Hollywood Studios

Sunday, 20 February 2011 22:22

Hollywood Studios Logo

At Disney's Hollywood Studios, you can help Indiana Jones escape from the Nazis, take a wild limousine ride through Los Angeles, get shrunk to the size of a gnat, and learn all about the behind-the-scenes process of creating films and animation.  This compact but fun-filled theme park is located at a major crossroads in the Walt Disney World Resort, with plenty of thrill rides and effects-laden shows.

"The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic.  We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be." — Michael D. Eisner, May 1, 1989

Walt Disney World's third theme park opened in May 1989 as Disney-MGM Studios, joining the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.  The name was changed to Hollywood Studios in 2008.  The park features live shows and attractions based on movie and television favorites, from classic Golden Age films to modern blockbusters.  The park is not all Disney productions, either; it's also where you will see rides and shows based on Lucasfilm properties, Pixar films, Jim Henson's Muppets, etc.

Among the top attractions are two awesome thrill rides, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.  The latest additions to the park is a live American Idol singing competition and a ride through a Toy Story-themed shooting gallery.

History Traveling Park Info Hollywood Boulevard Sunset Boulevard Animation Courtyard/Pixar Place
Backlot/Streets of America Echo Lake Entertainment Events Shopping Dining


Hollywood Studios History

The genesis of the "Studios" theme park was as a brand new pavilion for EPCOT Center's Future World that would supply an animatronic ride by way of cinematic history, a lot as World of Motion did for transportation and Spaceship Earth did for communication. This spark of an idea was so inspiring, nevertheless, that then-CEO Michael Eisner suggested that the new ride instead turn out to be the marquee attraction in an all-new theme park.

The authentic vision for this new park was to combine a classic theme park atmosphere-rides, shows, restaurants-with a real performing studio.  A staff of animators started operating even prior to the park opening to the public, functioning on real Disney animation-Mulan and Lilo & Stitch, among others, were animated entirely at the concept park.  Live-action was also filmed here, from movies like Newsies and Ernest Saves Christmas to television shows such as Mickey Mouse Club and Adventures in Wonderland.  all of these manufacturing facilities were viewable on the park's Backstage Studio Tour-guests could actually see animating and filming as they occurred, if their timing was right; if not, they still got to see the actual sets and actual studios where their favorite productions were created.  For the ride you could see house facades used in genuine films and television, like The Golden Girls.  Exhibits and authentic props from movies like Flight of the Navigator and Star Wars were present.

This concept no longer exists.  All of the soundstages have been turned into rides and stage shows.  The Great Movie Ride, which was the original idea to be used at EPCOT is there as one of the main draws for the park.   New thrill rides have opened up and become the park's primary focus, however the park's enthusiasm for the fantasy of it all still remains.

Find out more facts about Disney's Hollywood Studies here!

Hollywood Studios Video Gallery

Here is a small gallery of EPCOT videos that we're sure you'll enjoy. We'll add some regularly, but you can always find the largest collection of Hollywood Studios videos on the web on our video section.

Holiday time at Hollywood Studios. Take a look:




Travel by Car

Hollywood Studios is just southwest of Epcot; it's on Buena Vista Drive, which you can access from either World Drive or Epcot Center Drive.  Parking is $14 per car.   Once you pay for parking at any of the theme parks for that day, you can go and park at another one without having to pay again.  Disney resort guests can park for free.  You will need to show your "Key to the World" card at the toll booth.

By Disney Transportation 

From Epcot and nearby resorts

From Epcot, the BoardWalk, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, and the Swan and Dolphin, you can take the Friendship ferries to Hollywood Studios.  You can utilize a nice wide walking path that follows a route to the park.  Note that if you are coming from Epcot, you must exit through that park's rear entrance: the International Gateway.  From Epcot's main entrance, there is a bus that goes to the Studios.

From Animal Kingdom and other resorts

You will need to go to the bus stop and wait for the Hollywood Studios one to arrive.  You will be dropped off in front of the gates.

From the Magic Kingdom

It is probably best to hop on a bus and go to a resort; then pick up the Hollywood Studios bus from there.  A different option is to take the monorail or ferry to the Transportation and Ticket Center, then find the Studios bus.  It's not used very often, so you might have trouble finding it and you might be waiting longer than normal.

From Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney doesn't have direct buses to the parks; you will need to make your way to a resort, then hop onn the Hollywood Studios bus.  The best option here might be to take the bus to the Swan, which is the closest hotel to the Studios, then take the Friendship ferry or the walking path to the Studios. Another option is to walk or take the boat to the Saratoga Springs Resort, then the bus to the Studios.


