How to Do Hollywood Studios in One Day

How to Do Hollywood Studios in One Day

Hollywood Studios is one of Walt Disney World’s smaller parks, and can most easily be done in one day. With the arrival of Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge, and the return of evening entertainment, there are definitely some options for those hoping to spend one full day at Hollywood Studios and how to fit everything in.

Hollywood Studios Statues for the 50th Anniversary of Disney World

With the addition of Lightning Lane and Disney Genie+ getting onto rides has become more complicated. And now that Rise of the Resistance offers standby or lightning lane, there is some flexibility when it comes to riding rides at Hollywood Studios. So, how can you strategically plan your day to where you actually get to do everything you want to do?

From deciding your top rides, to where you’re going to eat and which restaurants will need reservations, to shows, fireworks, and more. There is so much to do that a few decisions upfront can make your One day in Hollywood Studios easy, fun, and manageable! Get ready to plan your day. 

When does Hollywood Studios Open? 

Hollywood Studios is typically open from 8:00 am to 9 pm, But hours vary. There are some times throughout the year when Hollywood Studios opens early and stays open later, so keep an eye on park hours during your vacation.

Be sure to arrive at Hollywood Studios at least 30 minutes prior to opening. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort you’ll have access to both Early Theme Park Entry and Extra Evening Hours throughout your stay. Check the 5-day Disney Calendar for the schedule. 

rise of the resistance

Planning Hollywood Studios Rides for One Day

Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane Passes at Hollywood Studios may be necessary for certain rides, but definitely not all.  But never fear, there are many ways to get on your favorite rides. Check out our Disney Ride Strategies post for all your options. 

What are Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane?

This new service and skip the line ride pass system have replaced FastPass throughout all of Walt Disney World. This allows you to wait in a “shorter” line than the regular standby line and therefore adds more rides to your day. 

And while you can use the Disney Genie service as part of your My Disney Experience app, to help plan your park day the paid version gets you access to 2 Lightning Lanes. Disney Genie+ is a service you pay for, daily, for each person in your party who will want to take advantage of the Lightning Lane Passes. Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Passes only include certain rides. As part of Disney Genie+, you can only hold one Lightning Lane reservation at a time. And you can’t choose what time your Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation is for, which makes planning your Hollywood Studios day tough. 

If you are a Disney Resort guest then you get to make Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane reservations early- at 7 am- which means you have a better chance of getting your highest priority ride. 

Read about the Rides included in Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World.

An alternative to purchasing Disney Genie+ for everyone in your travel party is to purchase Individual Lightning Lane Passes. These passes are most costly than Disney Genie+ but do include different rides that may be on your Magic Kingdom day bucket list. 

Read about the rides included in Individual Lightning Lane.

mickey and minnie's runaway railway

What are the Best Rides at Hollywood Studios? 

You technically only need one day at Hollywood Studios. But so much of it will depend on crowds. And some rides are naturally more crowded than others. The main attractions at Hollywood Studios are Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Rise of the Resistance. And while both have standby lines, Rise of the Resistance is offered as an Individual Lightning Lane purchase, and Mickey Mouse Runaway Railway is offered as a Disney Genie+ ride. Meaning you would have to buy both an Individual Lightning Lane Pass AND Disney Genie + to ride them both with the skip-the-line service. Note that both of these rides typically sell out their lightning lane passes by 10 am. That said, if you’re set on doing both rides, we’d recommend grabbing Runaway Railway in Disney Genie+ FIRST. As that service has the most competition of other guests. Then purchase the Lightning Lane Pass for Rise of the Resistance right after. Know that you can also just strategically head to either ride at rope drop, in the evening when lines are lower, or during meal times.; typically between 12 pm- 2 pm. And just wait in line. 

Highest Waits

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway***
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Slinky Dog Dash

***NOTE: this ride is included as a Disney Genie+ ride until Aug 7, 2022. 

Average Waits

  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
  • Toy Story Mania!

Low Waits

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior Play & Dance!
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • See Disney Stars at Red Carpet Dreams
  • See Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios things to do guide to Toy Story Land Get ready to play big in Andy's Backyard #toystoryland #toystory #playbig

What are the Best Rides to Use Disney Genie+ for in Hollywood Studios?

You’re only allowed two rides when you purchase Disney Genie+. And these rides are the best rides to try to get, as you’ll want to want to add to your 1-day itinerary regardless. 

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Slinky Dog Dash

Other rides offered as part of the Disney Genie+ service that may warrant a Disney Genie+ reservation if those two rides are already “sold out,” are Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Millenium Falcon Smugglers Run, and Toy Story Mania. The rest of the rides on the Disney Genie+ list, typically have lower or average waits and don’t warrant using a Disney Genie+ selection. 

Is getting Disney Genie+ at Hollywood Studios worth it?

For our time and money and we say NO. The best ride available as part of Disney Genie+ at Hollywood Studios is Slinky Dog Dash. And it usually sells out so quickly, that you may purchase it, and still not get a pass. Next to that is Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Tower of Terror. If these are top rides for you and you are a Disney Resort Guest, able to reserve your selections early, then buy the Disney Genie+ service. Otherwise, we’d recommend heading for popular rides in the mornings, and during meal times for the lowest waits. 

What are the Best Rides to Use Individual Lightning Lane for in Hollywood Studios?

The ride available for purchase as part of the Hollywood Studio Individual Lightning Lane is Star Wars Rise of the Resistance. Regardless if you have Disney Genie+ or not, you will still need to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane pass for this ride if you hope to ride it, unless you are willing to wait in line. 

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios things to do guide to Toy Story Land Get ready to play big in Andy's Backyard #toystoryland #toystory #playbig

Characters at Hollywood Studios

If you’re adding characters to your day in the park, the main characters to visit are Olaf at the Celebrity Spotlight and Mickey and Minnie at Red Carpet Dreams. This Disney Character meet and greets generally have low waits. While you can see other characters throughout the day at Hollywood Studios, they are less scheduled and intermittently offered. Disney Junior characters are often found dancing in the Animation courtyard, Star Wars characters, like BB8, Kilo Ren, and Darth Vader can be found in Star Wars Bay, and Chewbacca and Rey can often be seen in Galaxy’s Edge. In Toy Stoy Land you can plan to see Jessie, Woody and Buzz somewhere in the area, and sometimes greeting guests. 

If you’re looking to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy, then booking a meal at Hollywood and Vine is your best bet for seeing these characters with ease. Often part of seasonal dining events, you can grab pictures of these characters as they visit each table. 

Toy Story Land Woody's Lunch Box at Walt disney World Hollywood Studios Restaurant Review #woodyslunchbox #disneydining #toystoryland

Planning Hollywood Studios Meals for One Day

We are big fans of the Disney Dining Plan layout; the best of which is 2 quick service meals and 1 table service meal per day. This setup gives you the treat of having a special meal and is a good way to stick to your Disney Dining Budget.  If getting the Disney Dining Plan as part of your Disney Vacation Package this will be built in for you as meal credits. 

Breakfast at Hollywood Studios

Breakfast at Hollywood Studios is best when it’s simple. Especially if you are racing to one of the more popular rides at rope drop. We like Woody’s Lunch Box for a breakfast bowl or sandwich and Trolley Car Cafe/ Starbucks for an easy coffee and sandwich. And if you’re heading to Galaxy’s Edge, Ronto Roasters offers great breakfast wraps and coffee to try. While there are other quick-service locations at Hollywood Studios that serve breakfast, only the basics are served and offer litter to entice us. 

ABC Commisary at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Lunch at Hollywood Studios

If looking to grab lunch at Hollywood Studios there are a couple of quick-service restaurants that are great. ABC Commissary consistently has a decent menu, with larger portion sizes, making it an excellent budget-friendly option. Especially if you’re looking to share a meal. Backlot Express offers up Star Wars-themed burgers and fries and Woody’s Lunch Box has a solid grilled cheese and tomato soup option, alongside other sandwiches. All of these also offer Mobile Order, which is a great way to skip the lines at lunch.  

Dinner at Hollywood Studios

By the time dinner arrives, with a Hollywood Studios in One Day itinerary, chances are you will need a break! Even if you’re not racing to each and every ride! Dinner at Hollywood Studios can be a variety of experiences. If you’re looking for something unique and immersive, try the 50’s Prime Time Cafe for home cooking like mom makes. Or perhaps you want to see the strange sci-fi movies from the good old days at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. Both of these restaurants are good bets, and reservations are recommended. But you can also easily just grab quick service at a variety of places throughout the park. Check out the Best Restaurants at Holywood Studios so you can make the best decision for your day. 

disney day shows

Planning Hollywood Studios Entertainment for One Day

Morning Shows at Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios does not offer any morning shows.

Afternoon Shows and Parades at Hollywood Studios

Character Cavalcades at Hollywood Studios happen intermittently throughout the park. While not specific to a time of day, other performances to enjoy include For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular, and Muppet Vision 3-D are all good shows to see. 

Evening Shows at Hollywood Studios

Beacons of Magic is a digital projection show covering the Hollywood Tower Hotel, also known as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride situated on Sunset Boulevard. Starting at dusk, usually 6:30 pm, this show plays on repeat throughout the evening, and can be seen from anywhere on the boulevard. 

Wonderful World of Animation is a digital projection show and fireworks display featuring scenes and characters spanning 90 years of Disney animation! This story is shared by cartoon Mickey himself and lasts 12 minutes. Just grab a spot in the Chinese Theatre courtyard before 9:00 pm. While all spots are fairly good, given the size of the courtyard, if you want something front and center, plan to grab a spot 30 minutes before showtime. 

hollywood studios 30th anniversary

Hollywood Studios Itinerary for One Day

Getting through Hollywood Studios in One Day is easier here than at any other Walt Disney World Park. Still, if you’re hoping to fit in the major rides, it’s important to figure out when, and how to ride them without a long wait. That said, if these are priorities for you, just add them in! This isn’t by any means a one-size-fits-all situation, just a template to help you get started. 

If purchasing Disney Genie+ for your Hollywood Studios day plan to buy it between 12 am-7 am the day you’re hoping to use it. That way you will already have Disney Genie+ attached to your travel party before you need to select your Lightning Lane selections. This will give you your best chance at getting the ride at a decent time. 

If purchasing Disney Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance you have to grab that the second you step into the park. As they will sell out by late morning. 

Get there Early

Frankly, the earlier the better. Whether you’re grabbing breakfast in the park or heading to your favorite ride, being there earlier is better. It doesn’t matter how you arrive at Hollywood Studios. By Ferry, Walking Paths, Skyliner Gondola and parking your car at the Hollywood Studios parking lot are all ways of getting there. Know that the busiest times for guest arrival are typically between 10-11 am. With heavy crowds happening from 11 am- 6 pm each day. While this 1-day itinerary for Hollywood Studios focuses on trying to complete everything by 6 pm, this is a lot easier when you get to the park early and are able to get through the main rides first. 

Do Popular Rides in the Morning

When figuring out what to do at Hollywood Studios it’s best to aim for the top priority rides on your list early. Mainly because crowds at Hollywood Studios are consistent throughout the day. The popularity of both Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge keeps guests, and locals in the park from open until close. And since the park is smaller, you will feel the crowds all day.  The exception here is if you are visiting on a day with Extra Evening Hours. Knowing that if you wait until later to ride your top priority rides, you may be stuck standing in line and/or missing out on them entirely. 

7:00 AM: Arrive

Breakfast: Plan an early morning breakfast AFTER your first top priority ride. Note that the Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks line is consistently long in the mornings, so be ready to stand in line and wait if that is your breakfast choice. 

What Rides are Included in Early Theme Park Entry at Hollywood Studios?

The rides included with Early Theme Park Entry at Hollywood Studios are the following. And of these, Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway are the best ones to attempt if you’re not getting Disney Genie+ or Lightning Lane. Know that they will also be the BUSIEST in the morning since you’ll be competing with everyone else trying to rope drop these. That said, use your Early Theme Park Entry to pick one ride, and race to it. Having it out of the way will help your day’s to-do list. 

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours — The Adventures Continue
  • Star Wars – Rise of the Resistance
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!

7:30 AM: Early Entry Starts

30 minutes before Park Opening ( Early Theme Park Entry starts. So, if the park opens at 8, the earliest you can get in is 7:30 am. Pick at least one ride below to tackle first. 

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Rise of the Resistance

All of these rides fluctuate with line levels throughout the day, but all typically have 45-120 minute waits throughout the day. 

8:30 AM: Park Opens

Ride lines will automatically start to fill, and you’d be best off, heading to Breakfast, and then moving on to average wait rides. Try working any or all of these into your morning rides.

  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
  • Toy Story Mania!

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios things to do guide to Toy Story Land Get ready to play big in Andy's Backyard #toystoryland #toystory #playbig

12:30- 1:30 PM: Rides with Long Waits

Anything you were unable to get to in the morning should be checked for wait times between 12:30-and 1:30 pm. This time of day has people either eating lunch or park hopping to their next park. 

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Rise of the Resistance

Lunch at ABC Commissary

Plan a Late Lunch

1:30/2 PM: Lunch

There are a bunch of places to eat lunch at Hollywood Studios, all offering basic lunch options. Sandwiches, salads and burgers are the order of the day at Hollywood Studios. Our favorites are the same; Ronto Roasters, Woody’s Lunch Box, ABC Commissary, and Backlot Express tend to be consistent in quality and price. 

Mickey Shorts Theater at Hollywood Studios

Easy Afternoon

2-5 PM 

By late afternoon you should have tackled all your top rides. If not then we’d recommend moving dinner earlier, or later, so that you can utilize the lower wait time period between 5-7, when everyone else is eating dinner, to get in any last-minute important rides. However, if you’re on track, then use this time to add in fun rides, shows, and anything else still on your list. 

We recommend rides and attractions that are indoors, or with shade since this will be the hottest part of the day in Florida. MuppetVision 3D, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Vacation Fun at the Mickey Shorts Theater, character meet and greets at Star Wars Launch Bay and more are all options. Check out the Best Rides to ride at Walt Disney World when it’s Hot, for more favorites. 

Prime Time Cafe- Hollywood Studios

Break for Dinner

5-7 PM 

By this time of day, you have earned the chance to sit down and relax. Your main goal after dinner will be to head to the World of Animation Show, so you’ll have plenty of time to eat and get a few last favorites in, like the Tower of Terror, and Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage. 

Evening Entertainment

Evening hours are typically spent grabbing any favorite rides you may have missed, and finding a great spot for watching the nighttime show. It’s also a great time to grab any last Hollywood Studios Snacks you need before you go. We love grabbing the seasonal popcorn buttons for an easy and cheap snack. But then nothing beats Num Num Cookies or Churros. And if you’re looking for something less sweet- head to Baseline Tap House for the Bavarian pretzel and a drink. 

9 PM Wonderful World of Animation

Walking path from Hollywood Studios to Epcot

How to Make the Most of Your Hollywood Studios Day

Early Theme Park Entry

Reserved for Disney Resort Guests only, Early Theme Park Entry allows you to get into the park 30 minutes before other guests. This is most worth it at Hollywood Studios if you are hoping to ride Slinky Dog Dash, Rise of the Resistance and Mickey’s Runaway Railway. All of which have unbearably long lines throughout the day. Other rides, however, won’t have long enough waits throughout the day to warrant arriving early if those rides are not on your docket. 

Choose a Day with Extra Evening Hours

Extra Evening Hours are reserved for Disney Guests, staying at SELECT Disney Resorts. Typically, Disney Deluxe Hotels are included. This allows you the opportunity to stay later than park closing on certain days. Often on a 9 pm-close, extra evening hours are extended to 11 pm. This gives you two more hours to ride what you didn’t during the day. 

Take Breaks When You Can

While this may feel counterintuitive, remember you are still on vacation! So, it should feel like a vacation, and less like a checklist. That said, we like grabbing a break as a treat for finishing the main rides in the morning. While this break can sometimes blend into lunch, we like heading to the nearby Disney Boardwalk, which you can access via the secret walkway, or by using the Skyliner Gondola or the ferry. This gives us a chance to explore the resorts and get out of the heat. The Boardwalk also has ice cream shops to help you beat the heat. 

Don’t Save More than One Popular Ride for the Evening

A rule of thumb in any Disney park is not to save important rides for late in the evening. At Hollywood Studios, however, there is one ride we LOVE at night- Slinky Dog Dash. That said, if you havn’t gotten to Slinky sometime throughout the day, prioritize that for the evening, so that you get to ride under the Christmas lights of Toy Story Land. Another reason for this tip, is almost everyone is trying to finish up their last rides this time of night, or riding their favorites a second time. Resulting in longer lines across the board. 

Mobile Order your Meals

An easy way to keep out of lines, be sure to check out Hollywood Studios Quick-Service Restaurants that offer Mobile Order. This means you can select and purchase your meals in your My Disney Experience App. Quick Service Restaurants we like, that offer Mobile Order, are Woody’s Lunch Box, Ronto Roasters, and ABC Commissary. 

Ride popular rides during the 12-2 pm hour

Between 12-2 pm most people are either eating lunch or heading to their next park for the day via the park hopper. This is because 2 pm is the earliest you’re allowed to be at your second park for the day if you’ve purchased the park hopper ticket. This means between 1-2 pm many people are traveling to their next park, leaving parks across Walt Disney World a little emptier as people travel between parks. As a result, 12-2 pm is an IDEAL time to try and finish up your morning batch of high-priority rides. 

While You’re Waiting for Your Lightning Lane

If purchasing Lightning Lane passes or using Disney Genie+ you want to make the most of the time while you’re waiting. Since the times given for these scheduled rides has a cushion of waiting, we recommend you fill this time with browsing the giftshops, seeing a show, or riding the low-wait rides. That way your Hollywood Studios day is filled with fun, even when it’s not scheduled. 

One Day at Hollywood Studios

Luckily, one day at Hollywood Studios is all you need. Hopefully, this one-day itinerary has helped you see some options for filling your day. As a typically crowded park, it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like you need to spend all day waiting in lines. But that’s not the case! Planning Ahead can help you prioritize each part of your day and make the most of your Disney Vacation. Grab this FREE Printable Fill-In Disney Planner for Hollywood Studios to get started. Happy Planning! 

How to Do Hollywood Studios in One Day

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