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Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies – A DVC Duo Ride Guide

Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies – A DVC Duo Ride Guide

We’ll take Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies for $200, Alex. It’s our daily double! #winning In a theme park that’s changing in front of our very eyes, how we plan our Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies today, may not be how we do it in a galaxy not so far away. See what we did there? Yeah, we’re patting ourselves on the back for that one. Hollywood Studios is transforming from a park that brought us behind the scenes of movies, to a park that drops us right into their unique worlds. In today’s DVC Duo ride guide we’re sharing our Hollywood Studios Strategies designed around different ride experiences. Let’s immerse ourselves in the movies!

Example of a Fastpass Entrance
Fastpass Entrance

Best Place To Start?  

The beginning of course! Who starts in the middle? In planning our Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies it’s always good to know the basics, check out Fastpass essentials guide here. Similar to our Epcot Fastpasses, Hollywood Studios uses the tiered system to breakdown our options. Below are the tiers at Hollywood Studios

Tier One

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Toy Story Mania

Tier Two

With Fastpass tiers you’re able to select one attraction from tier one, then two attractions from tier two. Once you have completed your first three fastpasses you can select another tier one attraction, if one is available.

Passholder Insights: If you’re looking for great seats for Fantasmic we recommend looking for a Fastpass after you complete your first three for the day.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is part of our Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies
Entrance to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

The Thrill Seekers

Hands up! In this Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies category, we’re strapping in to get launched on the fastest and tallest attractions at the park. Launched where? Whether it’s up, down, left or right, Slinky Dog Dash, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror got you covered. We like to book our Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror fastpasses back to back if we can, as they’re a stone’s throw apart from each other.

If you have a few minutes between your Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller fastpass a great way to pass the time is checking out Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. The recently opened attraction runs every 15 minutes throughout the day. You can find the attraction next to the queue entrance for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Passholder Insights: A great way to experience Slinky Dog Dash without a fastpass is to either rope drop or what we’ve had success doing is entering the queue a couple of minutes before park closing.

Slinky Dog Dash is part of our Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies
Slinky Dog Dash

Conquering Toy Story Land

Is there a better place to play than the backyard? We think not, especially if it’s Andy’s backyard! At Hollywood Studios all tier one attractions are currently in Toy Story Land, meaning we have to, as Indy may say, choose wisely with our fastpasses. In this Hollywood Studios Strategies category, we’re sharing how we fit in all the attractions in Toy Story Land in one go around.

For our tier one fastpass we usually go for either Slinky Dog Dash or Toy Story Mania then look to rope drop or use the “just at park closing” strategy for the other. Usually, Alien Swirling Saucers has the shortest queue, depending on the time of year, so waiting for this one is the best strategy. Since Slinky Dog Dash is the hardest fastpass to snag at Hollywood Studios, we recommend being flexible on time for this one.

With our remaining two fastpasses we recommend filling options from the other Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies categories.

Please note for Alien Swirling Saucers the height restriction is 32 inches and for Slinky Dog Dash it is 40 inches.  

Passholder Insights: When rope dropping Slinky Dog Dash we recommend entering the park at least 30 minutes early, as they begin taking guests back about ten minutess prior to park opening.

Frozen Sing-A-Long is part of our Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies
Frozen Sing- A-Long

For the Little Ones  

There’s something for everyone at Walt Disney World, and Hollywood Studios is no different. For those in your party not measuring up to the 32 inches to ride Alien Swirling Saucers, head over to Toy Story Mania as the attraction has no height requirements. Beyond Toy Story Land, we definitely recommend the Frozen Sing-a-Long and Disney Junior party. Both attractions are interactive experiences in different ways, and something the whole family can enjoy. We love the comedic antics within the Frozen Ever After show.

Passholder Insights: Between shows and rides we like to mix in character meet ‘n greets. Tucked away in one of our rainy day stops at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney Presents, is the Mike and Scully meet ‘n greet.

Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies will change when Star Wars Galaxy's Edge opens
Construction on Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

What About Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge?  

We haven’t forgotten about you BB-8, how could we! When Walt Disney World opens the doors to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge on August 29, 2019, the one attraction that will be open is the Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run. Disney has announced when the land opens there will not be a fastpass option for the attraction. This could change over time and as other new attractions like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Rise of the Resistance open at the park. We could see multiple updates to the fastpass tiering system as everything becomes operational.

