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You’ve set off on that magical Walt Disney World vacation and are looking for the perfect Hollywood Studios itinerary. It looks a little different with pandemic rules, the launch of Disney Genie Service, and reserved days, but the pixie dust is still there! Here’s how to make the most of 1 day at Hollywood Studios. We outline what you need to know before you go, how to set the perfect itinerary, and what to skip if time runs out.
Hollywood Studios One Day Itinerary
You know that saying that the best laid plans go awry? Well, at Disney that usually doesn’t happen. Planning is your friend. We know that planning looks a little different right now, but we’re here to help.
This post has tips for touring the newest lands at Hollywood Studios (Star Wars and Toy Story Land) as well as a ready-made itinerary we’ve used to wring every last drop of fun from one full day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
TravelingMom Tip: You can now book Disney vacations up to 500 days in advance! That means you can book now for visits in 2022. All it takes is a $200 down payment. The balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel. You can get details on this, as well as help booking, from our partners at Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.
Before You Go: Things to Consider
Covid-19 Disney Reservation Rules
Coronavirus has changed Disney like it’s changed everything else. The parks at Walt Disney World are using a ticket AND reservation system. You will need a valid ticket for the park of your choice and a reservation for the day you’d like to visit. Face masks are required.
Park hopping is back but only after 2pm so plan accordingly. I strongly recommend using a Disney travel agent or our partner Get Away Today for your tickets and vacation planning. The bonus is that if anything changes they will update you!
Know Your Family’s Needs
The Disney World Parks can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time.
The main thing to remember is that your family makeup is going to alter what your best day looks like. If you’re traveling with toddlers you’ll be looking at more time in Toy Story Land and exploring kid-friendly park areas. Got teens in your group? It’s likely to be all about Star Wars, roller coasters and thrills.
TravelingMom Tip: If your group is mixed ages, be sure to check out our post about thrill ride substitutions. It covers ride alternatives for those in your party who aren’t ready to scream their way through rides like the Rock N’ Roller Coaster.
Join our Private Disney FB Group for more tips! JOIN HERE
Install the Disney Apps: My Disney Experience and Play
You can do many things through the My Disney Experience app, including:
- Schedule sit-down dining
- Order quick service meals
- Reserve a boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. (Virtual queue is currently paused. 10/2021)
The Play app is about interacting with the world that you’re in. It contains games that your kids (or you) can play while waiting for rides. It’s a must-have to enhance your Star Wars Land experience as you complete missions.
Consider Staying in a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
Be closer to the action and make sure you get the park reservations and access you’re looking for by staying “on property” at a Disney resort hotel. You’ll also have access to Early Entry Hours.
It’s definitely the most stress-free way to book that Disney vacation. Check out our complete review of Get Away Today here.
How to Get Ride Slots in Galaxy’s Edge (Virtual Queue Paused 10/2021)
As of October 2021 Disney has paused the virtual queue process for Rise of the Resistance. Access is through standby queue only until the new Genie Service kicks off on October 19th. We do not anticipate the virtual queue returning. ROR is an a la carte attraction through the Lightning Lane. Access to the Lightning Lane of Rise of the Resistance can be purchased through MyDisneyExperience starting at 7am for resort guests, and at park opening for all others. At this time sample prices we have seen show the cost as $15 per person.
Transportation to Hollywood Studios
To ride, you need to secure save your place in the virtual queue (replaces the old boarding group method). There are two ways to snag your spot:
- Open your My Disney Experience at 7am to snag a spot in the virtual queue. This is a new option that started on Nov. 3. You must have a reservation to enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios that day. The virtual queue reservations can be made before you leave your Disney hotel or when you get near to the park. You do not have to be inside the park like you did with boarding groups.
- Try again at 2pm if you didn’t get a reservation in the first round. The 2pm reservations are available only to people who are already inside the park.
TravelingMom Tip: Disney offers the following recommendations for improving your chances of snagging one of the limited number of boarding slots:
- Link and assign all park tickets in your party to a My Disney Experience account
- Select one member of your party to access the virtual queue for everyone in your group; if multiple people in your party try to join the virtual queue simultaneously, that may complicate your ability to secure a boarding group
Getting to Hollywood Studios
If you have only one day at Hollywood Studios, you won’t want to miss a minute of it. So you’ll want to be through the gates and in the park for park opening.
To do that, we highly recommend considering Lyft or Uber. During our stay in March we barely made it the day we used the Skyliner from Pop Century Resort. It was a photo finish then, and the lines to get on the Skyliner are longer now.
The next day we took a “Minnie” van for less than $10 and arrived with time to spare. We had plenty of time to hit Starbucks for coffee at the Trolley Car Cafe. It’s located right on the main drag, on the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.
It was 90% more relaxed. With social distancing requirements on Disney transportation, capacity is limited and you may wind up waiting a little longer.
Read More: Here’s everything you need to know about transportation at Walt Disney World.
What to Do in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Although the big draw here is the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, there is way more to do and most of it requires far less planning.
