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Hollywood Studios Tips and Secrets

Published on March 24, 2014 by Russ & Stani

Hollywood Studios Tips and Secrets

Our Hollywood Studios Tips page begins with a little history and facts about this entertaining park. It continues with some fun trivia and some fantastic advice for making the most of this great park. Let your imagination run wild and lose yourself!

Movie magic comes to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, awash in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Step into the action with attractions based on blockbuster movies and top TV shows, and delight in exciting entertainment that puts you center stage. With the vibrancy of a bustling movie set, this park features 8 sections: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Sunset Boulevard, Streets of America, Commissary Lane, Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue and Animation Courtyard areas.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios, originally Disney-MGM Studios, is the third of four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, opened on May 1, 1989. Spanning 135 acres, it is dedicated to show business, drawing inspiration from the heyday of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s. In 2011, the park hosted approximately 9.7 million guests, making it the fifth-most visited amusement park in the United States, and eighth-most visited in the world.

When Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened on May 1, 1989, chairman Michael Eisner declared “Welcome to the Hollywood that never was and always will be.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Here’s what he should have said: “Welcome to the theme park that Disney slapped together the minute Universal Studios announced plans for a park in Florida.”  They did beat out Universal which opened in 1990, but the then “Disney MGM Studios” was sorely lacking in attractions and was far from a full day park.

Even though the park has officially changed it’s name to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can still find different plaques and signs throughout the park stating Disney-MGM Studios. Look at the dedication plaque at the end of Hollywood Boulevard and near the Muppet Shop for some great examples!

The park is represented by The Sorcerer’s Hat, a stylized version of the magical hat from Fantasia. It replaced the Earful Tower as the park’s icon in 2001.

By the time the new theme park opened in May 1989 (the changes in scale had delayed the scheduled October 1988 opening), total costs had accumulated to more than $500 million.

While the Studios may not have tunnels underneath them like the Magic Kingdom, they do have one of the most enjoyable ways for cast members to get around: bikes. Since the park is almost round, with little guest access to the edges, Crew Members use communal bikes to get around the parks on the outside.

Imagineers used the blue-prints of the original 1927 Meyer and Holler building for reference, when building the replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The facade is built to full scale. The 22 ft central roof section was constructed seperately and hoisted into place by crane.

Hollywood-Studios-Tips-Rockin-Roller-CoasterThe Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was built first, then the building was constructed around it. The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster limos go from 0-57 mph in 2.8 seconds. There are 125 speakers and 24 sub-woofers in each limo of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. As you enter the first inversion in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the G-Force is between 4 and 5.

In each of the Toy Story Midway Mania! games, there is at least one “easter egg” — targets that can trigger the appearance of bonus high-value targets and other changes in the scene.

The lagoon where the Fantasmic show takes place is only 1.5 feet deep!   The island stage is surrounded by a 1.9 million gallon moat–enough water to fill every bathtub in the more than 24,000 rooms on Walt Disney World Resort property–twice.   Animated sequences are projected on three water screens stretching 50-feet high and 100-feet wide providing an excellent view no matter where you sit.   To create a surface on which animation can be projected, water screens pump 2,400 gallons of water into the air every minute..

When you’re in line for Indiana Jones, you go past a well, to the right of the entrance.  If you pull on the rope, you’ll hear someone down in the well.

On the street in the New York neighborhood, you can hear gangsters talking and gun shots inside the buildings. Check out the “Singing in the Rain” umbrella that is attached to one of the streetlights near the old Hunchback theater.  Grab the umbrella and step on the black square embedded in the cement underneath it for a nice surprise!

At the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area, climb the stairs between the garden hose and the slide coming out of a roll of film. There is a dog’s nose. Put your hand in the nostrils. The dog sniffs you!

Stop by the Star Tours area at night to hear the Ewok Village (above the FASTPASS machines) where the Ewoks will sing, just like in the movie.

The restrooms at the Brown Derby aren’t on the park map and tend to be emptier than the average restroom.  The restrooms near Lights, Motors, Action are generally empty when there isn’t a show going on.

The selection process of kids at Jedi Training Academy has changed. Recruits are selected on a first come, first served basis in the morning until all shows are filled for the day.

Hollywood-Studios-Tips-Lights-Motors-ActionAfter Lights Motors Action! Extreme Stunt Show, you can meet some of the drivers by the left handside of the show area. The drivers come out after about 10 minutes after the show ends, near the Surf Shop area of the set.

If you’re on Sunset Boulevard during the Block Party Bash parade, you can exit Hollywood Studios by going down a special path behind Carthay Theater shop. After Block Party Bash’s second stop, follow it to Star Tours for a “bonus” performance (and lots of nerf balls).

When the Imagineers decided to create an attraction based on the “Toy Story” movies, they knew they wanted to build something special. So rather than build just one building, they created an entire district, Pixar Place, based on the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif., the studio behind “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles” and so many Disney-Pixar classics. So the Imagineers exactly matched the color of the brick and mortar from the original Pixar Studios building in the construction of Toy Story Midway Mania. When Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs came to Toy Story Midway Mania and saw how much it looked like “home,” his eyes welled with tears.

Hollywood-StudiosTower of Terror. When you board the elevator, on the left side, outside of the elevator itself, is an inspection certificate that’s dated Oct. 31, 1939 and signed by “Cadwallader.”  Cadwallader was a character in the sixth Twilight Zone episode, “Escape Clause” who actually turned out to be the Devil himself.  The inspection certificate number is 10259, which is cool because The Twilight Zone’s first episode (“Where Is Everybody”) premiered on Oct. 2, 1959.  The bldg. is 199’ tall.  It was supposed to be 200’, but for a structure 200’ tall, you need lights at the top for airplanes to see.  So it is 199 feet tall to keep the spooky feeling!  In Tower of Terror, when you first go into the library to watch the movie, go all the way to the right by a bookshelf and there will be a book open of a song and the title is “What, no Mickey Mouse?”

