Hollywood Studios

Winter 2024 Trip Report Day 3 – Hollywood Studios

After a day that started before 6AM and ended after 11PM we were very thankful for a morning with no plans. he beds at the Boardwalk Inn were wicked comfortable and sleep came easy. A great hack we picked up is to use a sleep app to play some background white noise or whatever you prefer. This does wonders to drown out the sounds of other guests in the halls and adjacent rooms. With our general exhaustion and calming sleep sounds it was no problem sleeping.

I did wake up before 7am to prepare to get a Slinky Dog Dash lightning lane. This is one of the hardest lightning lanes to get. They go extremely fast. I started the reservation process at nearly exactly 7AM and our return time was around 3:30! After securing the coveted lightning lane I drifted back off to sleep for a couple more hours.

I mobile ordered breakfast from the Boardwalk Deli – two bagel breakfast sandwiches and a croissant. We were so close to the deli i was able to tell them to prepare the order without leaving my room. I got the notice that the order was ready about 30 seconds into the 60 second walk to the deli. They pleasant staff pointed me to my order all bagged and ready to go, and I was back on my way to the room almost before the door shut behind me. Very efficient!

The sandwiches were delicious and the croissant was even better. I love me a good croissant and this one was top notch. Crispy and flaky on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside. Disney does good work with pastries and we’ve had great luck at the Boardwalk Deli for both breakfast and lunch. One of the negatives about the Boardwalk is the lack of quick services options. This is objectively true, but we’ve never found that ot be an issue. YMMV.

At 11:00AM I was able to grab another lightning lane and I got Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway for 2:30PM. This would work well for fairly efficient touring without feeling rushed. We continue slowly getting ready and headed out after Noon. One of my favorite perks about the Boardwalk is the ability to walk to Hollywood Studios and EPCOT and we took full advantage of that on this trip. However, I will sheepishly admit that the friendship boat was docking when we walked out onto the Boardwalk and slowly passed us about the time we passed underneath the overpass on the walk over. If you see the boat pulling up and the line isn’t prohibitive, it’s definitely a bit faster to take that than walk.

Daisy Duck
Daisy Duck

We entered the Studios and slowly meandered through the shops. While wandering I was able ot grab our third LL and got a Toy Story Midway Mania return time for after our 4:20 Sci Fi dinner resrevation. We had no place to be for an hour or so until our LL for Mickey and Minnie’s so we decided to go to the Baseline taphouse for a beverage. The line wasn’t bad and we were quickly sipping on a refreshing beer in their courtyard. We finished our beers and headed to the attraction. We took some time to admire the hand prints and signatures of the walk of fame from the now defunct Great Movie Ride before tapping in.

Mickey and Minnie's Poster
Mickey and Minnie’s Poster
Mickey and Minnie's Final Scene
Mickey and Minnie’s Final Scene

Our party of two was joined by a party of 3 for the attraction due to a slight miscommunication. The ride attendant asked if we were a family of 5 and a member of the other party misheard them and answered yes! It was a tight ride but not wholly uncomfortable. Thankfully the ride went smoothly with no pauses or stops and we were quickly thanking Walt for the train ride on our way out of the attraction.

It’s basically the same distance no matter which way you walk to Toy Story Land from Mickey and Minnie’s. You can go down Commisary Lane or through Galaxy’s Edge. We decided to take the trip through Batuu and see how things were going at the outpost. Turns out it was a beautiful day!


It was around this time that I was able to grab our next LL. I was hoping for a Tower of Terror return time in the evening after sunset, and that turned out to be no problem. Score! By the way, It’s crazy how easy it is to get from a space outpost to Toy Story Land!

Toy Story Land Walkway Crowds
Toy Story Land Walkway Crowds

This area was a bit congested, but not unpleasant. We headed to Slinky Dog and noted that the wait was around 90 minutes. This is one of our favorite rides in all of Walt Disney World and is a must do for us. Ensuring we don’t have to wait in a line like that is well worth the cost of Genie+ and mild inconvenience of waking up at 7. It took about 15 minutes to get the LL queue which means we saved 75 minutes using LL!

After a great ride on Slinky Dog it was time to head towards our Sci-Fi reservation. We said hi to Buzz Lightyear along the way.

To Infinity and Beyond!
To Infinity, or just to Sci Fi

We checked in at Sci Fi and didn’t even have time to sit down before we got the text that our table was ready. Sci Fi is always solid in our experience and this trip was no exception. We love the ambiance and find it’s worth the slight up charge from a quick service burger type meal. With the fantasmic dining package you can get an appetizer or dessert, entree, and soft drink per person. We opted to get 1 appetizer and 1 dessert and split them both. For our appetizer we got the Smoked Chicken Wings, described as “Hoisin-glazed Smoked Chicken Wings served with House-made Sesame-Red Cabbage Slaw”. These were excellent. Crispy, but still moist, and the Hoisin glaze was a nice departure from the usual buffalo style.