The other big ride is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The limited crowd capacities means the wait time isn’t that long and there is a standby line for single riders if you’re really in a rush. Be aware that the ride has three positions – pilot, gunner and engineer. The engineer position has the least impact on how your ride goes; single riders are usually assigned to that position.
Plan to spend time in Baatu taking pictures, completing missions on the Disney Play app, learning to speak Baatuese, and just admiring the landscape. You can also build a droid, drink blue milk, and maybe spot Chewbacca.
Learn more about all the things to do in Galaxy’s Edge here.
How to Get Into Hollywood Studios Before Rope Drop
Note: Early entry is not available during the Covid-19 restrictions.
Looking to start off your day earlier than that 10am opening time? There is a “secret” to getting into the park early.
Disney regulars know to book a breakfast dining reservation for the morning of your visit. That allows you to enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios early simply by showing proof of your reservation.
The only restaurant offering breakfast inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Hollywood & Vine.
Toy Story Land: Ride Overview and Plan of Attack
Opened in June of 2018, this land is a personal favorite of mine!
Much of Walt Disney World is an immersive experience – from EPOCOT’s countries to Animal Kingdom’s landscape and safari. But Toy Story Land? It’s over the top. When you walk in you truly feel like you are in Andy’s backyard, shrunk down to the size of a toy. I was just as thrilled as my kids by the giant Tinker Toys and Cooties.
There are three rides in Toy Story Land:
Slinky Dog Dash
This charming roller coaster tends to have the longest wait time – often a hour or more.
Since Fast Pass+ is currently unavailable, there are two strategies to employ here:
- Get into the park at opening time, head straight to the Toy Story Land entrance and make a straight rush for the ride.
- Hit Toy Story Land around lunchtime (keeping an eye in the My Disney Experience app for wait times to go down). Toy Story Land has one food option, Woody’s Lunch Box, and currently it is not operating, so people need to leave the land for food.
Kids must be at least 38 inches tall to ride Slinky Dog Dash.
TravelingMom Tip: This is NOT a kiddie roller coaster. While it’s tame by roller coaster standards, it’s a serious ride with dips and thrills. For a smoother ride, sit closer to the front. For a more thrilling ride, sit in the tail end of the coaster.
Swirling Alien Saucers
Lines for this ride tend to be shorter, generally 35 minutes or less. Word to the wise, this ride mimics the motion of spinning teacups so avoid it if you get motion sick.
Kids must be at least 32 inches tall to ride.
TravelingMom Tip: This attraction runs two tracks concurrently. If you’re waiting for your party, watch to see which track they end up on because the exits are different. Or make it easy and set up a meeting spot!
Toy Story Mania
This ride, which existed in Hollywood Studios prior to the creation of Toy Story Land, still thrills kids who ride in cars that spin around so they can shoot at the moving targets. Wait times generally range from 10-35 minutes.
No height restrictions.
TravelingMom Tip: Be sure to take a ton of pictures! The vibrant colors in Toy Story Land photograph well.
Must-See Shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
One of the best parts about your Hollywood Studios itinerary? There are some really fun shows available.
While you won’t be able to see everything, the varied showtimes should allow you to catch 2-3 shows during your day. You should be able to walk into just about all of them without a significant wait.
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Yes, we know some of you probably are groaning. You’ve heard the Frozen soundtrack 8 bazillion times.
But trust us, it’s a really cute show. The audience gets very involved, the actors are spectacular, and if it’s a hot day, you get 30 minutes in an air-conditioned theater.
Vacation Fun – An Original Animated Short with Mickey & Minnie
This cute movie opportunity was added in March 2020. You’ll get to sit in an adorable Mickey chair in the theater to view a short, 10-minute movie. It’s a great opportunity to get off your feet. Don’t miss the photo opportunities upon exit. They are super cute (especially the Potatoland one).
Some shows and experiences are temporarily unavailable like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Disney Junior Dance Party, Voyages of the Little Mermaid, and Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. We look forward to them returning.
Hollywood Studios Itinerary: Here’s the Battle Plan
Head to the park to be there at rope drop (that’s Disney-speak for the minute the gates open).
Grab coffee from Starbucks (Trolley Car Cafe) on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset.
Head to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (located inside the old Chinese Theater at the top of Hollywood Boulevard) and jump in line.
After you get off Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway head to whichever of the following has the shortest wait time: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock N’ Roller Coaster, or Slinky Dog Dash.
Tower of Terror and Rock N’ Roller Coaster are near one another. When you get off one ride, head directly to the other.
If you end up at Slinky Dog Dash, ride Toy Story Mania and the Alien Swirling Saucers. They don’t usually have long lines so it’s a good chance to get everything done while you’re in one area.
When you finish the rides in one area, head to the other for those rides.
Morning With Small Kids
If you’re visiting with littles your Hollywood Studios itinerary may look different. You can either do rider switch if the adults still want to go on grown up rides or add in a toddler favorite like Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy show.
