There are few vacation destinations that are as simultaneously wonderful and frustrating to bring a toddler to as Walt Disney World. Today I’m going to walk you through the One Day Touring Plan for Adults with Small Children at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As always, I have added several tips, suggestions, and snarky comments.
I will preface this plan by saying that I am learning to love Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but I am not ready to profess my adoration for it quite yet. The park holds a few of my favorite attractions (which I’ll get to below) and some wonderful themes, but I still find it to be scattered. What I mean by that is the different areas are not very well defined, and the transitions are mostly non-existent. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a theme.
Okay, okay, before this turns into my diatribe on what’s wrong with Hollywood Studios (the hat!) let’s get into the touring plan. I have paraphrased and added plenty of my always insightful comments (or at least I think they’re funny). You can refer to the original plan for all of its originality and planniness.
1. Arrive at the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios 30 minutes prior to opening.
It’s hard to argue with this, and this park may be the most crucial one to arrive pre-opening because of the all-out, elbows-flying, running-down-Grandma dash to…
Well, the race to Toy Story isn’t THAT bad. It is a little bit too competitive and too aggressive for my liking, though, so make sure you hang on to that little one until you’re clear of Pixar Place. I’ll discuss the actual attraction below (I know the suspense is awful, but please try not to scroll ahead).
I personally really like this show, but I’m a musical theater kind of guy (comments to yourselves, please). It’s long enough to get at least portions of all the popular songs in there while staying short enough to hang on to little attention spans (like mine). I also really love the rain effect.
Enough about me (I don’t say that often); you’re wondering how it is for 1 and 2 year olds. I would say that it’s…meh. If your child likes lights and singing, the kid may love it, but there are dark parts, smoke, lasers, and a really big Ursula that may just as likely terrify. If you are unsure, take a seat near the exit in case the need to flee arises.
To start, Star Tours has a 40” height minimum, so most toddlers will be too short to enjoy. Even if they are tall enough this is a little bit rough and loud and in-your-face, so they may not like that.
If you are wondering how the new (new? redone?) attraction is, I will tell you. Let me preface by saying that I am a huge Star Wars geek, yet not a fan of motion simulators (because they tend to be motion sickness stimulators). I loved this attraction. It is reasonably smooth, the 3-D images are fantastic, and the varied landscapes are thrilling. Even though there are locations taken from those “new Star Wars” movies (which I refuse to admit exist), I found this completely satisfying.
Your toddler will not be able to participate in this since the minimum age is four, but it still is fun to watch…for a little while. If you are unaware, the Training Academy is an interactive show where the basic story is that several new Jedi (young park guests) are trained in basic combat. The training is interrupted by Darth Vader, and then the kids take turns battling the Sith Lord (that’s Vader…told you I’m a geek). Watching the kids’ faces when Vader comes out is really fun, but the rest gets a little stale unless you have personal ties to one of the Jedi.
Just like many of the 3-D movies, the issues here with a little one are mostly related to loud noises and short attention spans. There are several in-your-face moments and big bangs (in true Muppet fashion), but overall this is such a fun show that I suggest you try it. For full disclosure, I’m a Muppet geek (yes, I’m a geek about everything…except Avatar).
This is a really fun play area, although a toddler may need help with a few of the apparatuses. I usually skip it, however, because it always seems very hot in there and is usually quite crowded. If you feel like your child has some energy to burn, this is as good a spot as any.
8. Toy Story Mania!
Well, now your patience has been rewarded and you get to read my thoughts about Toy Story. It’s a very, very fun attraction with absolutely ludicrous lines (like some rides, my opinion wasn’t worth the wait). Using FASTPASS, like you’re doing here, is just about the only way to go.
The actual ride has a few things that you should be aware of with a little one: You have to wear 3-D glasses, there are occasional blasts of air or sprays of water, and the guns may be tricky to operate. Most of all, the cars turn very quickly between game areas which can throw a small body around. My daughter whacked her head on the first spin (nothing serious), so I had to keep one hand on her shoulder the rest of the ride.
9. Eat lunch…or no dessert (and missing dessert at Starring Rolls or Writer’s Stop is a punishment).
10. Take a mid-day break. If your children are willing to ride Tower of Terror and you’ve not already done so, send one member of your party to get FASTPASSes for Tower of Terror on your way out of the park.
That paragraph is straight out of the Touring Plan and I left it verbatim because that says it all.
This is a great show, but there are a lot of variables to consider: It is a bit long for short attention spans, it is outdoors, and it is still outdoors. Sitting in the heat can be no fun.
I’m not a huge fan of this show. There is a lot of downtime in between stunts and it’s another outdoor show. Also, my interest in watching cars driving fast wanes quickly (okay, immediately). If you or your child are more forgiving of these things then go for it.
I don’t think this is a good idea for a toddler. They’re not going to care about the water effects pre-show (if it’s working), they will very likely be frightened by Catastrophe Canyon (if it’s working), and they will be bored by the props (they are usually working).
The most well done attraction in Walt Disney World. Your toddler may not meet the 40” height minimum and they will probably not like the attraction even if they do.
I’ve never seen this and I really don’t have a desire to. That is not helpful to you in any way.
This will have to be a judgment call for parents of small children. There are some hard-to-see water projections, fireworks, fire, and a dragon, all of which can be boring/scary for children. In addition, having to fight through the crowd to get to and from the theater always makes this show less appealing to me. On the other hand, it is a very good show.
That’s all there is for the plan, there are a few things that weren’t mentioned above though:
- Rock n’ Roller Coaster: A toddler is in no way going to make the 48” height requirement but, if you are not roller coaster averse, this is a very cool coaster.
- Disney Junior Live on Stage: This is a great diversion for the little ones which consists of what is basically a puppet show featuring Disney Channel characters. It has sketches from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I would insert this into the plan above (anywhere where another show or the Backlot Tour would be).
- Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey: This is only open seasonally. If you happen to be passing by and it is open, keep walking anyway. This show is dated, not that funny, and not that interesting. There are better ways to spend your time.
- The Great Movie Ride: A wonderful, classic-feeling ride that your small children will probably not give one darn about. They may find certain scenes interesting, but they may also be scarred for life by the Wicked Witch or the Alien scene.
- Character Greetings: I wanted to mention this because there are characters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that can only be found here. Greetings with Lightning McQueen and Mater (Cars), Phineas and Ferb, Mike and Sully (Monsters, Inc) and the Incredibles are all available.
Overall, it always feels like there is not a lot for a toddler to do at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. What there is to do is unique and fun, so it is still definitely worth a visit. Let me know what you think below (unless you like the giant hat…I’m just kidding…maybe).