1-Day Hollywood Studios Itinerary

Our 1-Day Hollywood Studios itinerary is an efficient step-by-step plan & strategy for minimizing time waiting in lines, maximizing rides, and avoiding crowds at Walt Disney World. It covers attractions, restaurants, shows, and includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Updated December 4, 2022.)

This Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) touring plan has been overhauled for the start for Christmas 2022, taking into account all of the major changes in the last year. The itinerary factors in crowd dynamics for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, Early Entry, standby line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Genie+ Lightning Lanes–the the paid replacement for free FastPass.

Most notably, we’ve spent several days in DHS since Fantasmic returned. This includes busy and not-so-busy days, and when the recently reimagined nighttime spectacular has had one and two performances. Suffice to say, Fantasmic 2.0 changes a lot with how people approach Disney’s Hollywood Studios–and our recommended strategy, by extension. Accordingly, this is our revised 1-day Disney’s Hollywood Studios itinerary for Late 2022 and Early 2023.

This itinerary assumes you will not be buying those line-skipping services nor will you be taking advantage of Early Entry. If you do plan on spending the extra, consult our 1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.

If you’re staying on-site and can arrive early, check out our report on Early Entry at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Either of those things will give you a big advantage, but neither are strictly necessary for a productive day in DHS. You’ll just spend more time waiting in standby lines without Early Entry or Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, and you’ll need/want to stay later in the day.

Fortunately, there are still ways to outsmart the crowds without buying Genie+ or being eligible for Early Entry. With that said, if you want to know which of those (and other) approaches is best, see our new Genie+ v. Savvy Standby Strategy at Walt Disney World, which details the best and worst ways to save time in lines.

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 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, consisting almost largely of highly popular rides. 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…

DHS Rope Drop – For an ideal experience at DHS, we recommend arriving to the park about 30 before official opening time, and picking up this itinerary from there.

If you’re staying on-site and are eligible for Early Entry, we’d strongly recommend arriving 45 minutes before the official start time of that.

Avoid Towering Lines, Terrifying Waits! – Unfortunately, if you’re staying off-site and are arriving for official park opening, you’re going to be behind the crowd, making both Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance bad options for starting the day.

The good news is that there’s a prime opportunity to “zig when they zag” right at the start of the day. This is because the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is once again operating at reduced capacity. With one elevator shaft down, Tower of Terror is effectively operating at half-capacity.

As a result, Tower of Terror currently has one of the highest average daily wait times at DHS. Despite this, most guests arriving for Early Entry do not prioritize Tower of Terror, nor do those arriving for normal rope drop. Outsmart them by heading to the other end of the park for the Sunset Boulevard attractions.

During the first hour, wait times for Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror should be relatively low. Start with Tower of Terror, and then follow that by doing the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster while you’re in the neighborhood–you might even be able to do the latter twice before crowds build. Our actual waits for these rides early in the day have been under 20 minutes regardless of posted wait times.

Hollywood Dreams – By the time you’re done on Sunset Boulevard, all attractions will have high wait times. This is an unfortunate reality at Disney’s Hollywood Studios–wait times get long earlier than any other park. The first bit of good news is that it’ll work to your advantage later in the day.

The second bit of good news is that, currently, character meet & greets lag behind other attractions in having long wait times. Get ahead of the crowds by doing Red Carpet Dreams, which is the Minnie and Mickey Mouse meet & greet. This currently averages a 61 minute wait time throughout the day, but should have an actual wait time of under 30 minutes when you arrive.

Snow-Monster-Men Meets – If you’re into character meet & greets, continue with the park’s other options. Start by prioritizing Sulley from Monsters, Inc. inside Walt Disney Presents. This also will have a long wait time later in the day (average is 36 minutes).

Follow that up with Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight. This meet & greet does not have long lines later in the day, so save it for later if you want.

Go See A Star War: Episode I – Once you’re finished with the characters, bounce to the other side of the park and do Star Tours: the Adventures Continue and see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. 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.

It may seem like you’re “wasting” valuable time in the morning by perusing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge especially after only doing a few rides, but that’s not true. These shops and marketplace stalls will all have lines later in the day.

Early 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. (Note that both are incredibly hard Advance Dining Reservations to score right now; Hollywood Brown Derby is also a great pick if you can’t book either of the other two.)

Shows & Stuff – 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, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and MuppetVision 3D.

