In this post, we supplement our Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom content for all guests visiting Walt Disney World between August 29 and November 2, 2019.
Why did you insist I come here?
On August 29, 2019, multiple changes, some of which are temporary through November 2, are impacting Walt Disney World. Because so much will be in flux during this time, and so much will be temporary, we’ve decided to create a separate post focusing just on these visits. It’s very important that you understand our other content on its own will not be as helpful during this period.
Who is this post for?
This post is written for everyone (excluding maybe locals) who is planning to visit Walt Disney World from August 29 to November 2.
Throughout this post, we’re going to speaking to two groups:
Guests staying at a hotel with access to 60-day FastPass+ window and Extra Magic Hours (that is, Disney hotels and select partner hotels)
Guests staying anywhere else (30-day FastPass+ window, no Extra Magic Hours)
Remember, you have access to Extra Magic Hours if you are staying at a Disney hotel, including DVC properties, or select partner hotels.
Quickly, what does this post cover?
This post provides strategies for visiting Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom between August 29 and November 2. Hollywood Studios is the park most impacted and has the most content. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are covered more briefly.
While we really think you should read the entire post, here are the important “jump to” points:
Introduction — Changes Major and Minor
Pretty much every day, something changes at Walt Disney World. Whether it’s new merchandise, new construction, or just a menu change, Walt Disney World is always in flux.
Most of these changes aren’t relevant to planning your vacation simply because they’re minor changes made with little or no notice. You really can’t count on a specific food item or merchandise item necessarily still being around at the time of your visit, that’s just the nature of these things.
But a few times a year, there are major changes—hotel openings, ride openings, refurbishments, or land openings. These do impact your trip, are typically announced ahead of time, and can be planned for.
We do our best to help you plan for these major changes, but the truth is that no one really knows what to expect until the day arrives, and even then everything takes days, weeks, or months to really settle.
The opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World takes this challenge to a new level. Not only will Walt Disney World transform forever on August 29 when Galaxy’s Edge opens at Hollywood Studios, but in trying to make the opening as tolerable an experience as possible, Disney has really thrown a wrench into planning with Extra Extra Magic Hours.
In this post, we try our best to address the challenges guests visiting Walt Disney World between August 29 and November 2 will face.
The August 29 to November 2 Disney World Landscape
Here are the most significant changes that will be in effect for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge and the weeks thereafter:
August 29 Onward - New FastPass+ tiers at Hollywood Studios go into effect
August 29 to August 31 - Hollywood Studios at Galaxy’s Edge open at 6AM for all guests; no Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios
September 1 to November 2 - 6AM to 9AM Extra Magic Hours daily at Hollywood Studios for guests of Disney hotels (and select partner hotels)
August 29 to November 2 - 7AM to 8AM Extra Magic Hours daily at Animal Kingdom
August 29 to November 2 - 7AM to 8AM Extra Magic Hours daily at Magic Kingdom
Here’s an incredibly brief synopsis of how these changes will impact your visit during these dates (these are the issues we’ll be addressing more below):
August 29 Onward - Necessary to evaluate how new FastPass+ tiers impact Hollywood Studios planning
August 29 to August 31 - Disney hotel guests get no preferential access to Galaxy’s Edge; the only time other guests will be able to wake up early and “beat the crowds” (if such a thing will be possible)
September 1 to November 2 - Disney hotel guests will have easier access to Galaxy’s Edge via Extra Magic Hours
August 29 to November 2 - Disney hotel guests will have easier strategizing for Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom due to Extra Magic Hours
August 29 to November 2 - Guests without Extra Magic Hours have challenges strategizing Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom
What if you’re not a morning person?
Our first piece of advice to people who aren’t morning people is to become them. While your hands are always slightly tied by things like the Disney bus schedule, the most important thing you can control in planning your park visit is when you arrive.
You can’t guarantee FastPass+ availability. You can’t guarantee a ride won’t break down midday or right as you’re about to get on it at park close. You can’t guarantee Disney will let anyone into Galaxy’s Edge after noon, or 11AM, or maybe even 6:05AM some days. Arriving as early as possible is your best defense against a bad day, even if with Galaxy’s Edge your “as early as possible” might not be early enough.