As always, Disney Imagineers went to extreme lengths to make sure the props, furnishings and decorative items in the Tower of Terror lobby accurately reflected that time. But meticulous attention to detail in the Tower has been conjured by an even higher power. As the legend goes, one night while some guests were taking the elevator to the top of the hotel, the building was struck by lightning, sending the elevator zooming to the bottom of the shaft and its riders into the 5th dimension. That’s the story every guest learns before riding the attraction. Something that all riders should know: While the Tower was being built, it actually was struck by lightning. How’s that for authenticity?

And what is it about the mystical, ghostly forces inhabiting the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror? They grab your elevator and send it reeling up and down, back and forth, over and over again. Truth be told, there is more at work here than the force of gravity. The reason the drops are so thrilling is that the elevator falls faster than free fall, faster than the force of gravity. The Tower actually pulls the elevators up and down giving the ride its out-of-this-world thrill.

Upon entering Tower of Terror library, move to the opposite end of the room to be first ones to leave after preshow. Before you drop on Tower of Terror, place a penny on your lap and watch the penny float in the air as you plummet! If the posted wait time at Tower of Terror is 13 minutes, that really means there is no wait! The top speed for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is said to be about 39mph.

The high-speed launch of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is one of the attraction’s great rushes. There are three inversions in the ride — two rollover loops and one corkscrew. As riders enter the first inversion, they are feeling a G-force between 4 and 5, more than astronauts feel. On Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, during inversions pick your feet off the ground and tuck your knees to add to the inversion sensation. Also, if you sit in the back on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster it is a lot rougher than if you sit towards the front.

Be sure to stop and enjoy the Citizens of Hollywood (“Streetmosphere”), where throughout the day on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, characters will come out and put on shows and interact with the guests. They are a wonderful treat.  Check out the “Funniest Citizen in Hollywood”, usually on Sunset Boulevard around 5pm or so, for a very funny show!

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Lights Motors Action! Extreme Stunt Show don’t use Fastpass anymore so don’t factor them in your FP strategy.

Vegetarians looking for a quick meal? Try the veggie wrap at Starring Rolls or veggie sandwich at Backlot Express

The best seats at Fantasmic! are a little off center to the right or left and about 2/3 of the way up from the front.

If the end of the line at Toy Story Midway Mania is inside the building, the wait is likely no more than 40 minutes.

At Disney-Hollywood Studios, there are yellow painted curbs where lines form for characters that only come out for a few minutes (i.e., CARS & Power Rangers)

Hollywood-Studios-Tips-CarsGet a picture with Matter and McQueen from Cars at Luigi’s Garage

On Sunset Blvd., there is a pile of old fashioned suitcases by a Route 66 sign. You can get really cute pics there. Sitting on a suitcase, leaning on the sign, looking like you are waiting for a bus.

When exiting the Star Tours gift shop, look across for the speeder bike. It is okay to sit on this, great photo op!

Know the difference between a top loading and side loading theater and which ones are which. For top loaders, the first guests into the attraction will enter from the top of the theater and have their choice of seats. They will be asked to squeeze to the middle when the theater is busy. Examples at DHS are Beauty and the Beast, Indiana Jones, and Lights, Motor, Action.

Side Loaders are theaters where guests enter from one side of the theater and exit from the other. This includes Muppetvision, Little Mermaid, and the new American Idol Experience. All 3-D movies at all Disney Parks are side loaders. With these theaters, if you want to sit in the middle, you DO NOT want to be the first guests in the doors as they will be asked to choose a row and continue to the far end of the row. When an attraction is busy, cast members will be very insistent and will not have much sympathy for those that complain they have been waiting far longer and should get a middle seat. It is simply how the theater was designed. So – the tip is, dont be the first in the door and then simply choose the row that best situates you in the middle (if that is where you want to be).

Outside Drew Cary – The steps outside near to Drew Carey, across from Min & Bill’s, is a great place to see the parade. You can get a drink and can usually get a seat last minute as not many people think of sitting there and folks are pretty nice about scooting over if you need a seat. Put the children down on the sidewalk so that they will be able to interact with the characters. No one is allowed to stand in front of you. Avoid those nice tables and seats across the road cause folks CAN stand in front of you there.

Because we love to draw we always go to the Magic of Animation. It takes about 1/2 hour for the sketching tutorial. Also this is the place we saw Sorcerer Mickey and other characters.

The Disney Studios Tip Board, located at the corner of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard, posts daily show times and updated wait times.

Measure a child’s height before arrival at the park so you know which attractions the child can ride.

Hollywood-Studios-Tips-Backstage-TourOn the Backlot Studios Tour, if you don’t want to get wet, sit on the right side of the tram.

One of the most fun restaurants in the park is the Sci-Fi Drive-In. You sit in vintage cars from the 50’s and watch movies clips on a screen. Fun and clever! The kids will love it.

When going to see Muppet Vision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, work your way down to the bottom (lower) waiting area. You still get a good view of the pre-show and when you enter the theater, you are sitting closer to the screen and you get to enjoy more of the special effects. But when the doors open to enter the theater, let few people go in front of you. The first people in have to move all the way across and this will leave you a seat in the middle. Look for the key under the doormat at Muppets 3D.  Just after you go through the turnstile, go to your right and you’ll find a welcome mat.  Take a peek underneath it.

In the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, don’t sit too close to the stage as you will be able to see some of the puppeteers, which takes away from the show.

We hope that our Hollywood Studios Tips and Secrets page has been entertaining and informative. We welcome any feedback, so if you have any great tips to add, or think something needs updating, please add a comment below.

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