1-Day Hollywood Studios Itinerary Using Genie+ & Lightning Lanes
Our 1-Day Hollywood Studios Itinerary using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes covers how the paid line-skipping services work in practice. This step-by-step Walt Disney World touring plan answers questions, illustrates the process, and offers time-saving strategy for making the best ride reservations. (Updated September 7, 2022.)
This is a theoretical day at DHS due to unknowns, but that’s true of literally any itinerary. Wait times vary, attractions experience downtime, and there are unique wrinkles to any day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just like a normal touring plan, there’s a lot here that we can pull from past precedent, historical wait time data, and extensive experience with similar systems.
In particular, crowd levels have a big impact on what you can accomplish with Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On slow to moderate days, using Lightning Lanes is straightforward and stress-free. On busier days, the number of ride reservations you can make via Genie+ drops dramatically, as there are more people in the park competing for line-skipping access to the most popular attractions. More than any other park, the Genie+ service “breaks” at DHS under the stress of heavy crowds. Be warned, this itinerary will work well in September, May, and other low-to-average months, but not so much during the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter.
This is intended to supplement our Lightning Lane and Genie+ at Walt Disney World FAQ. A lot of you have had questions, and we’ve tried to answer most of the common ones there. However, many are about specific scenarios and that FAQ would be as long as a Tolstoy novel if we addressed each one there. Instead, we’re going to explain by showing via a day at DHS, which will hopefully address a lot of concerns/questions/etc. in the process.
When it comes to this itinerary, the most important thing to know from that FAQ is that there’s one big attraction per park that sells Individual Lightning Lane access and is not part of the Genie+ service At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, that ride is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Normally, we don’t recommend paying extra to bypass the lines because there are other ways to beat the crowds at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. By and large, Genie+ offers the better bang for your buck, and is the superior way to spend if you’re on a budget. That comes with an asterisk with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, as it’s the most popular ride in all of Walt Disney World and is prone to downtime. If it has an issue while you’re in line–or throughout the day of your visit, the standby line will back up, slow to a crawl, or stop completely.
With that said, some of you may want to ignore our advice and purchase both Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes. Depending on crowds, this actually can be a “challenge” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is home to the most popular Genie+ attraction (Slinky Dog Dash) and the most popular Individual Lightning Lane attraction (Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) in all of Walt Disney World.
Both of these often book up within seconds of 7 am, which presents a practical problem—how do you book both? There is no good way for one person to accomplish both beyond trying to do things quickly and hoping for the best. Ideally, you’ll want to have two adults awake at 7 am, with one booking Slinky Dog Dash and the other booking Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This is the only dynamic duo of rides where this presents a problem–if you’re booking any other combination, it’s no issue.
Anyway, on with our 1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary with Genie+…
7:00:00 am – Book Slinky Dog Dash via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 3:10 pm to 4:10 pm.
In a perfect world, you’ll get a much earlier return time for Slinky Dog Dash, but it doesn’t always work that way–even if you’re refreshing right at 7 am on the dot. For this attraction, we strongly recommend following our Speed Strategy for Genie+ Selections.
~7:35 am – Race to Rise of the Resistance during Early Entry “bonus time” at DHS.
~8 am – Beat the crowd to Slinky Dog Dash.
8:30 am – Rope drop Toy Story Mania via standby line.
8:50 am – Do Alien Swirling Saucers via standby line.
9:00 am – Leave Toy Story Land, stopping at Walt Disney Presents to meet the Monsters.
9:15 am – Meet Minnie & Mickey at Red Carpet Dreams or Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight, whichever character appeals to you more. Potentially both if the lines are short. (Olaf won’t have much of a wait later in the day–Sulley and Mickey & Minnie will, and none offer Genie+.)
9:30 am – Blast off to Batuu, enjoying free time in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before the crowds and midday heat arrive. Although it’s early, consider playing Batuu Bounty Hunters via the MagicBand+ for a little bit now.
10 am – Do Star Tours: the Adventures Continue via standby line.
