Hollywood Studios puts you in the middle of the movie action, taking you inside your favorite films and stories with larger than life sets. But just like the movies, photo shoots use sets all the time, which makes Hollywood Studios the perfect place for photos. This is made even more true by Hollywood Studios’ rapid expansion. Between the addition of Toy Story Land last summer, An Incredible Celebration at Pixar Place, and the unveiling of Galaxy’s Edge this Fall, Hollywood Studios has plenty of good things coming it’s way. So for all of you budding photographers out there, this Instagram Guide is the perfect addition to your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company or Walt Disney World resort. All views and opinions are my own.
The Basics of Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios opened in 1989 under the name Disney-MGM studios and was intended to be both a theme park and a place to film/animate movies. This gave Guests the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look of how movies were made. In fact, several Disney classics (such as Mulan and Lilo and Stitch) were actually created at this park.
The name changed to Hollywood Studios in 2008 and recent years have seen multiple modifications to the park, including the closure of the Backlot Tour and the removal of the Sorcerer’s Hat, as the park got ready for bigger expansions.
This information and more about the history and changes of Hollywood Studios can be found here.
Hollywood Studios is divided into 8 different sections, with the 9th (Galaxy’s Edge) opening on August 29th. This post divides up the Instagram spots by their location and are organized by the preferred photo shoot plan around the park.
A Photo Shoot Plan for Hollywood Studios
Due to the recent addition of Toy Story Land and the upcoming opening of Galaxy’s Edge, I recommend arriving to the Hollywood Studios between 1-1 ½ hours early.
In my experience of arriving at Hollywood Studios early, they let people past the turnstiles (the main entrance) before the official opening time so they can visit Hollywood Boulevard before the rest of the park opens. This means that you have access to this first area before the park before opening time.
However, I would advise that the earlier you arrive, the better. As more people arrive, the the street will become crowded, which will make taking photos harder.
After taking photos along Hollywood Boulevard, I recommend your next stop to be Sunset Boulevard. This is one of the best spots in the park to take photos due to it’s many buildings, backgrounds, and even “props” that you can utilize for photos. A full guide of photo spots around Hollywood Boulevard are listed below.
As you head back up Sunset Boulevard, cut across the “Hub” (the large area at the end of Hollywood Boulevard) and head towards Echo Lake. There are some hidden photo spots here that are absolutely amazing.
After taking photos at Echo Lake, head towards Grand Avenue. This is a fun place for city-like background and a fun themed area near the Muppets attraction, which is hardly busy in the mornings.
Note: Grand Avenue is the only path to Galaxy’s Edge, so the crowd levels and ability to get good photos in this area may change in August 2019.
Once you’ve taken photos along Grand Avenue, head to the left down Commissary Lane towards the Chinese Theater. This is a great time to get photos in front of the theater and you can also pose with the handprints in the concrete. Afterwards, loop around the back of the Chinese Theater and heads towards Pixar Place. This area has recently been re-themed around Pixar’s The Incredibles, and although it was smaller than it was before, there are still several photo opportunities here.
After photos at Pixar Place, head back up the street and take a left towards Toy Story Land. This area will be crowded at all times of the day since it’s a newer area of the park, but going later in the morning avoids the initial rush after rope drop.
The last spot for photos is Animation Courtyard. However, don’t sweat it if you don’t have time for photos in this area. There are few photo spots besides the actually signage of the building, which can be difficult to work into a photo.
Hollywood Boulevard is the first street you’ll enter as you come in the park. It’s layout is similar to that of Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A., with stores the street, Guest Relations on the left, a central hub, and an icon building (for Hollywood Studios, the Chinese Theater) at the end of the street.
The theming of this area is retro Hollywood, which is something to take into consideration if you’re coordinating your outfit with the park.
