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Our Experience: Returning to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened to the public on Wednesday, July 15. My daughter and I were there when the gates opened! We’re local Passholders, and huge “Star Wars” fans. This was the Disney Park Pass reservation that I wanted the most.

 

We arrived a good 45 minutes before the 10:00 opening time. There are no trams running at any of the parks, but we’re avid walkers so we rarely take the tram anyway. We made it right through temperature check, and I can’t say enough good things about the new bag check system. We scanned our MagicBands (no more finger scans) and were on Hollywood Boulevard less than five minutes after we parked.

Arrival Crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Immediately we noticed that there was a bit of a crowd gathered towards the end of the street, so we decided to duck into a store for a few minutes. Cast Members were recording the number of people in and out of the store, so it would never get crowded. When we went back outside the crowd was gone, guests were headed to different areas of the park.

Millennium Falcon in Galaxy’s Edge

We went immediately to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Of course our primary goal was to get into a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Boarding Passes are now being released at 10:00, 1:00, and 4:00, to help do away with the large crowds early in the morning. I opened the My Disney Experience App at exactly 10:00 like you’re supposed to. There were some problems that I won’t go into. It took two different trips to Guest Relations to get the problem fixed, but we were finally able to ride. I hope that Disney quickly works out the kinks, because we talked to other people throughout the day who also had problems joining a Boarding Group.

 

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Rise of Resistance Guest Services Area

Rise of the Resistance is my favorite ride that I’ve ever been on, and it was even better than ever. I was scared that the preshow might be cut, or worse yet the journey in the transport ship, but we experienced it all. You’re given a number and you’ll stand on that number for the preshow, in the area with Poe’s X-wing, and on the transport. The extra space in the transport ship was nice, it made it easier to see what was going on and to truly feel like we were a part of the action. On the Star Destroyer it was one party to each vehicle.

Star Wars: Rise of Resistance

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was more crowded than the other lands that I’ve seen since Walt Disney World began to reopen. While it wasn’t packed, it also wasn’t like what we saw at Disney’s Animal Kingdom two days earlier! People need to remember to keep their distance, because there were times when parties were not six feet apart.

Galaxy’s Edge Storm Troopers

The queues are all now marked for social distancing. When people might be right next to another group there are plexiglass barriers. The library preshow was not part of the Tower of Terror experience. On Smugglers Run, Hondo still gave instructions, but guests walked through the room while he talked. It was also one party per ride; so you can pick your favorite role. There was no preshow for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which kind of broke my heart because I love “The Perfect Picnic”. There are physical barriers between some seats on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. Those are just a few of the small changes that have been made.

Hondo in Smuggler’s Run

We used Mobile Ordering twice, once for Blue Milk and the other at PizzeRizzo. I prefer to eat upstairs in the Muppet themed restaurant. We were going to sit in the banquet hall (where Gil and Lill’s wedding reception is being held) but the open tables in there were all filthy. I wouldn’t have eaten in there even without a pandemic! We stayed upstairs, and found a clean table in the main area.

PizzeRizzo

There is a small mask Relaxation Station in Galaxy’s Edge. There is also one in Star Wars: Launch Bay. Since that one is indoors and air conditioned, we spent a few minutes there. There are circles on the floor, spaced apart. The problem was that people still wanted to experience Launch Bay, so guests with masks would be in the middle of guests without masks. The meet and greets in Launch Bay are closed and blocked off.

Star Wars Launch Bay Relaxation Station

Speaking of characters, they were a bit of a problem for us today, but this one was not Disney’s fault. We saw some when we were in Galaxy’s Edge, and it was our plan to spend some time towards the end of the day watching the Character Cavalcades on Hollywood Boulevard. The weather had other plans. It started to rain in the late afternoon. While the heavy rain didn’t last for too long, it never fully stopped, so we only saw Mickey’s Cavalcade.

Mickey!

There are currently no shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which usually will take up a good part of the day. Without the shows, it felt like something was missing. No live shows also led to longer Wait Times than we’ve seen in the other parks. Once the rain moved in both Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers shut down, and they didn’t reopen. There were also times when Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was temporarily closed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s my favorite park. The reopening Cast Members were fantastic (we even stopped by Guest Relations to leave a compliment for one) and we had a great time. We felt safe. That said, there are areas that need improvement. I hope that the kinks are worked out quickly, since it’s the park that is hardest to get a Disney Park Pass reservation for.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.