You may not be wild about waiting in three consecutive standby lines for popular rides, but that’s bound to happen at DHS given the top-heavy nature of the lineup. In fact, you will almost certainly have more Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations in late afternoon than in the morning or early afternoon. That’s just how it tends to work out, so plan accordingly and knock out “easier” attractions via standby early on.
10:20 am – Marvel at MuppetVision 3D in all of its distinctly patriotic brilliance.
10:30 am – While waiting for MuppetVision (but without taking your attention away from its profound pre-show), book Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm.
Note: 10:30 am is chosen because it’s 120 minutes after park opening (assuming DHS opens at 8:30 am), which is consistent with How the Genie+ 120 Minute Rule Works at Walt Disney World. This rule governs when you can make your next Genie+ ride reservation, and is incredibly important to understand.
11 am – Free time or a buffer in case crowds are worse during your visit. If you’ve already accomplished all or most of this, consider rewarding yourself with one of the best snacks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
11:45 am – Arrive at least 15 minutes early to catch the second showing of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Take notes to improve your sick parkour moves.
12:30 pm – Book Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 4:05 pm to 5:05 pm.
Note: Lightning Lane return times for every attraction except Slinky Dog Dash get refilled or “roll over” throughout the day, so if you only see late evening return times when first opening up My Disney Experience to book another Genie+ Lightning Lane, give it a few minutes–you should see earlier times. (As with so many aspects of Genie, this is YMMV. The whole system continues to change/evolve, so this may not be your experience.)
12:40 pm – Browse Walt Disney Presents for evidence to confirm suspicions of grave-rolling.
1 pm – Lunch, free time and/or buffer (we recommend an ADR at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant)
2 pm – Recover from your food coma with Vacation Fun – An Original Animated Short with Mickey & Minnie.
2:30 pm – Book the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return time of 4:20 pm to 5:20 pm.
3:10 pm – Do Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
3:40 pm – Do Slinky Dog Dash via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
4:00 pm – Do Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation). Arrive 5 minutes early, taking advantage of grace period (see FAQ).
4:20 pm – Do the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
4:21 pm – With all headliners in DHS ‘sold out’ for the day, book a new Genie+ Lightning Lane ride reservation for a headliner in Epcot, where you’ll Park Hop for Harmonious, anyway.
4:45 pm – Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy via standby line.
5:10 pm – Race on over to the Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks for some coffee…and against your better judgment, a Carrot Cake Cookie. Lightning McQueen would say you’ve earned it–time to ka-chow down!
5:25 pm – Do Frozen Sing-Along Celebration via standby line.
7 pm or so – Park Hop to Epcot via the Disney Skyliner gondolas and pick up your evening there…
Once again, this was a theoretical day with Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios based on assumptions about capacity allocation and demand. Some or all of these assumptions could be off and not reflect what you actually experience depending upon your travel dates. Again, the same could be said of any itinerary. If you’re diligent, this is probably ~75% accurate, and at the very least, should illustrate how a day could look using Genie+ for those who never used paper FastPass or MaxPass.
To be sure, this is an efficient day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but not an overzealous one. The biggest challenge will be the backloaded Genie+ return times, and filling out your late morning and midday with stage shows and table service meals–or whatever else you want to kill time before your Lightning Lane return times roll around.
Ultimately, the point here is not to “sell” you on buying Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, but rather, to illustrate how Genie+ could prove advantageous for days you opt to purchase the add-on, put some doomsday assumptions to rest, and start making lemonade out of lemons.
If you’re still not quite satisfied with how Genie+ works in practice, see My Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Using Genie+ (if you’re visiting during a busier season, don’t expect to accomplish that much–here’s a look at my day using Genie+ with peak crowds). If you’d rather simply know which selections are objectively the best (in terms of time saved and how quickly they book up), see our Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ Priorities & Lightning Lane Ride Ranks.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Was this 1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary w/ Genie+ helpful to illustrate how paid FastPass works at Walt Disney World? Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above? Still confused by how Genie+ or Lightning Lanes work? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
How would you change this up since Rock ‘n Roller Coaster is closed? Insert Twilight Zone ToT booking into the R’nR time slot at 12:30 pm?