BEST THINGS TO DO AT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS WITH LITTLE KIDS
Ok, moms. Let’s be really honest. When you’re planning your trip to Disney with little kids, Hollywood Studios kind of seems like the park that will barely have enough to do for half a day. Many parents wonder if they should even bother with this park while their kids are little.
After experiencing Hollywood Studios with my 2- and 3-year-old, I can attest that there is not only plenty to do, but so many new and exciting additions to the park that it kept our interest for the entire day.
Yes, several of the park’s highlights are geared more toward older kids, teens, and adults, but there is actually quite a bit that toddlers, preschoolers, and young children will love as well.
I would definitely encourage you to spend a day at Hollywood Studios with little kids if you’re planning out your Disney World itinerary. I’ve written out everything we did with our kids, and included which attractions were scary or overwhelming for them to help you make a more informed decision about what to include in your day.
Disclosure: My ticket to Hollywood Studios was complimentary since I was there as media covering the 30th Anniversary of the park. My kids were not free and I paid the normal ticket prices to get them in. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS ATTRACTIONS KIDS WILL LOVE
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST SHOW
Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage is a Broadway musical version of the movie we all know and love from our childhood, and it’s a favorite among small children. They’ll sing lots of songs from the movies, and it’s a great place to take a load off and rest when you’ve been walking all day with kids.
Keep in mind that it’s in an open-air amphitheater, so you won’t necessarily get relief from the heat, though most of it is in the shade.
You can get FastPass+ for this show, but I wouldn’t recommend using up your FastPass+ for this unless you’re dying to be in the front row. Just check the show times and pick whichever production fits best into your day!
FROZEN SING-ALONG CELEBRATION
The Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is another show your kids will really enjoy if they liked the movie Frozen. It’s full of songs from the movie, and there are even a few funny parts for the adults watching. It’s located in the Hyperion Theater in Echo Lake, making it a great spot to rest and escape the heat for a bit.
NEW! LIGHTNING MCQUEEN’S RACING ACADEMY
If your kids are anything like mine, they are obsessed with the Cars movies. When I heard there was a Cars-themed attraction coming to Hollywood Studios, the park went up a few notches in my book because it meant there was something else to do with my little ones.
This attraction is actually a show, not a ride. You’ll walk into a room with bench seating and screens surrounding you so you’re completely immersed in the experience. When the show starts, Lightning McQueen is unveiled and he’s there to teach you, the audience, how to race.
We get to use the simulator from the Cars 3 movie, so it feels like we’re right on the racetrack with the entire Cars crew. There’s teamwork to overcome a race with one of Lightning’s competitors and it’s just a really fun experience for the kids.
A word of warning that probably won’t apply to most people: my 3-year-old is very sensitive to sound and light. As much as he loves the Cars franchise (has the movies memorized, only gets Cars books from the library, sleeps with Lightning McQueen and Mater, etc), he got very nervous during the show because it was too loud for him. They also turn off all the lights which he didn’t love. I think we’ll bring noise-canceling headphones next time and he’ll be ok.
PIXAR PLACE: THE INCREDIBLE CELEBRATION
This was one of our favorite spots in the park, but keep in mind that it’s only temporary. This is where the old entrance to the Toy Story Mania ride was, but now it’s turned into a city block from Municiberg where the Incredibles live.
You can meet Edna Mode, have a dance party with the Supers, and take lots of pictures along the multiple photo walls that are set up. Eat a Jack-Jack Num-Num cookie, and enjoy some shade. It’s a really imaginative section of the park! Read my whole post on what to do in Pixar Place with the Incredibles.
STAR WARS: A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY
Full disclosure: we are not Star Wars people, so we have not done anything at Star Wars Galaxy yet. I kind of want to binge watch all the movies before they open the new Star Wars Land so I know what’s going on, but as of right now we’re clueless!
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far Far Away is an outdoor stage show at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. We didn’t stop to watch, but if you want a good seat, I’ve read you should check the show times and arrive about 15 minutes early.
From walking past while the show was going on, I can tell you that there is one really loud part (perhaps an explosion?) that scared the crap out of us every time it happened throughout the day.
DISNEY JUNIOR DANCE PARTY
I love that there is a special section of the park just for toddlers and preschoolers. The Disney Junior Dance Party has some of the best characters from Disney Junior shows like Mickey from Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Timon from the Lion Guard, Doc McStuffins, and Vampirina.
Kids get to dance along with the characters to songs from the Disney Junior shows, and there’s even a little bit of a story line as they wait for Mickey to arrive. If your kids need to get their wiggles out, this is the perfect spot to take them. It’s located in the Animation Courtyard.
CAN KIDS RIDE ROCK N ROLLERCOASTER OR TOWER OR TERROR?
For Tower of Terror, the height requirement is 40 inches, so there are plenty of young kids that could actually get on this ride. You know your child best, so it’s totally up to you to decide if they’ll be ok doing the ride if they meet the height requirement. There is a 13-story drop, and the story line is a little scary (haunted hotel, people getting hit by lightning, etc). We have not taken our kids on it yet, but it might be just fine for your child!
Rock N Rollercoaster has a height requirement of 48 inches, so unless your little one is probably going to play professional basketball someday, you don’t really have to worry about making a decision. If you do have a tall child that is asking about riding, keep in mind that it’s an incredibly fast ride and it takes place in the dark. Maybe wait until your child is closer to their teenage years to do this one. But again, you know your child best. Totally up to you if they meet the height requirement!
MUPPET VISION 3D
Muppet Vision 3D is another indoor show that makes for a great respite from the heat. Kids will love wearing the 3D glasses and the antics of the muppets gang. There’s almost never a wait for this show, and plenty of seating inside the theater.
TOY STORY LAND TIPS
Toy Story Land opened in 2018 and has been a huge hit with park-goers ever since. I think it appeals to our sense of nostalgia as adults (many of us grew up with the Toy Story movies), and the fact that they’re still releasing films for this franchise keeps little ones interested. (Plus it’s about toys! Of course kids love it!)
Having said that, it’s an incredibly popular area of the park, and you need a plan going into it.
I would definitely plan ahead and have a FastPass+ for one of these rides. Your best bet is to get a FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash, as that always has the longest lines by far. If your family doesn’t want to do the roller coaster (it’s an easy one - even my 3-year-old did it with no problem), then your second FastPass+ choice should be Alien Swirling Saucers.
TOY STORY MANIA
This is the 3D shooting ride formerly known as Toy Story Midway Mania. This ride is for all ages, and is incredibly fun, even for toddlers. Everyone gets the chance to shoot their “lasers,” as my 3-year-old called them, at 3D plates and balloons of different point values. The ride tallies up your total at the end to see who was the winner in your car.
There are 2 people per seat, but at one point my sister was on Rock N Rollercoaster and I was by myself with my 2 kids and the line was short, so I asked the Cast Member if I would be able to go on by myself with 2 kids. They said it was no problem! (Keep in mind my kids are 2 and 3 so we all fit on one bench).
SLINKY DOG DASH
The height requirement for this gentle roller coaster is only 38 inches, so even my 3-year-old was able to ride. The kids were not freaked out by it and were glad they did it, but they didn’t necessarily want to go back on it again (although I think my 5-year-old could be talked into it).
It’s currently one of the most popular rides in the park, and definitely the most popular ride in Toy Story Land, so definitely grab a FastPass+ for this ride if you can.
If you can’t get a FastPass+, try waiting until right before park close to get in line for this ride. The wait will be a lot shorter since most people are heading to Fantasmic or one of the other nighttime shows.
ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS
This is a fun Toy Story version of Mad Tea Party in Magic Kingdom, except no one has to spin the aliens. They swirl automatically! This is such a fun ride for almost all ages. The height requirement is 32 inches, so no babies, but many toddlers will be fine.
All of my kids enjoy this ride, and one of my kids is scared of everything, so that should tell you that it’s fun and not scary!
There are usually long lines for this ride, and if you used your Tier 1 FastPass+ on Slinky Dog Dash, you’ll want to be strategic about when you hit this ride. You’re waiting in the shade, but it’s still outside so it gets pretty hot. Try to avoid midday. Head to this ride in the early morning or later in the evening.
MORE TOY STORY LAND FUN
There are Buzz, Woody, and Jessie meet-and-greets, Green Army Men interactive performances, and you can eat at the quick service Andy’s Lunch Box restaurant. There are typically very long lines here, so if you want to try it out, make sure to use the My Disney Experience app to order your food ahead of time.
HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS PHOTO SPOTS
There are a few really fun photo spots around Hollywood Studios, especially in some of the more recently built areas of the park. Disney is catching on to Instagram trends and likes to build in fun, colorful walls where people can pose for photos.
There are plenty of them in Toy Story Land. Look for the checkerboard wall and the popsicle stick wall as you exit Toy Story Mania, and hit up the block wall in between the restrooms (yes, it’s weird to pose for a picture in front of restrooms, but everyone else is doing it, too).
There’s a photo pass spot in front of the big Toy Story Land sign, so it might be worth it to you to wait in line for a family photo there. (Tip: you don’t have to use the official photo pass picture they take. You can ask them to take a picture of you with your phone or camera).
There are tons of photo opportunities in the Incredibles Celebration area at Pixar Place, and I’ve written all about them here.
On Sunset Boulevard by the Route 66 Sign you can pose with the stack of suitcases.
By the new Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy show there are some fun photo walls, along with a great view of the Tower of Terror.
NIGHTTIME SHOWS AT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Fantasmic is a laser light show that performs each night in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. It can be a bit scary for young children with loud sounds and scary villains, but otherwise it’s a cool way to close out your day at Hollywood Studios.
WONDERFUL WORLD OF ANIMATION
This is the newest night show which premiered at Hollywood Studios 30th Anniversary. It’s a projection show on the Chinese Theater building that takes place every night at 9 p.m. Kids will love seeing all of their favorite characters starting and ending with the Mouse himself!
STAR WARS: A GALACTIC SPECTACULAR FIREWORKS
With the new Wonderful World of Animation at 9 p.m., you can expect the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks directly after at 9:30. You can remain in your spot around the Chinese Theater as the fireworks show will include projections onto the theater as well.
WHAT’S NEW AT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS IN 2019
STAR WARS LAND
Everyone is talking about the new land coming to Hollywood Studios in August 2019: Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. There will be 2 rides called Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance (probably not full-family rides), merchandise, and 2 quick-service restaurants to look forward to.
MICKEY AND MINNIE’S RUNAWAY RAILWAY
This will be the very first Mickey and Minnie-themed ride in the Disney Parks, and it’s coming to the Chinese Theater. The ride is inspired by the zany and hilarious Mickey Mouse Cartoon Shorts, and the animation and music will be in the same style. Riders will be dropped into the cartoon world. This ride will be coming out either Fall of 2019 or early 2020.
Disney Skyliner will be the newest form of transportation at Disney World. The gondolas will hold up to 10 people each and will move between Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Caribbean Beach, and Pop Century/Art of Animation.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS WITH LITTLE KIDS
As you can see, Hollywood Studios has improved immensely over the past few years, and will continue to get better and better for families with babies, toddlers, and little kids. We loved our day at this park and can’t wait to go back!