9 Best Rides at Hollywood Studios, Which Ones You Shouldn’t Miss

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The arrival of Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios has upended the theme park hierarchy at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. 

You could make the argument that Hollywood Studios has moved to the top spot, even over Magic Kingdom – an idea that would have been considered blasphemous even five years ago. 

The Magic Kingdom still leads on nostalgia and quantity of attractions, but you could certainly argue that there are more “can’t miss” experiences at Hollywood Studios than at any other park in Orlando. 

What should you not miss at Hollywood Studios?

There’s a lot. Let’s start with the non-rides.

First of all, Fantasmic! – the spectacular nighttime show – is finally back after a really long hiatus. It is an absolute must-see with epic fireworks, a battle between good and evil and dozens of classic Disney characters. 

Second, I love The Hollywood Brown Derby. I know I’m showing my age here but this great restaurant is built to mimic the iconic Hollywood restaurant that was the rage through the Golden Era of Hollywood. 

Watch any old newsreel or movie footage rolling through Hollywood with classic cars everywhere and you’ll see The Brown Derby there in all its glory. 

It’s hard to overstate just how big the Derby was. When Lucy and Ricky Ricardo went to Hollywood, Lucy ate at the Derby so she could spy on celebrities. Her subsequent meeting with William Holden is the stuff of comedy legend. 

Though the Hollywood in Hollywood Studios has been overshadowed by Toy Story and Star Wars, if you want to experience the legacy of the park’s theme, eat at The Brown Derby. 

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Hologram
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is a ride you shouldn’t miss (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

What should you not miss at Hollywood Studios?

Both of the Star Wars rides are musts.

When we were planning our non-Lightning Lane trip, we looked at the daunting wait lines for Rise of the Resistance and calculated that if we were unlucky, a sixth of our day could be spent in line for that one ride. Still, there was no way we’d miss it. 

I think Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is also a must. The technology of the trackless ride is impressive but beyond that, it’s just a lot of fun. 

Finally, Toy Story Mania remains a top-tier ride. Now that wait times for the ride are more manageable, there’s no reason to miss it. 

Slinky Dog Dash Entrance
The Slinky Dog Dash Lightning Lane tends to sell out quickly (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Which Lightning Lanes sell out first?

Rise of the Resistance – an Individual Lightning Lane experience – sells out quickly. Keep in mind, Disney only offers a limited number of Lightning Lanes per ride per day. 

Of the Disney Genie+ Lightning Lanes, the Slinky Dog Dash tends to go first. From there, it’s the Smuggler’s Run, the Runaway Railway and Toy Story Mania in some order. The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also is a popular Lightning Lane that goes quickly. 

You’ll just have to prioritize what you want to do the most. If it was me, with an unlimited budget, I’d target the Rise of the Resistance first and then Smuggler’s Run and if I could get it later, Slinky.

I’d just deal with the wait times for Mickey & Minnie and Toy Story Mania. Check the My Disney Experience app for details.

Rise of the Resistance Storm Troopers Hollywood Studios Orlando
The Rise of the Resistance ride is emotionally intense (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

What is the most intense ride at Hollywood Studios?

Of course, that answer has many facets. If you’re a Star Wars kid, Rise of the Resistance is emotionally intense. When those doors open and you step into the landing bay of a Star Destroyer with all those troopers standing guard, it is the definition of intense. 

In a more traditional sense, it’s either the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I think the speed and duration of the Aerosmith ride nudge past the Tower of Terror, which builds to a certain intensity level before the drop. 

What are the best rides in the park? 

Well, let’s rank them. 

Hollywood Studio's Orlando Alien Swirling Saucers Ride
Alien Swirling Saucers are great to keep the young ones entertained (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

9. Alien Swirling Saucers

Just on personal preference, I’d probably rank this ride ahead of Aerosmith. However, I concede most people would think Aerosmith is the superior ride.

This ride featuring the little green aliens from Toy Story is not much more than a carnival-style swirling scrambler-type ride. It’s an amuse-bouche to keep the kids entertained with a – hopefully – shorter queue than some of the other rides. 

Rock n Roller Coaster Ride Sign Hollywood Studios
The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is thrilling but could be a bit jolting for some (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

8. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

It’s a fine roller coaster. It goes fast, there’s pounding music. It can be quite thrilling.

I found it, however, a little too jolting and a little uncomfortable. Not a top-tier roller coaster, in my opinion.

Star Tours Entrance at Hollywood Studios Orlando
The Star Tours 3D motion ride takes fans on a ride to the Star Wars galaxies (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

7. Star Tours: The Adventure Continues

This simple 3D motion ride takes Star Wars fans on a ride to various planets of the Star Wars galaxies where they meet various characters from the movies. You might be confronted by Vader. You might get some wisdom from Yoda.