For my entree I ordered the Banh Mi Burger- a “Grilled House-made Pork Patty topped with Roasted Pork Belly, Pickled Vegetables, Cucumber, Herbs, and a Sriracha Aïoli” with onion rings. The burger was very good and definitely had a similar flavor profile to a traditional Banh Mi Vietnemese sandwich. The onion rings were flavorful and cooked to the perfect crispiness. We both enjoyed this dish.

My wife got the Grilled Chicken Citrus Salad, described as “Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, and Arugula tossed with Rainbow Tomatoes, Candied Pecans, Cranberries, and Feta Cheese topped with Grilled Marinated Chicken and a House-made Citrus Vinaigrette”. The vegetables in the salad were fresh and bright, and the chicken was tender and juicy. The only negative about this dish was the dressing was a little overly salty. It didn’t ruin the dish or anything, but the prep cook probably could have dialed back the salt by 10-20%.

Sci-Fi Dine In Walt on screen
Sci-Fi Dine In

For dessert we chose The Red Planet a “White Chocolate Cheesecake with Spiced Blueberry Compote on a Graham Cracker Tart with a Matcha Sponge and Golden Candied Almonds”. This was probably the star of the meal. I am not the biggest cheesecake fan and was prepared to be unexcited about this dessert, but it turned out to be the opposite. The cheesecake was light and airy, which I prefer. The blueberry compote had a bit of spicyness to it as described, and it may be too much for some people who have a very low tolerance for spicy foods, but we found it was a welcome addition to the flavor profile and balanced nicely against the sweetness of the white chocolate cheesecake. This was the prefect way to end another good meal at Sci Fi.

After dinner we headed back to Toy Story land for our Midway Mania LL. There was almost no wait in the lightning lane queue and more time was spent getting to the ride loading area than standing in line. We enjoyed a spirited competition and I came away victorious scoring almost 200,000 pts. I have no idea how people get 600k+, my shooting arm was tired from getting 1/3 of that. By now it was starting to get dark which is my favorite time to be in this area. Everything lights up and gives the entire land a warm, soothing glow.

Toy Story Land at Dusk
Toy Story Land at Dusk

We lingered a bit to enjoy the ambiance and set our sights on the next attraction, the Hollywood Tower hotel.

Hollywood Tower Hotel at Sunset
Hollywood Tower Hotel at Sunset

Tower of Terror was another ride were LL saved us considerable time. The wait was posted at 35 minutes and it was likely every bit of that. With LL we were able to basically walk into the pre-show, and then only had to wait for 2-3 elevators to load before we were on our way to our doom, I mean room. This is one of my favorite rides. The combination of nostalgic story telling and thrill is just perfect. We somehow made it out alive and emerged back into present day Hollywood Studios a bit before 7pm.

We had no plans at all until Fantasmic, so we headed back to Baseline Taphouse. It was much less crowded at this time and we were able to find a couple of stools to relax in. We slowly enjoyed 2 rounds of Margaritas – which were delicious – before I noticed it was almost time for the last showing of Muppets. Baseline is a stones throw from the Muppet Theater and we got there with a few minutes to spare.

Wacka Wacka
Wocka Wocka

After the show we headed slowly towards the Fantasmic theater, doing some more shopping along the way. A cast member mentioned how they were letting people into the theater early, so we decided to head in as well. I’m guessing they were doing this because it was quite chilly out after the sun went down and asking people to just stand in the cold was a bit much. That said, sitting on the metal benches in the large, open air theater didn’t seem much better!

This was my first time experiencing Fantasmic at Walt Disney World, having only seen it at Disneyland previously. While I agree with the general concensus that Disneyland is better, I was blown away by this show. If you’ve never seen it, don’t hesitate to make it a priority on your next trip. I would highly recommend the dining package option as it secures you an excellent center theater seating location. The alternative is lining up very early and being one of the first ones in the theater to get a seat just next to the reserved area, which during busy periods could easily cost you 2 hours total.

Fantasmic Dragon
Fantasmic Dragon
Fantasmic Mickey
Fantasmic Mickey
Fatasmic Boat
Fatasmic Boat

Mickey emerged victorious, but it was a close one! We got a bit of a jump on the mass exodus out of the theater as I’ve read it can be a bit much. We really didn’t find it that bad though. We walked slowly with the throngs of people out of the park and back to the Boardwalk satisifed by another great day in the parks.

We stopped for a nightcap at Bellevue Lounge. It was just too tempting to walk by and not have a well crafted cocktail while in the area. We relaxed and unwound a bit, then headed back to the room. The next day would be another early start with EPCOT rope drop so we wasted no time in tucking ourselves in for the night and were quickly off to dreamland.

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