Disney's Hollywood Studios - 5/5/21

Thursday, May 6, 2021 2:47 PM
Jeff's avatar

Last week we were able to buy back in to our annual passes at Walt Disney World, and our first reservation was last night, at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We did a brief after-work visit for about three and a half hours. It was, as I expected, a little weird.

They're still doing temperature screenings, which I suspect will end soon now that the CDC says it's a waste of time, and Universal stopped doing it. Masks are required unless you're stationary and eating or drinking. Capacity is apparently limited to about 35%, which is why they're doing reservations. They do allow passholders to park hop after 1 p.m. now. They're not using the finger print readers for admission.

First off, what a good but weird feeling to walk in through those gates for the first time in more than a year. We didn't choose to live in this area specifically because of the proximity to the Disney property, but being this close is certainly a perk, and it's pretty great to have the kind of access that most people are lucky to have once a year at best. You kind of take a little ownership of it, like it's an extension of your backyard. Right away, we had our picture taken, which Disney is now OK with you unmaksing for.

There are no Fastpasses right now, and some queues for some rides extend outside with the 2-meter interval decals on the ground encouraging you to keep your distance. This results in fast moving lines in most cases. Some rides have staggered loading, reducing their capacity, which manifests itself the worst on Slinky Dog Dash, which never had a wait under an hour. They are still doing boarding groups for Rise of The Resistance, so we were not able to ride it because you have to either hit the app at 7 a.m., or be in the park for another shot at 1 p.m. In most queues, you can expect to find plexiglass barriers, and the barriers are at all of the food stands, and it's just hard to hear people. It's a little dystopian, even though I totally get the intention.

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway was the new ride that opened just before the pandemic, and we didn't get a chance to ride it before the closures. Simon was pretty obsessed about the ride, watching all the YouTube videos and even recreating part of it in Minecraft, where he cleverly engineered the pre-show. Unfortunately, they're not running the pre-show, and that's one of the casualties of the pandemic. There are no pre-shows or any shows that result in people standing around together. That's particularly an issue at DHS, which ordinarily would engage thousands of people in various shows at a time.

The ride is absolutely the physical manifestation of the Mickey shorts that you can watch now on Disney+, which is to say they had a lot to work with stylistically. It's a fly-by-wire (wireless?) dark ride that's a lot of fun, and does video projection really well. We did it twice. I'm impressed with the precision involved in moving the cars, as they quite literally dance through one scene. I'm absolutely impressed. We waited 35 minutes the first time, about 15 the second.

From there we went to Star Tours, which was effectively a walk-on. They're loading every other row and put up dividers strapped to booster seats to block groups of 2 and 3 people. The barriers at each staging queue are very claustrophobia causing. The last act of our tour was on the planet with the salt flats and red dust, which I had never seen before.

Next was Smuggler's Run, which I think was just under 30 minutes. They are combining groups now, with 4 people doing the pilot and gunners, then groups of 2 filling the engineer seats, with clear barriers in between. My darling wife and son are terrible pilots.

We were ready to get something to eat at this point, when we realized that quite literally everything closed around 5 except for the counter service place half way down the street toward Tower of Terror. That location probably has the crappiest food, too. They're only taking orders via the mobile app (no cashiers), but what results is a bunch of crowding there and few open tables. I realize that there are likely staffing challenges and fewer people in the park in the evening, but it's not a great guest experience. Hopefully they'll figure out how to keep one of the other big locations, Backlot or Commissary, open later. One thing that felt immediately difficult is how expensive the food is, which I only notice after not buying any for more than a year. Our non-spending in the last year was extraordinary, and I can see partially why. Also, the quality of what's available isn't that great when comparing to the water parks, which I consider a more premium offering, or the counter service on the cruise line. I don't mind paying for theme park food, but don't be basic about it.

After dinner, we did a walk-on to Toy Story Midway Mania, and a walk-on to the flying saucers. Slinky was still an hour-plus, so we skipped that. That's when we took our second spin on Railway before calling it a night.

We were happy to be back in the park. Simon, in particular, needed the break because he's doing state testing this week, which stresses him out in a pretty serious and physical way. The 90 degrees outside with a mask is definitely uncomfortable, and hopefully as vaccinations continue to rise they'll consider dropping the masks for outdoors, though I'm sure the liability they face will keep them enforced for the foreseeable future. The neutered operations are very un-Disney-like, if necessary, but it's all temporary, hopefully.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, May 6, 2021 8:39 PM

We were at Epcot on Sunday, MK on Monday and a few hours last night, and split AK and MK today. Social distancing in queues was great at Epcot and AK, but not so much at MK. Not bad enough to make me uncomfortable but I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve turned around and had someone on my back. And there’s not much in the way of people enforcing it except at certain checkpoints.

I’ve only seen 2 guys being douchebags about mask wearing, one at Epcot and one at MK. The guy at MK was getting escorted out and had perched on a flower bed by the Main Street train station. There was only one cast member pleading with him to cooperate and I suspect security was nearby ready to swoop in.

I’m a bigger fan of no fast pass than I imagined. It’s made the whole trip a lot less stressful.

The lack of quick service has been obvious. I suspect it’s better than it was but the options were limited. Epcot was great with the flower fest options. I recommend the beer flight and Black Forest ham at Germany.

We’re heading to DHS tomorrow and hoping we can win the ROTR sweepstakes.

Last edited by bigboy, Thursday, May 6, 2021 8:40 PM

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Thursday, May 6, 2021 11:38 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Cellular > Wifi for RotR sweepstakes.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Friday, May 7, 2021 12:49 AM

I’m at an off property hotel with crappy WiFi, so that’s how we’re rolling.


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Friday, May 7, 2021 8:20 AM
eightdotthree's avatar

Hopefully you practiced! If you don’t get it this morning, 11am reservations seem to be more available than before.

I suspect the no Fast Pass love is also due to limited capacity but it is great.


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Friday, May 7, 2021 9:20 AM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, last year, we noticed immediately that you don't want to be on Disney Wi-Fi when you're trying to get your reservation. Honestly, you don't really even wanna be on it to order food, especially if your phone uses a VPN. It's intolerably slow.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, May 7, 2021 11:22 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

eightdotthree said:

Hopefully you practiced! If you don’t get it this morning, 11am reservations seem to be more available than before.

I suspect the no Fast Pass love is also due to limited capacity but it is great.

I thought the second round was at 1pm or noon or something? Though by now bigboy has probably figured out either way.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Friday, May 7, 2021 12:13 PM

It’s 1:00. Missed out on the first one so we’re gearing up to try again. I’m not real hopeful because the ride had a lot of downtime this morning.


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Friday, May 7, 2021 12:22 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

<Sad face>. Any insights on what did or didn't work? We'll be trying at DL in July.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

+0
Friday, May 7, 2021 2:02 PM

We picked up a back up group at the 1:00 release. It looks like we’ll get on if it stays up. I’ll post more when I’m not on a phone.


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Friday, May 7, 2021 2:14 PM

Temperature checks are going away in a week:

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/disney-world-temperature-checks/index.html

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Friday, May 7, 2021 5:41 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Let’s us know if you get on bigboy! It had extended downtime both times I’ve ridden it so I think you will.


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