Quick report on a day at Hollywood Studios

amk3

Active member
I drove my 16 year old daughter & 14 year old son down for just one day at Hollywood Studios focused on Star Wars. Initially we were going to do stay further away and stay longer in the Orlando area to kayak. Instead we ended up at the Disney Swan for two nights & coming back home earlier. This was a partial replacement of our canceled April trip.

We reached Hollywood Studios at 8:45 am for a 10 am opening. The period between 8:45 & 9:10 am was confusing. It was a holiday weekend and a fair number of people were there. It was not clear where cast wanted us to go or if we were going the correct way and the way people were being directed it felt like you were potentially being sent to where you'd be behind newly arriving people. I overheard staff saying admission would begin at 9:15, but they opened at 9:10, and even with temperature & security checks it went very quickly once they opened.

By 9:20 we were in line at Mickey & Minnie's Railway. I put the railway first in part because I wanted to minimize our time in indoors lines, and first thing in the morning the indoor queue hasn't been open. But the line kept moving forward. And really I thought there were enough people ahead of us to more than fill the indoor queue and it still kept moving forward. Finally we reached the building entrance. I asked the cast member if they were already operating the ride. He said they were not. I asked if we could step aside and continue to wait outside because we were trying to minimize our time in indoor queues. He said they have a policy now in the mornings that anyone who wants to step out of line has to go to the end of wherever the line is at that point because they have so many people trying to avoid indoors or on a ride at 10 am for RotR. We went on inside, but I kept thinking of leaving the line completely. But, as it turns out, the ride was already operating. We had a lovely ride, and were out of the building again long before 10 am.

We then went to RNRC, where the line was also moving so briskly I thought the ride must be operating even though it was not yet 10 am. We got out of line and went back to the end of the line so we would still be outside at 10 am. Even after we got out of line and moved back a good 40 people, we barely had enough time to book our RotR boarding group (hooray!) before we were under the canopied part of the outdoor line. We moved through quickly and were back out front by 10:15. At that point ToT was the obvious choice, but my 14 year old doesn't ride any thrill rides, and my 16 y.o. had already decided to skip ToT this trip because she's too scared of it to stand in line for it.

We headed over to Star Tours, where the wait was already posted at 45 minutes. I pulled up Josh's post to compare photos & make sure it was not really closer to 20 minutes, but the outdoor extended queue looked quite full. So we continued on to Galaxys Edge, to explore. And... realized there are painful queues for even shopping at the more minor stores. But we walked around and explored. Tried the Milk Stand (nice novelty value, but not great). Realized too late that the Oga's Cantina standyby list is on the app, and it was full. We hadn't had breakfast, so we wanted to eat as early as possible. We had to wait around for a bit for Docking Bay 7 to open at 11 am, but lovely lunch. Great presentation on all the food, and the pot roast was really way too good to be at a theme park quick service restaurant. The online ordering is seamless. They don't send you indoors to get your food until it's confirmed ready, so it's under 5 minutes to go in and get your food. There's a shaded outdoor seating area that was mostly empty, so we sat and relaxed and hydrated.

At 11:55 the kids had Droid Depot, which was what they had looked forward to the most for our canceled April trip. I was disappointed when we walked in. All the work stations were filled. I'd seen videos post-reopening with a lot of empty stations to space people out more. The two doors were opening frequently enough it did add some ventilation. But considering how long families are in the space, it's a lot of exposure for the staff especially. I left for part of their time building since they were definitely old enough to be alone and older people tend to both infect others and get infected by others more easily. The kids absolutely loved the experience as much as they thought they would, and are in love with their droids. We hadn't been planning to take a break, but between the heat, the boxes, and really nothing we wanted to do the next two hours we left at 12:35 pm to go back to the Swan. Since we'd walked over we didn't know where to catch the bus back. As short as the walk is, it was unpleasant with the droids & the heat index near 100. We were happy for an hour in the AC. Kids played as much with their droids as they used to play with their little stuffed animals. I ended up taking a shower.

