Disney’s Hollywood Studios trip report – February 2014 (more FastPass+ observations & problems, Beauty and the Beast)
My family and I recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) on a pleasant day with temperatures in the low 70s – perfect for visiting one of Orlando’s theme parks.
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We had not visited DHS since the new FastPass+ system was implemented for all guests. Last month, we used the new system at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and I reported on our experience, including some helpful tips. Because we do not have MagicBands, we needed to make our FP+ reservations at a kiosk located in the park.
There are four such kiosks indicated on the DHS park map, located near the following attractions: Tower of Terror, the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, Muppet Vision 3D, and Toy Story Midway Mania. There were also additional temporary locations positioned underneath the Sorcerer’s Hat and in the American Idol queue. While my husband was renewing our son’s DAS (Disability Access Service) card at Guest Relations, I went in search of a kiosk to reserve our FastPass+ selections.
The first kiosk location was at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, next to the building with the Hollywood Junction sign on top. I thought the line was long here, so I decided to go to the kiosk next to Tower of Terror.
Surprisingly, that line extended to the courtyard of Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, and I waited approximately 15 minutes before I was able to make my choices.
It’s important to know that FastPass+ is different at Hollywood Studios than at either Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.
At DHS, the rides and attractions are divided into what Disney calls “Experience Groups.” Guests are limited to one FP+ reservation from Experience Group 1 and two reservations from Experience Group 2. Consequently, it is not possible to make reservations for both Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, because they are both in the first group. This limitation is problematic for many guests.
The other two attractions in Experience Group 1 are Fantasmic and the Beauty and the Beast show. Everything else is listed under Experience Group 2.
While I was in line to make our FastPass+ selections, it was around 11:00am. A Cast Member made an announcement that Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Mania did not have any reservations available for the remainder of the day. Guests started to leave the line not realizing that they should go ahead and make reservations for the other attractions, because they could check back later in case FP+ slots opened up for those three popular rides.
If you do not have MagicBands, the best strategy is to arrive early at the park and make your FP+ reservations immediately – just like arriving early was the best strategy for the old, paper FastPass system. I was able to reserve the Beauty and the Beast show, the Disney Junior show, and Star Tours.
Walking around the park, I noticed the Backlot Tour was closed for refurbishment and the Premier Theater was showing “Blank, A Vinylmation Love Story” throughout the day.
Merchandise related to the movie was available for sale, including t-shirts for $29.95 and iPhone cases for $34.95.
The Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine character meal at Hollywood & Vine Restaurant was recently updated to include Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. Characters from the popular television channel meet and greet guests during the buffet breakfast and lunch. The Walt Disney World website description says:
“A few of your Disney Junior favorites are coming to Hollywood & Vine – don’t miss this chance to eat, play, and dance along with friends from Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Handy Manny during this fun and interactive dining experience.” Reservations are recommended for this character meal, with prices falling in the range of $15.00 to $29.99 per adult for breakfast and $30.00 to $59.99 per adult for lunch.
The crowds were heavy due to the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend and the beginning of winter break for many schools across the United States. The posted wait times for the popular attractions at DHS reflected the heavy crowds: Tower of Terror was at 70 minutes; Star Tours, 60 minutes; Toy Story Mania, 115 minutes; Rock ‘n Roller Coaster varied from 70 minutes to 120 minutes; and even Muppet Vision 3D had a posted wait time of 30 minutes for most of the afternoon.
One of my family’s favorite shows at Walt Disney World – especially my son’s – is Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.
Incorporating the lively music and festive costumes (especially Belle and Gaston’s) from the classic movie, the production features many talented actors singing and dancing, which everyone in the family can enjoy. The costumed characters of Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumière, Cogsworth, and the Beast help bring the movie to life. When these characters first appear on stage, they always cause a stir – chatter, laughter, or gasps can be heard among the audience.
The production lasts about 25 minutes and keeps the audience engaged; even though almost everyone knows what happens next, the theater guests are silent in anticipation of Belle telling Beast she loves him and his subsequent transformation back into a prince.
The last number performed is Belle, in her signature yellow dress, dancing with the Prince to the award-winning song “Beauty and the Beast,” as sung by Angela Landsbury (as seen above). A “magical” touch to the performance is when Belle and the Prince present a rose to one lucky audience member at the end of the performance.
I highly recommend that this stage show be a part of your day at DHS.
Even with the heavy crowds, our family enjoyed our day at the park, and we look forward to future visits, especially during Star Wars Weekends, which begin May 16.
I hope that you will be able to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios soon, as well.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios trip report – photo gallery
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