Disney’s Hollywood Studios Counter Service Restaurants Rankings

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This post ranks the best quick service restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, a park with notoriously bad counter service options. In fact, “best” here might be a bit of a misnomer, as it could be more of a question of which restaurants are the “least worst.” Rankings are based upon a restaurant’s overall appeal, with factors such as cuisine quality, theme, uniqueness, and menu variety taken into account.

While I think Disney’s Hollywood Studios is actually underrated when it comes to table service dining, the same cannot be said for its counter service options. It doesn’t have a single restaurant on our Top 10 Counter Service Walt Disney World Dining list, and accordingly is the only Walt Disney World theme park not represented. Now, the counter service options at Disney’s Hollywood Studios aren’t awful, there’s just no real draw or anything that leaves a lasting impression. If your budget allows, I highly recommend doing table service meals here; you’ll certainly have time given the lack of attractions currently operating in the Studios.

Note that these rankings focus only on the major counter service spots at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so not every outdoor vending cart and little location makes the list. We’ve dined at all of these spots, but have yet to review most of them…largely because there’s little to say. Our meals at most of these spots have been out of necessity when we couldn’t get into 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, and we simply had to eat somewhere.

Let’s get started with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios counter service rankings… (more…)

1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios “Daily Trip Blueprint”

If we were going to spend a “perfect” day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, these are the attractions we would do, the restaurants at which we’d dine, the shows we’d see, and the details we’d try to enjoy. This post continues our series of 1-day park itineraries designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do if you only had one day in ____ Disney park?” We call this series our “Daily Trip Blueprints,” or DTBs for short.

Frankly, “perfect day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios” in 2015 is sort of a misnomer. If I wanted to have a perfect day at Walt Disney World, that day would involve not going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this year. This is because Disney closed a slew of attractions at Hollywood Studios around the start of the fiscal year, with the rumored reasoning being to save operating costs as expensive construction began to totally overhaul the park.

This overhaul is rumored to contain a massive “Pixar Place” expansion (that may or may not include elements of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure and almost certainly will include attractions akin to Toy Story Playland in Hong Kong Disneyland) and a huge Star Wars Land. Again, this is rumor, but construction is expected to begin at some point in 2015 with an announcement being made at the upcoming D23 Expo. The expansion will also include placemaking and other cosmetic and thematic changes to the park, the first of which is occurring with the removal of the giant Mickey Mouse Sorcerer’s Hat at the front of the park.

All of this, unfortunately, means that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in sort of sad shape right now, and likely only get worse later this year and into next (and beyond) as the park becomes a sea of construction walls. If you’re planning a once in a lifetime trip and are dead-set on doing every park at Walt Disney World, by all means, go. You’ll still have a good time. However, if I were going to skip any park this year or thinking about devoting a day to Universal Orlando, well, Disney’s Hollywood Studios would probably get skipped. It’s not high on my “List of Places to Visit” for 2015.



With all of that said, this post assumes moderate crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the day of your visit; actual crowds and park hours vary. Consult our When to Visit Walt Disney World post to determine how bad crowds might actually be, or to plan your visit. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive to plan every aspect of your Walt Disney World vacation, from where to purchase discount tickets to transportation to what to pack and more, read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.

FastPass+ is somewhat important for Disney’s Hollywood Studios (read more about FastPass+ in our MyMagic+ FAQ), especially if you want to do Toy Story Mania. The Studios uses a tiered system for FastPass+, and my top picks for each tier are as follows: Toy Story Mania (Tier A) plus Tower of Terror and Star Tours (Tier B). For the plan, we’ll assume you are able to make the recommended FastPass+ selections. At other parks, you want to make FastPass+ reservations for earlier in the day so you can get more FastPass+, but it doesn’t really matter here, as the other FastPass+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (besides Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster) are sort of worthless.

We’re also going to arbitrarily assume that you want to stay in a hotel that’s most convenient to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is also a hotel convenient to Epcot, as the hotels in the Crescent Lake Resort Area are within walking distance of both parks. If you’re spending several nights at Walt Disney World, this area may not be your priority, but if Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are your “most important” parks, and you might want a hotel in this area. My top picks here are BoardWalk Inn or Beach Club. While these are a bit pricey, the good news is that you can save money at them by Renting Disney Vacation Club Points. The Swan & Dolphin are also good options if you don’t need to use Disney’s Magical Express.

Once you wake up from wherever it is that you are sleeping, here’s what to do…

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Star Wars Weekends 2015 Tips & Tricks

Star Wars Weekends 2015 are held May 15-17, May 22-24, May 29-31, June 5-7, and June 12-14, 2015 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. This post covers when to visit, our tips for visiting, and more. Star Wars Weekends are geared towards all things Star Wars (from Episode 7: The Force Awakens, to Star Wars Rebels to merchandise like “Her Universe” to the animated TV show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Celebrities who have played a part in the Star Wars expanded universe are in attendance, there’s a special parade, shows, and every day ends with fireworks. It’s a lot of fun whether you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan or just a fan of fun (we fall into the latter camp).