The first photo spot is on your immediate left as you enter the park. A little house with some landscaping and retro lawn ornaments makes for the perfect photo. (Which fits, because this is actually where Photopass is located!) However, if you want to get a photo in this area, you’ll want to arrive to the park as early as possible, because as soon as they bring out Donald and Daisy (who do meet and greets in front of this house), your chance of getting any non-character photos in this area will be very slim.
Directly across the way (on your immediate right once you enter the park) is the stroller rental station, which is set up to look like a retro gas station. Since there are some display racks scattered in this area, you’ll have to be creative with your camera angles, but this is a great stop for photos early in the day.
After taking photos in these two areas, the next step is to take photos along the actual “street” of Hollywood Boulevard, which is lined with shops. This is easiest if you arrive before official park open, because as they let people in for rope drop, the crowd will get more backed up along and then stay busy the rest of the day.
However, there are several great storefronts that you can work into your photos. My personal favorite is the first one on your right (The Darkroom) as it looks like a giant camera from the outside.
At the end of the street is the Chinese Theater. However, like I said in the photo shoot plan, it’s better to go to other areas and then loop back around for this photo. This is a relatively easy one, especially if you go into the courtyard in front of it. There typically aren’t *too* many people lingering in this area. Even if there are, it’s easy to time your photos until they’re gone or choose a different angle that will exclude the crowds.
On the left of the Chinese Theater you can also find a small mural dedicated to the upcoming attraction: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway!
Sunset Boulevard is home to 2 of Hollywood Studios’ most popular attractions: Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. However, this street is practically vacant immediatly after rope drop (as most people are running for the Toy Story attractions), which makes it an ideal area for photos.
The first photo spot is Legends of Hollywood on your right. It has a great storefront, as well as an old-timey ticket booth between the two entryways.
Across the street is Reel Vogue, another great storefront. In front is also a Route 66 sign with a stack of suitcases. This is not only a great background, but a great “prop”.
At the end of the street on the right-hand side is Carthay Circle. This storefront also has a “letter board” of sorts outside, spelling out “Once upon a time”…a great Easter egg for your favorite show or your love of fairytales in general!
Across the street from Carthay Circle is Sunset Ranch Market. The building on the right-hand side (near the entrance of Rock n’ Roller Coaster) has vintage “ads” for fruits, veggies, and travel locations, making it a great background.
While on Sunset Boulevard, don’t forget to take a photo in front of Rock n’ Rollercoaster and the Tower of Terror!
Echo Lake, although a small area, has plenty of hidden photo spots. This is another great area for photos early in the morning, so you’ll want to go here after Sunset Boulevard.
Note: The back corner of Echo Lake (near the entrance of Indiana Jones) may be busy with parents/kids as they get ready for the Jedi Training Academy, so this back area may be harder to do photographs in. The rest of Echo Lake is usually empty though.
When you first reach Echo Lake, one of the first areas you’ll come across is Hollywood & Vine and 50s Prime Time Cafe on your left. If you’re going for a retro/dapper look, 50s Prime Time is the perfect place for photos. You can do some outside the restaurant, but if you want to do some in 50s Prime Time, I recommend getting one of the late. dinner reservations. As people begin to leave, you can then take photos in some of the “dining rooms” that have been cleared out and cleaned at the end of the serving period.
Next to 50s Prime Time, there’s also a gate for “Echo Lake Apartments” with mailboxes outside. This is one of the hidden spots, especially if you’re wanting a subtle Disney look!
Near the back of Echo Lake is the Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular. This is a great area for some jungle-style, adventure-like photos. However, this area may be busy with kids and parents getting ready for Jedi Training Academy, so just be aware of that when you go.
Along the lake itself are two more great photo opportunities: the Dockside Diner (a large boat) and Gertie the Dinosaur.
As you head towards Grand Avenue, another photo spot in Echo Lake is within Celebrity Spotlight, where you can meet Olaf. Olaf’s “movie set” is the beach, so you can get a photo with Olaf and (if you time it right) a photo with just his beach set; this typically happens when he leaves for a few minutes to check on Anna or Elsa.
