The giant Sorcerer's Hat represents the "magic" of film, brought to life.
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, you can help Indiana Jones escape from the Nazis, take a wild limousine ride through Los Angeles, get shrunk to the size of a gnat, and learn all about the behind-the-scenes process of creating films and animation.
This compact but fun-filled theme park is located at a major crossroads in the Walt Disney World Resort, with plenty of thrill rides and effects-laden shows. The ESPN Wide World of Sports is nearby.
"The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be." — Michael D. Eisner, May 1, 1989
Walt Disney World's third theme park opened in May 1989 as Disney-MGM Studios, joining the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. The park, billed as "the Hollywood that never was", features live shows and attractions based on movie and television favorites, from classic Golden Age films to modern-day blockbusters. The park is not just about Disney productions, either; it's also where you'll find rides and shows based on Lucasfilm properties, Pixar films, ABC television, and Jim Henson's Muppets.
Among the top attractions are two exceptional thrill rides, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (a 13-story vertical drop) and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (a launched coaster, 0-60 in 2.8 seconds). The latest additions to the park are highly interactive: a live American Idol singing competition and a ride through a Toy Story-themed shooting gallery.
Just south of Hollywood Studios is the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves and host to countless other sporting events throughout the year.
Productions at the Studios
The 1990s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club (or MMC) that was filmed here starred, among others, JC Chasez, Keri Russell, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera. The first movie filmed here was the poorly-received Splash, Too, the 1988 direct-to-TV sequel to 1984's Splash.
The genesis of the "Studios" theme park was as a new pavilion for EPCOT Center's Future World that would provide an animatronic ride through cinematic history, much as World of Motion did for transportation and Spaceship Earth did for communication. This spark of an idea was so inspiring, however, that then-CEO Michael Eisner suggested that the new ride instead become the marquee attraction in an all-new theme park.
The original vision for this new park was to combine a traditional theme park atmosphere—rides, shows, restaurants—with a real working production studio. A team of animators began work even before the park opened to the public, working on real Disney animation—Mulan and Lilo & Stitch, among others, were animated entirely at the theme park. Live-action was also filmed here, from movies like Newsies and Ernest Saves Christmas to television shows such as Mickey Mouse Club and Adventures in Wonderland. Most importantly, all of these production facilities were viewable on the park's Backstage Studio Tour—guests could actually see animating and filming as they occurred, if their timing was right; if not, they still got to see the real sets and real studios where their favorite productions were created. A backlot was also created and placed on the tour, with house facades used in actual films and television shows and authentic props from movies like Flight of the Navigator and Star Wars.
Those days are gone; the park's sound stages have been converted to rides and stage shows, and the animation facility has closed down. The original ride idea, the one planned for Epcot, survives as the park's centerpiece, The Great Movie Ride, and a small backlot area still exists as part of a truncated backstage tour. New thrill rides have opened up and become the park's main draws, but the park's enthusiasm for the fantasy worlds created on film and guests' enjoyment of being able to "step into" their favorite productions remain.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, or some small fraction thereof.
Hollywood Studios is just southwest of Epcot; it's on Buena Vista Drive, which is accessible from either World Drive or Epcot Center Drive. There are two entrances - a north and south entrance (N Studio Drive and S Studio Drive, respectively). Parking is $17 per car, although Disney resort guests can park for free—just show your "Key to the World" card at the toll gate.
Parking is free at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, which is on South Victory Way, south of Osceloa Parkway.
From Epcot, the BoardWalk, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, and the Swan and Dolphin, you can take the Friendship ferries to Hollywood Studios. There is also a nice wide walking path that follows a similar route. Note that if you are coming from Epcot, you must exit through that park's rear entrance: the International Gateway, located between the United Kingdom and France pavilions in World Showcase. From Epcot's main entrance, there is a bus that goes to the Studios.
Downtown Disney does not have direct buses to the parks; you will need to make your way to a resort, then go from that resort to Hollywood Studios. The best option here might be to take the bus to the Swan, which is the closest hotel to the Studios, then take the Friendship or the walking path to the Studios. Another option is to walk or take the boat to the Saratoga Springs resort, then the bus to the Studios.
