Hollywood Studios is a different kind of Disney experience. It’s less about the rides (there are only six) and more about the shows. If you’ve got a baby or toddler in tow, and only a limited amount of days to visit the parks, I might suggest giving it a miss, or combining a day with Epcot as it’s nearby and also more of an experiential park. Obviously a visit to Magic Kingdom is a must, and Animal Kingdom is too big and too far out to really do a combo day with another park. However, this is Disney we’re talking about, so of course Hollywood Studios has plenty to delight your little mouse, and you too. And as with all the Disney Parks, Hollywood Studios is very intuitive when it comes to parents’ needs, so you can cross things like stroller accessibility, high chairs in restaurants, and change tables in restrooms off the worry list.
Hollywood Studios Basics:
Disney’s third park at Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios celebrates showbiz on its approximately 135 acres. There are six themed areas, but those areas are not as clearly defined as the other parks, and I will admit to having been lost in Hollywood Studios more than once. Hollywood Boulevard is the Hollywood Studios equivalent of Magic Kingdom’s Main Street U.S.A., Echo Lake is the small, central lagoon that the rest of the park kind of circles around. The Streets of America used to be the backlot tour – they used to actually film here when the park first opened. Animation Courtyard, Pixar Place, and Sunset Boulevard round out the different areas at Hollywood Studios. When you first pass through the gates, first aid, information, and the baby care centre are on the left. Stroller and wheelchair rentals, as well as restrooms, are a little further ahead on the right . Daily rentals for strollers (the molded plastic kind like at the other parks – good for toddlers and preschoolers but not suitable for infants or even older babies) are $15.00 USD per day for a single stroller and $31.00 USD per day for a double stroller. If you want to rent a stroller for multiple days, for a reduced rate Disney World offers a length of stay rental ticket for a one-time payment of as many days of rental you will need. When you enter a Disney park, show your receipt at the stroller rental location and you will be zipped to the front of the line. The multiple-day stroller rental fee is $13.00 USD per day for a single, and $27.00 USD daily for a double stroller. Opening hours for Hollywood Studios can vary, but usually it’s 9am until 10pm. If you stay at a Disney Resort you are entitled to “Extra Magic Hours” – where the park opens early or stays open late only for resort guests – which is great for little ones who are early risers or night owls. Pick up the pamphlet with all the week’s hours, as well as showtimes and character greeting times, at kiosks throughout the park, or download the “My Disney Experience” app to your smartphone. And if you’re not from the US, don’t worry about data roaming, the smart folks at Walt Disney World have free WiFi at all their resorts and parks. It can be a bit spotty at times, as all free WiFi can be, but hey, it’s free – as are the Disney apps!
Getting Around Hollywood Studios:
Disney Parks are incredibly accessible, so they are a breeze to navigate with strollers. For Hollywood Studios‘ attractions and shows, there are stroller parking lots where you’ll need to leave your ride. Disney Cast Members frequently move the strollers around to keep the areas neat and tidy, so don’t panic if your stroller is not where you left it. Some families attach a balloon so they can see their stroller from a distance. Nobody seems terribly concerned about theft – you will see everything from Bugaboos to cheapie umbrella strollers (and you can actually buy a Kolkraft umbrella stroller at most Disney gift shops in the resorts and parks for less than $60). We don’t leave our camera or my wallet in the stroller when we park it, but nothing has ever gone missing from our ride. If you’re concerned, a good idea might be to invest in one of those cute locks that you can put through the wheel, but don’t actually lock it to Disney property in case a cast member needs to move it.
With it being mainly shows, the crowd configuration at Hollywood Studios is considerably different from the other parks. We found it to be the most crowded-feeling park when we were there just after Christmas – one of the busiest times to visit. However, this is because at the other parks the crowds are contained in the ride line-ups, and here most are milling about. And watch out when a show lets out!
Hollywood Studios Rides:
There are only six rides in the whole park, and you will definitely need to FastPass+ the Toy Story ride for a hope of getting on. When we arrived at the park at 11am, the FastPass time for Toy Story was already 9pm. Tower of Terror‘s line time was over two hours and all FastPasses were already gone for the day by 2pm.
If your kiddos are a bit older and want to do the Jedi Training, get there (with your kids in tow) right when the park opens at 9 to secure your spot.
The Star Wars’ Star Tours line (minimum height requirement – 40″) really seemed to vary in length, but we got pretty good at coordinating our FastPass+ times with the various show times of the ones we really wanted to see. Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is obviously a (great) ride for older kids over 4ft. tall. The Tower of Terror is actually quite terrifying, even if your child meets the 40″ height requirement, I’d think twice. I was delighted to see a Disney Cast Member insist parents remove a number of visibly scared children from the attraction before the ride even started. The Great Movie Ride has no height requirement, but little ones might be scared. Since most of the rides at Hollywood Studios are not toddler-appropriate, as with the other Disney Parks, you can do a rider switch/child swap when you get to the front of the line. Ask the cast member at the start of the queue (or FastPass entrance) for a Child Swap pass. This will allow one of you to ride while the other stays back with your child, and then you can switch off so the other can ride. Combine this with FastPass+ and you should be sailing through your grown-up rides.
Hollywood Studios Shows:
Lights, Motors, Action! is awesome, but can be a bit loud for really little ones, and Fantasmic is worth the effort but also a bit scary. Disney Cast Member Megan went above and beyond when Bub (then almost-three) was frightened at Fantasmic. With her “light saver” (as Bub called it) she had him help her help Mickey defeat the bad guys in the show. I thought we’d need to leave, but she really saved the day (or night!). Our kids absolutely loved the Frozen Sing-a-long, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and the ultimate highlight was Disney Jr. Live on Stage. A tip! Don’t look up when the bubbles come down. It felt as though bubbles of acid fell into my eyes! We have to see Beauty and The Beast Live On Stage, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular on our next trip – we know the kids will love them, but there just wasn’t time for us to see it all.
