Hollywood Studios Rope Drop Report: Low Crowds & Luck!
We pick up where our Caribbean Beach Resort Stay Report left off, aboard the Skyliner to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Having boarded the gondola at 9:42 am, it was a race against the clock to make it to the park in time for rope drop and the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue ‘boarding pass dash’ at 10 am.
For those who are new to reopening rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, due to the reduced capacity of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, boarding passes are gone pretty much instantly at 10 am. From that perspective, there’s little difference between arriving at 10:01 am or 1:59 pm–either way, you’re not getting a boarding pass during the first drop. (There’s another one at 2 pm, but inventory is usually significantly lower then.)
Gliding above the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, we noticed the parking toll plazas were fairly significantly backed up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This made us nervous about our chances, as it meant there was likely a backup for the temperature checkpoint and security screenings. Our margin of error was going to be slim, and any added friction could spoil our chances…
Worth noting for anyone staying at Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, or Riviera Resorts is that the Skyliner is probably the most efficient option (rather than Uber or driving) due to this backup at the parking toll booths. That is, so long as you can get to the CBR hub station early.
Upon “landing,” there was no wait for the temperature check station on the Skyliner and bus station side of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (there’s a separate checkpoint for guests arriving via car and it had a bit of a line), so we breezed through that. This was a bit of a surprise, and different from what we encountered last month in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Reopening Report: A Tale of Two Visits.
The story was the same at bag check.
The new screening devices (previously only at Animal Kingdom and Epcot’s International Gateway) have been installed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, making this a complete breeze. The line appeared slightly longer on the car arrival side, but even that should’ve moved quickly.
Note the crowds on the left side of the photo above versus the right side. Left is predominantly guests coming via car, whereas right is Skyliner and bus arrivals.
Neither side is busy as compared to pre-closure norms, and there was no wait at the turnstiles.
We stepped onto Hollywood Boulevard at 9:49 am.
That is incredibly good time–approximately 7 or 8 minutes–from stepping onto the gondola at Caribbean Beach Resort until entering Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You may have similar success, but don’t count on it–give yourself more of a buffer.
Above are directional signs for guest flow.
Please excuse the photo quality–we were trying to race back to Toy Story Land while I captured some illustrative photos as we went.
A quick look at the rope drop line for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
In the middle of the frame is a Cast Member with the “end of line” sign. The posted wait time is 1 hour and 20 minutes (or an 80 minute wait for the math challenged).
That’s a long wait time and most of it is out in the sun. We’d strongly recommend saving Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway until later in the day. While that 80 minute wait time is almost certainly inflated, this is definitely not the most efficient time to do the attraction.
Instead, start in Toy Story Land.
Slinky Dog Dash was already running when we arrived in Toy Story Land.
I’m not totally sure when it starts operating, but the answer is “before 9:54 am.”
We jumped into line for Slinky Dog Dash when the posted wait time (per the sign held by the Cast Member on the right side of the frame) was 20 minutes.
The actual wait was shorter than that. Some of this is probably luck, but not all of it. Toy Story Land is definitely the place to start the day, in our view. (Especially on weekends with locals disproportionately drawn to Runaway Railway.)
Speaking of luck, we scored boarding group 7 for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance while in line for Slinky Dog Dash. We each tried different strategies for this, with refreshing the “Virtual Queues” (via the hamburger button in My Disney Experience) proving the winning approach this go-round.
We noticed a lot of guests simply sitting or standing around waiting to join the virtual queue. Don’t do this–get in line for something to kill two birds with one stone. (For more tips, see our Ride Guide & FAQ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.)
At this point, we could’ve done Alien Swirling Saucers to our heart’s content. Since we have poor taste, we opted to do Toy Story Mania instead.
We’d recommend the one-two punch of Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania because the ride time for the roller coaster is short, so you’ll be ahead of the ‘wave’ of morning crowds. By contrast, even if you’re towards the front of the line for Runaway Railway, the start-to-finish time is longer (same goes for Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run or Tower of Terror).
From there, we bounced over the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for some photo time.
I can’t remember the last time we had low crowds, sun-kissed facades, and those glorious puffy “Florida clouds” in Galaxy’s Edge.
Since our goal was showcasing rope drop strategy for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we probably should’ve continued to do attractions…but I just can’t help myself. Instead, I ran around and took photos for “a few minutes” (probably more than that, I lost track of time).
While I was doing this, the posted wait time for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run was 10-15 minutes.
It was a beautiful day, but also a brutal one weather-wise. (It probably didn’t help that I had been racing around Caribbean Beach since sunrise.)
It’s a divisive land, but I love Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. On a pretty day with moderate crowds, the roaming characters out, and the sound effects thumping, it is the most immersive place at Walt Disney World. (It’s even better at night, but alas…)
Our boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was called fairly early on, but we didn’t head back right away–wanting to get stuff done and soak up the ambiance of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge while it was relatively uncrowded.
This run-through was mostly unremarkable. We got to exactly the same point in the queue before encountering other parties as our last time doing the ride. Pretty much everything was identical to that prior ride, so we won’t rehash that here. (See our Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Reopening Ride Report for full details.)
Here’s a screenshot of wait times around Disney’s Hollywood Studios taken while we were in line for Rise of the Resistance.
Notably, the posted wait for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is decreasing while everything else is rising.