But no matter what, you’re in for a thrill ride that is worth your time.

This ride frequently has short wait times. There are often portions of the day where it’s essentially a walk-on. I’ve ridden it three or four times in a row and gotten a different experience each time. 

Slinky Dog Dash Coaster
The Slinky Dog Dash is a fun, dual-launch coaster (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

6. Slinky Dog Dash

This is just a great fun, kids’ coaster. The dual launch system is entertaining and the ride itself isn’t overwhelming. It’s a good way to introduce the family to coasters.

And be sure to ride at night for an extra thrill as the experience is entirely different under the lights.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Hollywood Studios Exterior
The Tower of Terror is a ride that utilizes anticipation, thrills and wonderful theming (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

5. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Here we come to a real crossroads. If you’ve got younger folks in your party, you might well stay in Toy Story Land and pick the Slinky Dog Dash.

But as a fan of the old “Twilight Zone” episodes as well as drop rides in general, I want to reward Disney for keeping the old Hollywood theming on this ride.

In California, it was converted to a Guardians of the Galaxy ride. There’s something to be said for psychological thrills and most come in the anticipation of the drop on this doomed elevator ride. It is a great, classic ride with wonderful theming in the Hollywood Tower Hotel. 

Toy Story Mania Entrance Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Mania allows guests to compete in digital carnival games with Woody and friends (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

4. Toy Story Mania!

Up until a couple of years ago, this ride was the top dog.

Far superior to the similar Buzz Lightyear ride in the Magic Kingdom, the interactive Toy Story ride where you compete in digital carnival-type games with the help of Woody and his friends is still among the best any Disney Park has to offer. 

ride entrance to smugglers run at disney
Above: the ride entrance to Smuggler’s Run (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

3. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

I was sorely tempted to put this one at two.

You get a chance to pilot the Millennium Falcon. Of course, you could also be a gunner or an engineer.

The immersion technology is great. The theming is perfect. When you see the holochess board, it’s like stepping back into your childhood. This is probably the best ride in Walt Disney World to take advantage of single-rider options.

With a six-person ride vehicle, there are lots of opportunities for single riders to jump in and avoid long wait times. 

There are plenty of things to love about all of the Disney theme parks, but the top three rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are hard to beat.

Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railrway
The Runaway Railway is a trackless immersive ride (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

2. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

This is a ride that might be better-suited theme-wise for the Magic Kingdom. This trackless immersive ride located in the Grauman’s Chinese Theater is new and spectacular.

Taking fans on a wild ride with the help of Goofy, Mickey Mouse and Minnie, it incorporates the classic Disney characters in a fun and very entertaining ride. In many parks, this would be the best ride in the park by a mile.

It replaced the Great Movie Ride which some lament. Certainly, I wish there was room for both. But if I had to choose, I’d choose this one. 

Hollywood Studios Rise of the Resistance Imperial Walkers
Life-size Imperial Walkers fire lasers at you on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Simply put this may be the best ride in the world.

I haven’t been everywhere, of course, and some say the new Guardians ride in EPCOT tops it, but in terms of technological achievement, theming, immersion, length of experience and everything else, Rise of the Resistance is a miracle.

There are life-sized Imperial Walkers firing lasers at you, for goodness sake. You think a loopity loop can compete with that?

The only knock I can come up with for this ride is the height requirements. You must be 40 inches to experience this galactic spectacular ride. That means there are some younger Star Wars fans who might miss out. 

Disney spent a lot of money on Star Wars and Galaxy’s Edge. Every bit of it is worth it. 

Read Also: Is Rise of the Resistance worth the wait? Average wait time [PHOTOS]

The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Airplane and Fire
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular is an entertaining show at Hollywood Studios (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Wait, there are only nine rides at Hollywood Studios?

Yep. But I think seven of the nine are excellent, that’s a high hit rate and still more rides than you’ll find at the Animal Kingdom. 

Hollywood Studios also has several shows including For the First Time in Forever Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the aforementioned Fantasmic! that have returned post-shutdown. 

The Disney Junior Dance Party – for little guests who are fans of shows like Doc McStuffins and Vamparina and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – is back as well. It’s a great way to get out of the elements for little ones. 

Hollywood Studios used to offer the Jedi Training Academy where youngsters could sign up to learn the ways of the force and battle a sith lord in a live-action show, but that hasn’t returned since the park reopened.

I’m hoping they bring it back before my youngest kids age out, but I’m getting worried. 

The classic blacklit puppet show Voyage of the Little Mermaid has also not returned post-shutdown.

What is your favorite ride at Hollywood Studios? Let us know in the comments!

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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

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