Rider switch is the system that allows one adult to go on a ride while the other one waits with the kids. Then, the adults switch so the other one can ride without waiting in line again. The following rides offer Rider Switch at Hollywood Studios:
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours® – The Adventures Continue
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
You’ll notice Rise of the Resistance isn’t on this list. When your boarding group is called you’ll have a two-hour window to ride the ride. Go at the beginning of the window and let the cast member checking passes know that you would like to do Rider Switch. They’ll let you know how it works. It is possible to switch adults though even though it isn’t listed.
Chances are your Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation will fall in the early afternoon (unless you got REALLY lucky). This will impact your lunch choices. If you’ve got time for a table service meal, the 50’s Prime Time Cafe is well known for its hearty dishes, tables with TVs, and cast members enforcing manners at the table. My husband’s personal favorite food item at Hollywood Studios lives here: the peanut butter and jelly milkshake.
If you need to do a quick service lunch, check out Docking Bay 7 in Galaxy’s Edge. The menu is very allergy-friendly with gluten-free (Roasted Endorian Chicken Salad), meat- and dairy-free (Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread), and nut-free options (Smoked Kaadu Pork Ribs). You can also place mobile orders here, ordering through the My Disney Experience App, to save time. The Backlot Express is another great option and is centrally located on Echo Lake. It offers familiar American dining fare for picky eaters – cheeseburgers, chicken strips and even Uncrustables for the kiddos.
Install the Disney Play app before you visit to assist the Outpost or the Resistance. When you open the app, you’ll find an entire game/mission designed around the land. Lunch is a great time to make sure you have it. The clues in the app will lead you to items to scan. Ask cast members (that’s what Disney calls its employees) for assistance if you need it. Their responses make the game even more fun.
Squeeze in a show before your boarding group, if you have time. The Mickey’s Vacation Fun is a short 10 minute movie. If you have more time head to the Frozen Sing-Along (30 minutes). It’s a good idea to schedule shows for the afternoon, especially in the summer and fall when rainstorms seem to happen daily.
With the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance and Smugglers Run paused lines are standby only. We’ve been seeing the longest lines in the morning. We recommend hitting the standby line in the afternoon BEFORE 2pm. At 2pm the parks open up to park hopping if there’s availability so there will be an influx of guests heading to that ride. In Galaxy’s Edge you can build a Droid to take home (reservations needed), shop, eat, and play.
One unique souvenir to pick up is a little round Coca-Cola bottle that looks like a detonator. This is the only spot at Disney to score them. They took the internet by storm when they first came out and we still see them listed on eBay for avid Star Wars collectors.
Use the remainder of your afternoon as makeup time. Hit any rides you didn’t make it on in the morning from the recommended list. Head over and check out Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage. This show runs several times a day between 11am and 5pm (check showtimes in the MyDisneyExperience app) and most times are solidly in the afternoon.
Don’t miss Muppet Vision 3D! It’s one of my favorite Hollywood Studios attractions. Combining theatre live-action and a movie, I love it as much as my kids do. I’m a huge Statler and Waldorf fan (the grumpy old Muppet guys) and they steal the show.
Usually evening plans would center around a night time show like Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks. This show combined music, lights, lasers and pyrotechnics. At the moment, it is on hold. With shorter hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios you won’t have a ton of evening hours to fill. However, on November 7th Disney Movie Magic returns. This projection show takes place in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Since a lot of folks head to other parks to see the fireworks its a good time to hit Rise of the Resistance. With the virtual queue paused you’ll need to wait in the standby line. Crowds are lower in the evening hours.
If you’ve got older kids who aren’t worn out you can book a dinner reservation for the Hollywood Brown Derby for its famous Cobb Salad, a Wagyu burger or a filet. This is the swanky option with wood paneling and classy touches.
Another great option is dinner and a “show” at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, which offers burgers, salads and pasta at a lower price point. You’ll dine in car-shaped booths, which is always popular with the tween set.
Hollywood Studios Attractions That are Currently Closed (October 2021)
Although Walt Disney World in Orlando is open, that doesn’t mean everything is running. Disney is calling it a phased reopening, but the massive layoffs of cast members suggest that some shows and attractions may never reopen. Do not include these on your Hollywood Studios itinerary:
- Star Wars Launch Bay (Meet and Greets)
- Star Wars Launch Bay Theater
- Celebrity Spotlight (Olaf Meet and Greet)
- Disney Junior Dance Party! (You can do Disney Junior Play and Dance! in the Animation Courtyard outside. Check for showtimes.)
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (Returning December 19th)
- Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
- Meet and Greets: Disney Junior Pals in Animation Courtyard (Returning November 7th)
- Meet and Greets: Minnie Mouse in Red Carpet Dreams (Returning November 7th)
- Character Meets: Sulley, The Incredibles at Pixar Place, Toys (Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear) in Toy Story Land, Mickey Starring in Red Carpet Dreams, Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Fantasmic Show and Fireworks
Dining at Hollywood Studios- Temporarily Unavailable Locations (October 2021)
- Neighborhood Bakery
With Disney Dining Plans currently on hold your Disney food might cost you a little more. Here’s how to save $50+ a day by packing your own snacks (or shipping them to the hotel with Amazon).