Public transportation to the Wide World of Sports is limited. Buses are available only from the All-Star Resorts, the Caribbean Beach Resort, and the Pop Century Resort, so you'll need to get to one of those hotels before switching buses. The buses regularly run only Thursday through Monday, from 5PM to 11PM. If there's a special event going on outside of those days and times, bus service will start one hour before the event and end no earlier than 11PM.
Upon entering the park, you'll find yourself on Hollywood Boulevard, the park's equivalent of the Magic Kingdom's Main Street, U.S.A. Shops line both sides of this street, perfect for grabbing a souvenir on your way out at the end of the day. (Feel free to browse on the way in, though; you can always come back later, or you can have it held for you or delivered to your Disney resort.) Here, it's perpetually the 1930s, so keep an eye out for young starlets, ambitious directors, suspicious policemen, eager autograph hounds, and the like—these Streetmosphere actors play out comedic vignettes throughout the day, and they may just pull you into their stories.
At the end of Hollywood Boulevard, you won't be able to miss the giant conical Sorcerer's Hat, the one Mickey wore in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment of Fantasia. It's gaudy and obscures the view of the beautiful Chinese Theater, but it's the centerpiece of the park and the most important landmark to remember if you get lost.
As you travel down Hollywood Boulevard, you'll find the famous intersection with Vine St., a smaller street that heads off to the left towards Echo Lake. The next intersection is with Sunset Boulevard, another major thoroughfare that branches to the right. Here you'll find more shops and more Streetmosphere, and looming in the distance is the 199-foot-tall Hollywood Tower Hotel, which houses the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. (Why 199 feet? If it were one foot taller, it would require a blinking red light at the top under federal aircraft regulations.)
Past Sunset, as you approach the Sorcerer's Hat and the Chinese Theater, to the right will be a large gateway, through which you'll find the Animation Courtyard. Through the gate and to the left, starting around behind the Chinese Theater, are Mickey Avenue and the new Pixar Place, where former soundstages have been converted into the Toy Story Mania attraction.
From there, behind the Chinese Theater, you enter the Backlot, and then the Streets of America, where Lights, Motors, Action and Muppet*Vision 3-D are located. Commissary Lane connects this area to the plaza around the Sorcerer's Hat. Coming back toward the front of the park, you end up at Echo Lake—just look for the giant Dinosaur Gertie. The Lucasfilm attractions are nearby.
The unfortunate façade of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. If someone offers you a ride to the thirteenth floor in the elevator, you may be in for a ... let-down.
Disney or Universal?
Disney's Hollywood Studios is sometimes confused with the two parks at the other big Orlando resort, Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Studios Florida, in particular, is very similar in concept, but its licensed properties include Men In Black, Despicable Me, The Simpsons, E.T., and Shrek. Universal's other Florida park is Islands of Adventure, where you'll find Dr. Seuss, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and King Features cartoons.
Even though Marvel Comics is now owned by Disney, a pre-existing contract with Universal means that Islands of Adventure is still the place to go to find Spider-Man and his friends—at least for now.
Hollywood Studios' attractions separate into one of two camps: sedate but fun stage shows and up-tempo thrill rides. There's very little in-between; even The Great Movie Ride is more like a theater production than a ride. The new Toy Story Mania! may be the first attraction that could be said to bridge that gap.
Fastpass queues are available for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, and Voyage of The Little Mermaid. Toy Story Mania, being so new, is incredibly popular; a Fastpass is highly recommended, and getting there early to pick up a Fastpass is essential, as they usually run out by early afternoon, and the earlier time frames are out by mid-morning. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror are adjacent to each other, so your best bet there is to get a Fastpass for one of them and wait in line at the other (Coaster usually has the longer wait time); by the time you're done with that ride, hopefully your Fastpass time has arrived for the first one.
For parade and stage show performance times, which change daily, please see the Guide Map and the Times Guide you'll receive when you enter the park. You can also check the Wait Times Board at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, which lists current wait times for rides and show times for shows.
The denotes rides with safety restrictions. See Stay safe in the main Walt Disney World article for more information.
A tale of two rides
The Lockheed Electra 12 in the Casablanca scene in The Great Movie Ride is only the plane's forward section. The tail section may be found in the Jungle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom.
