Last month I did a series of guest posts over at Studios Central that took a detailed look at private event spaces inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Because some of these may be attractive to those planning Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, I’ve combined the series into one mega post here that covers pricing, capacity and event concepts for numerous venues inside the park.
I was on a tour of the park’s wedding venues last fall when I began to see that virtually any area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios could potentially be made into an event space. While Epcot has only its dedicated event venues, and the Magic Kingdom is off-limits to all but the largest corporate events, Disney’s Hollywood Studios seems to be one giant event space waiting to be subdivided.
Today, I’ll walk you through the park to look at some of the most popular spots, along with lesser-known venues and places that really should be venues if they aren’t already. But before we begin our tour, let’s cover a few event-planning basics.
Fees & Requirements
With the exception of those held at a handful of venues, most private events cannot start until 90 minutes after the park closes. This allows time for the park to clear and for the event team to set up the site. Additionally, many venues require you to pay for transportation backstage, which starts at $25 one-way for a 4-person town car and goes all the way up to nearly $500 for a chartered 50-person motor coach.
Each event space has a venue fee, plus a minimum amount you must spend on food and beverages. For private events at Fantasmic! there is a $12.95/person viewing fee for guests who don’t have park admission (events held after park hours do not require admission). There is a 21% service charge on the cost of food and beverages, and 6.5% sales tax is applied to everything except transportation, entertainment, photography/videography, and guides for the event—even the service charges get taxed!
If you want to keep one or more rides running during your event, there is an additional fee for each. These vary by attraction, but you can figure on anything from $3,000 to more than $17,000. A cheaper alternative is to do a ride mix-in—which gets your group escorted to the head of the line at an attraction—for about $15/person. The trick is that these can only be done during park operating hours, and most events take place after hours.
In this article, I’ve listed pricing information where I have it. Some of the locations I cover were only pointed out to me on my tour and require a custom quote from Disney. All information is subject to change at any time and seems to do so frequently. For example, since we held our party at Tower of Terror, it’s been reported that park management has imposed a 20-guest minimum on all private events, despite the fact that many of their event spaces are listed as being available to groups of 10. However, I’ve seen rules like this come and go many times over the years, so I always encourage people to call up and find out what the policy is at the moment.
If you are interested in holding a private event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, contact Disney Catered Events at 321-939-7278. You will be assigned an event planner based on which Disney resort you will be staying at.
Perhaps the most glamorous place in all of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Sunset Boulevard offers a number of unique special-event venues—including the boulevard itself! (More on later.)
Tower of Terror Courtyard
One of the most iconic party settings in all of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the courtyard at the exit of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Events here have a venue fee of $2,000 and a food and beverage minimum of $1,500. If you want to keep the ride running during your event, there is an additional charge of $6,500.
Tower of Terror Terrace
If Tower of Terror Courtyard is out of your price range and you have 10 people or fewer, the attraction’s terrace is a lovely setting for an event. The venue fee is $500, and the food and beverage minimum is $45/person. Although we were originally told the event space was the far corner of the terrace, when we arrived we found our table set up right in front of the doors, which gave us a great view into the lobby.
Hollywood Hills Amphitheater – Fantasmic!
There are a couple of ways to do events at Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. One is at the back of the theater during Fantasmic! Often these are dessert parties, but you can do a full meal too.
There are two patios to choose from. The small one holds up to 40 people and has a food and beverage minimum of $500.The large one can hold 40 to 100 and has a $750 food and beverage minimum; each patio has a $250 venue rental fee. There is also a $75 setup fee and a $12.95 viewing fee for each guest who doesn’t have park admission. Fantasmic! parties are among the few private events you can hold during park operating hours.
Another place where you can hold an event in Hollywood Hills Amphitheater is in the tree-lined walkway, after the park closes. While this doesn’t sound like a particularly glamorous place for a party, it does have a nice view of Tower of Terror and plenty of room for a dance floor.
Theater of the Stars – Beauty & The Beast
Disney has designed a special event concept for Theater of the Stars called the Be Our Guest Dinner. The evening starts with passed hors d’oeuvres and drinks in the courtyard at the back of the theater.