No strategy is required for seeing these, just do them at your leisure around their scheduled showtimes. They seldom have actual waits or lines, and are a good way to fill the middle of the day while the rides have long standby queues.

In particular, we highly recommend MuppetVision 3D–to skip it 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.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is also a ton of fun, a blockbuster production worthy of its “epic” name. Definitely make sure you watch (at least) both of those; these shows are great ways to kill times while waiting for standby wait times to drop on the park’s headliner rides.

Early 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 one of the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World. Yet another alternative 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.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re not going to need to eat a full sit-down meal in the last 4 hours that DHS is open. This plan practically relies on doing dinner early, which is another “zig-when-they-zag” piece of planning advice for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Late 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 doing Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in the late afternoon or early evening.

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, this attraction is at the front of the park, and has the longest lines while guests are arriving or leaving. The sweet spot for short lines is about 5 pm or so. You won’t experience the shortest lines of the day, but this is a good compromise.

Toy Story Land Mania – The most popular part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with families is Toy Story Land. It’s even more popular than the bigger budget Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with this demographic, and the crowds you’ll experience earlier in the day bear this out.

Everyone’s gotta eat, and most people dine on a consistent and predictable schedule. This is doubly true of families with small children, the core audience of Toy Story Land. Like clockwork, families will start doing dinner at around 6 pm, resulting in a bit of a lull in Toy Story Land crowds. This is precisely why we recommended zigging when they zag and eating an early dinner if at all possible.

With so many high-profile rides in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is really your best play if you aren’t eligible for Early Entry and are unwilling to purchase Genie+ access to Lightning Lanes. The reality is that you’re going to have to compromise somewhere, as it’s simply not possible to get everything done without going against the grain somewhere. You can’t have your cake and eat it too at DHS…unless you do so at 4 pm or 5 pm! 😉

Once you’re in Toy Story Land, you’re going to want to do both Toy Story Mania and Slinky Dog Dash. Which you should do first really depends on when you enter the land. If you arrive before 6 pm, do Toy Story Mania first. If after 6 pm, do Slinky Dog Dash first. Don’t worry too much about posted wait times–they are reactive rather than proactive, meaning Slinky Dog Dash’s posted wait time will drop towards the tail end of the dinner lull…right as people are starting to jump back into line. (Skip Alien Swirling Saucers.)

Another option here if you’re not up for an early dinner is eating at Woody’s Lunch Box after both Toy Story Land attractions, after the dinner rush subsides a bit there.

Fantasmic – Returning after a nearly 3 year hiatus in reimagined form, Fantasmic is a must see. On nights when there’s only one showing of Fantasmic, that’s the one you’ll do (obviously). While you can line up to see Fantasmic up to 90 minutes in advance, we recommend showing up around 30 minutes in advance. You won’t get as good of a seat, but most views in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater are “good enough.” (Actually, we highly recommend booking the cheapest Fantasmic Dining Package and guaranteeing yourself a great seat that way!)

On evenings with two showings of Fantasmic, we have some ‘contrarian’ advice for you: see the first showing! This is despite it always being the more crowded of the two. Other planning resources are going to recommend seeing the second show for the exact same reason–the second showing is always less popular. But hear us out!

During the second showing of Fantasmic, the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also significantly less crowded. This allows you to knock out headliner attractions with minimal wait–we’re talking posted wait times under an hour for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Slinky Dog Dash, with actual wait times typically around half of what’s posted.

In other words, the upside of seeing the less-crowded Fantasmic and getting a better view outweighs the opportunity cost. Of course, reasonable minds may vary on this point. If you’re a Fantasmic fanatic, you might prefer the ‘perfect’ view of the newly-reimagined nighttime spectacular. Again, we’d recommend booking the dining package in that case.

Go See A Star War: Episode II — After the first showing of Fantasmic concludes, we recommend backtracking 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. The lighting adds a lot to the moody off-planet atmosphere, and makes the experience even more immersive. If time allows, try to knock out both Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance via the standby line. Do the attractions in that order, and expect Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to take less than an hour, even if the posted wait time for the standby line is 90 minutes or longer. (Barring a breakdown, it’ll take far less time than the posted wait time suggests.)

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!

Your Thoughts

What would you include in your ideal day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios? What’s your preferred strategy for Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the Sunset Boulevard duo? What about the first v. second showing of Fantasmic? Do you utilize a zig-when-they-zag approach to DHS, or stick with conventional strategy? 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!

186 Responses to “1-Day Hollywood Studios Itinerary”
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