Hollywood Boulevard is mostly a location for shops, restaurants, and Streetmosphere, but at its far end is where you'll find the park's centerpiece attraction, the Great Movie Ride. While you're at the Chinese Theater, be sure to check out the cement plaza in front—just like at the real Chinese Theater in Hollywood, you'll find a number of celebrities have placed their handprints and signatures there. Everyone from Donald Duck and R2-D2 to Carol Burnett and Michael Jackson has left his or her mark.
The Great Movie Ride. A slow-moving ride through scenes from some of the greatest movies, recreated using Audio-Animatronics, including Alien, The Wizard of Oz, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Mary Poppins. But remember: in the movies, not everything is as it seems! This is a great choice for your first ride of the day, to really get you in the mood and mindset of the whole park. The incredible attention to detail means you see something new every time you ride it.edit
You are traveling through another dimension...
In The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror's pre-ride video, Rod Serling speaks the line "Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a..." This actually comes from the episode "It's A Good Life", which aired on November 3, 1961. The rest of the dialogue was spoken by a voice actor.
In addition to more shops, restaurants, and Streetmosphere, Sunset Boulevard is home to the Studios' two major stage shows and its two popular mega-thrill rides.
Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage. A 20-minute condensation of the popular animated film. It's more "cartoony" than the Broadway musical you may have seen, but it's great for kids who may not sit through a longer production. Colorful costumes and the classic songs make for an entertaining time.edit
Fantasmic!. Performed nightly after dark; check the Times Guide for details. Watch as Mickey Mouse uses the power of imagination to defeat some of Disney's nastiest villains. Live-action nighttime extravaganza with outstanding film and lighting effects, fireworks, and a 50-foot animatronic dragon. The theater fills up quickly, so get there early if you want a seat. Reserved seating is available if you purchase a dining package.edit
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Hop into your "limousine" and take a wild ride through the streets of Los Angeles to get to Aerosmith's concert. The only roller coaster at Walt Disney World with inversions, this indoor launched coaster accelerates you from zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds. An exciting but fairly smooth ride, it's accompanied by the (very loud) music of Aerosmith and decorated with bright fluorescent signs that obscure any view of the track, so you never know where you're headed next.edit
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Rod Serling himself welcomes you into this mystery, involving an elevator on the thirteenth floor, a late-night lightning strike, and vanished guests. Most people ignore the story, though, and just go on this ride for the 13-story free-fall down the elevator shaft, followed by a random sequence of sudden rising and falling. Not for the faint of stomach, period. The view from the top is quite a sight, if you can open your eyes long enough to look. The pre-ride area of the attraction is filled with references both obscure and subtle to various episodes of the TV show.edit
Through the iconic gate is this courtyard, which segues into Mickey Avenue and Pixar Place as it heads toward the back of the park. There used to be working sound stages along Mickey Avenue, but they've been converted into semi-permanent exhibit space and the brand-new marquee attraction, Toy Story Mania!.
Disney Junior – Live on Stage!. A cute audience-participation (dancing and singing) stage show featuring characters from the Disney Channel's programs for preschoolers. Don't even bother bringing anyone over the age of 7. Warning to parents with creaky knees: seating is on the floor.edit
The Magic of Disney Animation. Once upon a time, this was a tour that offered guests a peek at an actual working animation studio. The studio is gone but the name remains, to some a sad reminder of what once was (both for the park and for Disney animation in general). The attraction still lets you view mock-ups of a couple of animators' workspaces, but now leads to a large open area where various Disney characters are available for photos and autographs. There are also several computer workstations allowing you to insert your own voice or image into brief film clips, and an instructional class that teaches you the basics of drawing a Disney character.edit
Toy Story Mania!. Hollywood Studios' newest ride is a 3-D virtual midway game, complete with moving targets and special effects, themed around the characters from Toy Story. Great fun for all ages, but visitors with aiming skills honed by years of video game playing will get higher scores. Extremely popular, it is the most popular attraction in all of Walt Disney World. Fastpasses go very quickly, especially on weekends.edit
Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Go "Under The Sea" with Ariel and friends in this live stage show featuring black-lit puppets and costumes. Very imaginative and colorful, with some intriguing special effects. Fairly popular, it can get crowded at times.edit
Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. A walk-through exhibition of Walt's life and career, including how he built the global entertainment empire that bears his name. Artifacts and diagrams galore, so Disney history fans will have a ball. Your average kid or thrill-seeker, on the other hand, is likely to get bored five minutes in.edit
The Backlot is mostly a gateway to the Studio Backlot Tour, serving to connect Pixar Place with the Streets of America. In the Streets of America, you'll find façades set up to give the illusion of walking down streets in New York City and San Francisco, using the movie-making technique called "forced perspective". These streets are also where you'll find the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights every holiday season.
