While spending a full day at any of Disney World’s four theme parks is the best way to full experience the park, sometimes you’re going to want to split a day and park hop between two parks.
If you have Disney World park hopper tickets, you might decide that you want to focus on rides, rides, and rides all day, and maybe one park—pretty much any other than Magic Kingdom—doesn’t offer enough rides to fill a day. So you park hop.
In this post, we provide an example of a park hopping between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. We start with FastPass+ and rope drop at Hollywood Studios and before moving on to Animal Kingdom and using same-day FastPass+ reservations. In total, we rode all the rides at both parks on a beautiful Saturday during a holiday (Presidents’ Day) weekend.
To get to our narrative of the day, scroll down to “Our Experience Park Hopping Between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.” If you just want the minute-by-minute schedule, that’s at the very end of the post. Since you’re reading this post, you might also be interested in our one-day itineraries for these two parks:
We’ve done this same plan—or something substantially similar—several times with two people, a few times with three or four people, and maybe once with six people. But in part you’ll be relying heavily on FastPass+, which is a somewhat random system—there is luck involved.
That said, we provide this post as an example of how much can be accomplished if you put the effort into FastPass+, make good rope drop decisions, and remain flexible. Just don’t print this post, show up at the parks, and think you’ll be able to replicate it perfectly.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Disclaimer
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge—aka Star Wars Land—will be opening at Hollywood Studios on August 29, 2019 with one operational ride. A second ride is expected to open later in 2019. Until this disclaimer is removed, this post does not include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at all.
Two Park Hopping FastPass+ Strategies
If you need to learn the basics about FastPass+, we have the following posts:
There are two ways to approach FastPass+ when park hopping. If you want to ride all the rides at the first park, you’ll want to be there for rope drop and have your three advance FastPass+ reservations at that park. The downside of this approach is that you’re left with whatever same-day FastPass+ reservations you can get at the second park.
If you’d like to guarantee you see the highlights of both parks, you’ll have your FastPass+ reservations at the second park and visit the first park for rope drop. With this approach, you can keep riding rides at the first park until the lines get too long. This could be as quickly as 30 minutes into the day on crowded days or you might be able to ride everything on slow days. It also obviously depends how long you’re willing to wait in line.
There’s really no right choice between these approaches. You’ll have to look at park hours, entertainment offerings, and what you’re hoping to achieve.
Our FastPass+ Reservations
We were originally only planning on spending the day at Hollywood Studios, so we only had FastPass+ reservations at that park. The park was set to open at 9AM, and our advance FastPass+ reservations—grabbed the day before—were:
9:15AM Tower of Terror
1:55PM Toy Story Mania
3:55PM Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
We have a guide to the rides and entertainment of Hollywood Studios if you need to learn more about your options at that park.
Since it was a Saturday of a holiday weekend (Presidents’ Day), this was the best we could grab on short notice, but obviously this was a pretty bad lineup if we were planning to park hop. Ideally, we’d want these FastPass+ reservations at 10AM, 11AM, and 12PM.
Nonetheless, we were counting on being able to modify these, and we were able to do so, as you’ll see. To that end, I have to disclaim here that I spent much of this day, probably about 80% of the time we weren’t on rides, with my face in my phone. Given that crowd levels were at a 10/10 as measured by Touring Plans, this is just a necessity to fit everything in.
Our Experience Park Hopping Between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom
Note: If you’re more of an Instagram person, you can visit our profile at instagram.com/mousehacking where this entire day is split into two highlights—“DHS Morning” and “DAK Afternoon.”
As we said, we actually didn’t plan to park hop initially. We’re going to start by discussing the crowd levels and how we picked Hollywood Studios for our day. Feel free to skip down and start reading about the actual day if you’d like, but we think this is valuable information.
Picking Our Park — High Crowd Level Day
We initially chose Hollywood Studios for this day for a few reasons. It was a Saturday on a holiday weekend. We didn’t need Disney World crowd calendars to tell us it would be busy. On top of that, it was a rare beautiful Saturday this particular month. That meant crowds were going to be way high. How high did they get?
Touring Plans uses wait time data to measure crowd levels, and rated all four parks as 10/10 this day. Here’s what the peak wait times were on popular rides at each park:
Avatar Flight of Passage — 275 minutes (4 hours, 35 minutes)
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster — 225 minutes (3 hours, 45 minutes)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train — 180 minutes (3 hours)
Test Track — 150 minutes (2 hours, 30 minutes)
Animal Kingdom had Extra Magic Hours in the morning. We weren’t hotel guests, which meant no rope drop for us, otherwise it’s a good park for a busy day. There’s enough entertainment and scenery there to get through the day if you don’t want to wait in standby lines. We have a one-day itinerary from Animal Kingdom a low-crowd day.