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World countless times (and it’s probably not a bad assumption that you have if you’re reading this blog), you might be looking for ways to see the place a-new. One way to to find new experiences is to visit during a seasonal festival or weekend event. One such weekend event is Star Wars Weekends, held in May and June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

This post has been updated for 2015 to reflect changes to Star Wars Weekends, including the return of the character meals, potential tie-ins with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, as well as new strategy and tips. It also reviews the extensive changes that occurred last year. We attended Star Wars Weekends last year on the weekend of May 23, 2014, and did everything that was new for last year.

With those housekeeping notes out of the way, let’s take a look at what Star Wars Weekends have to offer, whether they might be for you, and how to make the most of your time at the event. We’ll start with why you should visit, and then cover the best weekend for Star Wars Weekend, and move on to other strategy from there…

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Sorcerer’s Hat Removal at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Note: This post was originally published two years ago as an editorial concerning why the Sorcerer’s Hat should be removed as part of the rumored overhaul of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Two years later, that overhaul still remains a strong rumor, but there has been confirmation that the Sorcerer’s Hat finally will be removed in early 2015. Removal of the Sorcerer’s Hat began on January 7, 2015 and will occur in phases through the spring. We thought it appropriate to republish this post. It’s as timely now as it was in 2012. 

With a lot of rumors that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is set for a massive overhaul and expansion presently floating around, I thought it would be a good time to weigh in. No, not on the substance of what will be added specifically. I don’t pretend to have any “insider” information, although I am hopeful that Kathy Mangum’s relocation to Florida means something other than Cars Land coming to Florida (my preference would be for it to remain exclusive to Disney California Adventure so that park can have its own unique draw). I’m referring to something far more important–something that needs to be removed as part of any overhaul at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Big Sorcerer Hat (also known as the BAH–I’ll let you mull over that acronym in your head). Over the years, the number of people who like the Big Sorcerer Hat exactly where it stands has surprised me. To be clear, I have absolutely no issue with the Big Sorcerer Hat, I just think it’s not thematically appropriate for its present location in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and should be removed on that basis.

For years, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre had acted as a thematically appropriate “weenie” at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards (not necessarily the park’s main icon–by most accounts Earful Tower was meant to be that) drawing guests down Hollywood Boulevard, which was themed, unsurprisingly, to various design styles of old Hollywood. Grauman’s itself similarly represented old Hollywood, being a re-creation of one of the most iconic theaters in Hollywood. It similarly fit the theme of Sunset Boulevard and transitioned nicely into the surrounding area. While the architecture down the Boulevards might seem like a random mish-mash, it is far from that. In fact, close inspection reveals that the Imagineers went to painstaking lengths to model the buildings after period locations in Hollywood. All of these buildings are representative of an idealized old Hollywood (“the Hollywood that never was and will always be”), and create a clear visual motif and theme to this portion of the park. (more…)

Baby Sinclair in the Osborne Lights at Disney World

No, that headline above isn’t desperate clickbait. Baby Sinclair of Dinosaurs fame made his debut in Walt Disney World’s Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights…a year ago. Since we only cover the hard-hitting news and have the utmost journalistic integrity here at Disney Tourist Blog, a team of drunken monkeys has been working for like 10 minutes on this post we’ve been carefully researching this critical development since Baby Sinclair first appeared in order to bring you our thorough analysis, and have finally completed this arduous task. We present the fruits of our labor in this brilliant essay about Baby Sinclair in the Osborne Lights.

At this point, some of you are probably muttering, “who is Baby Sinclair, and why should I care?” First, shame on you. Second, Baby Sinclair is the voice of a generation: my generation. Before we get to his significance in the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Walt Disney World, a bit of background is probably in order so you can understand just how important this is, and what it means for the future of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Dinosaurs is a sitcom that ran in the early 1990s from Jim Henson Productions–the first major project after the death of Jim Henson–that lasted only four seasons. It features a family of dinosaur Muppet-esque characters in an edgy family sitcom. For youngsters like me, the show was all about Baby Sinclair. In a retrospective on the show, Vulture described him succinctly as the “silly TV candy meant to lure younger viewers into what is otherwise a family sitcom with a sneakily serious agenda.”



Baby Sinclair was something special for my generation. A hero. Not the hero we deserved, but the hero we needed. Perhaps “hero” is the wrong word, but he was a dinosaur and he was awesome, so it seems about right. If anything, he seemed like the character Generation Me deserved: rude, narcissistic, and demanding that his parents cater to his every whim. These lovely attributes became hallmarks of my generation, and there’s a distinct possibility that Baby Sinclair was partially the catalyst.

There’s also a good chance that he was written to have dual meanings: one as the “candy” that would draw in younger viewers with his catchphrases and adorable obnoxiousness, the other as commentary on the same young viewers who loved him. After all, once you got past the mind-blowing awesomeness of the fact that you were watching the actual, recreated social dynamic of dinosaurs in their natural habitats as they actually lived millions of years ago (source: science), Dinosaurs was, at its core, social commentary. (more…)