Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells and a prince in disguise – it all comes to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Do your teens love roller coasters, but your youngest wants to see Anna and Elsa? With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming trying to hit it all in one day. Never fear! Quick Weekender TravelingMom shares her ultimate one day touring plan for Hollywood Studios.
How to Make the Most of One Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is my family’s favorite Disney park. I adore the shows, my daughters and husband love the thrill rides while my youngest loves all things Star Wars. Yep, everyone likes something different, which has led to many meltdowns in the past. After many failed tries we finally came up with a plan that allows us to hit everyone’s “must dos” in just one day.
Get Into the Parks Early with Breakfast Reservations
Get an early start with breakfast reservations before park opening at Hollywood & Vine. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and we agree 100%, especially if it involves characters and Mickey waffles! You can even sneak in some photos ops before the crowds rush in.
One Day Touring Plan Tip: Hit the roller coasters in the morning
Morning are my favorite at Disney World. The crowds are usually lighter and it’s not so hot, which makes navigating the park a little easier.
TravelingMom Tip: Do you have a youngster that loves Star Wars? Take this time to run over and sign them up for Jedi Training! But make sure to keep track of your assigned time slot.
The world of Hollywood is wild and crazy, so what better way to kick things off than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster! With speeds of 60 miles per hour, two rollover loops and one corkscrew – all while rocking out to Aerosmith – makes Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster sure to be a favorite. Hitting this thrill ride first thing allows you to beat the huge wait times that are bound to happen later in the day.
Tower of Terror is right around the corner, so save yourself some travel time by dropping in after Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. This is where your first fastpass+ can come into play. Schedule Tower of Terror within a hour or two of park opening to take full advantage of park location and less wait time.
TravelingMom Tip: Traveling with small children? Ask the Cast Members about rider swap. Rider swap allows one adult to stay with the non-riding children while the rest of the group rides the attraction. Once the first group is done they swap places. The adult that stayed behind (plus one extra) can then ride the attraction with little to no wait.
Use the lower crowds to hit the popular rides with shorter waits
I like making all my fastpass+ reservations for before lunch to allow us the chance to get additional ones, if any are available. (Did you know? Once you have used your third fastpass you can schedule another using the My Disney Experience app on your phone. It’s a great way to save time!)
Using your second fastpass+ selection, get ready to for rootin’ tootin’ good time on Toy Story Mania. Put your skills to the test in five carnival-themed games using the special pull string blaster to shoot a variety of 3D objects. This attraction is perfect for every age group.
Trekking over to Pixar Place and Animation Courtyard opens a whole world of attractions that tend to have shorter wait times. Depending on show times and ages of kids, head over to Voyage of the Little Mermaid or hop on over to Disney Junior – Live on Stage. Both of these shows are perfect for young ones, while older kids and adults will prefer the Little Mermaid.
Star Wars Launch Bay is on the agenda next. Explore actual movie props and meet & greets with a couple of your favorite Star Wars characters, like Chewbacca. And don’t forget to bring little items to trade with the Jawas! This is a highlight for kids of all ages.
If you’re like me, now would be the time to use your third and final pre-scheduled fastpass+. Our third fastpass+ is usually Star Tours. Are you ready to join the Rebellion and safely deliver the rebel spy to the Alliance base? (Did you know each ride is unique with over 50 different ride sequences?)
Once we get back from our trip to a galaxy far, far away, we keep the adventure going by hopping aboard The Great Movie Ride. Travel through some of Hollywood’s greatest films such as Casablanca, Mary Poppins, and Tarzan the Ape Man, but be prepared for the unexpected.
TravelingMom Tip: The Great Movie Ride takes you through scenes from a wide variety of movies including some which can frighten children.
Lunch options are plentiful at Hollywood Studios
Whether you are looking for something quick or wanting to be seated and take your time, Hollywood Studios dining has you covered. From being seated in a car shaped booth to being reprimanded for not finishing your meal by your loving aunt – the immersive theming Disney is known for holds true for each location.
My family likes a longer break during lunch so we tend to do one of the many table-service meals. A favorite is Sci-Fi Dine In Theater. While the food is ok, nothing beats the unique 50’s drive in atmosphere. Who wouldn’t love sitting in a special car shaped booth while enjoying classic sci-fi movie clips on the large screen?
TravelingMom Tip: If you are wanting to dine at any of the table-service restaurants on Disney property, I highly recommend making reservations. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance online or by phone.
But the dining options are endless. If you’d rather a quick grab and go, Backlot Express offers fun Star Wars themed food including the Royal Guard burger, Dark Side chicken and waffles, and even margaritas for those moms and dads that need an adult timeout.
Beat the afternoon heat by taking in the shows
It can get toasty in the afternoons, so we take it slow. Hollywood Studios has some fantastic performances that should not be missed.
I adore Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, while the kids love the action of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. This is also a good time to take a break from the heat and escape indoors to see For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration or settle down for the film experience Star Wars: Path of the Jedi.
And don’t forget to wander to the back to catch up with those wacky characters in Muppet Vision 3D. This hidden gem is full of belly laughs. Bonus – there is hardly ever a big crowd and the waiting is all done inside an air conditioned building.
As the day starts turning to evening, head to the front of the Chinese Theater to catch the final showing of the new March of the First Order. Captain Phasma impressively leads the First Order as they show off their skills.
Get great seating for night time shows while eating dinner
By now, the kids are asking their favorite question, “What’s for dinner?” After two fairly large meals earlier in the day and countless containers of popcorn, a Mickey bar or two, dinner tends to be a quick service meal.
There are two night time shows at Hollywood Studios. Fantasmic! and the fireworks – Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. Seeing both of these in one night is possible, but I recommend picking one.
TravelingMom Tip: Save valuable time by booking the Fantasmic! Dinner Package offered at three popular restaurants – The Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood & Vine and Mama Melrose’s Restorante Italiano.
We usually choose the fireworks. So, if the park is closing earlier, say 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m., we find a spot to wait for the fireworks near the Chinese Theater while my husband and one of the kids go grab everyone’s food. By now all of our feet are hurting and some of us are cranky, so it’s nice to just sit down and take a break. But if Fantasmic! is on your list now would be a good time to head that way. This very popular night time show fills up quickly.
If you aren’t interested in seeing either, it’s the perfect time to head back over to any attractions you may have missed or hit your favorites one last time as lines are usually short during the night time shows.
Once the night time activities are over the crowds can be overwhelming as everyone is trying to exit at the same time. We use this time to wander the shops and pick up any souvenirs before heading back to our hotel.
There you have it! With this one day touring plan your family will be able to hit all big name attractions, Broadway style stage shows and epic night time spectaculars.