Home » 5 Reasons First-Time Disney Guests Should NOT Visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios

5 Reasons First-Time Disney Guests Should NOT Visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios

A common refrain among Disney fans is that it’s impossible to see all of Walt Disney World in just one trip. This is completely true – with four parks, dozens of hotels, two water parks, a shopping area, golf courses, and hundreds of other things to do, there’s really no way one person could experience that in just one trip.

And so, when planning a Disney trip – particularly for first-time visitors – it’s always a good idea to set some things aside up front as things you simply won’t have the time, budget, or interest to do.

Personally, at this stage, I think the entirety of Disney’s Hollywood Studios should be one of those things. It’s not worth the time, money, or energy to visit – despite having one of the best, if not the best, attractions on Walt Disney World property (the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror).

You see, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in something of a state of flux at the moment. Big changes are coming, most of which have not yet been confirmed. But, because of those changes, a large number of attractions at the park have either been removed or simply stopped being renovated. And, ultimately, when deciding what to do with your precious four or five days in Central Florida, there are a lot more ways to get a good value for your dollar and time than a visit to this park.

There are a lot of reasons why I believe Disney’s Hollywood Studios should be on your “skip” list, but here are just a few:

Editor’s note: These are Dakota’s personal views and not necessarily those of everyone at Theme Park Tourist.

1. There are simply not enough rides


The core of most theme park experiences are, of course, the rides. Disney’s theming is magical and immersive, and the food items are absolutely incredible, but most people aren’t flying the family down to Florida for a cup of pineapple soft serve. They’re doing it for the rides.

When Disney’s Hollywood Studios was originally built, its “working film studio” theme encouraged the Imagineers to design a number of stage shows – working, live action productions to give guests a different kind of experience. And, beyond those attractions, the film studio itself was a huge draw.

In fact, when the park opened, the only real “rides” were The Great Movie Ride and the Studio Backlot Tour, because there were enough other stage shows and interesting tours to take that guests were always engaged.

In the decades since, more rides have been added and some have been taken away, and what’s left now are a handful of thrill rides and little else. And, making the matters worse, the stage shows that remain are relatively dated.

Beyond that, there are simply not enough rides for families or non-thrill seekers.

Recently, Disney increased their one-day, one-park ticket price for Disney’s Hollywood Studios to close to $100, but with the number of attractions in the park slowly declining over the years, that simply is too high a price to pay. While Epcot is in a similar position with only two tentpole attractions, that park at least has the World Showcase to balance out the equation. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is much smaller and isn’t as well designed.

Ultimately, this problem leads into the next one…

2. The lines are just too long

If a longtime Walt Disney World guest visited Disney California Adventure for the first time, there are a few things that would stick out to them. But, one of the most jarring would have to be the wait time for Toy Story Midway Mania.

The Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios versions of the attraction are virtually identical except for one key difference: the version at DCA has a far shorter wait time.

Why is that? Well, it comes down to a simple law of economics: supply and demand.

DCA has several family-friendly attractions, of which Toy Story Midway Mania is only one: Soarin’ Over California (the original version of Soarin’), Grizzly River Run, Radiator Springs Racers, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, The Little Mermaid, and more.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, if a family wants to ride an attraction instead of seeing a stage show, Toy Story Midway Mania is one of the only options and, thus, it ends up with waits well over 100 minutes. Guests at DCA have far more options, spreading crowds around the park more evenly and helping wait times remain low.

Essentially, Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ attendance hasn’t dropped dramatically, but it still feels more crowded due to the lack of high-capacity family attractions. Thus, for a first-time visitor, trying to see Disney’s Hollywood Studios will likely lead you to do less over more time, which also leads to a feeling of poor value.

3. The park just isn’t as well-themed as the others


If you ever want to blow someone’s mind, just tell them this fact: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, like the other Disney parks, actually has themed lands. Unlike the other parks, however, these lands are not nearly as well designed, and thus tend to blend into one another.

Incredible thematic design is one of the cornerstones of what makes Disney so wonderful, so when a park is lacking in that area, the effect is far more pronounced.

What adds to this frustration is that some of the rides within the park are actually immaculately themed master works for Disney. The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror is among the most well-themed attractions Disney has ever produced, and yet, it sits in a park that feels unfinished and unloved. It teleports you to 1920s Hollywood for the duration of the ride, and then, at its completion, spits you out back into the morass of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s jarring and it’s a shame.

Too much of the park is simply made up of generic “film studio” facades or “production buildings.” That was all well and good when the park was designed to be a working film studio, but in its current state, it feels more like a waste of space. Which, of course, is largely because…

4. The park lacks a clear creative direction


After it became clear that Disney’s Hollywood Studios would no longer serve as an important hub of film production, Disney was in something of a tough position. The park they designed and marketed to be a working film studio simply wasn’t, and in that condition, a real question was raised: Without film production, why should a guest visit?

Disney opted to slowly transition the park from being a studio to being a celebration of film itself – mostly Disney films, of course. And, again, that was a good idea, but its in the execution of that idea that Disney has fallen short.

Most of the park’s structures are designed to evoke the feel of a film studio. The perfect example is the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater, where guests enter the restaurant “backstage,” seeing the wooden and unfinished backs of the various set pieces, before they are invited “on-stage” to the immaculately themed late-night drive in.

But, while that restaurant still retains its magic, seeing half-finished set pieces around the rest of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios property doesn’t evoke the same kind of movie magic. They simply feel unfinished.

The problem with Disney’s Hollywood Studios is that, in its current state, it doesn’t live up to its own name. There’s little about it that feels particularly “Hollywood” outside of the Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard areas. It doesn’t particularly feel like a studio either. It feels like a park that was once far more vibrant and full of energy, but I suppose Disney’s Failed Florida Production Studio isn’t quite as catchy a name.

Thankfully, Disney seemingly has realized that the drab aesthetic and lack of attractions within Disney’s Hollywood Studios means that it needs an overhaul. However, that has created its own reason to avoid the park…

5. While construction is good, doing it all at once isn’t


Nowadays, it seems like the only place free of construction on Disney property is Epcot, which is ironic considering it may need it most of all. Downtown Disney is still amid its transformation into Disney Springs, the Magic Kingdom has been undergoing a large construction project on its central hub, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is currently getting its own overhaul with the World of Avatar and their new evening light show being installed, and now Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been confirmed to be getting huge expansions in the form of Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.

Though we know that both of these developments are happening sometime in the near future, no timetables have been given and there is a very good chance that construction will overlap, making this park essentially a work site with a few rides in the middle. 

So, in the opinion of this writer, if you’re heading to Walt Disney World for the first time, skip Disney’s Hollywood Studios – it’s just not worth it right now. But, don’t worry – it’ll just give you an excuse to come back later