Park hours at Hollywood Studios are quirky but consistent. This guide covers not just normal opening and closing times, but also Early Entry, Extended Evenings, After Hours, rope drop, when certain rides actually start running, and more. Plus, tips & tricks for beating the crowds and avoiding times of day when attendance is highest.
This isn’t just a post about regular operating hours at DHS. If it were, it’d be one sentence long: Disney’s Hollywood Studios is normally open from 8:30 am until 9 pm. If you think that’s all you need to know, more power to you. This is a post we’re doing because we regularly get questions about Walt Disney World park hours, and wanted to drill down a bit deeper with added insight and nuance.
The first thing you need to know is that hours are added to DisneyWorld.com’s 5-day calendar on a rolling basis, typically 60 days in advance. Walt Disney World also has a monthly calendar that isn’t as easy to find, and this currently has hours dumped in ‘batches’ much further in advance.
Walt Disney World’s normal practice is to release boilerplate or placeholder hours before extending those based on attendance and hotel occupancy projections. For a while, the initial release of park hours was almost meaningless, as every single park and date would see extensions. This is less-pronounced of a practice now, and the hours that are released are quite often the final hours.
With that said, extensions are still relatively commonplace–they just are less likely to occur across the board. Now, it’s more targeted to weekends, holidays, and specific days when the parks are forecast to be busier. In those scenarios, extensions can occur about a few weeks to about two months in advance. We’ve seen exactly this scenario play out around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, MLK Day, and Presidents’ Day.
The most common practice on busier dates at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is for the closing time to be extended to 9:30 pm. In the past, we’ve also seen the official park opening time moved forward to 8:00 am. As of 2023, that’s not common. Normal hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are 8:30 am to 9 pm and peak season hours are 8:30 am to 9:30 pm.
Regardless of whether hours are extended, it’s common for Fantasmic or the projection shows at the front of the park to begin at or even after park closing. Fantasmic’s second showtime is usually at 9:30 pm when park closing is at 9:30 pm–or even when the park closes at 9:00 pm.
This allows guests to effectively extend the day at DHS by 30 to 60 minutes after official closing, since Fantasmic is about 30 minutes long. (Meaning that you’ll exit the show at 10 pm, even on nights when the park closes at 9 pm.)
It’s also incredibly common for table service restaurants to offer Advance Dining Reservations right up until park closing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This means you can find ADRs for 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Sci-Fi Dine In-Theater, and other restaurants until about 8:55 pm on nights when the park closes at 9 pm. Each of these meals take about an hour, so it’s a similar scenario–exiting a full hour after parking closing.
At Oga’s Cantina, the practice is even more pronounced. That bar in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open until 10 pm, and often offers ADRs until shortly before then. The end result is that you could exit Disney’s Hollywood Studios 90 minutes or more after park closing.
If you’re worried about transportation back to your hotel, don’t. Officially, transportation to the theme parks begins approximately 2 hours prior to park opening time and runs until approximately 1 hour after the parks close. This is the info you’ll find on Walt Disney World’s website, and what Cast Members will tell you.
It is true that the Skyliner and boats open and close according to their posted schedules at the pertinent hotels and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So the Skyliner actually does close at whatever time indicated on the signage outside the park. However, that’s not true of all transportation.
Unofficially, buses continue running after park closing continues as long as people are inside the park. As much as Kingdom Keepers IRL might sound, Disney won’t leave you stranded at a park. Sometimes it’s closer to 2 hours after the parks close when transportation ends. Cast Members are methodical about clearing the parks and radio to bus drivers to make sure they stick around until all of the stragglers are accounted for.
We have left Walt Disney World theme parks long after park closing many, many times and have never had an issue. If anything, delaying departure as long as possible is the best course of action. You get to enjoy park closing serenity and are more likely to have a bus all to yourself. (For those staying at a Skyliner or Crescent Lake Area Resort, bus transportation is available to get you back even after the Skyliner and boats stop running.)
Now let’s turn to the expanded Disney’s Hollywood Studios park hours for guests of on-site hotels. These are Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours, which replace Extra Magic Hours in the morning and at night. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the morning option, learn more in our Guide to Early Entry at Walt Disney World.
