With so much to see and do in every Walt Disney World Park, it can be confusing what you should prioritize. Though different families will prioritize different experiences, it’s always good to have a game plan of which well-known and lesser-known experiences are most worthy your time. Hollywood Studios is home to some of the best single attractions in Walt Disney World but be sure not to overlook some of the other aspects of the park that make it great. Here’s my top 10 experiences you need to do or see while in the park.
#1. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Disney World’s overall best-themed attraction is the Tower of Terror. The entire build up to the ride itself is incredibly suspenseful, with no small detail left out. Even if younger visitors won’t understand or appreciate the homages to classic Twilight Zone episodes, they’ll still feel the full force of the stress and spookiness of the ride – in a good way. If you’re a first time rider, you’ll definitely feel it, and I don’t want to go into too much more detail in order to avoid spoiling the experience.
One fun fact about the ride is that the pre-show contains real clips of Rod Sterling from the show. Though the host died before the attraction, the voiceover used for the ride is by Mark Silverman. Rod Sterling’s wife personally selected him, noting that she couldn’t tell the difference between him and her husband. At night, when entering or leaving Fantasmic, be sure to look up towards the top of the tower to see the spooky figure in the window.
This WAS my favorite Disney show all time. Unfortunately, I have to re-evaluate after recent changes to the show removed a good bit of the flow of the show. Regardless, the final product is still an awesome show and must-see experience. You’ll follow Mickey Mouse’s dreams as he uses his imagination to fight off classic Disney villains with the help of his hero friends. The show combines live acting, stuns, lighting, projections, and pyrotechnics to create a one-of-a-kind Fantasmic experience.
#3. Frozen Ever After: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration
I personally despise Frozen (though Frozen 2 was solid) and I love this show. Though Frozen Ever After is a sing-along which kids will love, it features live comedian-narrators who are an absolute treat to see. They do have “lines” that they go through, but have tons of jokes to choose from, and sometimes go completely off script. The live nature of the show in combination with their antics make the whole thing enjoyable for an entire family.
#4. Rockin’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith
This is Disney World’s most thrilling ride by far. After you take a seat in your stretch limo, you’ll be blasted from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds before speeding through 3 inversions. It’s the only Disney coaster that goes upside down, and the only one that makes you really feel it in your stomach when you launch.
Though the coaster is meant to serve as just a thrill ride, the queue and theming of the coaster are still somewhat creative. You’ll tour through the G force record label before joining an Aerosmith recording session before their concert. Since they’re late, they’ll need to hurry across town to the venue – and of course bring you with them! Note that the ride has a single riders’ line, but that line can sometimes still be a 30-40+ minute wait!
#5. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the ride you’ll here about when anyone talks about Hollywood Studios. It’s an impressive combination of ride systems which creates an awesome experience – when fully operating. The issue which keeps the ride from truly being Disney’s premiere attraction is that all of the systems don’t always function properly – and Disney doesn’t seem to bother fixing them. Therefore, you need to be aware of the plot of the ride before going on it. Last time I rode, we skipped the entire pre-show, which caused the guest next to me to question “why the cast members were being so mean.” So here’s the plot: You’re visiting a secret rebel base. After getting a transmission from Rey, you’re being flown to rendezvous with Leia on another planet, only to be captured by the First Order. You’ll be interrogated and will have to find a way to escape the Star Destroyer.
#6. Alien Swirling Saucers
Though the ride is meant as a sort of extra attraction in Toy Story Land to help with guest flow, the ride is way more fun than you would expect. It’s a “scrambler” type ride that you might see at a state fair which rotates around and axis and swings your car around. What makes the ride really great is the theming and music. The little green aliens from Toy Story are present, and the soundtrack for the ride includes fun remixes of the most famous Toy Story songs. Around Christmastime, the music changes to holiday tunes. Overall, Alien Swirling Saucers is just a fun ride that shouldn’t be overlooked due to all the other star attractions in the park.
#7. Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
For a different type of theme park experience, the Indiana Jones show offers a behind the scenes view into how action movies are filmed. You’ll join a cast of stunt actors as they act out the scenes and offer insights into special tricks used to create the realistic effects. The show, both as an action performance and as a behind-the-scenes experience, is a cool addition to your day filled with blockbuster rides.
#8. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
Possibly the most overlooked attraction in the park, the Lightning McQueen Racing Academy is a cute show featuring everyone’s favorite racecar. The “Ka chow” king will be helping to train guests on how to race like him before things get a bit off track. The story of the ride is creative, the Lightning McQueen animatronic is convincing, and the entire show is quick enough (and without long of a wait) to qualify as a hidden gem. Both kids and parents can enjoy the show together, or it’s a great spot to check out while older guests are visiting the two nearby thrill rides on Sunset Boulevard.
#9. Have a Meal at Sci Fi Drive In or 50’s Prime Time Cafe
Hollywood Studios somewhat lacks good quick-service food options, but there are two awesome full-service dining locations. Sci Fi Drive In will offer guests the chance to experience the American classic drive-in movie by dining in a convertible car table! You’ll be inside under a simulated night sky with a huge screen playing classic sci-fi films. The whole experience is very cool!
Not to be outdone, the theming of the 50’s Prime Time Café is also very unique. You’ll be greeted as a “cousin” before taking your seat at your family’s home for a home cooked meal. Since you’re dining with family, you’ll be treated as family – with all the sass and attitude you might expect. It’s a fun experience that might even end up with you getting a sticker – but only if you clean your plate!
#10. Toy Story Mania
This ride is a favorite of kids and competitive adults alike. You’ll hop aboard an vehicle to show targets in a sort of classic fair-arcade type game. Pulling the string on the gun in front of you will launch objects at targets with different point values. At the end of the ride, you’ll get a score and a “prize” rating. If you’re good enough, you might even make it on the top-list for having the best score of the hour, day, or month! There are very specific combinations of targets that you need to hit in order to attain these high scores, so don’t get your hopes up about making it on the list. Though I usually get the best score of the hour, I’ve only made it on the top for the month a couple of times since you need a partner sacrificing their score to help yours. Feel free to look up “Toy Story Mania Secrets” to get the secrets to improve your score on the Toy Story Mania ride!
Honorable Mention: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Though it’s a new attraction and the only ride which features Mickey, there’s something left to be desired with the ride. It’s not quite a must-do because it’s not all that special, despite having a cool trackless ride system and fun physical sets. The pre-show effect of the ride is one of the coolest things, so be sure to pay attention after you’re sent into the smaller rooms!