We also were just at Magic Kingdom, another good option for busy days because of its volume of crowds and numerous animatronic stage shows. We have a one-day Magic Kingdom itinerary from a 7/10 crowd level day.
Epcot was a definite no-no for one big reason: International Festival of the Arts. You have to be super brave to handle Epcot’s weekend festival crowds in general. Add in the nice weather and holiday weekend—no thanks. We have a weekday itinerary from Epcot during Food & Wine Festival.
That left Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios has a decent amount of non-ride attractions/entertainment that could carry you through a busy day, but it is less than ideal. We have a one-day itinerary from a 6/10 crowd level day at Hollywood Studios.
The bigger problem is that there are too few rides, so Hollywood Studios runs out of FastPass+ very early. This day they actually stopped distributing around 5PM, three hours before the park closed. As you read on, you’ll see how we wound up deciding to hop to Animal Kingdom.
Rope Drop & Morning at Hollywood Studios
With FastPass+ reservations for Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, we had the “white whale” of rope drops to conquer—Slinky Dog Dash.
Slinky Dog Dash rope drop on a busy day is one of the worst experiences in a Disney park. There are so many corners on the path from Hollywood Boulevard to Slinky Dog Dash that you can be in the very front of the pack at the start and just get stuck way back. As you’ll see, every second counts here.
We arrived at Hollywood Studios at 8:26AM for a scheduled 9AM open. Never arrive less than 30 minutes before the park is scheduled to open. We pretty easily made our way near the front of the pack on Hollywood Boulevard, and to our surprise rope drop occurred at 8:36AM.
8:36AM is obviously a strange time to have rope drop. It’s possible they were targeted 8:30AM but were delayed, or 8:45AM and ready early. Regardless, we made the trying seven-minute journey to Slinky Dog Dash.
We arrived at the Slinky Dog Dash queue at 8:43AM and were off the ride by 8:51AM. The posted wait was already at 85 minutes. That’s right—nine minutes before the park was scheduled to open, the wait for Slinky Dog Dash was 85 minutes. Rope drop matters.
We headed over to Alien Swirling Saucers. We didn’t check the posted wait for Toy Story Mania (probably 30 or 45 minutes), but I would guess the actual wait was about 20 minutes regardless of what was posted. Alien Swirling Saucers was at 5 minutes, and we were on the ride at 8:57AM.
While in line, at 8:54AM, I was able to modify my Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster FastPass+ reservation to 10:35AM.
With FastPass+ reservations for Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in our pockets, we only had Star Tours to cover as far as rides. We meandered over there, arriving at 9:06AM to a posted 20-minute wait. We hesitated for a second—Star Tours FastPass+ slots are pretty easy to come by same-day, but we didn’t have anything else to do.
A super expert at Hollywood Studios rope drop would probably have been able to tell you what we discovered—the Star Tours 20-minute wait is a standard busy day posted wait time at open, and actually there was no wait. We were on the ride six minutes after we got there at 9:12AM and off at 9:19AM.
Modifying & Using FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios
Around this time, we modified our Toy Story Mania to 12:50PM, which now meant we could be out of the park around 1PM if we decided to park hop.
This put us in our first FastPass+ window for Tower of Terror, so we tapped on at 9:29AM (posted wait 45 minutes) and were off around 9:45AM—a very efficient ride. Notice that if we didn’t have FastPass+ reservations at Hollywood Studios today we’d already be dealing with 45-minute waits. That’s the risk of afternoon FastPass+ when park hopping, and you’ll see next it only got worse.
After a break for coffee (the ten-minute line for Starbucks was among our longest of the day), we headed over to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, where our jaws dropped at the 205 minute posted wait at 10:39AM. The FastPass+ queue was also a mess but ultimately not terrible. We tapped at 10:39AM, and we were on the ride at 10:59AM.
Still thinking we might stay at Hollywood Studios all day, we swung over to Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which at 11:05AM was already lining up for the 11:40AM show, even though the next showing was at 11:15AM. No thank you.
We abandoned that plan and began the walk over to Muppet Vision 3D when we struck gold, grabbing an 11:30AM Toy Story Mania FastPass+ as 11:15AM, when the posted wait was 90 minutes!
We headed over and tapped on at 11:26AM, exiting the ride at 11:46AM. And like that, we were done with all the rides at Hollywood Studios, on a 10/10 crowd day, by noon—three hours into the park’s 11-hour day.