The Park

Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios Map

Upon entering the park, you'll be on Hollywood Boulevard.  Numerous shops line both sides of this street, perfect for grabbing a souvenir on your way out at the end of the day.  Here, it's perpetually the 1930s, so keep an eye out for young starlets, ambitious directors, suspicious policeman, etc.  These Streetmosphere actors play out comedic vignettes throughout the day, and they may bring you into their performance.

At the end of Hollywood Boulevard, you won't be able to miss the giant  Sorcerer's Hat, the one Mickey wore in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"  of Fantasia. 

As you travel down Hollywood Boulevard, you'll find the famous intersection with Vine St., a smaller street that veers off to the left towards Echo Lake.  Still walking down Hollywood Boulevard you can go to the right onto Sunset Boulevard, this is a another major thoroughfare.   Here you'll find more shops and more Streetmosphere, and ending in the distance is the 199-foot-tall Hollywood Tower Hotel, which houses the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. (Why 199 feet? If it were one foot taller, it would need to have a blinking red light at the top under federal aircraft regulations.)

Past Sunset, as you approach the Sorcerer's Hat and the Chinese Theater, to the right will be a large gateway, through which you'll find the Animation Courtyard.  To the left, starting around behind the Chinese Theater, are Mickey Avenue and the new Pixar Place, where former soundstages have been transformed into the Toy Story Mania attraction.

From there, behind the Chinese Theater, you enter the Backlot, and then the Streets of America, where you will find Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and Muppet Vision 3-D are located.  Commissary Lane connects this area to the area around the Sorcerer's Hat.  Making your way back toward the front of the park, you end up at Echo Lake—just look for the giant Dinosaur Gertie.


What to See and Do

Lots to see and do at Hollywood Studios from live action stage shows to exciting thrill rides.

Fastpasses are available for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Voyage of The Little Mermaid.  Toy Story Mania is incredibly popular; a Fastpass is highly recommended.  Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror are adjacent to each other, so your best bet there is to get a Fastpass for one of them and wait in line at the other.

For parade and stage show performance times, please see the Guide Map and the Times Guide that you can pick up at the front of the park or at any food stand.  You can also check the Wait Times Board at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, this will list current wait times for rides and show times for shows.


Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard is mostly a location for shops, restaurants, and Streetmosphere, but keep traveling towards the end of the street to see one of the  park's centerpiece attraction, the Great Movie Ride.  While you're at the Chinese Theater, be sure to check look at the cement ground with celebrities markings—just like at the real Chinese Theater in Hollywood.   Everyone from Donald Duck and R2-D2 to Carol Burnett and Michael Jackson has left his or her mark.

The Great Movie Ride - This attraction is a slow-moving ride through scenes from some of the greatest movies of all time.  They are recreated using Audio-Animatronics, sound, etc.  Some of the movies included are: Alien, The Wizard of Oz, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Mary Poppins.  But remember: as in the movies, not all is as it seems!


Sunset Boulevard

In addition to more shops, restaurants, and Streetmosphere, Sunset Boulevard is where you will find the Studios' two popular stage shows and its two incredible thrill rides.

Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage - A 20-minute show of the popular animated film.  It is similar to a Broadway musical production.  Dancing, singing - all Disney style!

Fantasmic! - Shown after dark a few times a week.  Be sure to check the Times Guide for details.  Watch as Mickey Mouse uses the power of imagination to defeat some of Disney's nastiest villains.  This live-action extravaganza with outstanding film and lighting effects, fireworks, and a 50-foot animatronic dragon will have everyone entertained.  The theater fills up quickly, so get there early if you want a seat.  You can reserve a seat by purchasing a dining package.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith - Hop into your "limousine" and enjoy the ride through the streets of Los Angeles to get to Aerosmith's concert.  There are inversions, the only ride to have this in WDW.  The ride is indoors and will get you right from the start.  Your limousine will jolt you from zero to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds flat.  This is a super exciting attraction with the music of Aerosmith's playing during your trip.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - Rod Serling himself will welcome you into this mystery, involving an elevator on the thirteenth floor, a late-night lightning strike, and vanished guests.  The elevator that you will ride makes suddent stops and drops randomly.  This ride is not for the faint of stomach, period.  The view from the top is amazing, if you can open your eyes long enough to look. 