Recently confirmed by wdwprepschool, starting on August 29, 2019, the opening day for Star Wars Galaxy Edge, the tiering system for Hollywood Studios will change to the following:

Tier One

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Tower of Terror

Tier Two

  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior Dance Party
  • Fantasmic
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Voyage of The Little Mermaid

No Fastpass

  • Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run

The big change will be the shifting of Rock ‘n’ Coaster and Tower of Terror to the tier 1 level. With this change, our Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies will have to shift gears. Updates will come once the new system is live.

Beyond Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Hollywood Studios is filled with Star Wars related entertainment. To make it a full Star Wars day grab a Fastpass for Star Tours – The Adventures Continues, or head over to Star Wars Launch Bay to check out props from the movies, and grab a picture with Kylo Ren, Chewy, and others.

Passholder Insights: For guests staying on Disney Property Walt Disney World will be offering extra extra magic hours for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Hollywood Studios will open at 6 am.

Our Thoughts

In a short few months, our Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies will change with the addition of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at the end of the summer. When that happens, our best advice is to break up Hollywood Studios into two separate days – one day for Galaxy’s Edge and another for the rest of the park. What we love about Hollywood Studios is you can enjoy most of the shows without a Fastpass. Sprinkling in shows throughout the day is our way of beating the heat and taking a few minutes to let our feet recover.

There are tons of Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategies we like to use, but the prevailing theme will always be to prioritize the ride you want most and let the rest all into place! Chewy, let’s go!

Disney Dining Plan – What’s The Best Plan For How You Theme Park?

Disney Dining Plan – What’s The Best Plan For How You Theme Park?

Let’s eat! There’s tons of great food to enjoy at Walt Disney World, and many ways to do it. From quick service to fine dining, or even dining with the head mouse himself at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary, there is an option for every type of diner. At the beginning of every meal at Disney World we all get the same question, are you on the Disney Dining Plan? If you’re like us, then the answer is yes. The big question is which Disney Dining Plan is best for your trip? We’re breaking down the Disney Dining Plan options based on different ways to experience the most magical place on earth. Grab your fork and bring your appetite, it’s chow time!

Logo - Disney Dining Plan

What Is The Disney Dining Plan?

The Disney Dining Plan is a pre-paid meal plan for your guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. Prior to arrival, you can choose from 3 different plan options to add to your trip. Each of the plans will be priced based on the number of nights you’re staying at a Disney Resort. Within each plan, you’ll receive credits for different meal types that include quick serve meals, table service meals, and snacks. You can’t forget the snacks! Each plan shows how many credits you’ll receive per night stay at a Disney resort. The plan options include the following:

  • Quick Serve Plan – includes 2 Quick Serve Meals and 2 Snacks
  • The Dining Plan (the original) – includes 1 Table Service Meal, 1 Quick Serve, and 2 Snack
  • Deluxe Dining Plan – includes 3 Tables Service Meals and 2 snacks

Each of the meals, both quick service and table service includes one non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverage.

Passholder Insights: You can add the Disney Dining Plan at anytime prior to the day you arrive.

Satuli Canteen is a quick serve option on the Disney Dining Plan
Entrance to Satuli Canteen

Food Is Fuel!

If you’re heading to Walt Disney World looking to set the record for most rides on Expedition Everest or going non-stop from rope drop to park close, you’re gonna need fuel to log all those theme park miles. Look no further than Quick Serve Disney Dining Plan. It’s perfect for fueling up while leaving plenty of time to get your ride on.

What’s great about Disney World dining is, you do not have to sacrifice great food for convenience. One of our favorite meals on property is Satuli Canteen in Pandora over at the Animal Kingdom. All of the parks have a quick serve hidden gem like this one.

Passholder Insights: To really speed up the process use the mobile order option with the My Disney Experience app. You’ll be back tossing up your hands on Big Thunder Mountain before you know it!  

The new Storybook dining is 1 table service on the Disney Dining Plan
Storybook Dining with Snow White

Character Dining

Need we say more? It explains itself. No Walt Disney World vacation is complete until you’ve enjoyed a meal with your favorite character. If you’re looking to do multiple character dining experiences, definitely check out the Disney Dining Plan with one 1 table service. All the character meals, except for Cinderella’s Royal Table qualify as single table service credit and it’s a great value.

When planning for a character dining experience you can expect the meal to take about an hour and a half from start to finish. We would highly recommend making an Advance Dining Reservation within My Disney Experience, as the character meals fill up quickly. Don’t forget your autograph books and cameras!

Passholder Insights: At Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom if you cannot decide between breakfast or lunch, book a reservation for around 10:45 am. You’ll be able to enjoy both meals!

Signature Dining is 2 table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan
View From California Grill

We’re Here For The Food!