Decisions and Heading Over to Animal Kingdom
This was when we had a choice to make. Stay at Hollywood Studios or park hop to Animal Kingdom (our favorite park). We had enough entertainment at Hollywood Studios to last us a few hours, but ultimately we decided we’d rather try and conquer two parks in one day.
Just a side note about park hopping—both of these parks are full-day parks, and both offer a lot more than rides. Park hopping is usually going to be about fitting in as many rides as possible—and we are happy/proud to get all the rides at both parks done—but that doesn’t mean you’ve fully experienced both parks.
Anyways, we grabbed a 12:15PM FastPass+ for Expedition Everest at 11:55AM (posted wait 110 minutes) and headed to the bus. You could break for lunch now, but we prefer Animal Kingdom’s options to Hollywood Studios quick service, and we didn’t want to risk missing that FastPass+ slot.
We recommend using Uber or Lyft to get between Disney parks, but we always like to keep tabs on the bus system. We got in line at 12:04PM, were picked up at 12:17PM, and arrived at Animal Kingdom at 12:37PM.
Afternoon at Animal Kingdom
If you’re park hopping and use your advance FastPass+ reservations for the first park, your FastPass+ strategy for the second park is pretty much to grab whatever is soonest, with a few caveats.
You can always plan to get in line for one ride right before the park closes as long as you’re willing to miss the nighttime show. The lines to the rides generally close at the posted time the park closes.
But some rides close early. On this day, the park closed at 9PM but Kilimanjaro Safaris close at 7PM, so we had to be sure to get on that one earlier.
Finally, you sort of have to use your gut and roll the dice when it comes to popular rides like Avatar Flight of Passage. It’s 2PM and you can choose between a 3PM Kilimanjaro Safaris FastPass+ or a 5PM Avatar Flight of Passage, which do you grab?
I’m probably taking the 3PM Safari so I can keep searching for rides at 3PM, but I’ve also ridden Flight of Passage dozens of times—there’s no right decision here. If you want to learn more about the rides and entertainment at Animal Kingdom, we have a post that covers that.
Anyway, we tapped onto Expedition Everest at 12:53PM when the posted wait was 110 minutes. We were on at 12:57PM.
I lucked into a 3:50PM Avatar Flight of Passage FastPass+, and I figured since we were heading to lunch I’d have plenty of time to try and modify it. At 1:09PM, when the posted wait was 155 minutes, I grabbed a 2PM FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage.
We tapped on at 1:57PM when the posted wait was up to 170 minutes and were off at 2:23PM—that ride just has such a long pre-show.
With Expedition Everest and Flight of Passage done by 2:30PM, the big one left was…Kilimanjaro Safaris! If you thought it was Navi River Journey, we were actually planning on hopping on that one when the park closed. The 7PM close for Kilimanjaro Safaris made it a higher priority FastPass+.
Slowing Down and More Limited FastPass+ Options
After a busy start to the day, now we’d need patience. We only had a few rides left, and it would take time to find the perfect FastPass+ times for them.
Taking some time to watch Burudika (2:30PM showtime) and the Harambe Village Acrobats (3PM showtime), I was able to modify into a 3:05PM Kilimanjaro Safaris FastPass+ at 2:59PM. Again, my face was buried in my phone most of the day, but it was worth it, especially for Emily who isn’t constantly at the parks like I am.
We tapped on Kilimanjaro Safaris at 3:17PM when the wait was 95 minutes. We were off at 3:47PM. This really wasn’t an ideal time for the safari because the heat renders the animals fairly inactive, but on a park hopping day we can’t really be picky about these details.
At this point we would take either a DINOSAUR or Navi River Journey FastPass+ and just plan to close the park at the other one (bear in mind DINOSAUR often closes earlier than the park). I saw a 3:50PM Primeval Whirl FastPass+ at 3:47PM and decided “what the heck.” It had a 50-minute wait and we had a chance at getting all the park’s rides in.
We tapped on a 4:02PM and were on the ride at 4:08PM. From there, we headed over to It’s Tough To Be A Bug. We grabbed a 4:20PM FastPass+ at 4:15PM just to be safe, but it was unnecessary (as is usually the case), and we walked right into the waiting area and finished the show at 4:39PM.
At 4:45PM I grabbed a DINOSAUR FastPass+ for 6:10PM. Pickins were slim at this time. Everest popped up more often than DINOSAUR, which happens surprisingly often in the afternoon here. I think it’s because most people get Everest done early. I was eventually able to modify this up to 5:30PM.
The only ride at Animal Kingdom without FastPass+ is TriceraTop Spin. At one point during the day it had a 30-minute posted wait, but we stopped by at 5:14PM when the wait was only ten minutes, and we were off the ride at 5:26PM.