Animation Courtyard/Pixar Place

Go under the iconic gate is this courtyard, which will lead you into Mickey Avenue and Pixar Place.   There used to be working sound stages along Mickey Avenue, but they've been converted into semi-permanent exhibit space and the brand-new marquee attraction, Toy Story Mania!.

The Magic of Disney Animation - Once this was a tour that enabled guests to see actual workings of an animation studio.  The studio is gone, but the name remains.  To some a sad reminder of what once was (both for the park and for Disney animation in general).  The attraction still lets you view mock-ups of a few of the animators' workspaces.  It then leads you into a large open area where you can meet and greet characters.

Disney Junior Live! - A cute stage show for the little ones that features characters from the Disney Channel's programs for preschoolers.  Seating is on the floor.

Toy Story Midway Mania! - Hollywood Studios' newest ride is a 3-D virtual midway game, complete with moving targets and special effects, themed around the characters from Toy Story.  Super popular, get your Fastpass as soon as you enter the park if you don't want to have to wait a long time for this attraction.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid - this is a live stage show that plays out scenes from the popular Disney movie The Little Mermaid.

Walt Disney: One Man's Dream - A walk-through exhibition of Walt's life and career.  This is a really fascinating place to wander through reading and viewing the artifacts and diagrams here.  Might not be the best place for the little ones as there isn't enough action for them!


Backlot/Streets of America

The Backlot is mostly a gateway to the Studio Backlot Tour, serving to connect Pixar Place with the Streets of America.  In the Streets of America, you'll find façades set up to give the illusion of walking down streets in New York City and San Francisco, using the movie-making technique called "forced perspective".

Look for Luigi's Garage in the Streets of America, where Lightning McQueen and Mater, from the movie Cars are available for you to view.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids - Movie Set Adventure -  This is a great way for kids to climb, jump and play.  They will love this huge play area that makes you feel as if you are a teeny-tiny person.  Older folks can look for giant-sized versions of famous objects like a roll of Kodak film and a can of Play-Doh, but beware of the dog's nose as he's been known to sneeze!

Muppet Vision 3-D -  A hilarious show that features the Muppet characters, shown in a detailed replica of the Muppet Theater.  The show incorporates 3-D, in-theater animatronics and special effects along with a special live-action appearance. The pre-show, held in a waiting area, is just as fun as the main performance.

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show - Imported from Disneyland Resort Paris, this show features a live action stunt driving show. 

Studio Backlot Tour - This is a continuous 25-minute tour.  Someone from your group may be asked to star in the first portion of the attraction, which is the filming of a live action movie.  You will then board a tram for a tour of old Disney and Lucasfilm movie props along with the former production studios.  The highlight of the tour is Catastrophe Canyon, where you will get up-close and personal with some disastrous special effects.  The water cannons, for example, are strong enough to propel a basketball over the Empire State Building.


Echo Lake

On one side of Echo Lake is a large steamboat, known as Min and Bill's Dockside Diner; on the other is a large dinosaur, with Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction.  You will also find attractions based on Lucasfilm properties, restaurants, and two unique attractions housed inside soundstages.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza - This is more of an exhibit than an attraction; but worth taking a look at.

The American Idol Experience - This is your chance to shine!   Sign up first thing in the morning for an audition slot, and you might get to be onstage in front of all the guests at the park and a select panel of judges.  You could find yourself competing for the grand prize: a Dream Ticket to audition for the real American Idol TV show! 

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - This show lasts about 35 minutes and is packed with live-action stunts that you will notice from The Raiders of the Lost Ark movie.   Watch for your chance to participate in this show as an extra. 

Sounds Dangerous Starring Drew Carey - This experience is in total darkness and you will only be listening with earphones.   This comedy show, with Drew Carey as a detective, allows you to see with your ears and create the picture for yourself.  After the show, head to the Sound Works where you can experiment with sound hands-on.

Star Tours, the Star Wars-themed motion simulator ride, has now closed, but a new updated version of the ride is scheduled to open on May 20, 2011.

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue will be a "prequel" to the original ride, with an all-new storyline, upgraded mechanics, and a state-of-the-art 3-D screen.

Here is a complete Hollywood Studios attractions list.



Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! - This afternoon parade is filled with characters from Disney/Pixar films.  The parade route starts near the entrance and heads down Hollywood Boulevard to the Sorcerer's Hat; it then weaves it way through the Echo Lake area to a gate near Star Tours: The Adventures Continue ride.

Look here for a complete list of Hollywood Studios entertainment.