Back to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, there are a couple of noteworthy things. First, it continues to be the case that not all numbered markers are used for the ITS, which prevents backups in the hangar.
Disney should really remove a couple of the numbers and reposition the existing ones in the briefing room and ITS, as some numbers have poor views in both locations (as was the case for us). That’s a really simple and quick fix, and it’s frustrating that it hasn’t happened in the month DHS has been operating.
Second, the final major effect was not working on our ride-through of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, with the screen-based version running instead. Everything else was excellent. (We’re being deliberately vague with all of this to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve ridden, you know. If you haven’t, you’re better off with the vagueness.)
No wait for MuppetVision 3D. So many distinctly unpatriotic guests these days.
Don’t let its lack of popularity fool you–MuppetVision is a Walt Disney World unheralded gem. Anyone with a (good) sense of humor will love it.
Continuing towards the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we see that the wait time for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is now 50 minutes.
With waits spiking elsewhere, it’s strategically and theoretically a good time to jump in line. However, there’s still a lot of outdoor queue and this is the most uncomfortable time of the day.
Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster had 35-40 minute waits at around noon, and judging by their overflow queues being in use, those are probably accurate.
On other occasions, we’ve noticed Tower of Terror posting a 45-50 minute wait with no queue outdoors. While it’s possible for this to be the case with one elevator down, it’s just as likely that the time is arbitrarily inflated. We’ve noticed it oscillating between 50 minutes and 13 minutes.
Rather than doing more at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we opted to head back to Caribbean Beach Resort to enjoy the amenities and continue doing “research.”
Taking a midday pool break or doing a long table service meal would be a fairly savvy strategy at this point. Then, finish up remaining attractions in the afternoon as other guests start to leave (see our last Disney’s Hollywood Studios Report for more late arrival strategy).
Ultimately, our rope drop experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios went way better than we expected. Entering the park was totally smooth, we got lucky with the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding pass dash, and pre-opening crowds & lines in Toy Story Land were surprisingly low. This park remains a challenge–especially with the summer heat & humidity–because there’s not enough to fill a full day, but with savvy strategy you can accomplish everything (and then some) in a single day (or less).
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Have you visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios since the park reopened? What was your experience? When did you arrive? How long did you stay? If you did rope drop, which attraction did you do first and how long was the actual wait? Weekday or weekend? If you’ve yet to visit, will you be attempting to join the modified virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Do you plan on arriving at rope drop, or will you utilize a late arrival strategy? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Terrible advice! We went ahead and went straight to slinky dog dash. 10:00 rolls around and we are literary in the middle of loading the train. Missed our chance at the virtual line! I highly recommend eating the time sitting somewhere where you can focus on the task.
Do you really think it’s still necessary to leave out spoilers for Rise of the Resistance despite the fact that it has only been in operation for basically 5 1/2 months when counting the closure between March and July and that, with everything that’s going on in the world right now, any interest in what exactly happens in the ride may be, for the moment, irrelevant?
As someone who had never ridden the ride until two weeks ago who was reading this blog, I personally appreciated the lack of spoilers. It sounds like there’s still a large group of non-Floridians reading this blog waiting for their future first-time trips as well.
I, too, appreciate the lack of spoilers. I read this blog a lot and have purposely avoided any blog posts that could contain spoilers on other sites. We were supposed to go to Disney this year, but it got postponed/canceled due to Covid.
Do you have to backtrack and transfer at CBR for the skyliner if you’re heading to HS from Riviera? Or can you hop on directly to studios from the hotel? Thanks!
We recently return from a stay at the Riviera. In the morning We found it best to walk and get on the Skyliner at Caribbean beach. When every minute counts, waiting in line for the Skyliner at the riviera only to have to get off and wait in line again at the Caribbean beach transfer station is frustrating. When heading to Epcot you don’t transfer, BUT first thing in the morning all the cabins get filled at Caribbean beach prior to arrival at the riviera. Hope that makes sense. It was a hot sweaty walk in July but most times of year could be a leisurely stroll to start the day. Bus service to Magic Kingdom for rope drop also was really backed up. We used an Uber to contemporary one morning and that was a 17 dollars very well spent!
Thanks for the response, Beth!!
We are currently at Pop Century and got in line at 8:30. The line was huge. Luckily the line moved fast and we got on by 9:05, the line behind us was still really long. At Caribbean we got off at 9:25 and had to go to the end of the line which was already back to the resort. They kept the line moving and the Skyliner rocks because we boarded by 9:38. Arrived by 9:43. Through temp and security and in the park by 9:46.
What time does the skyliner start loading?
we did a split stay two weeks ago or so and 4 days of that was boardwalk.
We left around 9-9:10 each morning to walk over.
Slinky Dog begins loading at 9:45. We were in the second dog the one morning, off and sitting to get our boarding group.
Rockin Rollercoaster also loads at 9:45, and we did the same thing- getting on the 2nd Limo and then sitting down to get our boarding group.
We did the whole zig while they zag strategy as we walked in- seeing the bulk of people head to Mickey and Minnie or Galaxy’s edge. Our first day- we walked in at 9:30 and did wait first for Mickey and Minnie, and it was about 40 minutes, but we wanted to knock it out and not worry about trying to ride it later. Glad we did- as we never saw the line below 45 minutes all day long.
@Craig How long did it take to walk to HS from Boardwalk? What time would you say you passed through turnstiles? Thanks!!