We tapped onto DINOSAUR at 5:30PM when the posted wait was 65 minutes. It was a very slow-moving day on that ride, and we weren’t off until 6:02PM. While in line at 5:39PM, I grabbed a 7:45PM Navi River Journey FastPass. That meant we’d ride every Animal Kingdom ride this afternoon!
Finishing the Night at Animal Kingdom
Around 6:30PM, still trying to modify my Navi River Journey to a better time, I saw an Avatar Flight of Passage FastPass+ for 7:50PM. The posted wait for that ride was 275 minutes (4 hours, 35 minutes). I didn’t grab it, but it’s pretty wild that it was available even for a second (I never saw it on later searches).
We closed out our evening by walking around the Oasis (the small zoological exhibits at the entrance to the park) because the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail had closed earlier than posted. We also walked right into the 7PM Festival of the Lion King show at 6:55PM having skipping its really long lines several times throughout the day.
At 8:05PM when the posted wait was 50 minutes, we tapped onto Navi River Journey, and we were on at 8:08PM. That ride has one of the most efficient FastPass+ queues in Walt Disney World.
We still had about 45 minutes until the park closed. While we left, we probably could have gotten two more rides in. Posted waits for Expedition Everest were under 30 minutes, and we could have paired that with hopping into the Avatar Flight of Passage queue at close.
That’s right—on a 10/10 crowd day, with no advance FastPass+ reservations, arriving in the park after noon, we could have ridden every ride and gotten on Expedition Everest and Avatar Flight of Passage twice.
Closing Thoughts — Park Hopping Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom
I think I sort of “buried the lede” earlier in this post when I mentioned that Hollywood Studios actually finished distributing FastPass+ around 5PM.
Looking at how the day went, after 5PM at Animal Kingdom I saw FastPass+ reservations for: Avatar Flight of Passage, Navi River Journey, Expedition Everest, Primeval Whirl, and It’s Tough to Be a Bug. Now, I wouldn’t have been able to grab all of those, but it’s pretty impressive how much was available at Animal Kingdom while Hollywood Studios was fully booked.
These are two popular parks to split the day between, at least for the rest of 2019, and we’ve shown that even on a 10/10 crowd level day, it’s not too hard to get everything at both parks done. Of course, you always need luck. We were booking FastPass+ for two people. Four isn’t much more difficult, but beyond that I think things get tougher.
And I wasn’t kidding about how much my face was in my phone—at least 80% of my non-ride time from 8AM to about 6:30PM was spent staring at my screen, searching for FastPass+ times.
If I personally had to do this again, my choice of advance FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom would boil down to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster / Slinky Dog Dash / Toy Story Mania. If I had to ride all three of those, I’d need to book FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios. If I’m find skipping one to guarantee a ride on Avatar Flight of Passage in the afternoon, I’d do the other two at rope drop and suffer through a Tower of Terror standby wait.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
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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.
Our Final Hollywood Studios - Animal Kingdom Park Hopping Itinerary
8:25AM - Arrive at Hollywood Studios
8:36AM - Rope Drop
8:49AM - On Slinky Dog Dash
8:57AM - On Alien Swirling Saucers
9AM - Official Park Open
9:12AM - On Star Tours
9:29AM - Tap onto Tower of Terror (45 minute posted wait)
10:39AM - Tap onto Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (205 minute posted wait)
11:26AM - Tap onto Toy Story Mania (90 minute posted wait)
11:50AM - Leave Hollywood Studios
11:55AM - Grab 12:15PM FastPass+ for Expedition Everest
12:37PM - Arrive Animal Kingdom
12:53PM - Tap onto Expedition Everest (110 minute posted wait)
1:09PM - Grab 2PM FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage
1:57PM - Tap onto Flight of Passage (170 minute posted wait)
Watch entertainment in Harambe
3PM - Grab 3:05PM FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris
3:17PM - Tap onto Kilimanjaro Safaris (95 minute posted wait)
3:47PM - Grab 3:50PM Primeval Whirl FastPass+
4:02PM - Tap onto Primeval Whirl (50 minute posted wait)
4:30PM - (Approx.) It’s Tough to Be a Bug
5PM - Grab 5:30PM DINOSAUR FastPass+
5:24PM - TriceraTop Spin (10 minute standby wait)
5:30PM - Tap on DINOSAUR (65 minute posted wait)
5:39PM - Grab 7:45 Na’vi River Journey FastPass+
7PM - Walk into Festival of the Lion King
8:05PM - Tap on Na’vi River Journey (posted 50 minute wait)
8:15PM - Off Na’vi River Journey
9PM - Park Closes