Hollywood Studios Dining:
Disney Parks don’t blink twice about you bringing in your own food and drinks. Which is great with a baby and younger toddlers, obviously, but also for you and your wallet and waistline. But even though there are a lot of dining options at Hollywood Studios, and Disney is usually so awesome with crowd control, we’ve had the toughest time managing more than pizza, and that’s kind of our fault since we can be pretty disorganized. Dining is probably the second-biggest draw for Hollywood Studios next to the shows – there are a lot of great theme restaurants but you do need to book those ahead. The Hollywood Brown Derby looks YUM, and the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is the awesome one where you sit in an old fashioned car and watch old B-rated sci-fi movies. However! Those movies can be scary for toddlers (don’t ask me how I know that). Quick service options at Hollywood Studios include Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner, Pizza Planet Arcade (where we always seem to end up), Studio Catering Co., ABC Commissary, and, of course Toluca Legs Turkey Co. – don’t judge! On very busy days you may not save a table in the restaurant if you haven’t already purchased food, so even though the restaurants were super-busy, we got a table no problem – the cast members will direct you. There are plenty of high chairs (the larger, open wood kind), and strollers are not allowed inside most restaurants. The kids’ meals automatically come with carrots or grapes and milk, and if you would prefer a different (read: less healthy) side or drink you must specifically request that substitution. The restaurants do not have the means to heat bottles, but that brings us to the Baby Care Center…
Hollywood Studios Baby Care Center:
Each Disney Park has a baby care center, and the one in Hollywood Studios is located on the left as you enter the park via the main entrance. The Baby Care Centre at Hollywood Studios is probably the smallest one of the four theme parks, but inside there’s a nursing room, a changing room, and a restroom with a small toilet for potty trainers! And although all the washrooms in Hollywood Studios are kept clean with change tables inside, a visit to the Baby Care Centre allows you all a bit of cool and quiet from a bustling and stimulating experience.
Fastpass+ Is Your Friend:
For a single theme park per day, you can make up to three FastPass+ selections in advance either online or using the My Disney Experience app, and you may change or cancel your selections any time. You can also get assistance from the Lobby Concierge at your Walt Disney World Resort hotel or at a FastPass+ kiosk in any of the parks.
Note that kiosks allow FastPass+ selections only for the park where the kiosk is located, but you can view and cancel any of your FastPass+ selections, regardless of location.
Once you redeem your initial set of FastPass+ selections (or the last arrival window has passed), you can make another FastPass+ selection for the same day at an in-park kiosk or on your mobile device, up to park closing. After you redeem the additional FastPass+ pick, you can return to a kiosk to make more selections (one at a time), subject to availability.
If your ticket includes a Park Hopper Option, after you use your initial FastPass+ selections at the first park, you’ll be able to make additional FastPass+ selections (one at a time) at a kiosk or using the mobile app at the second park you visit that day, up to park closing.
Tips for Hollywood Studios With A Baby or Toddler:
•Plan your day ahead of time and plot out a few can’t-miss attractions and do those first. If you are going for the Jedi Training, get there as soon as the park opens, and have your kids with you. The minimum age for that is 4. Don’t expect to cram everything into one day – you will feel cranky and rushed and will likely be disappointed. Walt Disney World and Hollywood Studios will always be there, so missed rides or attractions are a good excuse to return 😉
•If you’ll be visiting Walt Disney World for more than two days, try to stay on resort at one of Disney’s properties, and get a Park Hopper option attached to your park tickets. The convenience of Disney’s transportation system, combined with the freedom to pop into a different park for the afternoon, for dinner, or just for the fireworks or a show can certainly make the expenditure worthwhile, and usually ends up saving you money.
•Take a picture of your kids in the morning of your visit, and make it clear to them (if they are old enough to understand) exactly what they are to do should they become separated from you. You can establish a meeting spot with older kids, and for little ones, finding a Cast Member who works at one of the shops or rides is the best course of action. The Cast Member will first contact Lost Children and register any information that they have, including the child’s name, age, location and a parent’s name, and then try to retrace the child’s steps and see if a meeting spot was established. Lost children at Hollywood Studios are taken to Guest Relations. Attach a tag or sticker your child’s clothing with your name and cel phone number on it, or these wristbands from Mabel’s Labels are a great solution as well.
•Know when it’s time to take a break – either to take off back to your hotel for a nap or even to just go for a walk (the path to the Boardwalk properties is a nice one from Hollywood Studios) or a ride on the boat and back. The most resilient and laid-back kids can become overstimulated and/or overwhelmed, and taking a break to recharge and reset the mood will mean a more harmonious day for all of you.
•Character meet & greet times are available on the handouts, via Guest Services, and also on the My Disney Experience app. Before waiting in line for a character meet & greet though, make sure your baby or toddler will actually be excited to meet the character, and not freaked out. Kids react differently and at different times – my son was delighted to meet Chip & Dale and the princesses when he was only 20mos., but at 2-and-a-half was completely freaked out and would not go near any of them. Shortly before his 3rd birthday he loved the characters again, but I’m glad I didn’t wait for an hour in line for him to drop motionless on the floor to find out! You’ll see lots of kids with autograph books for the characters. Mine were too little to care about that, and drew in the books instead. The many parades offer a great chance to see everyone without line-ups or hassles.
- Click To Go Back To The Guide To Walt Disney World With Babies And Toddlers
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