Disney World with a Toddler – Part 3: Hollywood Studios (Lights, cameras, Mickey Mouse!)

Hollywood Studios has a lot of thrilling experiences to offer. Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, and my very favorite, the Tower of Terror. It also boasts some very exciting shows that feature action and explosions. It’s a great place to visit as an older child or adult, but I wasn’t sure if it would have a lot to offer the toddler set. Although it’s no Magic Kingdom, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of things Baby Girl thoroughly enjoyed.

1.ย  Toy Story Mania
This ride is said to be the most popular ride in all of Disney World, and based on the continually long wait times even at the lowest time of the year I definitely believe it. We got fast passes, which you definitely will want to do first thing (fast passes ran out before noon). It’s a 3D arcade type ride, where you shoot at targets in a variety of galleries. It’s fun, but since C wouldn’t wear the 3D glasses and obviously couldn’t shoot at targets I don’t know how much she enjoyed it. If you can’t get fast passes this is a ride you can skip unless your child is old enough to participate.

2. The Great Movie Ride
This ride takes you “into the movies,” driving you though a variety of scenes from different blockbusters from different eras. At one point your car is highjacked by a gangster, which could be very scary for a child who is a little older than our 16 month old. You also drive through the movie Alien, and have a close encounter with the monster (this even scared me a bit…I covered C’s eyes). Baby Girl was too young to be scared, but if your child is a bit older and/or sensitive you’ll probably not want to take them on this ride.

3. Star Tours

We rode this ride while C was napping, taking advantage of fast pass and child swap. The result was I got my own private tour!! That’s right, I was the only passenger on my “flight!” It was an amazing experience! Star Tours was one of my very favorites as a kid, and was being renovated when Chris and I came on our last trip, so it was my first time on the re-vamped ride. I loved it!!

4. Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror

I grouped these ride together because they are right next to each other in the park, and we rode them back to back using child swap (you have got to take advantage of this feature!!). I’m all about thrill rides, so I was really glad we got to ride them, even though we had a toddler in tow (she loved the lobby of the Tower of Terror, and spent her time while we waited for Daddy ringing all the bells in the gift shop, to the annoyance of everyone around us I’m sure).

5. Studio Backlot Tour

This was really more of a tour than a ride, and we weren’t sure we wanted to do it until an afternoon rainstorm made it necessary for us to find something with a roof. It was interesting, and C liked to look at all the props and costumes as we drove by them.

She was content to sit still on Daddy’s lap, but if your toddler is higher energy you might not want to try it. There’s a few potentially scary moments too, during an explosives demo and a water special effect where it looks like you’re about to be swamped by a flood.

1. The Voyage of the Little Mermaid
This multi-media production tells the story of Little Mermaid using puppets, live characters, and clips from the movie. It’s a fun experience, and Baby Girl was pretty mesmerized. I think she would enjoy it even more if she were a bit older, and had watched The Little Mermaid a few hundred times. ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Disney Jr. Live!

This was far and away C’s favorite part of the day. In fact we watched it twice! It started a few minutes after Voyage of the Little Mermaid ended (the theaters are right across from each other) so it worked out perfectly. We saw it again while trying to stay out of the afternoon downpour. This is a show designed specifically for preschoolers, and stars favorite characters from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sophia the First and of course Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Unfortunately the characters are puppets instead of live, but C didn’t seem to mind. You sit on the floor and standing, jumping, and dancing is encouraged. There’s music and things falling from the ceiling. It’s every toddler’s dream come true.

3. Beauty and the Beast

I’ve seen the full-length Beauty and the Beast musical a couple of times, and this was basically a scaled down version. It was very well done, with beautiful sets and costumes, but we went too close to lunch and Baby Girl had a hard time focusing. I think she would have loved it if she’d been just a bit older. I thought it was great.

The characters here were mostly Pixar stars that were unfamiliar to C so we didn’t bother, but we did manage to meet two of her favorites.
1. Minnie Mouse

We just happened to walk by as she was standing under the Sorcerer’s Hat (her meet and greet times are kind of random, you definitely have to watch the schedule). We were the last group that got to meet her before the raindrops chased her inside (characters won’t stand out in the rain, for obvious reasons). This was the first time Baby Girl had met Minnie, and it was love at first sight on both parts. They were so cute together!

2. Mickey Mouse

We were fortunately right near the Art of Animation building when the rain hit, so we spent a pleasant 45 minutes inside, looking at the artwork and playing with the interactive screens.

You could meet Mickey, Ralph and Vanellope (from Wreck it Ralph) and stars of the Incredibles here. Sadly we missed Mr. Incredible (it was especially disappointing because we were wearing our matching Incredibles shirts, oh well) but we did stand in line for Mickey. It was a pretty long wait (probably 20 minutes) but worth it. Mickey spent a long time with us.

C was very impressed with his sorcerer’s hat, and Mickey was very interested in her shoes. He took one off to compare it to his, then put it back on a la Prince Charming. Very sweet. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think C would have enjoyed meeting Mike and Sully from Monster’s Inc. too, but the rain had made them close up shop.

We decided not to do a character meal at this park, since the only one available was with characters that I’d never heard of. We ate lunch at a quick service restaurant that served hot sandwiches which were very good (Backlot Express maybe?) and just went back to the resort for dinner.

General Tips
1. Bring a rain cover for your stroller
This was the only day we really dealt with a lot of rain, but boy were we glad for that stroller cover! We could hang out in shows and buildings, but you had to leave your stroller in stroller parking, which was out in the open. The stroller would have been completely drenched, which would not have been fun for C, and we would have had to carry her. Our stroller didn’t come with a cover but we ordered one online before we left. Well worth it!

2. Nap spot

We found a quite corner over in one of the Streets of America for C to sleep. There was a bench and it was kind of in the shade, which was nice. You just have to be careful not to get too close to the Lights, Motors, Action! show which is also on that side of the park and can be loud…all those revving engines and such.

3. Length of stay
There is definitely not as much for little ones at this park, so you can do everything by about 4pm. It’s a good day to head back to the hotel in the evening for swimming and relaxing. Downtime is definitely a necessity, especially with little ones, so that you’re not completely exhausted and can actually enjoy yourselves.

Hollywood Studios is a very fun park, but it is geared more for older kiddos. Still, there were plenty of experiences C absolutely loved, so I’m very glad we went.

Next post: Epcot!
For Animal Kingdom click here
For Magic Kingdom click here

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