Hollywood Studios is on the verge of changing forever, thanks to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening August 29th. Along with the massive expansion, Disney has announced that FastPass tiers at the park are changing on that same day. In this post, we’ll cover those changes and add in our commentary on the new FastPass+ tiers.
For those unaware, Hollywood Studios FastPass tiers are currently as follows:
Tier 1 – Any Toy Story Attraction
Tier 2 – Everything else
If you’re unfamiliar with FastPass+ and the groupings, essentially you get to reserve a single Tier 1 attraction and two Tier 2 attractions ahead of time. The grouping above will stay the same for the rest of the summer and we have our current FastPass+ strategy for that situation.
Beginning on August 29th, Hollywood Studios will be switching to the following tiers:
Tier 1 – Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Tier 2 – Star Tours, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Frozen Sing-Along, MuppetVision 3D, Fantasmic!, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Disney Junior Dance Party and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
Essentially, all of the popular attractions are in Tier 1 and Star Tours plus the shows are in Tier 2. You’ll notice that Smuggler’s Run, the Galaxy’s Edge attraction, will not have FastPass when first opening. This news is both good and bad. It’s good from a park functioning standpoint and frustrating/bad from a touring standpoint. We’ll start with the good.
It’s no secret that Hollywood Studios lacks things to do. This will become even more evident when the crowds fill in the park for Galaxy’s Edge and the land reaches capacity. Where will all those people go? In short, Disney is banking on them going to lesser shows that they FastPassed for or to stand in a physical line. By essentially stripping guests of being able to reserve three physical rides ahead of time, they’re trying to distribute guest flow to attractions that will last longer and are less popular.
To borrow from the franchise that will cause this park to be crammed (actually, don’t blame the franchise but Disney’s lackluster planning ahead), Disney is using a Jedi mind trick. They know that many guests will skip over the shows that are offered in Hollywood Studios. But, planning ahead and grabbing three FastPasses ahead of time has become such an essential part of Disney World (unfortunately) that a guest is much more likely to go to one of these shows if they have a FastPass for it. Even if Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage is half full and a tired, average show, Disney knows that a family that has a FastPass for it is more likely to use it than not. This will spread the crowd around the park, putting people in shows that they otherwise would ignore.
It’s not a bad little trick and will help to a degree. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will help enough simply because there’s not enough to do at Hollywood Studios to spread out the influx of people. With no reservation system or virtual queue in place (as of June 7th) for Galaxy’s Edge, I don’t think the changes made to FastPass will help the crowds enough to make the rest of Hollywood Studios a pleasant experience for guests. I do appreciate the addition of Extra Magic Hours and think that will help the park more than shifting FastPass tiers around. Overall, I’m still hoping that Walt Disney World will opt for a virtual queue to Galaxy’s Edge for most of 2019.
From a touring perspective, these new FastPass tiers are bad news. Before this move (and through August) you could reserve the trifecta of Slinky Dog Dash, Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, making this an easy park to navigate. Now, guests will only be able to reserve one of those (throw Toy Story Mania into that group since it’s one of the four most popular attractions in the park) along with Star Tours and a show.
Star Tours isn’t a big drop off from getting to reserve Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster but the show certainly is. This will cost guests some time standing in line and will make an early morning or late night touring itinerary necessary to get through all of the parks thrill rides in a timely fashion.
On the plus side, this theoretically could shorten standby waits at most of these attractions. Much of that comes down to how many FastPasses Disney is distributing to each of the Tier 1 attractions. If that number is lower than what was previously distributed then the standby lines will go down a little bit. Frankly, that theory has so many variables (crowd levels, FastPass distribution, Galaxy’s Edge capacity, etc.) that we won’t know how the new tiers will affect standby lines until we actually get to September.
For now, we know that Hollywood Studios will be harder to tour efficiently but the park made a move that should spread crowds around. Whether that strategy works out for Disney remains to be seen. We’ll be updating our FastPass+ strategy to the park in coming weeks!
What do you think of these new FastPass+ tiers in Hollywood Studios? Let us know any thoughts or questions you have down below in the comments. Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our planning guide here. If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, you can subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!