Hollywood Studios One-Day Plan (With Galaxy's Edge)

In this post, we provide a full one-day itinerary for Hollywood Studios. While this post is based on multiple visits (most recently later summer 2019), the times provided come from a single visit just for consistency. Obviously these times are just an example, and your exact experience will differ.

On this day, we applied much of our Hollywood Studios FastPass+ strategy (and Walt Disney World FastPass+ Strategy). We also have a guide to the rides of Hollywood Studios. You can also read our most recent trip report to see detailed itineraries from that visit.

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Important Message For Visits August 29 Through November 2

This post is impacted by changes, some temporary and some permanent, at Walt Disney World beginning August 29. People visiting between August 29 and November 2 are highly encouraged to click here to read our dedicated post especially for those dates.

Introduction and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

There are some major dates to know that will impact this post in the coming months:

  • August 29 — Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opens

  • September 1 — Extra Extra Magic Hours begin at Hollywood Studios

  • November 2 — Last day of Extra Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios

  • December 5 — Rise of the Resistance Opens

For information on the Extra Extra Magic Hours period at Hollywood Studios (September 1 through November 2), click here.

By the time the Rise of the Resistance “rush” is over, it will be time for holiday guests to arrive. So we won’t really have a “normal” day at Hollywood Studios until 2020.

Until then, we’ll be updating this post as best we can to help you build your itinerary, but it won’t be as straightforward as the other parks. We also recommend keeping an eye on any trip reports we publish.

Traditionally, our itinerary posts are based on actual days in the park, typically without Extra Magic Hours. Now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has opened (along with Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run) and Extra Extra Magic Hours are in effect (through November 2), we need to take a step back from that approach.

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The earliest times in this post are from an actual 6AM open at Hollywood Studios. It will roughly mimic what is possible during a very successful Extra Extra Magic Hour period, but you really should read our dedicated post on that.

We then set aside a section to talk about how a guest arriving for a 9AM open during Extra Extra Magic Hours might plan their day. The bulk of the afternoon times are from a previous day we spent at the parks, and are included just to showcase how you might piece together an afternoon entertainment schedule.

I’m sorry that this isn’t a straightforward itinerary, but that’s just not possible at the moment give all the complexities at Hollywood Studios.

Advance FastPass+ Reservations

For more on this topic, check out our Hollywood Studios FastPass+ strategy. And remember that most of the rides at Hollywood Studios are subject to height requirements, so you may need to use rider swap service, if applicable. If you’ll be impacted by height requirements, you might also want to read about visiting Hollywood Studios with a toddler or small child.

Our recommended FastPass+ lineup for Hollywood Studios as of the August 29 changes is Slinky Dog Dash, Star Tours, and basically any third choice. If you can’t get Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster are good options, as well. Try and have your two rides before 12PM, with your goal of using your third FastPass+ for a show between 12PM and 1PM.

Arrival & Rope Drop (6AM to 9AM With EEMH)

During Extra Extra Magic Hours, the goal for rope drop with EEMH (at 6AM) is to ride everything. The goal for rope drop without EEMH is to get in one or two rides, and then use your FastPass+ reservations so you can hopefully grab new Tier 1 FastPass+ during the day. For more on this topic, check out our Hollywood Studios rope drop strategy post.

Catching the 5:06AM bus from Pop Century, I arrived at Hollywood Studios at about 5:15AM, and the turnstiles were already open. In a pinch, we recommend using Uber at Walt Disney World, particularly for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom rope drops.

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Park hours at Hollywood Studios vary, and special events will impact whether you (or other guests) can get into the park early or stay late. Always be sure to check the actual hours for your date.

The walk to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is a long one, and I wind up boarding at 6:39AM. I exit at 6:45AM and head to the former queen of Hollywood Studios, Slinky Dog Dash. The posted wait is only 5 minutes, a good sign that I’m clear of any substantial crowds, and I’m boarded by 6:52AM.

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From Slinky Dog Dash, I tackle the short Alien Swirling Saucers. There was a time when it was a tough call whether to go to Alien Swirling Saucers or Toy Story Mania first.

Now with Galaxy’s Edge opening right on Alien Swirling Saucers, you’ll want to go to that ride before uninformed guests decide just to hop in line because it’s the first ride they see. On this day, I board at 6:58AM.

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If I had a FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania at this point, I’m in a great position. I’d just head to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Without one this day, I still lucked into a short wait, boarding at 7:08AM following a posted 5-minute wait.

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Now it’s time for the long walk to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. The posted 10 and 5-minute waits prove pretty accurate, and I’m on those two at 7:27AM and 7:38AM.