Early Entry is huge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Without a doubt, this is the park where Early Entry offers the biggest strategic advantage. That’s especially true if you prioritize Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, with the added upside of doing this first being that you’re less likely to encounter a breakdown while you’re in line for it. Check out our report on Early Entry at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that covers our experience knocking out the “triple digit trio” at DHS before the park opened to regular guests.
Thus far, Extended Evening Hours is very rare at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, only occurring when there are scheduling conflicts or extreme crowds forecast for Magic Kingdom. With that said, Extended Evening Hours is also a solid way to experience DHS with lower crowds. (See our Guide to Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney World for more.)
With that said, staying late on a normal night and skipping the second showing of Fantasmic (if there is one) is almost as strong of a strategy as Extended Evening Hours. Crowds tend to peak early at DHS, decreasing in the afternoon and becoming more manageable by evening on normal days.
Another rare way to stay late is the 2023 After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Currently, these are only scheduled for Winter and Spring 2023, but given their popularity and how many dates are already sold out, we expect many more dates in the months to come.
While we are critical of “overbuying” upcharge offerings due to FOMO and so forth, we actually love After Hours at DHS. It’s definitely a splurge, but it’s one that’s actually worth the money. It adds a VIP vibe to the visit, and at a fraction of the price of hiring a tour guide.
Posted wait times are lower in the last two hours of the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but that’s only half of the story. Actual wait times are often dramatically lower, particularly for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and other headliners.
One caveat we should add here is that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is unreliable and prone to breakdowns. This means that waiting until the end of your only day at DHS to do this excellent attraction is risky. If the ride goes down in the last two hours of the day, it may not reopen at all. Read our Ride Guide for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which offers an overview of the best & worst ways to do that, and plan accordingly.
Speaking of risky business, relying on regular rope drop (official park opening time) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is ill-advised. All headliner attractions are open for Early Entry and, as noted above, wait times peak before midday at DHS. In general, you can expect the worst crowds of the day between about 10 am and 1 pm at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
It’s also worth noting that not all attractions start operating at park opening time. The most notable examples are stage shows and meet & greets–and there are many of both at DHS. This is part of the reason why waits are worse earlier on–there’s less to do to soak up crowds until the park’s many stage shows start having their showtimes.
When it comes to the interplay of park strategy & hours, another option is Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. It’s very common for ride reservation return times to be pushed out later in the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This can mean that enjoying a relaxed morning outside the park while “stacking” Lightning Lanes for later in the day is the savviest strategy.
Here’s the rough outline of my ideal day doing Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with a mix of productivity and relaxation:
Stay in a Skyliner resort
Head over to DHS for Early Entry and regular rope drop as soon as Skyliner starts operating
Obtain first Lightning Lane for Slinky Dog Dash
Leave DHS by 10 am
Stack Lightning Lanes throughout morning and early afternoon
Return to DHS at about 2 pm
Use Lightning Lanes
Standby attractions with short waits in the evening and end of night
This approach often means spending about a half day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in aggregate, but getting a lot done–including some attractions twice. It minimizes headaches and the likelihood of burn out, and is a great way to beat the crowds!
With that said, this approach is not optimal for first-timer or anyone who wants to see all of the stage shows. We’ve done all of those many, many times over the last few decades, so we are not normal in that regard. The good news is that everything between “leave” and “return” can be swapped out for entertainment–and possibly a table service lunch–and the plan still works almost exactly the same. In fact, that’s precisely the approach in our touring plans for DHS.
To that point, for Disney’s Hollywood Studios strategy & planning insight see the following posts:
Ultimately, that should cover what you need to know about park hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now it should also be clear why there’s a lot of nuance and quirks that are worth understanding beyond just the basics that DHS usually is open from 8:30 am until 9 pm. Many normal guests will see that, show up between 9 am and 10 am, be overwhelmed by 11 am, and leave before 3 pm.
Now you should understand why that happens, how to avoid burnout, operating schedules that differ from regular hours, etc. More than any other Walt Disney World theme park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the one where mastering and exploiting schedule quirks will put you at a huge advantage–and going with the flow will put you at a huge disadvantage!
What do you think of normal park hours in 2023 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Prefer to arrive first thing for Early Entry, later in the morning, afternoon, or evening? How do you take advantage of the operating quirks of DHS to beat the crowds? Do you agree or disagree with anything in our guide to park hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? 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!