Our 1-Day Hollywood Studios itinerary offers an efficient touring plan & strategy for minimizing time waiting in lines, maximizing rides, and avoiding crowds at Walt Disney World. This covers attractions, restaurants, shows, and includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Updated January 29, 2021.)
Note that this DHS touring plan has been overhauled following the start of Walt Disney World’s phased reopening. A lot has changed in the last several months from a strategy perspective, namely the temporary suspension of FastPass+, pause of Extra Magic Hours, reduction of operating hours, and reduction of park & ride capacity. This has caused changes in guest behavior, and certain attractions now have longer and shorter wait times than before.
Nowhere is this more apparent than Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Normal touring plans have been upended not only by all of the above, but also Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and a total lack of stage shows. We’ve revisited DHS over a dozen times since Walt Disney World’s phased reopening began, and have monitored wait times, tested various approaches, and fine-tuned our strategy as crowds have progressively increased. Accordingly, this is our revised post-reopening 1-day Disney’s Hollywood Studios itinerary…
This post continues our series of Walt Disney World Park Itineraries & Touring Plans designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do in an ideal day at the park?” With Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway plus all of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge now open, including both Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, there’s more to do here, and we once again highly recommend spending a full day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
However, it also can be a very challenging and frustrating day because the attraction lineup is very top heavy right now, consisting almost entirely of rides, many of which are incredibly popular. Unlike virtually every other park at Walt Disney World, DHS is lacking in the “supporting players” department. Which is to say there are very few “low hassle” attractions and shows that are easy to do with minimal wait to round out your day or kill time.
Unlike all of our other WDW touring plans, our strategy for Disney’s Hollywood Studios starts prior to the day of your visit…
Before Your Visit – When making Disney Park Pass reservations, start by booking at least a couple of days at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. At this point, due to Cast Member blockouts and weekend attendance, your best option is a Friday. Consider also booking DHS Park Passes for all days when you’re actually planning on visiting EPCOT (and maybe even Animal Kingdom), in addition to your dedicated DHS day.
This is our recommendation because it’s always easier to change from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to another park than vice-versa. By the time your travel dates arrive, it’s possible that DHS will be fully booked for every day of your trip. Same goes for Magic Kingdom on some dates, whereas Animal Kingdom and EPCOT usually have same-day availability. You’ll understand why this flexibility is important shortly…
Rise & Attempt to Go See a Star War at 6:55 am: Episode I – On the morning of your Disney’s Hollywood Studios day, at least one person in your party will need to be awake before 7 am. This is because guests with a valid ticket and a Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to access the virtual queue system starting at 7 am on the day of their park visit. This is done outside the park–before you leave your resort hotel, or from literally anywhere.
With the new 7 am time, the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance still fills up within seconds. There has not been a single morning when boarding passes are still available at 7:01 am. (Our How to Ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance FAQ & Guide is essential reading right now and covers everything you need to know–like increasing your chances of success.)
If you’re unsuccessful, you can immediately change your Disney Park Pass reservations day-of to EPCOT. This is what we call the “EPCOT Audible” and it’s highly recommended unless you have can’t miss Advance Dining Reservations in DHS. Alternatively, you can try to join the virtual queue again at 1 pm from inside the park.
DHS Rope Drop – For an ideal experience at DHS, we highly recommend arriving to the park about 45 minutes to an hour before official opening time, and picking up this itinerary from there.
That may not be possible if you’re staying at a Skyliner resort due to the operating hours of the gondolas. In that case, consider taking an Uber or Lyft to DHS. The park typically opens ~30 minutes prior to the officially published time, giving you a significant advantage by arriving early.
Toy Story Land Mania – For years, the craziest morning at Walt Disney World was the Toy Story Mania dash. Then came FastPass+, pretty much ending that. Then FastPass+ temporarily ended. Now, there are three morning dashes. The vast majority of the crowds go straight ahead to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway or left to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That leaves a smaller, third group going right to Toy Story Land.
Zig while everyone else is zagging and go right, too. Once you’re in Toy Story Land, start with Slinky Dog Dash. Do it again if the line is short. Continue to Toy Story Mania. Finish with Alien Swirling Saucers if the posted wait time is moderate. Then bounce from Toy Story Land before the crush of the crowd arrives.
