Family Day at Hollywood Studios, July 2020.
With Disney’s closing all of the previously made plans through Disney were canceled. No dining reservations. No ability to book fast passes. No guarantee even entry to the parks.
For Tess’s birthday trip we decided to combine it with a Christmas-trip redo for the girls and go with a more Universal focus over Disney one. Which feels INSANE to be saying!!! But hey, it’s 2020 right? Crazy stuff is going DOWN.
As an annual passholder we’re allowed to book 3 park days at a time. As soon as park passes became available I grabbed one for Hollywood Studios over our July visit for Tess’s birthday trip.
Hollywood Studios was the last park we visited as a family before shut down (waaaaay back in January!) and it would be our first family park day back after reopening too!
I chose Hollywood Studios because none of us had gotten to experience Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railway since it opened just a week or so prior to the shut down. I also knew it’d be everyone’s #1 pick for a park because Galaxy’s Edge, Slinky and Rock N Rollercoaster!
I went ahead and booked two more park days for September over Labor Day weekend. I wasn’t sure how quickly park days would fill up and I wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to visit over that weekend so we did one day on our July trip and had the remaining two set aside for September.
A lot of pass holders aren’t booking far in advance and are instead booking as they go but I’m a planner and I’d rather KNOW for SURE that we have a park reservation secured for future trips rather than go on a whim and not be guaranteed to have availability for our more set in stone planned visits.
We are early morning park people. We’d MUCH rather be hanging around waiting for the park to open than be standing in long lines all day.
With park reservations there isn’t a huge advantage to arriving early but I have learned it’s still an advantage! Right now your long wait is in your car outside the parking lot gates. Once allowed into the parking lot, you can go RIGHT into the park!
So far it’s seeming like they are opening the parking lots about an hourish prior to park opening. It’s frustrating because you are sitting there. And sitting there some more. BUT just keep reminding yourself it’s better to be in your nice car AC than standing in the sweltering heat!
I think the unknowns are frustrating for us as we’re just very, very planned out Disney people. We secure our fast passes. We have our itineraries. We know exactly when to arrive at the parks. We have a SYSTEM.
And all of these changes have completely thrown our system out the window and we’re having to relearn things and don’t know if these new ways will be long term, short term, permanent or temporary.
We arrived at DHS at 8:45. Official park opening was 10. We were not allowed to line up outside the parking entrance until closer to 9 and were not allowed into the parking lot until 9:15ish.
We played a game while we waited and did Star Wars Trivia and had dares we had to do throughout the day if we got the answers wrong. Tessie had to stick her head out of the window and yell “It’s my Birthday!”
Once we parked we were allowed entry to the park, no waiting for park opening. I do not know the exact attractions that were open prior to the official park opening time but we knew we wanted to head straight for Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad.
Right before our trip Disney updated their health and safety guidelines to require masks on at all times unless STATIONARY while eating or drinking. So our original plan of letting the kids snack and sip water cups as they walked throughout the park wasn’t going to happen.
They were also strictly enforcing that rule as well. However, no one said ANYTHING about Spear’s lack of mask wearing. He wasn’t asked to put it on in security or as we entered the park or any time during our day. It was never questioned by a single cast member. (I do want to say…this post is being written in September and we HAVE visited the parks since this day and HAVE had a LOT more cast members questioning Spear’s lack of mask wearing and HAVE had to have him wear it at times in the parks).
Spear will be three in December and I really need this mask rule/coronavirus life to be done by then because I know he gets away with it now being 2 and being smaller for his age but I doubt he will get away with not wearing a mask at age 3! Disney requires masks for everyone ages 2 and up.
The wait time for Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad was 20 minutes. I was freaking OUT because we had to reserve our Rise of the Resistance spot at 10 am and it was cutting it soooo close. I also just really, really wanted to ENJOY the railroad ride and not be worrying about the ROR passes the whole time.
Thankfully it all worked out and we exited the ride with 7 minutes to spare and were able to secure ROR virtual que spots for our entire party!!!
We all LOVED Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad. We did NOT know much about the ride at all prior to riding and I’d gone into it assuming Spear would be too little to ride. I didn’t realize it’s a family attraction without any height restrictions! It was SO SO FUN and he was SO adorable about it and loved the “Mickey Choo Choo!”
I also want to go ahead and say that YES masks are required at all times around the parks. And also – YES – we take our masks down or off for a quick photo while at the parks. I have not had a single cast member say anything to us about doing it and we do it in a very respectful way. We get away from others when taking photos and get ready for the photo moment and only take off the mask at the exact second we smile for the picture then the mask goes right back on.
Our next stop was to head over to Galaxy’s Edge to ride Smuggler’s Run. Kye actually prefers Smuggler’s Run over Rise of Resistance! It was awesome being able to just walk right on and Mrs. Charlotte kept Spear and did rider swap so I was able to ride with Zach and the big kids. It was our first time getting to all ride together since the Galaxy’s Edge passholder preview weekend!