When most people hear Walt Disney World the first thing that comes to mind is rides, then characters. Not in the DVC Duo house, it’s food! Disney is a foodie’s paradise with tons of amazing restaurants and dining experiences. If you’re looking for the ultimate food experience we recommended the Deluxe Dining Package. You can play it a variety of ways, from a table service experience for all meals, to doubling up for Signature Dining.

Sprinkled throughout the Walt Disney World resort area you’ll find restaurants labeled as signature restaurants, like Flying Fish or Le Cellier. At these restaurants, it takes two table service credits for one meal. For the creme de la creme foodie dining experience you can double up every night and enjoy signature dining for the entire trip!

Passholder Insights: One of the best dining experiences that is one table service credit is ‘Ohana at the Polynesian resort. You can’t go wrong with breakfast or dinner.

Let’s Beat The Heat

Afternoons in Florida most of the year are warm, some may even say “hot”. It’s the perfect time to take a break and soak up some air conditioning. We like to cool down while enjoying a late lunch or early dinner. It’s a great way to recharge for the night ahead riding some of the best nighttime coasters at Disney. All the Disney Dining Packages work with this strategy. The big question is whether you relax in the parks or head to one of the resorts.

Our Thoughts

Over the years we’ve enjoyed the Disney Dining Plan as it helps de-stress our trips. We find that it helps us plan and budget knowing the majority of the food cost up front. All we do is pick the plan that fits our trip and we’re ready. We’ve found our go to plan is the original plan. It’s the perfect balance of the amount of food and the opportunity to enjoy multiple table service restaurants. Our strategy usually entails splitting a quick serve for breakfast, and splitting another for lunch, then enjoying a nice table service meal before the nighttime shows. Throw in a few snacks and we’re happy campers. All that’s left to do is pick our plan and hit the parks!

Play Disney Parks App – It’s More Than Games, It’s Experiences!

Play Disney Parks App – It’s More Than Games, It’s Experiences!

Let’s hurry up and wait? Who knew waiting in line could be so fun. When Disney released the Play Disney Parks app on June 30, 2018, it was only scratching the surface on what it would be. Fast forward a year, and the app is a pivotal piece in the most anticipated Disney land in recent memory – Toy Story Land! Just kidding, of course we’re talking about Star Wars Galaxy Edge at Hollywood Studios. With Galaxy Edge now open at Disneyland and soon to be at Disney World (August 29, 2019), there’s no better time to learn what the Play Disney Parks app is all about. Pull out your smartphone and let’s download that app! (only over WiFi of course)

Play Disney Parks - Splash Mountain Game
Splash Mountain Game

What Is It?  

It’s an app, Nate, come on! Yes, it’s an app and probably the 50th app on our phones. Designed around in park entertainment the Play Disney Parks app has a variety of games, trivia, and interactive experiences for guests to enjoy while waiting in line and beyond! We can go beyond too, Buzz. You’ll earn different achievements for completing games and experiencing attractions, like riding Peter Pan at the Magic Kingdom.

Passholder Insights: Play Disney Parks app does use data and a lot of battery. Disney World does have free WiFi around the parks and resorts.

Use Play Disney Parks app for a guided tour of Pandora
Guided Tour Through Pandora

Setting Everything Up

Opening the Play Disney Parks app you’ll be asked which resort area you’re visiting, Disneyland or Walt Disney World. The app does have a built-in step by step guide to walk through everything. The most important thing to do is “log in”. In the upper left-hand cover of the app you’ll see a Mickey head. By clicking on this you can log into your Play Disney Parks profile. It will be the same profile you created for your My Disney Experience.

In the same area as your login you’ll see all of your achievements for using the app around the parks. The most important feature in this area is the player management piece. Labeled as Manage Players, this is where you’ll add friends and family or even your friends you’ve made in line to the games. With the Play Disney Parks app you only need one phone to enjoy.

The only thing left to do is select the park you’re in and use the interactive map to pick the game associated to queue you’re waiting in. You’re ready to go!

Passholder Insights: The app does use the Bluetooth within your smartphone, you’ll want to make sure you have this turned on to get the full experience.

Agent P Word Showcase Adventure is part of the Play Disney Park App
Agent P World Showcase Adventure

Beyond the Queues

Play Disney Parks goes beyond just the ride queues. You can use it for a variety of things like kicking off the Agent P World Adventure over in Epcot, challenging yourself or family members to a rousing game of Disney Trivia, or even enjoying your favorite in-park music. If you’re Nate it means you’re listening to Illuminations Reflections of Earth on repeat. The app is expanding rapidly and has already started moving beyond the parks to the Disney World resorts. At the Art of Animation there’s a new game within the lobby to play.

