Hollywood Studios for the Odd Man Out

Expert View Column
Hollywood Studios for the Odd Man Out
By ATD’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Tower of Terror, Rock ʼN Roller Coaster, Star Tours: names that fill you with dread while those around you shout, “Yes, please!” What’s a guy or gal to do when they don’t want to ride, but they don’t want to split up, either?

We get it. Some attractions, even at Disney, aren’t for everyone. We also get that non-riders don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, and that guilt trips go both ways. Non-riders feel guilty for saying “No, thanks,” and riders feel guilty for wanting to go anyway. The compromise often comes in the form of the non-rider saying, “No, really. I’m happy just to wait,” while secretly wishing there was something interesting to do that doesn’t involve retreating to a corner of the gift shop.


Simon Veness


Sure, you could read a book, but you didn’t fly all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to do something you can do at home. Granted, you could people-watch, and we admit that’s pretty satisfying in Orlando’s theme parks, but even with all the oddball things you’ll see, it does get old after a while. So what’s a thrill-ride dissenter to do?

First, know that you’re not alone. There are hundreds of visitors in the same position every single day of the week. Second, how much time do you have while those who have abandoned you your loved ones enjoy the thrill rides? Whether it’s 10-15 minutes or 30-60 minutes or more, we’ve got a few suggestions to keep you in the magic while keeping you off the scary stuff.

Star wars entertainment Disney's Hollywood Studios

Here are our favourite diversions at Hollywood Studios, based on a few key points:

1) Whether or not the riders in your group are using FastPass+ or Single Rider (meaning, it’s not going to take long, but it’s going to be long enough that browsing the gift shop won’t keep you amused) or they’re in the Standby queue during busy season (meaning, you could realistically take a long nap, have a hot herbal bath, or build the kids a treehouse in the back garden in the time it’s going to take for them to show up again).

2) You have a sense of humour and a camera, and you’re not afraid to look foolish ham it up a bit, even if strangers are watching.

3) You’re going to experience the park’s non-thrill attractions with your group, and you want to do something you would otherwise miss. Ditto dining, though it’s okay to have a cheeky ice cream or bucket of popcorn while you’re diverting. We won’t tell.

4) You reserve the right to Do the Queue. The beauty of Orlando’s theme park attractions is, you can always walk through the queue with your group and then ditch them at the chicken exit non-rider exit near the loading area. Simply tell the ride operator you’re not riding, and they’ll show you the way out. Every attraction has this option and no-one will bat an eye.

Happily, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there are only three attractions that are likely to split your group up.

Tower of Terror


Tower of Terror


Do The Queue: Look for props in the lobby and the library that refer to Twilight Zone shows, such as the pop-up demon device, a pair of broken eyeglasses, a letter addressed to ‘Mary’, and the infamous book, To Serve Man.

10-15 minutes: Find the hidden Imagineer signatures* in the menu to the left of the Sunset Room doors. If a Photopass photographer is hanging out near the gift shop, have your picture taken with their Bellhop Stitch prop. See how many references to Halloween you can find, bearing in mind the Tower’s story takes place on 31 October, 1939.  

30 minutes or more: Make the trek over to Launch Bay and bring some small, cheap trinket with you so you can trade with a Jawa. If you forget to bring a trinket, go anyway. It’s absolutely adorable when children get the chance to trade, so your time spent watching them will be a pleasure.

Must-have Selfie: Don a bellhop cap and hold up a bell in the gift shop. Be sure to look stone-faced.


Bell Hop


Rock ʼN Roller Coaster


Rock n Rollercoaster


Do The Queue: The queue here is also fairly detailed, though slightly less so than at Tower of Terror or Star Tours. The pre-show is amusing, but once you’re in the alley, watching the cars launch is entertainment enough. Entertain yourself further by deciphering the ‘saying’ on each car’s license plate.

10-15 minutes: Head into the gift shop and watch the footage from Aerosmith’s concert, just across from the ride’s unloading area. The loop of self-congratulatory ‘final bows’ by the group will fill a few minutes, but you have the added benefit here of seeing the ride photos pop up, so you’ll know which stretch limo those foolish adrenalin junkies you came to the park with the people you care about are in.

30 minutes or more: Ditto the advice for Tower of Terror. If you’ve done that already, pop into Walt Disney Presents. Since you’re here with thrill-seekers they probably won’t mind missing this, but it’s a superb look at the man behind the magic. Don’t miss the show, and try to bring tissue. Disney fanatics tend to shed heartfelt tears here.

Must-have Selfie: The Mad Hatter style hat. It’s ridiculous. It’s enormous. You’re never going to wear it outside a Disney park. But in the moment, it seems like exactly the right thing to make you shell out your hard earned dollars, even if the exchange rate is lousy. We’re going to save you from that very bad decision by telling you to make it your Selfie, then put it straight back on the shelf it came from.

Star Tours


Star Tours


Do The Queue: Now listen, we know you’re shy. We know you don’t want to make a fuss or create a scene. But we also know you’re not going to do that with this suggestion, and even though it feels scary and unnatural and you’ll think you’re putting others out, you’re actually going to make the people around you feel like they just got something for free. The queue here is second to none (okay, MAYBE second to Tower of Terror, if you’re a real Disney geek, but then again, maybe not), and the spot you want to aim for –and stop to enjoy – is the section where droid G2-9T is scanning the luggage. There are so many in-jokes in what the X-ray machine reveals, you can happily spend 15 minutes just watching the ridiculousness go by. So buck up your courage; tell others to “go ahead,” and enjoy the hilarity.

10-15 minutes: If you’re here in the evening, take a walk through the Standby queue and listen to the Ewoks chanting and drumming. You’ll also see their nighttime campfires. If you’re not here after dusk, walk over to the far side of the Indiana Jones theatre, near the Adventure Outpost and check out the WWII movie props.

30 minutes or more: If there is a showing of Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, take time to enjoy this cute kid-v-baddie showdown (look for times on the board next to the FastPass+ entry, near the stage). Then, if you’re a gamer, pop in to the game centre in the ABC Sound Studio. Prefer character meet-and-greets? You’ll find Olaf in his own private setting, just to the left of the game centre. Waiting to meet him might take up a fair bit of your time. He’s popular.

Must-have Selfie: Let’s be honest; it’s got to be the Chewbacca hat, doesn’t it?


Chewbacca Mark

There are lots of little diversions throughout the park if you look for them, so try some of our suggestions, but don’t rule out letting your curiosity lead you to something magical!

Which ‘small diversions’ have you found? Join us on Attraction Tickets Direct’s discussion forums and tell us your favourites!

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