Disney’s Hollywood Studios doesn’t have a ton of attractions, but it has some great ones. This guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions contains short reviews of our top picks, as well as numerical scores for every attraction. If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, it’s a great place to start when making a rough roadmap for what you want to do during your visit. Everyone’s preferences will vary, so we’ll also provide a brief description of every attraction to give you an idea of whether particular attractions will appeal to your group.
Our list of recommended attractions for Disney’s Hollywood Studios includes headliners and less well-known attractions that people overlook, but that are worth checking out. We don’t recommend skipping any attractions based upon the advice of others if you have the time to experience them all, and if you plan well and maximize your time in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you should be able to come close to doing it all in a single day. If you go at a slower pace or stop for table service meals, this guide will help give you an idea of which Disney’s Hollywood Studios rides and attractions are must-see for you, and which ones you won’t have time to do.
Unlike our Magic Kingdom Attraction Guide and Epcot Attraction Guide, you’ll notice that this one is fairly top heavy. While this might seem like a good thing, unless you’re a party of only adults, it’s not. These attractions are rated based upon their target demographic (see below) and most of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ attractions–particularly the rides–are aimed at an older audience. In addition to that, it doesn’t have as many attractions, so by virtue of needing enough attractions to fill a whole day, more needs to be in our “top” list.
Even still, Disney’s Hollywood Studios looks fairly good on paper. When comparing the top of its lineup to other parks, it stacks up surprisingly well. Unfortunately, in addition to the low attraction-count, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is more a collection of attractions than it is a theme park. The other parks have great rides and wonderfully themed environments, whereas Disney’s Hollywood Studios is sort of a hodgepodge once you get past Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. If the parks are only about attractions to you and you don’t have kids, Disney’s Hollywood Studios might be a great park for you. However, I present this caveat for those of you who care about a sense of place and a balance of attractions…Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn’t nearly as good as it looks on paper. To the contrary, we consider it the weakest Walt Disney World theme park. (In its defense, many people consider Disney’s Hollywood Studios a “half-day park,” which it’s not, either, at least for first time guests. Those who have been several times will probably skip the long stage shows that never seem to be rotated out, which is where that half-day reputation originates.)
This guide assumes that you have a full day to spend in each of the Walt Disney World theme parks. You may have more or less time depending on how many day tickets you purchase and whether you add on the Park Hopper option (read our Walt Disney World Ticket Guide to determine which tickets are best for you).
Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. Dark rides are judged against other dark rides, roller coasters are judged against other coasters, etc., to create a relatively level playing field. Attractions are rated based upon how much their target audience will enjoy them. For example, an attraction with a height restriction that precludes kids from riding it might score 9/10, despite it’s score for toddlers being 0/10. Likewise, a stage show based on a TV show for kids might score a 7/10 because that’s how much they’d enjoy it, even though it might be a 2/10 for adults. In our ratings, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall and within its category, when experienced by its target demographic.
Toy Story Mania (8/10) – A 3D screen-based shooter game with Toy Story characters. Since it opened, this has become one of the most heavily-hyped attractions at Walt Disney World, drawing ridiculous standby wait times. Part of this is organic–it’s the only ride in the park geared towards kids, which meant that regardless of quality, its lines would be fairly long–but another part is a cyclical result of the hype. It’s a fun game-based attraction, but it does feel a bit like a glorified Wii game, without much in the way of physical sets (the line has some fun props, but the ride itself is entirely screen-based). Some Disney fans consider it the best attraction at Walt Disney World, but we don’t view it as a classic Disney attraction in terms of quality. It’s superficial and lacks the longevity of other classics. Still, it’s a fun and “intense” game that many guests are bound to really enjoy. Definitely get FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania if you can. If you cannot, either go right at park opening or at the end of the night. We do not recommend waiting 90 minutes or more for Toy Story Mania. It’s just not worth it.
Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage (7.5/10) - A Broadway-style stage retelling the story of Beauty and the Beast in condensed form. Normally, we’re not fans of shows or attractions that are simply condensed versions of the normal stories, but Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage does enough with its choreography and performances (specifically by the inanimate objects) and dramatic styling that it feels like it actually brings something new to the table. In a park high on stage shows, this is a highlight. FastPass+ is available, but totally unnecessary.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (10/10) – A free-fall thrill ride set in the Twilight Zone with an elaborate lead-in and excellent story. This is the best Walt Disney World attraction to open in the last 20 years. We often hear from guests who don’t ride this because they don’t like thrills, but that’s a mistake. Yes, it’s technically a thrill ride, but it’s so much more (and really, the dropping is the least important part of the experience). The mood, the atmosphere, and the environments are all top-notch, and the pinnacle of Walt Disney Imagineering. If you don’t like thrills, take the chicken exit at the very end. It’s worth going through the experience of the attraction up until that point, even if you don’t do the ride itself. Tower of Terror has a 40″ height requirement and offers FastPass+. In its tier, it’s a good use of FastPass+, but don’t hesitate to wait in line for 30-40 minutes for this–the queue is an experience itself, with plenty of references from Twilight Zone episodes.
One Man’s Dream (8/10) – A walk-through tribute to Walt Disney, with a film at the end. One Man’s Dream is often overlooked by normal park guests despite being in a high traffic area. It helps put the parks in context, lifts the curtain on some things, and in so doing makes the theme parks more impressive. In other words, it’s not just a dull museum. Commit 10 minutes to it just to check out some of the cool technology and history on display. You’ll likely find yourself spending a lot more time inside as you pore over the many interesting pieces that have made the Disney empire what it is today. While the film at the end is an enjoyable piece of history, it’s non-essential viewing if you lack the time.
MuppetVision 3D (10/10) – 3D show featuring the Muppets. If you have a sense of humor, you’ll love MuppetVision 3D. The pre-show is actually the highlight of MuppetVision, and we think it can fairly be described as sidesplitting. Make sure you arrive early enough to see the full pre-show (wander around this holding area looking for gags as you watch). The main 3D show is good, and uses the typical 3D show gimmicks, plus characters in the theater. The sharp scripts in the pre-show and main show are incredibly quotable, too. Not loving MuppetVision 3D is distinctly unpatriotic. FastPass+ is available, but totally unnecessary.
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (9.5/10) – A 3D motion simulator montage ride through various locations in the Star Wars universe. A recently updated attraction, the new Star Tours is a totally new experience, with modern visuals and even locales from the newer Star Wars trilogy. The ride is fast-paced, and the locations you visit are randomized, adding to re-rideability. What it lacks in story-telling cohesion it totally makes up for in frenetic fun. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue has a 40″ height requirement and isn’t recommended for those who easily get motion sickness. Although this has FastPass+, it also has a very high ride capacity, and an entertaining queue.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (8/10) – A stunt show themed to Indiana Jones. Despite its age, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular still works. It features a variety of different stunt styles, offers humor, and engaging narrative scenes that just work. As far as action-oriented shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is by far the best. FastPass+ is available, but totally unnecessary.
Jedi Training Academy (7.5/10) – Small scale stage show giving kids the opportunity to become Jedi. This is an attraction that kids will absolutely love if they’re into Star Wars and are extroverted. It’s not quite as much fun for the audience, but it’s still decent. Originally somewhat of a temporary show, Jedi Training Academy could be so much more than it is, which is why it looses some points.
The Great Movie Ride (8/10) – A guided ride through some of the highlights of cinema, with impressive sets and Audio Animatronics. Once a flagship attraction of the Disney-MGM Studios, the Great Movie Ride has itself become a bit of a Norma Desmond. To a degree, the Great Movie Ride is timeless. Part of its fading is the fault of guests–contemporary guests seem to care less about Hollywood classics and more about reality TV. However, it’s tough to deny that every film featured has aged well, or that the tour guide shtick still works. To the extent that people think new or Disney movies needed to be added to the attraction, we disagree. It’s an attraction focusing on great movies, not current movies. That many current-day guests don’t recognize the bulk of these movies says more about guests than it does about the attraction. If you can get past the overacting of the tour guide and their cheesy script, the Great Movie Ride is still an excellent attraction the takes guests on an engaging tour of the highlights of American cinema. The Alien scene will probably scare kids. FastPass+ is available, but unless you’re visiting on a really busy day, it’s not necessary.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid (7/10) – Stage show (partially black-light) telling a CliffNotes version of The Little Mermaid. When this debuted in the early 1990s, I’m sure the tech was cutting edge. Over the years, there haven’t been any updates to speak of, and the show (which leans on tech a fair amount) has started to feel a little long in the tooth. It’s still an enjoyable show that is worth seeing if you have the time, and the black light dancing fish scene is fun. FastPass+ is available, but totally unnecessary.
Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith (8/10) – Intense (by Disney standards) roller coaster with a loop, featuring Aerosmith. The pre-show and queue help make it more of a fully fleshed out experience, but Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster is basically an unthemed rollercoaster in the dark. It’s fun, but it’s not 90-minute-wait fun. It’s a thrills for the sake of thrills attraction. This is in the same FastPass+ tier as Toy Story Mania; if you don’t use FastPass+ on Toy Story Mania, definitely use it on this. Otherwise, do it first thing in the morning or via Single Rider.
Fantasmic (8.5/10) – Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ nighttime spectacular in which you enter Mickey Mouse’s dreams in a show featuring projections, characters on stage, boats, fire, fireworks, and more. Depending upon your perspective, our score for Fantasmic could be too low or too high. If you’ve been to Disneyland, which has a far superior version of Fantasmic, it’s too high (if you’re a Disneyland regular, you can skip this version). If not, you’re likely to be blown away by Walt Disney World’s Fantasmic, which is completely unlike the fireworks at Epcot and Magic Kingdom. If viewing it on a clean slate, Fantasmic is an incredible, wow-inducing must-do. It misses out on a perfect score from us due to over-reliance on Pocahontas, occasional technical problems and missing elements, and long waits to see it. It’s in the same FastPass+ tier as Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, but if you elect or are unable to do either of those Fantasmic is a good use of FastPass+.
Backlot Tour (6/10) – A tram tour through the supposed backlot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When the park opened and was an actual, working studio, this tour was a highlight. The park is no longer a working studio and this tour has been diluted and cut, with little left of interest. This score is actually fairly generous, but Catastrophe Canyon is still cool.
Disney Junior – Live on Stage! (?/10) – A stage show featuring Disney Junior characters. This is the only current attraction at Walt Disney World that we have not done. If you have kids, it’s probably for you. If you don’t, it’s probably not. Here’s a review and tips from StudiosCentral.
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show (5.5/10) – A vehicular stunt show. Arguably, this has more appeal to its target audience of boys and car-lovers, but its duration and poor-pacing really hurt it. Don’t bother with FastPass+ on it, you won’t need it.
The American Idol Experience (6.5/10) - A stage show singing competition emulating the American Idol television show, with actual park guests competing. The American Idol Experience is not exactly a fan favorite, but it’s not a bad attraction. It gets the feel of the show down, complete with judges who are “characters.” A big part of your enjoyment of the show will be the singing quality and stage presence of the guests performing. Enjoying the American Idol TV show isn’t necessary for enjoying this attraction, but it probably helps. FastPass+ is available, but it’s totally unnecessary.
The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow (4.5/10) – An intimate walk-through and show about Pirates of the Caribbean. The technology here is neat, but the premise and show itself are absurd. It’s probably too scary for small children, yet it seems aimed at them.
The Magic of Disney Animation (6/10) – An ‘inside look’ at the animation process, including a drawing class. For those interested in sketching a character, the drawing class is the highlight. Otherwise, this attraction has changed and lost its charm over the years.
This leaves out random pieces of entertainment (the highlights of which are the excellent Citizens of Hollywood performers–their daily “Funniest Citizen” finale is not to be missed), character meet & greets, play areas, and seasonal offerings, like Star Wars Weekends, but it’s the significant attractions. If you have the time, try as much as you can, as you’ll likely disagree with us on at least a few of these attractions.
If you’re planning a trip, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
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Which Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions are your favorites? Which ones do you normally skip? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World yet, which Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions are you most excited about? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!