Trip Report: Hollywood Studios Rope Drop and More

My second day was going to be another busy one! The biggest difference about traveling solo was not having to make sure everyone else was ready to go. I was still feeling tired from my travel day when my alarm went off. I rolled out of bed anyway to shower, pack, and get out the door. I had built in just enough time to take a few pictures around the property. The second I walked out the door it started to rain, but that quickly passed and a beautiful rainbow was over the resort.

My mission was to ride everything in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios right after rope drop, a.k.a park opening. I also wanted see the Christmas tree at Animal Kingdom Lodge, shop at the Character Warehouse, a Disney outlet store, check into my next resort, Coronado Springs, all before meeting another friend for a late lunch.

Hollywood Studios was opening at 9am. I took my luggage to Bell Services so they could transfer it to Coronado Springs Resort. The goal was to be at the park as early as possible. You’ll see why soon. I was at the bus stop at 7:30am. The bus picked me up at 7:41 and dropped me at the park at 7:52. I went through security and then did putz around a bit taking a couple photos before getting to the “holding” area at the end of Hollywood Boulevard just beyond Sunset Boulevard.

I did have about an hour “wait” to move from the holding area. While I waited I made a call about a dining reservation that needed adjusting. There was quite a hold for dining that morning, so I waited on the phone and in the crowd. It was 8:44 when the ropes dropped and Cast Members started leading one portion of the crowd towards Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge while I moved with the other portion following a Cast Member towards Toy Story Land. At this point I started rapidly adding photos to my story on Instagram with timestamps to monitor the day. It was much fast than trying to use my phone’s notepad to track the time and progress.

The Cast Member led the line in a controlled fashion directly to the Slinky Dog Dash queue. (No running allowed.) While there may have been a small number of people that detoured to other attractions along the way the vast majority was seeking this headliner. The posted wait time for the ride was 65 minutes and the park wasn’t even officially open. The Entrance sign read 8:49. My Insta-story was posted the next minute.

I had no idea how long I’d actually be waiting. I guess I was close to the front quarter of the line. At 8:58 this was my view! Loaded and ready to go!

I was super thrilled. I honestly thought it’d be maybe 20-30 minutes. The only disappointment is that my PhotoPass picture never loaded to my account.

On to Alien Swirling Saucers. It was posted as a 5 minute wait and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.

After swirling around I was distracted from my agenda for just a few minutes to enjoy the alien Christmas decor, glance at Jessie, and then Woody, before riding Toy Story Mania. I wanted to jump in the character lines, but they were long enough that it would cause a significant delay in all of my plans.

Next up Toy Story Mania. At 9:16 the posted wait time was 20 minutes. It was another precise posted time. I was loaded on the ride in 19 minutes.

I felt excitement and accomplishment. I met my goal. I truly experienced the benefits of arriving early and “rope dropping” the park. My next step was to use a FastPass+ for Tower of Terror. As I left my favorite area in Walt Disney World I checked the posted wait times in the app. Slinky Dog Dash was still at 65 minutes (there had been a very long line behind so I’m certain it was at least that now), Alien Swirling Saucers was up to 35 minutes, and Toy Story Mania was at 40 minutes. I had been able to ride all three and take a some pictures for just a few minutes in a little more than one hour.

I arrived at Tower of Terror at 9:54 for a FastPass+ reservation with a 9:45-10:45 window. I was still on hold with dining when they answered as I was about to board the ride. I stepped aside and let other guests ahead of me while I worked through the reservation change. The Cast Member was very efficient and we wrapped up the call quickly. According to my call log I was off the line at 10:07 and now ready to board my trip into the Twilight Zone!

I was almost done exploring the park. The Citizens of Hollywood were out so I took a minute to enjoy their comedy.

Then browsed Echo Lake’s Christmas decor. I even found a PhotoPass photographer.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

I took a bus over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to see the Christmas tree in the lobby. I was very disappointed when I walked in and it had not yet been set up. The lobby was beautiful! In hindsight I should have taken some more time to look around and check out the resort and savanna viewing areas, but I decided just to move on.

I checked the Lyft app and driver was nearby. I requested a ride to the Character Warehouse outlet store. This would be my second time visiting the outlet, located on Vineland. I was hoping for some deals but was not looking for anything in particular. I arrived and was surprised by the line to enter the store. When I traveled with my family we were able to just walk right in and browse. I waited about 20 minutes in the line for the store and then browsed. It was quite crowded and I only found one item I was interested in purchasing, a flip sequin Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party shirt for my daughter. It was marked down to $7. I decided to pass since it was the only item of interest and the checkout line was at least another 10 minute wait.

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

My next Lyft ride took me to the resort that would be home for the remainder of the trip, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. I had not yet received a room ready notification but decided to check with the front desk anyway. The system had me assigned to a room that had not yet been serviced, but she was happy to assign me to another available room so I could check in a little bit early (around 12:45pm). My fellow agent and roommate for the trip had not yet arrived. I took a few photos of the property and then room, relaxed for a bit, and then cleaned up a little to leave for my lunch date.

(I will post a full resort review separately but watch the next few posts for some pictures around the property.)

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge & Whispering Canyon

I was looking forward to lunch at Whispering Canyon. It had been one of my favorite meals on my family trip in the fall of 2018 and I was longing to fill up on the all-you-care-to-enjoy skillet again. I was also meeting my very sweet friend, Hayley, from The Stewart Tribe, and her kids. I walked into the resort looking for the Christmas tree here, but no luck again. There was a new holiday decoration set up though: a gingerbread cabin. I spoke with the Cast Member and she let me know some of the resorts were still working on setting up all the holiday decorations, but assured me they would be there by Thanksgiving.

Hayley arrived and we had a great lunch date. The kids were hysterical, and like mine, requested ketchup just for the fun of it. I had my fill of food and great conversation.

Magic Kingdom & Return to Coronado Springs

I was heading to Magic Kingdom since I can never get enough of it. They were free so we all took the boat ride over to the park. The kids made me laugh and it helped me just a little bit with the feeling of missing my babies. We entered the park and caught a short glimpse of the end of the Move It, Shake It, Mousekedance It Parade and found a PhotoPass photographer that offered this fun Magic Shot.

The wait times were a higher than we hoped for most of the attractions. We went to Storybook Circus with the intention of riding the Barnstormer, but the length of the line and the posted wait time didn’t quite match. Instead we took a journey Under the Sea and walked around and enjoyed some of the scenery until it was time for me to go.

I was meeting my roommate, Maddy, at The Confectionery with a MagicBand that had been delivered to my home as part of our resort package. We chatted for a minute before she head to enjoy Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and I returned to Coronado Springs to meet with other members of Royal Treatment Travel for a mixer event. Not without grabbing a snack on my way out.

The mixer was a fun event. We snacked on appetizers at Three Bridges Bar & Grill. It’s a beautiful open air restaurant situated on the small lake in the middle of the resort. We chatted and spent time getting to know each other more before moving to the Dahlia Lounge in the Gran Destino Tower. From the balcony of the Lounge we could see fireworks from Hollywood Studios (direct view) and angled off in the distance Epcot’s as well. It was a windy (and cool) night so much of the fireworks were surround in smoke. It was still a great view to end the evening.

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