If I had that Tier 2 FastPass+ for Star Tours, I could probably go home and nap right about now. Without it, I had back across the park, boarding that ride quickly at 7:55AM.

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Now is this morning typical? Probably not. But it also only covered from 6AM to 8AM. If you can complete this ride order by 9AM or even 10AM, you’re in great shape. But what if you can’t even enter the park until 9AM?

Next we’re going to cover an example 9AM to 12PM for a guest without Extra Extra Magic Hour. If you want to scroll past that, you’ll get to about 12PM, when we start building the afternoon. Obviously if your morning is done before 12PM, you have some extra time.

(Sidenote: If rope drop doesn’t sound like your jam, you might want to consider Hollywood Studios After Hours—a paid, ticketed event that allows you access to the park later than other guests on select nights. It hasn’t resumed since Galaxy’s Edge opened, but we hope to see it return.)

9AM Arrival Strategy

As I write this, there has been no “normal” day at Hollywood Studios since Extra Extra Magic Hours started (because of Hurricane Dorian). I hope to update it soon, but for right now I’ll just have to talk general strategies.

There are seven rides at Hollywood Studios. You should have FastPass+ for two of them (Star Tours and a Tier 1). You’ll start your morning with another Tier 1. For the sake of this example, here’s what this lineup might look like:

  • Slinky Dog Dash (standby at 9AM)

  • Alien Swirling Saucers (FastPass+)

  • Star Tours (FastPass+)

  • Toy Story Mania (Standby or Same-Day FastPass+)

  • Tower of Terror (Standby or Same-Day FastPass+)

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Standby or Same-Day FastPass+)

  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (Standby ~90 minutes)

We’re of the mindset that the 9AM chaos at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run probably is worth missing. Starting with Slinky Dog Dash should take about an hour of your day, which will have you exiting about 10:05AM.

You’re going to want to be checking off rides until about noon to 1PM. Most important is that you have a plan that uses your FastPass+ reservations by about 2PM. You want to be able to search for same-day Tier 1 space starting then.

In general, we think it’s fine to just move on to whatever wait is shortest at 10:05AM. Keep in mind it takes about ten minutes to walk between Toy Story Land and Rock ‘n’ Roller / Tower of Terror, so try to avoid having to go back and forth too much.

You should be able to get three rides, including two of your FastPass+, done by 12PM. So let’s say you do Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers (FastPass+) and Star Tours (FastPass+). Then you’re left with:

  • Tower of Terror (Standby or Same-Day FastPass+)

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Standby or Same-Day FastPass+)

  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (Standby ~90 minutes)

Now we’ll pick up our old example itinerary (with some modifications) at noon.

Afternoon Rides and Shows

At any park, the afternoon should be spent on: short lines, entertainment, and same-day FastPass+ reservations. Sticking with our example, you’ve got two rides with FastPass+ left, and you’re sitting on a FastPass+ for a show. (People with EEMH won’t have the rides to contend with in the afternoon.)

Importantly, you’ve also got Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run to fit in. Since that ride doesn’t have FastPass+, your only choice is going to be to wait in line for it.

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Grab lunch at any of Hollywood Studios’ quick service restaurants, and then head to your show to use your final FastPass+. A good option is the 1PM Beauty and the Beast show. This is one of the two shows (Indiana Jones is the other) with pretty limited showings, so we like to aim for a midday one first so we have backup options if we miss it.

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If you’re early, or if you don’t mind looking down at your phone just a bit during the show, start searching for that FastPass+ space for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror. After Beauty and the Beast, hustle over to Frozen Sing-Along Celebration for the 1:30PM show.

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Ideally, you’ll get a FastPass+ for one of your remaining rides by about 2PM. If not, you’ll need to start planning for some standby waits.

The highest priority for standby is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Since it doesn’t have FastPass+, you have to wait in it regardless. Plus while you’re in line for it you can search for your other two rides on FastPass+.

Keep in mind that you still have one major show—The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Make sure you have a plan to fit that into your day.

For the sake of this example, let’s say you get a 2PM FastPass+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which you redeem at 2:09PM.

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A good option when you visit Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror is to pair that trip with a visit to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. In this example, there’s just enough time to fit that in before the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.

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After that, it’s the 3:15PM showing of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which wraps up at 3:50PM.

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Odds, Ends, and Nighttime at Hollywood Studios

By 4PM, you’ve got two rides left—Tower of Terror and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. In our May 2019 trip report, you can see a day that had a five-hour rain delay and still covered most of the park (pre-Galaxy’s Edge, which doesn’t take five hours).

If you visited one of the rides instead of a big show, you should be able to catch a final showing. If you still need to wait in two lines, you still have time to do that before a nighttime show.