Cars fans will find Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater parked at The Winner's Circle, ready to pose for pictures.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids - Movie Set Adventure. A huge play area that makes you look and feel like you're a quarter of an inch tall. Totally safe for kids to run around and climb on everything, from spider webs to anthills. Older folks can look for giant-sized versions of famous objects like a roll of Kodak film and a can of Play-Doh, but watch out for the dog's nose—he's been known to sneeze!edit
Muppet*Vision 3-D. A hilarious show featuring the Muppet characters, shown in a detailed replica of the Muppet Theater. You have to see it to believe it. The combination of a 3-D film, in-theater animatronics and special effects, and a special live-action appearance makes for an immersive show. The pre-show, held in a staging area while the previous main show runs, is just as good as the main show; if it's not too crowded, ask a cast member if you can stay to see the whole thing. The queue area and the pre-show area are overflowing with sight gags and bad puns. You will never see them all in just one trip.edit
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Imported from Disneyland Resort Paris, this live show features high-intensity (and highly dangerous) live action stunt driving. Kids, don't try this at home! A new segment features Lightning McQueen from the Cars films.edit
Studio Backlot Tour. Continuous 25-minute tours. Starts off with a demonstration of special effects techniques in a giant water tank, with one lucky tour-goer getting to star in a water-soaked film clip. You will then board a tram for a tour of old Disney and Lucasfilm movie props and the former production studios. The highlight of the tour is Catastrophe Canyon, where you can experience some disastrous special effects up-close—its water cannons, for example, are strong enough to shoot a basketball over the Empire State Building.edit
Obscure snack-stand references
"Min and Bill", of Dockside Diner fame, was the name of a 1930 MGM film starring Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery, but the name also serves as a reference to Minnie Mouse and Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse's character in the first cartoon with a synchronized soundtrack. Gertie the Dinosaur, on the other hand, was made famous by cartoonist Winsor McKay as one of the first-ever animated characters.
On one side of Echo Lake is a large steamboat, known as Min and Bill's Dockside Diner; on the other is a large dinosaur, with Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction. Around the perimeter of the area are attractions based on Lucasfilm properties, restaurants, and two unique attractions housed inside soundstages.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza. Not much of an attraction or even an exhibit, this plaza between ABC Sound Studio and American Idol showcases a gigantic Emmy statue and busts of famous television personalities from Milton Berle to Bill Cosby. It's nothing exciting, but might be worth five minutes to look at while you're waiting for your Fastpass time.edit
The American Idol Experience. Sure, you can sit in the audience and watch this attraction, but wouldn't you rather be up there on stage? You can! Sign up first thing in the day for an audition slot, and you might find yourself singing on-stage in front of your fellow park guests and an entertaining panel of judges, competing for the grand prize: a Dream Ticket to audition for the actual American Idol TV show! edit
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. An exciting 35-minute live-action stunt show recreating some of the best scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. A few lucky audience members might even get to appear on stage as extras.edit
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The much-loved (but 23-year-old) Star Tours ride closed in 2010, but this "prequel" to the original takes Star Wars fans to new locations in that galaxy far, far away. An upgraded motion-simulation system, a 3D screen, and over fifty combinations of scene sequences mean that this ride will remain crowded for years to come.edit
ESPN The Weekend
Disney's popular ESPN The Weekend annual sports-themed event is no more; the 2011 edition was the eighth and last.
Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun!. Daytime parade with characters from Disney/Pixar films, replacing the Block Party Bash parade. The parade route starts near the entrance and heads down Hollywood Boulevard to the Sorcerer's Hat; it then heads through the Echo Lake area to a gate near Star Tours.edit
Disney STEP Classic, (Premiere Theater, Streets of America), . Early Sep. Youth step teams from around the country come to Hollywood Studios to enjoy workshops and a big competition on the last day.edit
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, (Streets of America). mid Nov-early Jan. Each year, the Streets of America are transformed into an enormous Christmas display. At Walt Disney World in December, Christmas decorations are all over the place, but the Osborne Family display (moved here when it got too big for the Osborne family home) takes them to the next level. It's very popular; be ready for wall-to-wall people.edit
Star Wars Weekends, (parkwide), . F-Su, mid May-mid Jun. For four weekends every spring, stormtroopers and Rebel heroes descend on Hollywood Studios to meet their fans. These very popular weekends feature a parade, character appearances throughout the park, trivia events, the Jedi Training Academy for kids, and special events with selected actors from the films.edit
South of Hollywood Studios is the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex (formerly Disney's Wide World of Sports), a state-of-the-art sports complex with fields, stadiums, and arenas for a variety of sporting events.