The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Streets of America)  - November - Dec. 2011.   Each year, the Streets of America brighten the holidays with a huge Christmas display.  The Osborne Family display moved to Hollywood Studios when it got too big for the Osborne family home.  It's a very popular event and one you won't want to miss!

Star Wars Weekends (parkwide) - May 20 - June 12, 2011.  As the name states, this event only runs on the weekends of these dates.  This is a wonderful opportunity to get up close and personal with stormtroopers, Darth Vader, and many other members of the Star Wars movies.  These very popular weekends feature a parade, character appearances throughout the park, trivia events, the Jedi Training Academy for kids, and special events with selected actors from the films.

Here is a link for a complete Hollywood Studios events list.



There are so many gift shops to choose from at Hollywood Studios. 

Animation Gallery (at the end of the Magic of Disney Animation tour) - Here you'll find this combination display gallery/high-end art store, with displays featuring some of Disney's Academy Awards as well as some very expensive animation cels, prints, and collectibles.

Adventure Outpost (near the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular) -You will find mostly Indiana Jones type items here.

It's a Wonderful Shop (between Mama Melrose's and Pizza Planet) - A great place to shop for Christmas merchandise all year long!

Rock Around The Shop (at the exit from Rock 'n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith) - As you can gather, you will find items from the ride as well as other  rock 'n' roll merchandise.

Tatooine Traders (at the exit of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue) - This shop is stocked full of really great Star Wars-themed merchandise.

Tower Hotel Gifts (at the exit from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) - Love the ride?  Why not buy a souvenir from the gift shop!

Look here for a complete Hollywood Studios shopping list.



Disney's Hollywood Studios probably has the most unique restaurants on the property, with most themed around movies and television.

For an advanced reservations call Disney Dining at +1 407 WDW-DINE (939-3463) or hop on the internet at Disneyworld.com/reservations.

Counter Service

ABC Commissary (Commissary Lane) - This restaurant offers a wide range of items.  There is ample seating at this location too.

Backlot Express (Echo Lake between Star Tours: The Adventures Continue) - The menu is nothing special, but the decor is.  The restaurant is themed to look like a huge studio warehouse. There is plenty of wide-open seating here, and because of its location, it's rarely very crowded.

Starring Rolls Cafe (Sunset Boulevard near Hollywood Boulevard)  Lots of yummy pastries, sandwiches and coffee here.

Studio Catering Company (Backlot near the 'Shrunk the Kids' playground) - This is a good option if you just need to eat quickly; not much fun atmosphere here.  The dining is outside, but it is covered.   This area can get crowded at lunchtime due to its location.

Sunset Ranch Market (Catalina Eddie's, Fairfax Fare, Rosie's All-American Cafe, Toluca Legs Turkey Co.) (Sunset Boulevard) - These four locations share an outdoor seating area. You will find salads, pizza, burgers, BBQ, etc.

Pizza Planet Arcade (Streets of America near Muppet Vision 3D) - A combined pizza parlor/video arcade, just like in the movie.  This is a really fun place to eat.


Table Service

Don't bring your own car; the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater has one already parked and waiting for you!

50's Prime Time Cafe (Vine St near Echo Lake) - Very good homestyle "comfort food" served in a classic 1950's sitcom kitchen, complete with Formica tabletops and black-and-white televisions.  Make sure to mind your p's and q's here.  Your server, in character, will have no problem telling you to eat all of your vegetables and not to put your elbows on the table - all in good fun though!

Hollywood Brown Derby (Sunset Blvd at Hollywood Boulevard) - Dine like the stars in this East Coast version of Hollywood's most famous restaurant. 

Hollywood & Vine (Vine St near Hollywood Blvd) -  A huge buffet will be set for you to enjoy in the atmosphere of the glamour of Hollywood in the 1930's. Only breakfast and lunch will feature the Playhouse Disney characters.

Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano (Streets of America by Muppet Vision 3D) - This is a nice Italian restaurant that gives you the autenticity of being in a New York neighborhood.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Commissary Lane) - Relive the good old days when people enjoyed a drive-in movie.  You will be able to watch classic B-movie clips from a convertible that is custom made for you to dine in. 

Click on the link for a complete Hollywood Studios dining list.


The Hollywood stars of the 30s might have enjoyed a libation or two in their day (at least once Prohibition was repealed), but the nightlife around Hollywood Studios is virtually nonexistent.  The table-service restaurants all have drinks of some sort available—Mama Melrose's has some particularly interesting cocktails.

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 December 2011 14:58
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