Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Young Children

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the easiest Disney theme park to tackle in one day with preschoolers, toddlers and other grade school kids. Although larger in size than the Magic Kingdom, this park has fewer attractions, many of which are sit-down shows or longer-length rides. This makes it a good choice for a day when your family’s feet need a little rest. To make the most of your visit, take a look at these tips from family travel experts for touring Disney’s Hollywood Studios with young children.

Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios delights young children
Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios delights young children (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

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Catch a Broadway-Caliber Show

You’re in “Hollywood” — so you should catch a show! Corinne McDermott with Have Baby Will Travel says, “When my kids were smaller, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was all about the shows for us. Now there are a lot more baby- and toddler-friendly rides that everyone can enjoy, but the shows still reign supreme for the littles.”

All ages will be impressed by Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. It’s hard to believe this live Broadway-caliber show is included in the (hefty) price of your admission ticket. The 30-minute length is perfect for attention spans of preschoolers and other young ones.

Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage at Disney Hollywood Studios with Toddlers
Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage (Photo credit: Disney)

Sing Along with Favorite Disney Songs

During one visit, my then 4-year-old son, Leo, was enthralled by Voyage of The Little Mermaid live musical theater production. It’s a joy to watch the audience of kids and adults singing along to the performance.

Elsa, Anna, and Olaf now also have their own show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. Disney’s most popular movie of all-time has some of the best songs, too. I bet your kiddos won’t be able to “Let It Go!”

Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Frozen Sing-Along Celebration (Photo credit: Disney)

Join the Dance Party

Another fun performance for the preschooler set is Disney Junior Dance Party!, formerly Disney Junior-Live on Stage! Set to debut in December 2018, kids will get a chance to see and dance with beloved Disney Junior TV shows, like Doc McStuffins and Vampira.

Characters like Doc McStuffins will star in the new Disney Junior Dance Party! at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Characters like Doc McStuffins will star in the new Disney Junior Dance Party! (Photo credit: Chloe Rice, Disney)

Margie DQ of DQ Family Travel says, “My young kids loved Disney Junior shows. We decided to get a FastPass for the Disney Junior Live on Stage Show so that we didn’t have to wait in the huge line for an hour to get seats near the front. I highly recommend doing that if you have little ones. Afterwards, stay to take pictures with the characters next door.”

Disney Junior Live! on Stage will soon transform to Disney Junior Dance Party! at Disney Hollywood Studios
Disney Junior Live! on Stage will soon transform to Disney Junior Dance Party! (Photo credit: Disney)

Meet Disney Characters (And Dress Like ‘Em!)

Toddlers, preschoolers and young grade school children adore meeting Disney characters. Keri Hedrick with Our Globetrotters agrees. She says, “Hollywood Studios for us was all about the character meet and greets. Not nearly as crowded as the Magic Kingdom, our Disney Junior fans were able to meet Princess Sofia along with Jake and his pals [from the Neverland Pirates] without excessive queuing and advance bookings. The crew members could see our little ones’ excitement and really spent quality time with them.”

Toy Story characters, Disney Hollywood Studios - Tips for Touring Disney's Hollywood Studios with Young Children
Preschoolers love to meet their favorite Disney*Pixar characters (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

My family waited in a long line to meet Toy Story characters, Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Dressed in his beloved Woody t-shirt, my son was beyond excited when Woody gave him a hug. After the experience, Leo exclaimed, “Woody hugged me! It’s because of my shirt, ya know.” If your child has a particular affinity for a Disney*Pixar character, by all means, dress them up like that character for your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It will add to the magic of your day and make for some great photo opps.

Toy Story character meet-and-greet at Disney's Hollywood Studios with Preschoolers
Toy Story character meet-and-greet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Play in Toy Story Land

Home to Toy Story characters, roaming Green Army entertainment, Woody’s Lunch Box restaurant and three rides, Toy Story Land is an absolute must for anyone visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios with little kids. According to Leslie Harvey, editor of Trips with Tykes, “My preschool-aged son was in awe of the details in Toy Story Land. Toys here are life-sized, like the benches made of giant dominos and wooden train tracks.”

Green Army Men at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Kids
Green Army Men at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

Slinky Dog Dash is a mellow roller coaster in Toy Story land. It may be too scary for youngsters, depending on their thrill tolerance. Kids must be at least 38 inches to ride. (The average 4-year-old is about 40 inches tall.)

Slinky Dog Dash at Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Young Children
Slinky Dog Dash (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

If you and your kiddos don’t mind a little spinning, join the aliens from “Pizza Planet” for a twirling outer space experience aboard Alien Swirling Saucers. If your brood is lucky, you might be chosen by the claw. Ooooo!

Alien Swirling Saucers at Disney Hollywood Studios with Little Kids
Alien Swirling Saucers (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

Appropriate for all ages and sizes, one of my all-time favorite Disney rides at any park is Toy Story Midway Mania. This probably has something to do with my competitive nature and cunning ability to smash my fellow riders’ scores. It’s part-ride, part-game, all-awesome! Someone less competitive than I should ride with young children to teach them how to best hit the targets; I’m too busy taking aim.

Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios with Preschoolers
Toy Story Midway Mania (Photo credit: Disney)

Visit the Star Wars Galaxy

Young Star Wars will be particularly enamored with Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Kids will love meeting characters like R2D2, Yoda and Princess Leia while in the park. Finding Debra‘s Debra Muccio advises, “Head directly to Star Wars Launch Bay for Star Wars meet and greets and to find stormtroopers patrolling the area and interacting with guests — a highlight of any visit!”

In addition to meeting Star Wars characters at the Star Wars Launch Bay, kids can play the latest Star Wars interactive video games, view intergalactic memorabilia and replicas of large-scale Star Wars artifacts, and purchase Star Wars souvenirs. Also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Star Tours – The Adventure Continues, a 4-D ride featuring Star Wars characters and theming. (Riders must be 40 inches+). Meanwhile, Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away brings the Star Wars films to life on stage.

Jedi Training Academy at Disney Hollywood Studio with a Preschooler
Jedi Training Academy (Photo credit: Sarah K. Pittard)

Best of all, according to Sarah K. Pittard with Trekaroo, is Jedi Training Academy. She says, “Kids aged 4-12 can get in on the Star Wars action by enrolling in the Jedi Training Academy. Now that Disney has added numerous shows a day, it’s much easier to get in on the action. If arriving at Hollywood Studios before opening, line up at a gate on your left-hand side when facing the park gates to have easy access to the sign-up area. The last few times we have visited, there have been spots available until the early afternoon. Parents can accompany younger kids on the walk to Training Academy.”

Keryn Means with Walking On Travels says, “Even at 4 years old, my youngest could do most of the Star Wars rides and activities. He loved watching Jedi training, stalking the Storm troopers as they marched by and staying up late for the evening show.”

Storm Troopers at the Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney's Hollywood Studios with Kids
Storm Troopers at the Star Wars Launch Bay (Photo credit: David Roark, Disney)

Go to the Races with Lightning McQueen

Both of my kids were positively OBSESSED with Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater and the rest of the Radiator Springs gang when they were little. If you have Cars fans in your family, too, fill up your gas tank and get ready for a rollicking race starring McQueen himself. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is speeding into Disney’s Hollywood Studios in early 2019.

Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy at Disney's Hollywood Studios with Children
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy (Artist Rendering by Disney)

Don’t Forget About the Grown-ups

Most of the attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are suitable for all ages. There are, however, a couple of rides just for older thrill-seekers. If you want to take a spin on these rides during your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a baby, toddler, preschooler or other youngster, you can always use Rider Switch if visiting with another adult or older kid.

"Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith" Exterior
“Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith” Exterior (Photo credit: Gene Duncan, Disney)

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has the word “terror” right in the title, so you can imagine it’s not appropriate for preschoolers and other young children. (It’s even too scary for me!) This theme park is also home to one of Disney’s fastest rides, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. It goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds. The Aerosmith coaster has a single rider line so speed-loving parents can take turns sneaking away from the kids rather than doing Rider Switch.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood Studios
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Photo credit: Disney)

For a little Disney education, most grown-ups will enjoy Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. Young children? Maybe not so much. My preschooler, however, might be a bit of an anomaly. He was perfectly happy walking through the displays of Disney memorabilia and watching a 15-minute film detailing Walt Disney’s vision. Maybe it’s because this was our last attraction of the day and he felt lucky to squeeze in one more thing. In any case, I believe in balance in all things. The kids can handle one less-than-thrilling attraction in the name of mom and dad. After all, it’s your vacation too!

Walt Disney: One Man's Dream
Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream (Photo credit: Disney)

Make Dining Reservations in Advance

The counter service food is perfectly acceptable at Hollywood Studios. But if you want a more Disney-fied experience that the kids will remember — make reservations in advance for a special kid-focused meal.

At the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, diners sit in convertible car tables and watch clips from b-movie sci-fi flicks on the big screen.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Disneys Hollywood Studio with Kids
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant (Photo credit: Gary Bogdon)

Meanwhile, cool cats will dig the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, where an old school sitcom-star-like mom serves up family favorites like fried chicken and meatloaf.

50's Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios with Kids
50’s Prime Time Cafe (Photo credit: Disney)

Margie DQ recommends Hollywood and Vine to families dining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with young children. She says, “My kids were able to meet, dance and take pictures with Disney Junior characters while we ate. My daughter was a huge Doc McStuffins fan, and she was able to dance and hug her for an extended period of time while we were there. To this day, she talks about how much she loved dancing with Princess Sofia and Doc McStuffins.”

Hollywood & Vine restaurant at Disney Hollywood Studios with kids
Hollywood & Vine restaurant (Photo credit: Disney)

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Keep these Disney’s Hollywood Studios Tips

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Tips for Touring Disney's Hollywood Studios with Toddlers, Preschoolers and Young Children

Before you go, be sure to take a peek at our tips for visiting Epcot with kids and our picks for the best travel toys for kids, from preschoolers to teens.

Do you have any tips or questions about visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios with young children? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: My family and I received complimentary tickets from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. All opinions are my own.

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