The complex is the flagship facility of the Amateur Athletic Union, which has its headquarters on Hotel Plaza Boulevard in the Downtown Disney area. Regularly-scheduled AAU-sanctioned events are held at the complex from January to August. Outside of that time-frame, whether you'll find something going on is hit-or-miss. If there is something happening, it's probably a high school game with just a handful of spectators.
Admission to the complex counts as one of your "Fun Visits" if you've added the Water Park Fun & More option to your Magic Your Way tickets, however, considering the low cost of admission it could be said that it's better to save your "Fun Visits" for one of the more expensive options. Admission is $14.95 for adults and $10.28 for children ages 3–9.
Champion Stadium, 700 S Victory Way (World Dr to Osceola Pkwy, east to Victory Way), . A 9,500-seat baseball stadium. The Atlanta Braves play their spring training games here, and the Rookie-league GCL Braves play here all summer. Other events occur throughout the year.$0-$32. edit
ESPN RISE Games, . Mid- to late-Jul. Two weeks of competition featuring some of the best young athletes in the country. High school athletes compete in basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and football; youth teams will show what they can do in baseball, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, and track & field.edit
Old Spice Classic (college basketball), . Late Nov. Since 2006, college basketball fans have been able to catch eight top Division I teams playing a total of twelve games in this early-season tournament.edit
Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, (Hess Sports Field), . Late Feb. In what's shaping up to be an annual event, four Major League Soccer teams compete in a preseason tournament. $14.50 per day (2 games). edit
Shops line Hollywood Boulevard on both sides, while tourists fill the space in between.
Shoppers will find plenty of generic souvenirs and apparel, of course, making up the lion's share of merchandise found along the main shopping areas (Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard). One of the less generic establishments on these two streets is Sunset Boulevard Shops, with menswear, timepieces, housewares, and collectibles.
But Disney's Hollywood Studios is an especially rich location for themed merchandise that's hard to find elsewhere. Most of these locations are found at the exits from associated attractions. Fans of the Muppets, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones should be particularly pleased.
Animation Gallery, (at the end of the Magic of Disney Animation tour). Here you'll find this combination display gallery/high-end art store, with displays featuring some of Disney's Academy Awards as well as some very expensive animation cels, prints, and collectibles. Wonderful to look at, even if you can't afford to buy anything.edit
Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost, (near the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular). Indy fans can find authentic, licensed fedoras and bullwhips here, along with more traditional Indy-branded souvenir fare. Currently the shop opens late and closes early, coinciding with the nearby stunt show's performance times.edit
It's a Wonderful Shop, (between Mama Melrose's and Pizza Planet). A Christmas store, open all year, complete with snow on the ground outside. It's a great place to buy Disney ornaments and decorations, even if it's not December.edit
Rock Around The Shop, (at the exit from Rock 'n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith). A rock music-themed store.edit
Sid Cahuenga's One of a Kind, (near the park entrance). This small store is filled to overflowing with celebrity memorabilia, especially autographed photos. Expensive, but lots of fun to browse.edit
Stage One Company Store, (just outside Muppet*Vision 3D). This store boasts Muppet merchandise that's hard (or impossible) to find elsewhere.edit
Tatooine Traders, (at the exit of Star Tours). This shop offers a wide variety of Star Wars-themed merchandise, in a variety of price ranges. Most Star Wars merchandise is sold online; being able to shop here in person is a rare treat, and there are several exclusive items found only here.edit
Tower Gifts, (at the exit from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror). The fashion boutique of the Hollywood Tower Hotel has everything for Twilight Zone fans.edit
Disney's Hollywood Studios probably has the most unique restaurants on the property, with most themed around movies and television.