Second, you’ll need to work overtime on your FastPass+ strategy. If you aren’t going to be at the parks as early as possible, you’ll need to do your best to build the optimal FastPass+ lineup.
Third, you can just modify your expectations. Originally I was going to say “lower” expectations, but that isn’t correct. Walt Disney World offers so much beyond the most popular rides.
Book some character meals. Go mini-golfing. Visiting Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach. Spend a day just relaxing at your resort. Plan to do things other than the biggest rides and then be pleasantly surprised if you luck into a same-day FastPass+.
August 29 to November 2 Planning
Before we go on, let’s get a few disclaimers out of the way.
First, this post will be in flux between publication and November 2. We will update it as we learn new things and as the park experiences themselves change. In particular, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney announce some sort of virtual queuing system for Galaxy’s Edge in Florida, which would greatly impact the Hollywood Studios portion of this post.
Second, things at Hollywood Studios will be most chaotic and least predictable on August 29 and least chaotic and most predictable on November 2. If there were a 19th century treatise on theme park touring that covered only basics, I would probably tell you to read that for visits August 29 through Labor Day—the fundamentals will get your further than any blogger’s 4,000 word analysis in these early days.
I have no idea what August 29 at Hollywood Studios will look like. I’ll be there, just trying to get by with everyone else. But to say “here’s a strategy that will definitely work on August 29” would just be lying.
This post has a lot of “hopefully, maybe, I guess, I don’t know” language. It’s not because I’m a wishy-washy person or I just haven’t done research. It’s because there’s genuinely no way to know what the parks—mostly Hollywood Studios—will look like these days.
Third, this post should in no way be the only thing you read about your August 29 to November 2 visit. It will be based entirely on our experiences and reports from other guests that we’ll be following on social media and blogs. We highly recommend visiting easyWDW, for example.
You know who is going to track every guest’s experience every day during this time? Absolutely no one. Read a variety of sources to get the broadest sense possible for what to expect.
Fourth, the initial draft of this post will be live weeks before Galaxy’s Edge opens. That means the times in here are overly cautious estimates that focus on the very beginning of when the land opens. We hope things will more or less normalize after a few weeks, in which case this post might become less intense. For now, we’re doing our best to make reasonable recommendations.
Mind the date of this post. If Disney has announced a major change (like a virtual queue or reservation system for Galaxy’s Edge or some part thereof) and it was after that date, then this post has not been updated to reflect it.
Fifth, none of this is ideal. I really wish there were just an obvious, easy option for everyone to have a great time, but that just isn’t in the cards. Sacrifices—whether it’s sleep, money / time (staying longer), missing something, or anything else—will have to be made.
Finally, feel free to comment about your experience. We hope this helps everyone plan a successful visit.
Tap / Grab / Modify
We’re very big proponents of the tap / grab / modify approach to FastPass+. You should learn more about our Walt Disney World FastPass+ strategy in full, but it essentially boils down to the idea that once you use your first three FastPass+ reservations for the day you can keep getting new ones and modifying them to be as soon as possible to just keep riding rides without lines.
We expect tap / grab / modify to be very limited in effectiveness during this period. While we’ve used the strategy successfully on everything from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve to July 4th, it always becomes hobbled in higher crowds.
About Galaxy’s EdGe (Star Wars Land)
This post does not cover what to do inside Galaxy’s Edge. There’s no sense speculating at this point, and it’s unlikely we’ll develop a Galaxy’s Edge strategy before the land actually opens. If you want to read our Galaxy’s Edge content, we have:
August 29 FastPass+ Changes
Beginning with visits on August 29, there will be new FastPass+ Tiers are Hollywood Studios:
Tier 1 will be: Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror
Tier 2 will be: Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney Junior Dance Party!, Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Muppet Vision 3D, Beauty and the Beast
Unknown: Star Tours, Fantasmic!
As a reminder, you can only book a maximum of one Tier 1 ride in advance. You can book two Tier 2 rides or, if you forego a Tier 1, three Tier 2 rides in advance.
These tiers won’t be around forever—Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will all be added to the FastPass+ system eventually. This is obviously just a short-term operational decision. Let’s start with some key questions you need to consider.
First—how much does a single Tier 1 FastPass+ matter? You only get one. Let’s say things are bad and waits are at two hours for all the Tier 1 rides—is that single Tier 1 FastPass+ really going to make all the suffering of the day “worth it”?