Wrapping Up Attractions and Daytime Entertainment

We’re going to wrap this up with how we actually spent an evening where we had finished all the rides by now. Our big goals were to at least wander around Toy Story Land at night and to take in some of the nighttime entertainment. Besides that, we just had a few easy boxes to check.

At 3:55PM, we popped in for the 4PM showing of Voyage of the Little Mermaid. This short show has a ton of showings throughout the day, so it’s really one you can squeeze in anywhere you find time.

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At 4:15PM we were out of the show and headed to Toy Story Land to use our Toy Story Mania FastPass+. We tapped at 4:25PM, and were done at 4:45PM.

Having been trying to grab a nighttime Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ all day, we were pleasantly surprised at 4:45PM when we grabbed a 6:35PM FastPass+ for Hollywood Studios’s most popular ride! We immediately knew we’d be aiming to use it at 7:35PM, as we wanted it to be as dark as possible for our nighttime Slinky Dog Dash ride.

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The last attraction we had to fit in was one of our favorites: Muppet Vision 3D! We walked in at 4:55PM just after a show started (they’re continually every 10 minutes), so we wound up not exiting until 5:21PM, but we were totally fine with that.

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With some time to spend, we visited BaseLine Tap House, which we love. The bar has a straightforward quick-service style ordering system and a great list of beers.

We reminisced over the good ol’ days when you had to know the one or two carts in the park that had beers, and all they had was Bud Light. BaseLine has a shelf paying homage to Writer’s Stop, a spot we absolutely loved before it closed back in October 2016.

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Toy Story Land at Night and Hollywood Studios Nighttime Shows

Note: This post has not been updated to reflect that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is also beautiful a night and worth some of your time.

We wandered the park until 7PM, when we retrieved our mobile order from Woody’s Lunch Box.

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Toy Story Land is stunning at night, one of its few redeeming qualities in our mind (sorry!). We explored a bit, and at 7:22PM we tapped onto Slinky Dog Dash (posted wait 75 minutes), and we were off the ride at 7:32PM.

Slinky Dog Dash is an entirely different experience at night. If you are at Hollywood Studios, we would probably rank the must-do experiences at Hollywood Studios as: 1. Tower of Terror, 2. Slinky Dog Dash at night.

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If you’re navigating a Fantasmic! showing, it might be tough to get Slinky Dog Dash in at night. You’ll probably want to aim to be on the ride no later than 45 minutes before showtime, accepting that you might not get the optimal level of darkness.

If you’re not heading to Fantasmic! you’re probably aiming for the pairing of Wonderful World of Animation and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. These are projection shows onto the Chinese Theater, so you literally just need to be in the middle of the park at showtime to catch them.

Most people sit for at least Wonderful World of Animation. The new show is an improvement over Disney Movie Magic. While it relies heavily on projections, the animation projects much better than live action. The show is usually followed by Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, a projection-based Star Wars show.

If you’re looking for a cherry on top of your sundae, they’re both fine shows. Since they take place after park closing, you won’t be able to get in any new lines anyways.

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Really, these shows are targeted at the crowd who cannot or didn’t want to deal with the hassle of Fantasmic! Reluctantly, as people who really don’t love Fantasmic!, we’d suggest aiming for Fantasmic! instead of these nighttime shows. One good way to fit Fantasmic! in is by using your Disney dining plan credits for a Fantasmic! dining package, which comes with preferred seating.

As for us, we left the park right around 8:45-8:50PM and walked over to AbracadaBar on the BoardWalk, arriving at 9:12PM.

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Final Thoughts On Visiting Hollywood Studios

Keep in mind that until Rise of the Resistance opens, Hollywood Studios has only seven true rides. Even with the shows, it is not hard to fit the park into an 11-hour day.

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That said, we did skip a few noteworthy items. We did no character greetings, nor did we swing by the Star Wars Launch Bay. We also don’t have kids, so Jedi Training didn’t make our schedule.

While we did stop by Walt Disney Presents… and quickly walk through the exhibit, the One Man’s Dream film wasn’t playing. We highly recommend you make time for Walt Disney Presents (and the accompanying film, when it’s playing).

But we also had plenty of downtime, namely the two hours between when we exited Muppet Vision 3D and got on Slinky Dog Dash for the second time. Also, we rode two Tier 1 rides twice: Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania.

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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’ll help you find discount Disney World tickets. Decide whether you need a dining plan in our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans! And at 180 days out it's time to book those Disney World Advance Dining Reservations!

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! And for some some fun prep, check out our Ranking of Every Ride at Walt Disney World.

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.