Go See A Star War: Episode II – Once you’re finished with Toy Story Land, wander through Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Star Tours: the Adventures Continue. Don’t be afraid to slow down and enjoy some of the atmosphere on Batuu–it’s the least crowded Galaxy’s Edge will be until the evening hours.
Lines should still be fairly short for Star Tours, so do that next once you’ve strolled through Galaxy’s Edge.
Shows & Stuff – Normally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a bunch of shows that are worth seeing. These include the Frozen Sing-along, Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and MuppetVision 3D.
However, at present only Frozen Sing-along and MuppetVision 3D are running. The latter we absolutely implore you to see, and now is a good time to do that before lines build there. To miss MuppetVision would be distinctly unpatriotic. Consider spending some time in the pre-show area and overflow queue at MuppetVision, as there are some hilarious Easter Eggs all around.
Lunch – During the middle of the day, you’re going to have some time to kill while waiting for wait times to drop. Fortunately, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to two of the Best Themed Restaurants at Walt Disney World.
Definitely book Advance Dining Reservations for right around noon at 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Disregard the negative reviews, as the experience at both restaurants is the star of the show. Personally, I think both serve pretty good food, too.
Midday Break – In every touring scenario we’ve run for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it doesn’t take a full day to finish the park. That’s true even on busier days. However, rather than leaving early, we recommend a midday break–whether that means going back to your hotel for a swim or staying in the park and perusing the gift shops (several good ones in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) is up to you.
Another option is to caffeinate by heading to Trolley Car Cafe (the Starbucks location at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) for coffee. Oh, and while you’re there, grab one of the two Best Snacks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Dinner – If you’ve somehow already worked up an appetite and still have time to kill, consider doing another meal. Ideally, whichever of the two table service restaurants you didn’t do above. If you’re more in a drinking and snacking mood, give BaseLine Tap House a try (food spreads pictured above).
Another option is Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That’s currently the best counter service restaurant at Walt Disney World.
Go See A Star War: Episode III – In mid to late afternoon, we recommend blasting off to Batuu once again. It’s better to spend the bulk of your time in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge later in the day rather than in the morning for a couple of reasons. First, crowds are actually worst in the morning and get progressively better as the day wears on.
Second, because Star Wars Land is simply better as the day goes on (ideally after sunset, but that option is off the table right now). The lighting adds a lot to the moody off-planet atmosphere, and makes the experience even more immersive. While you’re in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, be sure to do Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
ROCK AND ROLL! – Next, head all the way to the other end of the park for the Sunset Boulevard attractions. In the last two hours of the day, wait times for Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror begin falling.
If you arrive late enough here (or it’s a slow day), you might also be able to do Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster a couple of times via standby with short waits. Follow that by doing the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror while you’re in the neighborhood. Our actual waits for these rides late in the day have been under 20 minutes regardless of posted wait times.
Last Train to Runnamuck Park – While it might be tempting to run(away) to the newest headliner attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to start your day, the better option is jumping in line for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway about 10-15 minutes before park closing.
There are three benefits to this approach. First, that’s when its line is shortest, so you’re waiting the least amount of time. Second, the queue is mostly outdoors, and the sun can be brutal earlier in the day. Finally, queueing up at the end of the evening, you’re effectively extending your day in the park since most of your wait will be after official closing time.
After that, take the time for a slow stroll out of the park upon exiting, taking your time to look at and photograph all the beautiful neon signs. The good news here is that even though it’ll be dark out, the neon is so bright that it’s easy to photograph at night.
All in all, it should conclude a pretty satisfying day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This park is so much better than it was just a few years ago–it’s now unquestionably a full day park and one that is free of visible construction. The added good news is that Disney’s Hollywood Studios should further improve once more of the stage shows start to return. That has already happened with the Frozen Sing-Along, so hopefully the others will follow suit soon!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? If you’re interested in learning more about hotels, our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page is a good place to start. For where to eat, try out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews page. If you want to save money on tickets or determine which type you should get, 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 unconventional things you should take on your trip. Once you arrive at the parks, our Walt Disney World “Ride Guides” are great for determining what to do and when to do it. For overviews of all of these topics and so much more, the best place to start is our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
What would you include in your ideal day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Would you recommend visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios to a first-timer? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World, what do you plan on doing? Do you agree or disagree with our strategy or plan of attack? Any questions? 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!