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 October 16, 2023.)
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 low-to-average months, but not so much around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or other peak weeks. If you’re visiting during school breaks (aside from summer), you’ll want to use this plus Early Entry at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
When it comes to this itinerary, the most important thing to know 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+ (note that this assumes an 8:30 am opening time for DHS; if the park opens at 9 am during your visit, simply adjust these times by 30 minutes)…
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.
8:30 am – Rope drop Toy Story Mania via standby line.
8:50 am – Do Alien Swirling Saucers via standby line.
9:00 am – Blast off to Batuu, enjoying free time in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before the crowds and midday heat arrive. It’s an excellent time to Meet the Mandalorian & Grogu if you want a chance to encounter theme without a mob of people. (This is not a character meet & greet but is the most popular character encounter at Walt Disney World, so it’s ideal to be there for their first set of the day. See the above link for tips & tricks!)
Although it’s early, consider playing Batuu Bounty Hunters via the MagicBand+ for a little bit. Alternatively, you can browse the shops or even potentially do Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run via standby or the Single Rider line if you anticipate wanting to do that more than once–or just want to knock it out early!
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.
2 pm – Double back to Pixar Place to meet the Monsters and other Pixar Pals.
2:30 pm – 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.
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.
4:20 pm – Do the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
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.
6 pm or so – Dinner at another one of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ excellent themed restaurants.
7 pm – Free time to do repeat favorite headliner attractions via the standby line. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and even Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance all usually have moderate actual wait times–regardless of what the posted wait time is–after 7 pm.
Second Showing of Fantasmic – On some nights, there are two showings of Fantasmic. If that’s the case during your visit, see the later one and do rides until ~15 minutes before showtime. If there are multiple showings, you do not need to arrive super early for good seats. If there’s only one performance of Fantasmic, catch that one and arrive at least 30 minutes early. See our Viewing Guide to Fantasmic at Walt Disney World for further advice on the best seats, etc.
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 have questions about the basics of using–or not using–the paid FastPass service, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQfor all of the foundational need-to-know info. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or two-dozen. That answers all of the most common ones we’ve been receiving from readers.
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!