If you’re starting your day inside Galaxy’s Edge, or if you don’t have Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios, you’ll be walking into big crowds in the rest of the park. This is partly why we’ll be advising starting at Hollywood Studios and hopping to another park where you’ve booked FastPass+.
Second—how much are you into these shows? Will the shows all be at capacity? Will they fill up 30+ minutes in advance? I have no idea, honestly. Frankly, between the uncertainty about Galaxy’s Edge procedures and these news FastPass+ tiers, no one can really say what crowds at Hollywood Studios are going to do. If you have to see a show, booking a FastPass+ will be your best bet.
Which FastPass+ To Pick at Hollywood Studios?
During this time, we’re prioritizing Slinky Dog Dash and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster FastPass+. Truthfully, we think any Tier 1 other than Alien Swirling Saucers is probably a good choice.
As for Tier 2, we have two thoughts. First, pick your favorite / most anticipated show. This is a hedge against the possibility of shows filling up. Beauty and the Beast is a good go-to here if you’re unsure.
Additionally or alternatively, you’re most likely to save time picking Muppet Vision 3D or Voyage of the Little Mermaid. The first two of these are short shows but the ones that most often have queues that extend to later showtimes, so you can actually wind up waiting around for a while. The other shows run infrequently and you’ll probably just plan to arrive about 20 minutes early to grab a seat.
Tap / Grab / Modify Tier 1 FastPass+
The most obvious way to deal with the new FastPass+ tiers is to just plan to grab new Tier 1 FastPass+ reservations midday after you’ve used your initial three.
I mention this only to say I’ve thought of it and don’t endorse it. It’s not that there’s no chance it will work (we’ll certainly at least try it)—it’s just that it doesn’t make sense to count on it working. There are bigger factors at play than the small chance of this strategy working.
Multiple Hollywood Studios Visits
If you’re willing to visit multiple times in your trip—once for Galaxy’s Edge and once for everything else—you might have an easier time.
The idea here would be to skip FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios and instead book your advance three FastPass+ reservations at a different park. You would cover as much of Hollywood Studios as you can tolerate in the morning and then hop to the other park.
Guests with Extra Magic Hours should definitely consider visiting Hollywood Studios Extra Magic Hours twice during their visit and skipping Hollywood Studios FastPass+ once—probably twice. The first time would be to visit Galaxy’s Edge and the second time would be to visit the rest of the park. This could allow you to have roughly two full days (with FastPass+) at two other parks after your Hollywood Studios Extra Magic Hours.
For guests without Extra Magic Hours, I think it’s a toss-up, but I learn toward suggesting just planning a full single day at Hollywood Studios. The reasoning here is that you’ll just need as much flexibility, time, and patience as possible. We cover this in more detail next.
Hollywood Studios Strategies August 29 to November 2
We start with August 29 through August 31, when all guests will have the same Hollywood Studios hours. Then we cover September 1 to November 2 for guests with and without Extra Extra Magic Hours. This section supplements:
August 29 to August 31 at Hollywood Studios — All Guests
Okay, we’ll start with the smallest but most significant part of this time period—August 29, August 30, and August 31 at Hollywood Studios.
If you don’t need to experience Galaxy’s Edge and can visit Hollywood Studios before August 29—do that. Our existing Hollywood Studios content covers these days just fine.
If you’re a guest at a hotel with Extra Magic Hours access and you will be in town September 1 or later, we highly recommend delaying your visit until the Extra Magic Hours on September 1 (or, even better, later).
With Hollywood Studios scheduled to open at 6AM for all guests on August 29 through August 31, we’re currently planning to arrive between 3AM and 4AM. We’ll be keeping an eye on Twitter, and maybe Instagram, to see if people are arriving earlier.
Disney has not yet announced any opening procedures for Galaxy’s Edge, so we don’t know, for example, when buses will operate, when the Skyliner will operate, or when the parking lot will open. We don’t know if Disney will let people camp out (we suspect not).
If you’re looking for the best option, we recommend booking a hotel around Crescent Lake (Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, or Swan & Dolphin) so you can walk over to Hollywood Studios without worrying about parking or Disney transportation.