Eventually Mrs. Potts and Chip appear and welcome guests to the event from the stage. Then the curtain rises to reveal that dinner will be served on the set of “Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage.” Cogsworth and Lumiere also make an appearance as guests take their seats and a plated meal is served. During dinner, Belle and the Beast make their way to each table to thank everyone for coming. At the end of the night, all the characters assemble to bid guests farewell.
The Be Our Guest Dinner is available for up to 50 guests. There is a $1,000 venue fee and a $4,000 food and beverage minimum. The $11,290 entertainment package includes all six Disney characters, plus a major domo and a pianist.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith Courtyard
Events here have a venue fee of $2,000 and a food and beverage minimum of $1,500. Capacity is 50 to 300 people. If you want to keep the ride running during your event, there is an additional charge of $6,500. Disney also recommends a Theme Park Dance Party Package ($6,300) for groups of more than 100.
The Great Movie Ride
Perhaps the most iconic place to hold a private event on Disney’s version of Hollywood Boulevard is the Great Movie Ride, inside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Disney has created an elaborate event concept that uses three different sets inside the ride, plus and optional dance floors inside and outside the show building.
The event starts with guests assembling in the forecourt of the theater, where they are “discovered” by a director who wants to cast them in a feature consisting entirely of classic movie scenes (and you thought there were no original ideas left in Hollywood).
The Director then leads guests into the attraction to dazzle them with cocktails in the Chicago street scene and a gangster shootout that turns out to be part of the “filming.” From there, guests are led to the Wild West set for a plated dinner, complete with entertainment by Ma and her Western Trio.
After dinner, the Director leads guests through the rest of the ride to Munchkinland, where the Good Witch and dessert are waiting. There is also the option to add a DJ and dance floor inside the “black box” portion of the ride where the movie clips play or outside near the Sorcerer Mickey hat.
The Great Movie Ride is available for 51–80 guests with a seated dinner or up to 225 for a walk-around reception. The venue fee is $3,000, and the food and beverage minimum is $2,000. Use of the Great Movie Ride requires an $8,845 entertainment package, which includes a Director, two Gangsters, a Pianist, Ma and her Western Trio, and the Good Witch. Prices start at $7,500 for a DJ and dance floor.
Hollywood Brown Derby
The Hollywood Brown Derby can seat 270 guests for breakfast or dinner. The venue fee is $250, and the food and beverage minimum is $2,000. Using the restaurant for dinner during park operating hours requires a buyout of $250 plus an additional amount that must be custom-quoted by Disney. Restaurant buyouts run into the thousands of dollars because they must compensate for revenue lost by closing the venue to park guests that night.
Parties of 10 or fewer may be able to reserve the restaurant’s tiny Bamboo Room when it is not in use for Disney’s Dine with an Imagineer experience. There is no venue fee, and the food and beverage minimum is $1,500. The services of an event guide ($90 for 4 hours) are required. Catering is provided by the restaurant during its operating hours and by Hollywood Studios’ catering team after hours.
The Magic of Disney Animation
The Magic of Disney Animation building is an economical option because it comes with built-in entertainment for guests—namely, the interactive kiosks lining its walls and the various displays of animation art. It also has built-in photo backdrops if you decide to spring for a character appearance. Capacity is 20–100 people. The venue fee is $1,000, and the food and beverage minimum is $1,000. An animation experience like the one available to park guests costs $500. A 30-minute character appearance costs $900 for one, $1,350 for two, or $1,800 for three. DJs start at $1,500.
Disney Junior – Live On Stage!
This cavernous kid-centric spot can be transformed into a nightclub (mainly through lighting effects) complete with DJ on the elevated stage. The venue fee is $1,000, and the food and beverage minimum is $2,000. A DJ costs $2,500. Capacity is 240 guests.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Dine in the nautically themed queue for the Voyage of the Little Mermiad show. The venue fee is $500, and the food and beverage minimum is $500.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
After a plated dinner for 30 or a stand-up reception for 50, your guests can view the exhibit of props and costumes from the film. The venue fee is $500, and the food and beverage minimum is $1,500. A 30-minute visit from Jack Sparrow himself costs $900.
