Any parent who’s ever argued with a three-year-old over a single green bean knows that preschoolers don’t think like adults. That’s why finding the best activities for preschoolers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios requires the grown-up to scrape off the barnacles of adulthood and think like a kid.
Example: we adults set out for a theme park and stuff the diaper bag, slather the sunscreen, pack the snacks, think about hydration, and what shoes we should wear. But your average preschooler is focused more on possibilities than on practicalities and punctualities.
I recently visited Walt Disney World on a hosted visit with the happy challenge to find the best preschooler possibilities at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Think Like a Preschooler
Wait – I know what you’re thinking: why would I spend any of my Walt Disney World time with my preschoolers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Isn’t Magic Kingdom where all the little kid stuff is?
Well, you’re going to have a fan-tas-tic time at Disney World no matter where you spend your time. But if your littles have grown up on a diet of the more modern Disney movies – I’m talking Toy Story, Frozen, and Star Wars – rather than the Disney classics, your three- and four-year-olds are gonna’ get their kicks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
(Plus I’ll share a little secret – I’ve noticed over the course of several visits to all the parks that Disney’s Hollywood Studios seems to be a little less crowded than Magic Kingdom).
Toy Story at Pixar Place
What’s the best plan of attack for a preschooler at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? My absolute number one recommendation is to start your visit at Pixar Place. Yeah, it’s about as far from the entrance as you can get – but there’s a method to the madness. There are a lot of different ways to map out a visit to Hollywood Studios with a preschooler. But trust me – it doesn’t get better than this, especially if your kiddo’s a big fan of Toy Story.
Just enter the park and head straight down Hollywood Boulevard. When you get past the replica of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, swoop to the left and take a few more steps into Pixar Place.
Entering Pixar Place is like stepping into the Toy Story movies, but at the same scale of the toys – there are adult-sized green toy soldiers darting around (they don’t talk, but they’re happy to pose for pictures), monkeys from the Barrel of Monkeys game strung across the walkway, and of course, a special spot nearby to meet and get pix with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
The Toy Story Midway Mania ride is a must-do – it’s an enlarged version of Andy’s bedroom with games and toys scattered about. The 3D spinning car ride is hosted by Woody and designed after traditional county fair midway games where you toss objects at targets by aiming a launcher and pulling a cord.
Take Your Pick:
After Pixar Place, pretend you’re a toy soldier, make an about-face, and head out the way you came in. You’ll end up in preschooler paradise, no matter what your preference. Star Wars Launch Bay, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and Disney Junior—Live on Stage! are all right there.
Some preschoolers may be too young for all the Star Wars stuff, and that’s fine. But if they’re familiar enough with the franchise, there are Stormtroopers patrolling the plaza. And Chewbacca and Kylo Ren await inside for a photo inside the Star Wars Launch Bay. They await on separate sides — the Light and Dark Sides, of course — and while you can see and pose with both characters, you’ll have to wait on separate lines for the opportunity.
And don’t forget just about every hour on the hour, from morning to early afternoon, the Stormtroopers perform the “March of the First Order” down Hollywood Boulevard. With an inter-galactic marching tune playing in the background, it’s a can’t-miss for Star Wars fans. It’s completely un-scary for little ones who aren’t too sure yet about this whole Star Wars thing.
Disney Junior Live!
The Little Mermaid
This was my first time seeing the “Voyage of the Little Mermaid” – a condensed 20-minute version of the story featuring Ariel, Eric, Ursula, and other characters from the movie. It’s right across the plaza from Disney Junior. During “Under the Sea,” audible “oohing and aahing” came from the preschoolers when bubbles danced through the theater at the end of the song! (You’re thinking like a kid, right? You love bubbles, right?)
Time for a Warm Frozen Hug
Visiting Hollywood Studios with preschoolers isn’t complete without a visit to see Olaf. After that it’s time to chime in for “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”! Hosted by two members of Arendelle (the Frozen kingdom), the sing-along is basically a fast-paced comedy routine rolled up into a family sing-along of Frozen’s greatest hits – and aren’t they all? Best part? When it snows inside the theater during the closing number. The preschoolers in the crowd were squealing with delight (and yeah, I got a kick out of it too).
P.S. – A Confession
Finally, a confession: I’m past the age of preschoolers. And I’m far too young to have pre-school-age grandchildren. But I haven’t forgotten how to see the world through the eyes of a child. And when my three kids were wee, you bet your life their dad took them to see the magic: