Hollywood Studios Touring Plan
As we’ve pointed out a few times throughout this site, we love mornings at Hollywood Studios. There is, perhaps, no better 3 hour stretch than the first few hours in the morning at Hollywood Studios. Unfortunately for early morning guests, the word is out and Disney’s Hollywood Studios has become busy right from the start. To help you manage the chaos, we have adjusted our Hollywood Studios touring plan to account for the chaos, and to factor in Fastpass plus.
As you may know, there is a tiering system in place at Hollywood Studios. Currently, Toy Story Mania and Rock n Roller Coaster are both in the upper tier, and cannot both be chosen for a Fastpass reservation on the same day. We always recommend using a Fastpass on Toy Story Mania. Why? For one reason, Disney has been experimenting with fastpass-only on this ride. Second, you can actually ride Rock n Roller Coaster in a reasonable time-frame using standby, something that isn’t always possible with Toy Story Mania.
Here are the fastpasses you should get:
9-10 – Hollywood Tower of Terror
10-11 – Toy Story Mania
11-12 – Frozen Sing-Along or Star Tours (depending on the interests of your kids/family)
Hollywood Studios Touring Plan
As you know, you need to get there early. 30-45 minutes early is fine. In the past we always used to rush to Toy Story Mania first. While you can still do that if you’d like, you’ll be faced with a long lines and you’ll be fighting lots of traffic to get there. I’d only recommend doing this if you are there early enough to be in the VERY FRONT, and can hop right on the ride. Otherwise, you’ll get a lot more done if you follow our plan. Toy Story Mania has been expanded, and wait times are not nearly as bad as they used to be. So if you happen to absolutely LOVE this ride, I don’t have an issue with you heading straight to TSM. Much depends on your family as small children can’t ride RnR coaster anyway.
9:05 – Aerosmith’s Rock n Roller Coaster – We didn’t get a fastpass for this attraction, so we need to immediately head straight there. Fortunately the signups for the Jedi Academy and the standby line for Toy Story Mania will keep most of the crowd from coming back here with you, and you should be in for a very short wait. Remember, there is a little show that you watch before you can ride, so you never get to just hop right on the ride.
9:25 – Fastpass – Tower of Terror – Before you use this fastpass, decide if you want to ride either of these first two rides twice. For instance, if Aerosmith was a blast, the lines are still short, and you want to ride it again, go for it! Just make sure you leave yourself enough time to use your fastpass before 10AM. If you’d prefer to ride Tower of Terror twice, then ride it standby first, if you have the time. If you are arriving at 9:25 and the lines are 15 minutes, you should be just fine. Then swing back around and use your fastpass.
10:00 – Fastpass – Toy Story Mania – It’s time to use your 2nd fastpass. Ride this ride, enjoy the fun, and head back to the center of the park.
10:20 – The Great Movie Ride – The wait should be pretty low at this time. This ride is unfortunately going to be closing for good soon. It’s sad, but probably long overdue.
11:00-11:30 – Fastpass – Star Tours or Frozen – At this point you want to use your final fastpass. If you pick the Frozen show, you might have an hour in between the great movie ride and the Frozen show. Use that time to go ride Star Tours, which should only have a 15-20 minute wait.
12:00 – Lunch
There are now two options for your afternoon. Your first option is to stay in the park and see many of the different shows. There are shows for kids, stunt shows, Disney shows such as the Little Mermaid and many others that appeal to a wide variety of audiences.
We are going to go over two scenarios. Choose the one that most appeals to you, based on whether you enjoy seeing shows or not.
I Don’t Want to Spend An Afternoon Watching Shows
If shows aren’t your thing, can you ride the big rides again? Well, that depends on what the wait times look like. Typically you will find that wait times in the afternoon hours are extremely high in the summer months, so this may not be a viable option. You can check and see if any fastpasses are available for the top rides, but this is unlikely to be the case.
At this point, you have three options:
- Stand in long lines for the afternoon to ride attractions that you’ve already done.
- Go back to your resort and enjoy the afternoon swimming and relaxing
- Go to another theme park and begin getting fastpasses there (works best at the Magic Kingdom)
Planning an Afternoon Around the Shows
Before you go, you’ll want to have pre-planned the shows, based on the shows your group wants to see and the available showtimes. After you use your three fastpasses, try to use your new fastpasses on some of the showtimes. If you can’t, don’t stress about it. You should be able to get into any show by arriving 20 minutes ahead of time, unless it’s absolutely packed. If it’s so packed that 20 minutes isn’t working, you will probably have a miserable afternoon, and you might want to consider going to a different park or heading to the resort.
What follows is an example schedule starting at lunchtime from our earlier schedule.
12:00 – Get Fastpass for Little Mermaid at 1:45
12:05 – Lunch
1:15 – See the Muppets 3D show
1:45 – Little Mermaid Show
2:05 – Try to get a 5th fastpass for 3PM Beauty and the Beast
3:00 – Beauty and the Beast show. If you weren’t able to secure a fastpass, arrive no later than 2:35. Once the show is over, try and secure a fastpass for the 4:10 Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.
4:00 – Indiana Jones Stunt Show
You may notice that in between these shows, there are a lot of long waits. Therein lies the problem of doing Hollywood Studios from lunch to a 5pm show. Yes, you can see all of the shows, but there is a lot of wasted time. At times you’ll have 30 minutes to kill, and absolutely nothing to do, as all the main attractions will have wait times that far exceed 30 minutes. Also, you can only eat so much food!
Personally we prefer to go to Hollywood Studios twice in a typical 7 day trip, both times in the morning. We knock out the main rides, hit 1 or 2 shows, and get outta there by 1PM. We can do that twice in a trip, and be fully satisfied. But that’s only possible with a park hopper ticket. Otherwise, you need to stay and get your money’s worth.
Hopefully our Hollywood Studios touring plan can be of some assistance to you. This park offers a wonderful morning with exceptional rides, but the lack of a substantial amount of second-tier attractions can make it difficult to spend a full day here, unless you love watching all of the shows. Hopefully this article will help you to make the right decisions for your group!