Passholder Insights: When staying at Pop Century you can easily walk across the bridge to the Art of Animation Resort and enjoy all the different offers. It’s like two resorts in one!

Play Disney Parks will play a big role in Star Wars Galaxy Edge
New Star Wars Galaxy Edge Features

Star Wars Galaxy Edge

Play Disney Parks app is a key piece of the new land. On August 29, 2019, Disney will be releasing a large update for the app focused on Star Wars Galaxy Edge. With the app you’ll be able to translate Aurebesh (written and spoken), discover hidden objects within crates and containers scattered around the land, listen to space transmissions (new Star Wars mini-stories), and even hack into control panels, different devices, and even droids! Wait, did you say droids?

Passholder Insights: All the interactions designed for the app are included in the price of admission. Guests will not need anything other than the app and a smartphone.

Our Thoughts

It’s exciting to see Disney push the limits of what could be done with its Play Disney Parks app, and we’re still only at the beginning. We’ve heard rumors around how Disney could add new achievements and prizes to within the game. Jim Hill from Jim Hill Media, has mentioned Disney could look at adding features that include “front of the line” passes to the achievement options. This is still just a rumor and we may never see it, but it shows how Disney is trying to grow the app and its experiences. Our app has been downloaded, which game should we play first?!

Disney World’s Mobile Order – Should You Use It?

Disney World’s Mobile Order – Should You Use It?

Mobile order that! What’s “that”? You know how we think; it’s food of course. By far one of the more underutilized features of the My Disney Experience app at Walt Disney World is the mobile order option. With the recent announcement around the expansion to the mobile order program at select Disney resorts, it got us thinking, when should you use mobile ordering? Bust out your smartphone and let’s get ordering!

Screenshots from Mobile Order at Disneyland
Disney Mobile Ordering

What Is It?

Come on Nate, the name says it all. Yes, yes it does. As the name says, mobile order at Disney World gives you the ability to order food from your smartphone at an array of Disney World quick serve locations. If you’re looking for a full breakdown on how to use this feature within My Disney Experience (MDE), check out the following article.

Passholder Insights: If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan you can check your available credits within the mobile order section of MDE.

Mobile Order is coming to the Mara quick service restaurant
Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Resort Expansion – Tip One

At the end of May Disney World announced the at mobile order would be expanding to the following resort quick service locations; Everything Pop at the Disney’s Pop Century Resort, the Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Contempo Café at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Morning at Disney resort quick serve locations are the busiest time. Whether you’re a zombie in search of coffee, seeking out that quick bite before rope dropping, or just looking to enjoy a relaxing breakfast, the faster we get food the better! If you’re staying and eating breakfast at these locations, we would definitely recommend using mobile order to cut down on the wait times. If you’re looking for ultimate efficiency, enter your order just before leaving your room and more than likely your order will be ready when you arrive.

Passholder Insights: Breakfast is busiest from 8 am to 10 am local time. This is a great time to use mobile order.

Mobile Order started at the Harambe Market
Harambe Market at Animal Kingdom

Popular Locations – Tip Two

As we say in the DVC Duo house if the food is great people will wait. Disney World is no different. In the parks, all quick serve locations feature mobile order option, but not all quick serve location benefit from it. We’re looking at you Pinocchio Village Haus. Good food, but lines are usually manageable. Below are our favorite locations to use mobile order:

  • Magic Kingdom – Casey’s Corner and Aloha Isle – Hot dogs and Dole Whip, that says it all.
  • Hollywood Studios – Woody’s Lunch Box – Best quick serve in the park? We think so!
  • Animal Kingdom – Harambe Market – The surprise. Busier than you’d expect.

It never hurts using mobile ordering at any of the quick serve locations, but we’ve found you can save time at these locations, depending on the time of year

Passholder Insights: When ordering a Dole Whip we recommend waiting until you’re next to the location to place your order. Florida heat and ice cream is not a match made in heaven.

Green Army Men perform in Hollywood Studios Toy Story Land
Green Army Men In Toy Story Land

Let’s Multi-Task – Tip Three  

Why wait in line when you can watch a show while you wait? What we like to do is place a mobile order, while we watch a street show (aka, streetmosphere). Many of the quick serve locations have performers nearby. By far our favorites are the Green Army Men near Woody’s Lunch Box, or African Acrobats near Harambe Market, and you can never go wrong with the pianist outside of Casey’s.

