Hollywood Studios' Park Preview Experience
Today we had the pleasure of being some of the first guests back inside Hollywood Studios since its closure back in March due to Covid-19. While Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom both reopened their gates this past Saturday, Hollywood Studios and Epcot will not officially reopen to guests until tomorrow, July 15th. Luckily, we were able to book reservations for the Cast Member Park Preview and get a first hand look. Follow along with us as we document our full experience of the day!
Entering the Park
Disney’s Skyliner made its debut back in September and is a fun, alternative way to get to and from Hollywood Studios and Epcot if you are staying at one of the select resorts along its route.
Thankfully, these character themed gondolas will be back in operation for the park’s official reopening tomorrow with some additional safety features in place to ensure proper social distancing in queues. Gondolas will now be limited to one party per cabin.
Cast members and signs direct you to the temperature screening tent. They quickly scan your forehead to make sure that your temperature is under 100.4 degrees.
Security then directs you to walk straight through the metal detectors. There is no need to stop or open any of your bags as required in the past unless you have an umbrella, metal drink container or aerosol can with you, which makes for a much quicker and safer process.
Once arriving at the turnstiles, a cast member scans your park ticket or Magic Band with an iPad. Guests are no longer required to use their fingerprint to enter the park to minimize contact.
Paper maps are still available at the entrance, but it is recommended that you use your Disney Experience app.
All guests over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings during their time in the parks. However, the parks do allow guests to remove their masks to eat or drink. To view Disney’s complete lists of rules regarding masks click here.
During the afternoon when the Florida heat is at its peak, it does get a little more uncomfortable to keep a mask on, so having the right mask is important. It is also worth noting that you may experience some fog while pairing your mask with the 3D glasses used on attractions like Muppet*Vision 3D and Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The mask experience was a lot easier than we expected and everyone was wearing them.
We love that Disney has added mask-free “Relaxation Stations” throughout the park. These small, roped-off areas allow guests to remove their masks and take a break. Cast members only allow a small number of guests in at a time to ensure that everyone is at a safe enough distance.
Hollywood Studios’ Relaxation Stations can be found near the entrance of Rise of the Resistance and in the Animation Courtyard next to Star Wars Launch Bay. We recommend taking advantage of the station in Animation Courtyard as it is indoors with air conditioning.
The biggest difference found throughout the attraction queues are the new floor markers that indicate where each group should stand in order to be 6 feet apart. Most rides have even added plexiglass shields as an additional barrier in areas where the line wraps or is close together.
Almost all of the cast members working the attractions were wearing plastic face shields in addition to their mask for added precaution. They were also regularly announcing any new procedures to ensure all guests were safe, such as standing 6 feet apart and keeping masks on.
All attractions either had plexiglass shields in between rows or reserved, empty seats to separate guests. Ride vehicles are deep cleaned and sanitized by cast members every two hours. We recommend bringing your own sanitizing wipes if you would like some added reassurance before boarding rides, especially ones like Toy Story Mania that are high touch.
We were so excited to see that most of the attractions are open and running as usual. However, all shows will remain closed for the time being including For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. Jedi Training will also not be available.
While character meet & greets are not currently available, there are still so many characters to see! Character cavalcades go throughout the park around every 20 to 30 minutes and feature characters from Disney Junior and Pixar as well as Mickey Mouse and friends.
In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge we also found characters, such as Kylo Ren and his StormTroopers, out for patrol on platforms located by the different starships in the area.
Quick Service Restaurants/Mobile Ordering
While Mobile Ordering on the Disney Experience app is not a new concept, it is now required for all Quick Service restaurants. This includes Backlot Express, Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, PizzeRizzo, Ronto Roasters and Rosie’s All-American Cafe. The process is relatively quick and easy! After you select your restaurant and food, you are asked what time you would like to pick it up. A cast member will greet you and direct you to the correct pick-up window. Plenty of seating options are available and spaced out appropriately.
Some Quick Service Restaurants, such as Woody’s Lunch Box and ABC Commissary, are remaining closed for now.
Table Service Restaurants
While some restaurants were offering walk-ins, we were told this will not be the case once the park opens to all guests tomorrow. It seems at that point, all table service restaurants will require a reservation made in advance. Hollywood Studios’ character dining experience, Hollywood & Vine, will remain closed for the time being.
All of the restaurants have spaced their tables out six feet apart and will be utilizing paper menus.
While some shops did remain closed there were still plenty of stores open in each of the lands to satisfy all of your merchandise needs! The stores have a capacity limit, and utilize a virtual queue once capacity has been reached. For the shops in Batuu cast members only allow one party in at a time to shop.
Markings and signage are found throughout the stores to inform shoppers of health procedures as well as which direction to walk in. Dressing rooms were blocked off and will remain closed for now. Similar to the rest of the park, plexiglass shields are located at all of the check-out counters and contactless payment is encouraged.
Overall, it was a dream to be back in the parks experiencing the Disney magic we have been longing for! While there were many changes from our last visit, we still thoroughly enjoyed our day and felt so fortunate to be part of the lucky Annual Passholders that could experience the day. Due to all of the new safety procedures and the Cast Members implementing them, we felt super safe as we explored the park in the “new normal”.
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