Disney Hollywood Studios is preparing to go to hyperspace, so all park strategies there are subject to restructuring (no matter how big a deal you are in the Resistance). In the mean time, we can muddle along cooling our jets on scorching summer days with the suggestions below (until we can get onboard the Millennium Falcon when Star Wars Land opens).
1. The Great Movie Ride provides a wonderful and entertaining 22 minute respite from the Florida heat, as you coast along through the darkened Hollywood sets. Its central location at the top of Hollywood Boulevard makes it ideal for a stop under the midday sun as guests go from one side of the park to the other, across pavement you could literally fry an egg on. The queue there is mostly indoors, too.
Star Tours has an almost entirely indoor queue (unless it’s an extremely busy day), as does Toy Story Midway Mania. You’re more likely to stand outdoors (though pleasantly shaded) at Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. So when planning your itinerary for a summer day, pick a FP for Rock ‘n’ Roller and rely on stand-by (early in the day, of course) for Toy Story. In the winter, you might choose to do it the other way around. In summer, wise guests are guided by a healthy respect for high temperatures.
2. Cool shows! Some of the most popular shows at Hollywood Studios are Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – both shaded, but out in the heat. Large fans definitely help keep guests comfortable, but there’s no real cool down at Beauty or Indy. More effective at bringing down your temperature is the FROZEN sing-along, “For the First Time in Forever,” which gives you 30 minutes in an air conditioned seat in a semi-darkened theater – with snow flurries, no less! On a scorching summer day, it’s worth doing even if you’re not a FROZEN fan. (Though evidently there’s no one who isn’t a FROZEN fan!)
Voyage of the Little Mermaid is also an opportunity to get out of the heat, but it’s only a 15 minute show. But you’re still going to take a load off your barking dogs; Ariel fans will love it; and the puppeteers are awesome.
Star Wars Path of the Jedi is only 10 minutes long – and with a hodgepodge of scenes chosen seemingly at random, it’s hardly worth it even for a STAR WARS fan.
3. For a STAR WARS fan, the new Launch Bay in Animation Courtyard is worth a trip to Florida. This large space contains a theater, dimly lit exhibit galleries, two character greeting queues (Chewie and Kylo Ren – with Chewie attracting the largest number of guests), a replica of Tatooine’s Cantina (droids may not be allowed, but Jawas definitely are!), a video game room, and a large gift shop. You can easily spend an hour cooling off in the Launch Bay. You’ll be on your feet nearly the whole time, but when it feels like Jakku outside, an hour on Hoth is a boon.
Another gallery space is Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, which has survived threatened closure for some time. It’s a nice cool place to stroll through gallery exhibits that bring Walt’s story to life. See it before it closes! (That’s a baseless rumor.)
4. If you’re traveling with little ones, don’t forget the Baby Care Center (inside Guest Relations near the park entrance) with its water cooler and rocking chairs. Disney Junior Live on Stage can provide a fun-filled break from the heat, but it won’t supply the same kind of body calming rest as the FROZEN show. Preschoolers and toddlers will love being on their feet, dancing and participating with the characters, but adults will be sitting on the floor.
Character greetings with indoor queues are another way to get out of the sun. Everyone will love meeting Olaf at the Celebrity Spotlight greeting area near Echo Lake. Another character venue with an air conditioned queue, nearby on Commissary Lane, is “Mickey and Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams.” Sorcerer Mickey (from FANTASIA) and Tinsel Town Minnie (with Hollywood glam) greet guests as they walk in on a red carpet. You can also meet characters in comfort at Hollywood and Vine (Disney Junior characters at breakfast and lunch, Minnie and friends at dinner).
5. Though Sunset Ranch Market offers up tasty choices from turkey legs to hot dogs, the seating is all out of doors. Too hot, too crowded, too hectic on a too hot day. Starring Rolls has outdoor seating, and of course the Starbucks has no seating at all. Your cupcake will be a puddle of icing in minutes. The Backlot Express and ABC Commissary are air conditioned, but it’s not always easy to find a table – and stress has a heating effect! You may choose counter service meals in the winter, but summer is the time to splurge on a restful table service lunch or dinner.
With its perpetually twilight starlit sky, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is a great choice to visit on a hot day. Amongst the other sit down restaurants, Mama Melrose and the Brown Derby both have subdued seating and decor. 50’s Prime Time is one of the most fun restaurants at the Studios, but not exactly calming!
6. Cool yourself down from the inside out with a frosty drink or ice cream. Hollywood Scoops has sundaes, hand-dipped cones, and ice cream sandwiches made on freshly baked cookies. They also offer a float with Coney Island Hard Root Beer, but don’t forget that blistering temperatures and alcohol are a match made in a much hotter place than heaven.
The Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks has orange mango and strawberry smoothies, plus their usual (as well as seasonal) menus of refreshers and ice teas – all good on a hot day. Yes, of course they have your usual venti, split quad shots, no foam latte, with whip, but this article is about staying cool on a hot day. And you can get your Starbucks anytime, anywhere. Come on, you’re at Disney!! Head over to Anaheim Produce for their frozen lemonade in an Orange Bird Cup!
Or stroll over to the Tune-In Lounge, with its own entrance next to 50’s Prime Time, where you can find a variety of more unique refreshing beverages. Good choices to take along on a stroll outside include: Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Shakes; Lemonade Punch (in a souvenir Ariel or Buzz cup with glowing light); Mickey’s Bee Bop Cherry Sprite (with glowing electric ice cube); Root Beer or Coke Floats; or Odwalla lemonade topped with wildberry foam! On the other side of the park, Cantalina Eddy’s has a Strawberry Lemonade Slushy. (Backlot Express has them, too.) STAR WARS folk are delighted when Min and Bill’s offers their seasonal Bantha Blast (made with blue milk) shake!
7. Get sprayed with Coke!? You won’t find a splash pad water play area at the Studios, and with the closing of the Honey I Shrunk Kids Playground, the giant hoses no longer spray. There are some wonderful fountains (notably Miss Piggy’s in front of MuppetVision), but they’re not interactive. However, what you can do is stand in the mist (it isn’t sticky!) of a giant Coke bottle.
There are quite a few refrigerated water fountains at the Studios, though the degree of coldness can vary wildly. The drinking fountains across from Star Tours, inside the Backlot Express, and at Fantasmic are often well chilled. And you can always get a complimentary cup of ice water at counter service locations. (Florida water tastes a lot less sulfuric if served chilled!) ABE Commissary is a good choice, unless you arrive at a peak meal time! Even if you have to stand in a long line, it will be worth it. Don’t underestimate the important of staying hydrated – never more vital in the heat and humidity of a tropical summer.