Tucked behind The American Idol Experience is a small event space known as Hollywood Hideaway. Although its black, gray and brushed chrome décor is straight out of the ’90s, this venue has the advantages of both indoor and outdoor spaces and availability during park hours. It is also one of the least expensive event spaces in the park. The venue fee for Hollywood Hideaway is just $300, and the food and beverage minimums are $400 for breakfast, $520 for lunch, $800 for an evening reception, and $1,500 for dinner. Capacity is 50 guests.
When the park closes, the toys come alive at Pixar Place for a carnival-style party just for you! While most events at Disney’s Hollywood Studios start with guests being escorted to the venue by guides, for a party at Pixar Place you can hire Sarge and the Green Army Men from the Toy Story movies to do the honors. Once they arrive at Pixar Place, guests can enjoy a meal or desserts, unlimited rides on Toy Story Mania!, character meet-and-greets, and a DJ spinning from the back of an oversized Hot Wheels car.
Capacity is 1,500 with 60% seating (meaning not everyone will get a chair). The venue fee is $2,000, while the food and beverage minimum is $5,000. Keeping Toy Story Mania! running will set you back $8,500, and the entertainment package of Sarge, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, a DJ and the Hot Wheels car costs $4,695. Additional Pixar characters can be added at $900 for one, $1,350 for two, or $1,800 for three. Green Army Men come in sets of three: $1,800 for one set, $2,150 for two.
Enhancements include an a cappella group to perform a Pixar version of “Name that Tune” ($9,630), oversized toy and game props for décor ($360), a giant leader board outside Toy Story Mania! to track top scorers ($3,390), and even the entire Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun parade ($35,000)! While you’re at it, why not throw in a Fireworks Finale launched from the Sorcerer’s Hat to cap the night ($14,550)?
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
One of the most expensive event concepts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Cairo Dinner Show on the set of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular literally puts guests in the show.
Once again, the premise is moviemaking: As the evening starts, guests watch Indy retrieve the golden idol and dodge the giant boulder. But when the Director yells, “Cut!” his next task is to enlist guests as “extras” for a banquet scene, handing them costumes and parting the set to reveal dinner served in a mock Egyptian marketplace. A DJ and a belly dancer entertain guests as they hit the buffet.
At the end of the night, guests enjoy the thrilling conclusion of the show, complete with stunts and explosions. The experience is available for groups of up to 300. The venue fee is $3,000, while the food and beverage minimum is $4,000. An entertainment package that includes Act I and Act II of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, the belly dancer, the DJ, and stage décor costs $17,140. For $750 you can add the “Executive Reveal” in which Indy’s stunt double is revealed to be one of the guests (he or she gets to keep the jacket and hat). For $700 you can add a fortuneteller. A henna artist costs $960, while a temporary tattoo artist and assistant cost $1,400.
For photos of the Cairo Dinner Show event, check out this post on AllEars.net.
Streets of America
Backstage Prop Shop
Like Hollywood Hideaway, the Backstage Prop Shop is one of the few event venues in Disney’s Hollywood Studios that can be used during park operating hours, and at a fairly accessible price. You may remember this space from its former life as a queuing area for the Studio Backlot Tour. Now it’s open only for special events, but all the disused props, set pieces and parade elements remain.
Capacity is 100 people, but it decreases with use of a dance floor. The venue fee is $300, while the food and beverage minimums are$400 for breakfast, $520 for lunch, $800 for an evening reception, and $1,250 for dinner. Disney’s optional event concept for this space includes an elderly prop master who lets guests in and shows them around while telling stories about the props. He’s eventually joined by his buddies, a geriatric band of Dixieland jazz musicians who drop by for a jam session and regale guests with songs and stories. This entertainment package will set you back $4,515. Additional characters—a starlet, a movie producer, a director, Mickey and Minnie in movie star garb—are available at the standard character rates: $900 for one, $1,350 for two, or $1,800 for three. A roaming magician costs $760.
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
For instant atmosphere, you can’t beat Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, and for a fee you can have the whole place to yourself. The restaurant holds 225 people, and the venue fee is $250 plus an additional buyout amount that must be custom-quoted by Disney. The food and beverage minimum is $1,500.
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
There are a couple of options for holding an event in the Lights, Motors, Action Theater, depending on group size.