Other times you’ll find us multi-tasking while waiting for the Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom. We like to find one of our favorite spots and then place our order. Nothing makes time pass while waiting for your food than enjoying a parade followed by a chili dog!

Passholder Insights: The mobile order while you wait strategy also works really well if you’re waiting for one of the nighttime spectaculars.

Our Thoughts

We’ve found using mobile order is a great way to destress our Disney trips. We would definitely recommend checking it out on your next vacation, especially on the busier days. The mobile order feature is available for everyone, not just guests staying on Disney property. If you’re not staying a Disney resort, we recommend downloading the My Disney Experience prior to your trip and add your payment information, then you’re good to go. Our food is ready, let’s eat!

Disney Villains After Hours – Worth Checking Out?

Disney Villains After Hours – Worth Checking Out?

What lurks in the night? At the Magic Kingdom this summer it will be the Disney Villains. It’s been said be careful what you ask for, or you may get it. For many years, the Disney community has said the Disney Villains are underutilized in the Walt Disney World parks. It looks like Disney World has been listening with the brand new nighttime event called, Disney Villains After Hours. With the event kicking off in a few days is it something worth checking out this summer? We’ll get the flashlights if you pick up the coffee. Let’s keep our eyes peeled so we don’t get spoked!

Club Villain aspects could be used for the dance party at Villains After Hours
Club Villain at Hollywood Studios

Quick History

Disney Villains After Hours is not the first event Walt Disney World has created featuring the infamous villainous characters. In 2015 Disney hosted an event called Club Villain at Hollywood Studios during the various times of the year. Consisting of character meet ‘n greets, a dance party, delectable bites, and frothy beverages, the event ran for a couple of seasons before being retired.

Passholder Insights: Club Villain once took place in the Sunset Showcase building which is now home to Lightning McQueen Racing Academy.

Treats from Disney Villains After Hours
Villains After Hours Special Treats – Intergalactic Noodles

What’s Disney Villains After Hours?

When the lights go out the Disney Villains come out. The Villains After Hour event is a twist on the very successful Disney After Hours Events where a limited number of guests enjoy the Magic Kingdom after the official park closing. With 20 of the parks most popular attractions open, Disney is adding unique Villain inspired shows, treats, and merchandise for the event.  

Passholder Insights: If you’re looking to attend the event for the rides, we recommend heading the bigger attractions a little later in the evening when everything quiets down.

Artwork with Hades from Hercules
Hades Will Be Featured In Stage Show

The Castle Show

The headliner of the event will be the all-new Disney Villains After Hours stage show. Starring Meg and Hades from Hercules, the show will include appearances from Jafar, The Queen, Dr. Facilier, and Maleficent. From how Disney is describing the show saying it will set the castle a blaze, it leads us to believe the show will utilize the castle projection technology. This is the same technology Disney uses for Happily Ever After, and let’s just say – wow!

One thing to note is the Disney Villains will not be available for character meet ‘n greets. They will only be available for the show. However, they will have food and beverage items available for purchase inspired by the characters. The standard After Hour event treats are no additional cost.

Passholder Insights: For special events, Disney does not put the agenda on the My Disney Experience app. When you enter the park make sure to grab one of the event’s paper agendas to for the happenings.

Disney Villains After Hours includes the Maleficent dragon from the Festival of Fantasy parade
Maleficent Roaming In The Magic Kingdom

Make Way For Maleficent?

Move over Prince Ali, it’s time for the Maleficent dragon to take center stage. The star of the Festival of the Fantasy parade will be “roaming” the park during the Disney Villains After Hours event. We believe she will be following the afternoon parade route but at a much slower rate. With the low guest levels and slower pace, this could be a great opportunity to capture a once in a lifetime picture with her!

Disney Villains After Hours will have special ride experiences for Space Mountain
Special Space Mountain Experience

Ride Experiences

Two of the more famous attractions at the Magic Kingdom will be getting a Disney Villain’s “makeover”. Both Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean will have villain inspired additions to either the ride itself or potentially the queue. Disney is keeping the changes under wrap and everything at this point is just speculation. The concepts getting the most traction would be pirates joining your voyage on Pirates of the Caribbean, and villains taunting you as you whiz through space.

Our Thoughts

It’s great to see the Disney villains get the spotlight in the Disney Villains After Hours event. If you’re a fan of the villains or looking at adding an After Hours Event to your trip this event would be worthwhile. With the event costing about $14 more than the regular After Hour events, you’re definitely getting a great value for what Disney is adding. If you’re looking for tickets you can find them here. We would recommend buying at least a day in advance to get the discounted rate. We ain’t scared of no villains!