We got back at 2 pm, and into the Smugglers Run line around 2:15. I think it was posted 50 minute wait? It didn't seem that long, as it's a decent queue to stand in. The kids loved this ride. Thanks to the pandemic it was like the two of them had their own Falcon with mom along to take some photos. Constant sibling bickering and laughter trying to pilot the ship.

Our RotR boarding group was called just as we were coming out of SR. But we were all a little snackish. We couldn't find any snacks in Galaxys Edge, so we went back to Docking Bay 7 & got two kids meals. The hummus kids meal was a good small snack for me, but it was way less kid friendly than even the description made me think. Like, not nearly enough hummus, and way too many veggies. And small. The kids split the chicken & mac & cheese kids meal, so we all had a little something.

Missing RotR was what made me saddest about our April trip, and I loved it! It was so immersive. Kids weren't as enthusiastic. Both said they liked SR better.

We then got the Star Wars novelty bottle cokes my son had been drooling over and found a bench part way to Star Tours to sit down and drink them. By then the ST line was quite short, but while we were drinking them I asked if they really wanted to ride ST after SR. Both said no, so we went back to shop in the market area, and then got in the line for a second SR ride. Line was still about the same and as pleasant.

We walked onto Aliens and then walked onto TSMM twice. By then it was 6:30. SDD was scheduled for next, but the line was still a solid 30 minutes long, and both kids preferred SR, so we did that a third time. The SR line was so short I thought we might have a chance to get back to SDD. But when we walked out it was 2 minutes to closing, and it was raining. We rode SR for a 4th time. Because the sun had set by then on Bantau, we flew the falcon out into dark rather than into daylight. That was a detail we hadn't known, and a nice little touch. By the time we were off of our 4th time on SR, it was dark enough we got to really enjoy Galaxys Edge empty and at night, when it was much more atmospheric. Even at night, not quite as immersive as Pandora. But maybe it would be with a little foray into Oga's? Especially a nighttime one. Not having a pandemic would also likely improve the atmosphere.

On the distancing: except for Droid Depot we were pretty pleased. All of the queues are set up with the markers offset from each other, so you don't have anyone right in front of you or right behind you or right next to you at any point. At SR I'd estimate about 20 minutes of the wait is in the indoor queue? Half of that time is in the large hangar where there's a larger air volume, and the rest is split between three areas. RotR seemed more protracted indoors, but that could have seemed longer because I was not really expecting a line and because we ended up between two groups with kids who were misbehaving. M+M Railway done first thing in the morning was under 10 minutes indoors. It might be longer later in the day. RNRC was also under 10 minutes indoors. Although we hit it early, the way the queue is set up I don't think the indoor portion of the line would be any longer later in the day. Mask compliance was high. The only people we saw take off their mask in the indoor queue were in the two groups we were sandwiched between for RotR. (Even one of the mothers took her mask off and talked for 3 minutes.) In the outdoor queue mask compliance was pretty high except for small kids and for those drinking water. It was definitely more common to see people taking off their masks when just walking around out of doors not near others. But most people were pretty serious about keeping them on even with no one near them and out of doors.

Given that people seemed to be taking it seriously, the restaurants shocked me. At Docking Bay 7, even with an easy and shaded out of doors seating option and the staff obviously focusing their efforts on getting you through the indoors portion quickly, most people were choosing to sit indoors. At the Swan I picked up to go pizza from Il Mulino. The tables were only slightly spaced, and the tables were turning over very slowly. The bar was packed. Maybe not quite Saturday night packed by pre-pandemic standards, but definitely every bar stool full. Mostly people over age 50. The actual Disney restaurants might be more spaced out than that, but definitely reinforced my preference to avoid restaurants.
 
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Mrs Darling

Well-known member
Sounds like you were able to stay relatively socially distanced and still have a great time. So nice to be reading a trip report again!! Thanks for that!
 
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