Groups of up to 100 can have a plated dinner at “Café Parisienne,” the Mediterranean village backdrop for the stunt show, for a $1,000 venue fee and a $2,500 food and beverage minimum. The $5,645 mandatory entertainment package includes a mock maitre’d and an accordionist (but, thankfully, no mime), along with event lighting, a greens package and a custom image on the theater’s huge screen.
For $1,700 you can add a décor package consisting of picket fencing, street lamps, and a red carpet for guests’ arrival. A faux harvest moon runs $2,760, a chalk artist is $815, a caricature artist costs $585, and a chair-balancing acrobat and assistant cost $3.025. For $2,000 you can have either a pair of singing chefs, two jealous lovers who interact with your guests, or a strolling improv comedian dressed as a French policeman.
The entire set of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is available to groups of up to 850 for a buffet with 100% seating or groups of up to 1,025 for a reception with 60% seating. The venue fee is $2,000 and the food and beverage minimum is $7,500. No entertainment is required, but all the options listed above are available. A DJ will run you $6,300.
San Francisco Street
Almost as expensive as the Cairo Dinner Show, the event concept for San Francisco Street is an elaborately over-plotted affair that starts with a modified version of the Studio Backlot Tour and then brings in no fewer than 10 Streetmosphere performers to dust off myriad moldy clichés about San Francisco, from aging hippies and a Berkeley literature professor to a bicycle messenger and a flamboyant dressmaker—let the hilarity ensue! Eventually a pregnant woman, a straight-arrow cop, a karaoke host, and a frustrated insurance adjuster-turned-undertaker figure into the plot somehow. But wait, there’s more! At the end of the evening, your CEO/guest of honor will get frisked, cuffed and booked by two police officers for violating a noise ordinance. That’ll teach him or her!
A buffet dinner with 70% seating for 150 guests has a venue fee of $3,000, which includes a tram and a modified version of the backlot tour. The food and beverage minimum is $2,500, but an entertainment package including all of the aforementioned performers plus games and a DJ costs $13,630. Among the optional enhancements are spin art ($1,050), a caricature artist ($585), airbrush tattoo artists ($2,095), a henna artist ($1,050), spin art ($1,105) and a fortune teller ($700).
Coast-to-Coast: Streets of America and Sunset Boulevard
For the generous corporation that wants to show its employees a good time, there’s the Coast-to-Coast party, which offers guests dinner and attractions on the Streets of America, followed by dessert and more attractions on Sunset Boulevard. As guests arrive, a throng of photographers, screaming fans and autograph seekers herald them as celebrities. During the buffet dinner on New York Street, strolling Streetmosphere performers like cops, stage mothers and a “flim-flam man” entertain guests. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and Muppet*Vision 3-D are open too, and a DJ provides the musical backdrop. About an hour and a half later, guests are escorted across the park to Sunset Boulevard for dessert. There they’ll mingle with starlets, gossip columnists and a film director, dance to another DJ’s playlist, and ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as often as their constitutions allow.
The Coast-to-Coast event is available for up to 2,000 guests with 60% seating. The venue fee for Streets of America and Sunset Boulevard is a flat $5,000 for both, but there are separate $10,000 food and beverage minimums for each location. The price of keeping all four attractions running is $20,000, and an entertainment package featuring two DJs, Streetmosphere performers, and the screaming fan entrance costs $29,030. The price for just the screaming fan entrance is $4,500, plus $850 if you want a photo station set up to capture each guest with the performers. A four-actor package of Streetmosphere performers costs $3,600, while an eight-actor package runs $5,100.
In addition to all the entertainment enhancements previously mentioned in this article, you can request a juggler ($815), two stilt walkers ($1,375, or $1,630 for jumping stilts), a face painter ($525), a balloon artist ($700) or the five-piece band Mulch, Sweat and Shears ($3,235). For another $4,900 you can dress up the transition between East Coast and West Coast with a mock power-outage, complete with blinking lights and flying sparks. Décor enhancements include a custom 20-foot logo burn (starting at $12,465) and customized banners for Sunset Boulevard ($760), New York Street ($1,260) and the subway fence ($600).
Start saving your pennies now!