later in the evening to ride ToT again.
It probably would have made the most sense to do this before heading to Star Tours as the wait probably still would have been minimal at this point. I wasn’t planning on doing this today so it didn’t matter for me.
At this point, its a little before 11 am and here is what we have accomplished (including Early Morning Magic):
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Slinky Dog Dash (2x)
- Toy Story Mania (2x)
- Tower of Terror
- Rock N’ Roller Coaster (1st fastpass)
- Lightning Mcqueen’s Racing Academy
- Star Tours (2nd fastpass)
- Muppet-Vision 3D
Thanks to Early Morning Magic, I was able to experience most of the park within the first 2 hours of official opening, and all with little to no waits. I also still have a 3rd fastpass in the bank!
From here, you probably want to spend a few hours taking in the various shows the park has to offer, all of which are easy to see at any point in the day. For me, it was time to head back to the resort for an afternoon at the pool.
Hollywood Blvd is swamped by this point in the late morning!
The park recently expanded its bag check area by quite a bit to help with the future Galaxy’s Edge crowds.
As you can see, there is a flood of people making their way into the park now. For me, I’ll enjoy the pool during the hot and crowded afternoon hours and return in the evening for a ride on Tower of Terror and a viewing of Fantasmic!