See Eat in the main Walt Disney World article for information on the Disney restaurant pricing system, character dining, dietary restrictions, and advance dining reservations. The telephone numbers below are for extraordinary circumstances only; for reservations and most health or diet issues, call the main Disney Dining number at +1 407 WDW-DINE (939-3463).
Please note that exact opening and closing times may vary with the park hours; check your Times Guide for official restaurant hours. Breakfast is usually served until 10:30AM, and dinner usually starts between 3:30PM and 4:30PM.
ABC Commissary, (Commissary Ln). Park open-park close. An unusually international menu for a counter-service location. The menu varies, but there is usually at least one Asian entree and some sort of Latin American dish.$6-$9. edit
Backlot Express, (Echo Lake between Star Tours and Indy). 11:30AM-park close. The menu is nothing special, but the decor is. The restaurant is themed to look like a huge studio warehouse. There is plenty of wide-open seating here, and because of its location, it's rarely very crowded.$6-$9. edit
Starring Rolls Cafe, (Sunset Blvd near Hollywood Blvd). Park open-4PM. Pastries, sandwiches, coffee.$3-$10. edit
Studio Catering Company, (Backlot near the 'Shrunk the Kids' playground). 11:30AM-5:30PM. Possibly the most nondescript restaurant in the park. A good option if you just need to eat quickly on your way from the Backlot to Streets of America. Crowded at lunchtime due to its location; people who came to the park in the morning are usually hitting this area right around noon.$6-$9. edit
Sunset Ranch Market (Catalina Eddie's, Fairfax Fare, Rosie's All-American Cafe, Toluca Legs Turkey Co.), (Sunset Blvd near Rock 'n' Roller Coaster). 11AM-park close. These four locations share an outdoor seating area. Salads, pizza, burgers, BBQ, etc.$6-$9. edit
Toy Story Pizza Planet, (Streets of America near Muppet*Vision). 11AM-park close. A combined pizza parlor/video arcade, just like in the movie. Absolutely a must for kids.$5-$9. edit
Don't bring your own car; the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater has one already parked and waiting for you!
50's Prime Time Cafe, (Vine St near Echo Lake), ☎ +1 407 560-4365. 11AM-park close. Very good homestyle "comfort food" served in a classic 1950's sitcom kitchen, complete with Formica tabletops and black-and-white televisions. Word to the wise: you had better eat all your vegetables if you want to order dessert. Your server, in character as an ersatz family member, will have no qualms about putting you on the spot about this or any number of things; it's all in good fun, but do not eat here if you're not in the mood to play along.$13-$21. edit
The Hollywood Brown Derby, (Sunset Blvd at Hollywood Blvd), ☎ +1 407 560-4835. 11:30AM-park close. Dine like the stars in this East Coast version of Hollywood's most famous restaurant. The Cobb salad, a Brown Derby original, is just as good as you would expect.$22-$36; Dining Plan requires two credits. edit
Hollywood & Vine, (Vine St near Hollywood Blvd). Park open-park close. A buffet set in the glitter and glamour of Hollywood in the 1930's. Breakfast and lunch feature the Disney Junior characters for young kids. Currently featured are June from The Little Einsteins, Oso from Special Agent Oso, Jake from Jake & the Neverland Pirates, and Manny from Hanny Manny.$25. edit
Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano, (Streets of America near Muppet*Vision). Noon-park close. There aren't a lot of Italian restaurants at Walt Disney World, but this one fills the casual end of that niche admirably, even if it really has nothing to do with Hollywood. The decor is like stepping into an Italian neighborhood in New York City.$12-$22. edit
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, (Commissary Ln). 11AM-park close. Dine under the stars and watch classic B-movie clips from your custom convertible in a re-created 1950s drive-in movie theater. The menu includes a variety of entrees. Excellent milkshakes. This one might be the most popular restaurant in the park, so plan accordingly.$12-$23. edit
At the Caribbean Beach resort, you'll be heading to Old Port Royale for meals; it's the central location of the resort and where all the shopping and dining is.