Since the only attraction in Grand Avenue is Muppet Vision 3D, this is another area where not many people go early in the morning.
The first area of Grand Avenue is Baseline Taphouse and a recreation of apartments and shops. Photos can be done along the sidewalk, in front of the apartment buildings, in the doorways, etc.
Grand Avenue also includes the Muppets-themed area, where the bright colors offer a ton of fun opportunities for photos. The fountain in front of Muppet Vision 3D is one of these spots.
As you go further in the courtyard, you can find two “murals” near PizzeRizzo on the left. The street in itself is also pretty amazing, and you can take photos with different doorways and backgrounds. The “It’s a Wonderful Shop” store has a cute snowman out front if you’re looking for photos for the holidays.
As you pass “It’s a Wonderful Shop”, you’ll be near the entrance of Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, which not only has a great facade, but a great mural on the wall. This mural is on the 2nd story, however, so you’ll either need to get creative with your camera angles or settle for just a photos of the mural.
As you go around the corner and past the gazebo divider, there’s another photo spot on your left, which features a target on the ground and an interesting door behind you.
Note: Grand Avenue is practically vacant in the mornings…but not for long. When Galaxy’s Edge opens on August 29th this area will be packed, so visit it now to get your (uncrowded) photos while you can.
Commissary Lane is just a short path between Grand Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. (It actually leads you directly in front of the Chinese Theater.)
Since it’s just a small connecting street, there’s no photo opportunities here. However, inside of Mickey and Minnie’s Red Carpet Dreams you can get some cute (individual) photos with Mickey and Minnie. If it’s also timed right, you can get an individual photo with their “movie sets” as well. Minnie’s set is the red carpet and Mickey’s is a stone tower with a spell book, chair, and tapestry.
With the recent opening of Toy Story Land, Pixar Place has changed from focusing on Toy Story to The Incredibles. There are several photo opportunities in this area. The main one is the mural on the right as soon as you walk into the area.
The others in the area can be creative with. Jack-Jack has plenty of spots where his powers have gone “haywire” and left evidence behind on the streets and walls.
Note: This area will *probably* be busier then the other areas (if you follow the photo shoot plan outlined above) because it’s down the street from Toy Story Land. However, it will get more busy throughout the day, so I still advise going early!
Toy Story Land
No matter what time of the day you go, the crowds for Toy Story Land will be big. However, by arriving later in the morning, the crowds will be thinned out from the initial rush during rope drop.
The first photo opportunity will be as your enter the area. Woody is there to greet you with a sign that reads Toy Story Land. This is one of the main photo spots, so you may have to wait in line for this photo opportunity.
The second is with the various rides behind you, mainly Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. Because of the large area of the rides, you can walk up and down the paths to find which spot to take photos at, but one of my favorites is as you first approach the ride and can see Jessie and T-Rex.
Another photo opportunity is the famous Luxo/Pixar Ball, which is located on the left-hand side, just past Toy Story Midway Mania.
Some of the final photo opportunities come in the form of “Instagram Walls”. As you exit the Toy Story Midway Mania attraction, you will pass between two walls, one that looks like it was made out of popsicle sticks and another that was made out of a checkerboard.
Animation Courtyard is a difficult place for Instagram photos, as there’s not many murals and it’s mostly “movie sets” for Disney Junior character meet-and-greets. There are also character meet-and-greets within Star Wars Launch Bay, with a few additional spots for photos.
If you’re wanting photos in the courtyard, try out some different angles to get the signage of The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, as well as Star Wars Launch Bay, into your photo.
This concludes the Instagram Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As you can see, there are numerous spots around the park choose from. I’ve even tested out this photo shoot plan twice, so I’m confident that this will result in some of the best photos throughout the park. For more photo spots around Walt Disney World, be sure to check out my Instagram Guides to Magic Kingdom and Epcot!
Do you have any photo shoot tips for Hollywood Studios, or an Instagram spot that I missed? Let me know down below!