We did our best job ever and had a really fun time and then swapped. G-Mama rode solo with the big kids and Zach took a break in the shade while I took Spear to walk around and explore a bit.
Spear had been talking about “Seeing Star Wars” and “Seeing Chewbacca” leading up to the trip and I was SO BUMMED I couldn’t find Chewy for him! He calls Storm Troopers “Star Wars” which is the cutest thing. He was SO excited to see them and interact with them and to see the “beebos” too 🙂
We headed over to Toy Story Land through the back entrance of Galaxy’s Edge. Zach secured a DAS pass for Slinky Dog and we were able to walk on Toy Story Mania with just a 10 minute wait. We all LOVE Toy Story Mania!
It was actually Britt’s first time EVER riding solo. Which is CRAZY that she’s managed to always arrange it where she’s never alone on a ride. Starting at age 7 Disney allows you to ride alone and it’s something we HAVE to have happen pretty frequently on attractions. I can’t believe I never noticed that she has yet to ride solo and she’s almost NINE!
She was upset about not getting to ride with someone but it was Tess’s bday and she wanted to ride with G-Mama, I rarely get to ride with Kye on anything, and Zach wanted to ride with Spear so I told her this was a great opportunity to ride solo. It was a bit of drama but she did it!
While all the thrill-seekers headed to Slinky, Spear and I walked around a bit and got a photo pass picture together! Masks are a MUST for all photo pass spots as Disney will NOT upload your photo into your My Disney Experience account if you aren’t wearing a mask. I was curious to see if the cast member would say anything about Spear and if his picture would show up in the app. The cast member didn’t say a thing and his pics showed up! Double win!
Spear was ADORABLE. He was SO excited in Galaxy’s Edge about all the Star Wars stuff and was even more excited about Toy Story Land.
He said “MOMMY MOMMY LOOK! JESSE!!!” It was THE cutest thing!
I had big plans for 2020 being allllll about Spear at Disney. Around this age we’d be taking him on his “First Visit” trip if we weren’t pass holders so I really wanted to devote a day at each park at some point this year to really focus on him. He is the perfect age to start the love for Disney, but he just has a bit of a head-start since he’s been coming since he was 12 days old 😉
When grabbing dining I decided to also grab a spot for us at Oga’s Cantina. They do NOT have a lot of food offerings but I felt like it’d be a good option to have a mask break in the AC. We brought in our own food (totally allowed at Disney…no one said ANYTHING about it) and all ordered fun Oga’s treats and drinks!
They DO serve alcohol offerings at Oga’s but also have a great variety of fun non-alcohol options too. It made for a fun “Birthday surprise” but REALLY? We were there for the BLUE BANTHA!!! This cookie yall is INCREDIBLE. I told Zach I want my birthday cake to be this cookie haha
We all tried a few different things…like I LOVE the cookie but the blue milk itself is just meh to me. Kye was all about the taste testing!
We enjoyed the break and I must say – you NEED a break. It’s vital to have a large set amount of time set aside in the day to remove masks and relax!!!
It made my heart sad to pass by the Minnie and Mickey meet and greet areas and see the entrance chained off. Hopefully someday soon meeting pals will be BACK!
It was around 1 pm …on a Saturday…when I took these pictures of a completely empty Millennium Falcon! C-Raziness!
While it’s SO SAD that there are no character meet and greets right now, I am HERE for the Character Cavalcades!!! While writing this in September I’ve now visited all four parks since reopening and the Hollywood Studios Cavalcades are my favorite. I felt like we got to see a TON of them because they drive through such a central location of the park.
The cars are awesome and the characters are awesome and the whole thing gave me that GIDDY Disney Magic VIBE. It really made for a special moment for Spear which was so important to me. He loved waving at everyone. Incredibles and Toy Story are both two of his FAVS and it was just SO PERFECT.
Sweet Daddy had ran by earlier and secured a DAS pass for us to ride “Mickey Choo Choo” again since we’d all loved it so much the first time around and it didn’t disappoint a second time either. Spear talks the most about Daisy dancing 🙂
Kye and Britt’s favorite ride is Rock N Rollercoaster so we went that way and it was totally walk on. Which is INSANE and mind-blowing. Usually there are masses of people so backed up at this entrance and instead it’s only Zach and Kye!
We walked right up to Lightning McQueen’s Race Academy getting started and it was such perfect timing. Spear LOVES all things vehicle related and loves Mater and Lightning McQueen and he was all about the show.
He was also all about walking around like a little man with his hands in his pockets all day and it was so stinking adorable.
Britt opted to skip out on riding Rock N Rollercoaster because she said she was still traumatized from having to ride Toy Story Mania solo. She hung back with us and we just visited with all the different cars in the area while we waited.
It was one of those really perfect moments. Spear was so cute and having so much fun. There were basically NO PEOPLE. He was running around and being silly and dancing like crazy. We just enjoyed the moment and it really cemented this day as one of my all-time favorite days with Spear so far in his entire life! TRULY!
He was precious from start to finish all day long and just really that genuine excitement and joy was just radiating from him. I never wanted the day to end!
This is just a magical age where things really start to click and I do love it as a first trip age to Disney World. When I tucked him in that night he kept saying “I go to Disney World!”
Tessie did wear her birthday button and her special birthday ears. I tried hard not to make the day ALL about her. I think my plan moving forward is to celebrate the birthday child for the length of our stay surrounding their birthday celebration but to try to limit their true celebration day to ONE day of the trip rather than the entire trip being revolved around them.
So she was made to feel special and we def celebrated her but the day wasn’t all about her either. I do really love our tradition of solo park time with each child around their birthday so my HOPE is once things kinda return to normal we can go back to doing that and then have one family celebration day too!
While at the Rock N Rollercoaster area we received notification that it was time for us to ride Rise of Resistance. We did a rider swap again so that G-Mama would be able to experience it for the first time. I told her and Zach to ride first because I know she doesn’t get to have a lot of special time with Zach and thought she’d enjoy that!
Note to my future daughter in laws…remember to repay that Karma to me okay? 😉
The boarding situation was a bit different for Rise of Resistance. When our boarding group was called we had a lotttt less time to return than we did back in January. It used to be a 2 hour return window and this time it was like 45 minutes? It made me very glad that we’d decided to skip naps rather than try to go back to the house and get back in time!
Rise of Resistance is simply incredible. It’s truly amazing and it was really neat having it be less crowded and be able to take in all the details even better. I love that the cast members do allow more time in the hanger area to take pics and such too.
Disney has sanitizer stations set up at both the entrance and exit of all attractions. In this area, Universal is winning. At Universal the team members put hand sanitizer directly into each guest’s hand upon boarding an attraction.
This ensures that everyone uses it! At Disney the sanitizer sensors rarely work for me. (To be fair, I struggle to get automatic bathroom sinks to work for me too…I think I might be a ghost). And I have to stop and put my hand under over and over and then half the time when it finally releases the sanitizer, it misses my hand.
I never want to be holding up a line so I usually end up skipping it entirely. As do most guests as we’re in a rush to board an attraction and no one wants to be that person stopping the line from advancing!
We headed out of Galaxy’s Edge at 3:45 and the park was DEAD. It had opened at 10 am. We were allowed in at 9:30 and by 3:45 we rode: runaway railway twice, smugglers run twice, toy story mania, slinky dog, rock n rollercoaster, lightning McQueen race academy, rise of resistance twice, and star tours plus spent around an hour in Oga’s!
While Zach and the big kids rode Star Tours G-Mama, Spear and I went to get everyone an afternoon treat. Treats are tough to come by right now in the parks. Food carts are scarce and there just aren’t a whole lot of options available.
It worked out though because WE SAW MICKEY. Yall. I FREAKED the freak out. I heard the music and I grabbed Spear and took off RUNNING to catch a glimpse of our favorite pal! He waved as he passed and it was so exciting. Like legit I was drenched in sweat but covered with chill bumps 😉
We also got to see the Disney Jr Cavalcade before heading to the Backlot dining area.
The restaurant was closing and only allowing online orders at that point so Zach ordered some fries while the rest of us ate our ice cream. We were all also given free sodas which made for an extra special treat! GASP we even let Kye drink COKE. I mean cool parent moment for surrrre.
Spear was so cute with his special Mickey Ice cream.
I really wanted to get a family picture at Hollywood Studios and rather than wait in line for a photo pass photographer and have to have a mask photo we found a spot by the pond and did our own little photo session.
There was literally NOT A SINGLE PERSON around this entire area. No one. It was so empty in fact that we noticed there are actual dinosaur footprints on the ground. None of us have EVER noticed them before (scroll up a bit to see the photo).
No cast members were around either. We were truly the ONLY people in the entire area so we felt fine with removing the masks and taking our time for photos. I love how they all turned out! Special pictures to remember a super special magical day!
Spear did SO awesome all day long. For being so hot and skipping nap he really was a trooper and had such a fun attitude the whole time. He was straight up exhausted though!
We headed back to the house and he was snoring by the time we drove up to the driveway (and it’s only like a 10 minute drive). The kids all went to bed super early to be well rested for the next day. I went up to Tess’s room to tell her goodnight and she was completely asleep sprawled out. Birthday celebrations are exhausting 😉
I did think it was funny that I saw this book opened on her bed to a page where Kye must have censored it back in the day. I love that he used to do this! He’d always mark out any “bad words” in books (“Hate” “stupid” etc) so no one else would see them and have that bad example. Our own books? GO FOR IT. But then he did it to a couple library books and we had to stop haha.
Our first family day back in the Disney parks was a for sure success!!! So glad G-Mama got to be part of the fun with us and that Spear got to have such a special “first visit” type of day!