With these days expected to be highly chaotic, developing any clear touring strategy for them seems a silly venture. Instead, we’ll offer the following quick tips.
If you don’t need to visit Galaxy’s Edge, don’t start there. Instead, start with Toy Story Land or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. You’ll probably have a great morning. Maybe things work out and you’re able to queue for Galaxy’s Edge later (we have no idea at this point).
If you need to visit Galaxy’s Edge, start there. We’ll be part of the huge mass trying to get into Galaxy’s Edge these days. Will there be a physical queue? Virtual queue? At this point we don’t know. But we know from hundreds of days visiting theme parks that the surest way to experience something is to head there first.
Once you leave Galaxy’s Edge, visit rides in order of priority. This assumes Disney allows / forces people to physically queue for Galaxy’s Edge. Assuming that people exiting Galaxy’s Edge will mostly stay in the park, waits outside Galaxy’s Edge will probably go up throughout the day. That means you just need to start with whatever ride is on top of your “must-do” list. There will be lines.
September 1 to November 2 At Hollywood Studios
Next, we’re going to cover Hollywood Studios touring strategy from September 1 to November 2 for guests with Extra Magic Hours and guests without Extra Magic Hours.
Guests with Extra Magic Hours
If you have Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios between September 1 and November 2, the best plan is to arrive as early as possible and get through Galaxy’s Edge before the park opens to everyone else at 9AM.
We’re recommending you arrive between 4AM and 5AM during this time. We expect these arrivals to be done with Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run by 9AM. Accounting for some buffer time and some time to see the rest of Galaxy’s Edge, you could plan your FastPass+ reservations beginning around noon (add an hour if you’re hopping to another park).
As we said before, we think these guests should just plan two early mornings at Hollywood Studios and spend their afternoons with FastPass+ elsewhere.
If you’re staying in the park for a full day, we suggest prioritizing your favorite rides earlier. As more people get through Galaxy’s Edge, waits will get longer (this assumes Disney forces / allows people to physically queue for the land).
For a morning without Galaxy’s Edge and without FastPass+, check out our Hollywood Studios rope drop strategy, which has a “No FastPass+ Rope Drop” example.
Guests Without Extra Magic Hours
Guests without Extra Magic Hours will obviously have a tougher time. There are two obvious strategies for visiting Galaxy’s Edge for these guests.
First, arrive as early as possible. This one is really tough because we have no idea what lines will look like as they carryover from Extra Magic Hours. Tentatively, we’re suggesting a 7AM to 8AM arrival.
You’ll have to queue to enter the park (it won’t open for you until 9AM), and then you’ll probably have to queue to enter Galaxy’s Edge. And then you’ll have to queue for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. If you’re following this strategy, we recommend making your FastPass+ reservations for 2PM and later, the idea being you’re here for Galaxy’s Edge and anything else is a bonus.
The alternative strategy, which is risky, is to hope for a later entry. Basically just plan to arrive around 8:30AM for a regular day at Hollywood Studios without Galaxy’s Edge. Then sometime around 6PM, hope that crowds have let up and you can walk into Galaxy’s Edge without a wait and maybe get on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run without a wait.
The downside here is that it’s entirely possible Disney just cuts off access to the land with some time remaining in the day, and you don’t want to fall victim to that.
For guests starting with Galaxy’s Edge…
If you’re starting with Galaxy’s Edge, then you’ll want to make your first FastPass+ reservation no earlier than 2PM. You’ll be planning to arrive and queue for the land, hopefully exiting around 1PM (but who really knows).
From there, all you can do is cover rides in order of your priority. We expect all the waits to be high, so you’ll just need to knock off the rides important to you first and hope you can work your way down the list.
For guests starting outside Galaxy’s Edge…
If you’re spending a full day in Hollywood Studios, you hopefully have a Tier 1 FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, or Tower of Terror. The first two of these are in Toy Story Land. The second two are on Sunset Boulevard.
If you have a Tier 1 FastPass+ for a Toy Story Land ride, start your day on Sunset Boulevard with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. If you have a FastPass+ for a Sunset Boulevard ride, start your day in Toy Story Land with whichever of Toy Story Mania and Slinky Dog Dash has the shorter wait.