Market Street Food Court. 6AM-midnight. This is a fun, casual food court that's designed to look like an outdoor Caribbean street.$7-$10. edit
Shutters, ☎ +1 407 934-2830. 5PM-10PM. A variety of Caribbean entrees.$16-$28. edit
At the Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts, you'll dine at a food court:
Everything Pop, (Pop Century). 6AM-midnight. Typical Disney food court, decorated in the same style as the rest of the Pop Century Resort.$6-$9. edit
Landscape of Flavors, (Art of Animation). Opening late May; hours TBA. Disney refers to the options at this food court as "better-for-you"; the stations include a soup/salad/sandwich shop, a "world flavors" shop, plus burgers, pizza, and baked goods. Beverage options are a bit more extensive than other food courts as well, with smoothies, organic tea, specialty coffees, and even wine.Price TBA. edit
ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. Lunch, dinner; exact times vary depending on events and season. If you're at the Wide World of Sports and need refreshments, this is where you'll go. Soups and sandwiches.$7-$10. edit
The Hollywood stars of the 30s might have enjoyed a libation or two in their day (at least once Prohibition was repealed), but the nightlife around Hollywood Studios is virtually nonexistent. The Tune-In Lounge is attached to the 50's Prime Time Cafe and themed the same; it's often crowded with "family members" waiting for their table in the restaurant, but if you need a drink, Dad's liquor cabinet is open. In fact, all of the table-service restaurants have drinks of some sort available; Mama Melrose's has some particularly interesting cocktails. Each resort has a poolside bar as well: Banana Cabana at the Caribbean Beach resort and Petals Pool Bar at Pop Century.
If you're looking for something more, just take a leisurely walk or ferry ride from the Studios to Disney's Boardwalk, or take a bus from one of the resorts to Downtown Disney.
There's more to do at the Caribbean Beach Resort than just eat and sleep.
If you really want a hotel close to Hollywood Studios, you'll want to stay in one of the Epcot-area resorts. The Yacht and Beach Clubs, the Boardwalk, and the Swan and Dolphin are all within easy walking distance of both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and the Friendship ferries connect the two parks and five resorts.
The three resorts listed here are not very far from Hollywood Studios, but there are no provisions for walking. You'll be taking a car or bus no matter which park you want to visit.
Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Century Dr (off Osceloa Pkwy), . The Art of Animation Resort sits across Hourglass Lake from the Pop Century Resort. Like its sibling, Art of Animation will feature giant iconic sculptures, but instead of commemorating pop culture, the resort's themes will involve four Disney/Pixar films. There will eventually be a total of 1,120 family suites and 864 standard rooms. The Finding Nemo and Cars family suites are open now, to be followed by The Lion King suites, and then The Little Mermaid standard rooms in September.Family suites $240+, std rooms $92+. edit
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, 900 Cayman Wy (off E Buena Vista Dr), ☎ +1 407 934-3400 (fax: +1 407 934-3288), . This was Disney's first attempt at creating a more affordable resort, and for a while had the cheapest rooms at Walt Disney World. With the advent of the Pop Century and All-Star Resorts, however, Caribbean Beach is now considered a Moderate resort. This is a visually exciting resort, very open and very colorful. The exterior-entrance rooms are grouped into one of six villages arrayed around a beautiful lake, each with its own exterior color scheme: Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Aruba, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South. Old Port Royale, with recreation, food, and shops, is centrally located. Each village has its own pool, beach area, and bus stop. Very special pirate-themed rooms are now available, but they are ridiculously popular.$149-$249; pirate rooms $174-$274. edit
Disney's Pop Century Resort, 1050 Century Dr (off Osceola Pkwy), ☎ +1 407-938-4000 (fax: +1 407 938-4040), . Walk down memory lane through the best and the worst of 20th-century pop culture. The exterior-entrance rooms are grouped into five "decade" themes—50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, each one featuring larger-than-life icons of the appropriate years from hula hoops to 8-tracks to cell phones. The gigantic decor is great fun for kids but may be sensory overload for adults. Aside from the whimsically-shaped pools, there's not much to do here besides catch a bus to the parks. If you're really bored, walk over to the "hourglass" lake and look across to the other side at Disney's Art of Animation Resort; the site was formerly intended for the "Legendary Years" 1900s–1940s expansion of Pop Century.$80-$160. edit
Note that according to Disney's official classifications, Caribbean Beach is in the "Epcot resort area", while Art of Animation and Pop Century are in the "Wide World of Sports resort area".
This is a star article. It is a high-quality article complete with maps, photos, and great information. If you know of something that has changed, please plunge forward and help it grow!