One Last Idea…Changing Your Hotel
If you don’t have Extra Magic Hour access and really want to visit Galaxy’s Edge September 1 to November 2, you should seriously consider changing your hotel or else just booking an overlapping night at a hotel with Extra Magic Hour access.
When you booked your trip, the “Disney premium” was worth way less than it is now, particularly for Galaxy’s Edge access. We suggest you at least re-evaluate that decision.
Magic Kingdom August 29 to November 2
This section supplements the following other posts on this site:
From August 29 to November 2, Magic Kingdom will have an Extra Magic Hour every day from 7AM to 8AM. Guests with access to the Extra Magic Hour don’t need to do anything special other than arrive for Extra Magic Hour (see the above strategy post).
Guests Without Extra Magic Hour
Guests without access to the Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom are at a bit of a disadvantage during this time. During Extra Magic Hour, certain Fantasyland and Tomorrowland rides are operational. This means that guests arriving at the regular park open will not have the chance to rope drop key rides, particularly Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain.
Luckily, our ideal Magic Kingdom rope drop doesn’t involve those anyways. Ideally, you’ll have FastPass+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain and you’ll start your morning in Frontierland with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Crowds in the western part of the park will be higher than usual because more people will be doing this than on an average day (including people who are finishing up at Extra Magic Hour), but it’s still our preferred strategy.
The big question is what if you can’t get a FastPass+ for one or more of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain.
First, if you miss getting a FastPass+ for one of these you should try and get a FastPass+ for Splash Mountain instead. Because it is a popular ride with a long ride time, it is the best ride to cut out of your morning. (On cooler days—as if you can predict the weather so far in advance—feel free to ignore getting a Splash Mountain FastPass+.)
Second, 7AM is a pretty early start. It’s possible you could be walking into a park with sub-30 minute waits for these big name rides even at 8AM. In that case, feel free to modify our suggestions and visit them first.
Third, here are the times to plan to visit Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain if you didn’t get their FastPass+ reservations:
In the last two hours of the day
At open, if the wait is 45 minutes or less
During the parade
Animal Kingdom August 29 to November 2
This section supplements the following other posts on this site:
From August 29 to November 2, Animal Kingdom will have an Extra Magic Hour every day from 7AM to 8AM. Guests with access to the Extra Magic Hour don’t need to do anything special other than arrive for Extra Magic Hour.
We cover Extra Magic Hour at Animal Kingdom as part of our Animal Kingdom Rope Drop post.
Guests Without Extra Magic Hour
Guests without access to the Extra Magic Hour at Animal Kingdom are at a sizable but contained disadvantage from August 29 to November 2 as they won’t be able to rope drop Avatar Flight of Passage.
If you have an Avatar Flight of Passage FastPass+, start your day outside Pandora. Where you’ll start depends on what your other two FastPass+ are. You can plan to catch Na’vi River Journey late in the day when waits should be comfortably under an hour. Alternatively, once you use your three advance FastPass+ times just be obsessively on your phone attempting to get a Na’vi River Journey FastPass+.
If you have a Na’vi River Journey FastPass+, start your day outside Pandora. Where you’ll start depends on what your other two FastPass+ are. Don’t necessarily delay Flight of Passage until nighttime though. If it dips below 120 minutes, consider just bearing through the line. Alternatively, once you use your three advance FastPass+ times just be obsessively on your phone attempting to get an Avatar Flight of Passage FastPass+.
If you don’t have either Pandora FastPass+, start your day with Na’vi River Journey. Don’t necessarily delay Flight of Passage until nighttime though. If it dips below 120 minutes, consider just bearing through the line. Alternatively, once you use your three advance FastPass+ times just be obsessively on your phone attempting to get an Avatar Flight of Passage FastPass+.
This last one is the one I’m least certain about. Having ridden Na’vi River Journey dozens of times, I would probably just bank on finding time (or FastPass+) for both Pandora rides later in the day. But I think starting with Na’vi River Journey will give you the best path toward fitting every attraction in.
What questions or comments do you have left about these visits? We’re trying to make this post—complicated and annoying as it is—as helpful as possible!
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.
Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
When it comes time to book, we've got you covered with posts on how to book cheap flights, how to get the best deal on your Disney hotel, and where to find discount Disney World tickets. And of course everyone wants to know whether or not they should get a dining plan—check out our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans!
Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.
Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.