Our Hollywood Studios 1-Day Itinerary is an efficient touring plan for what attractions, shows, and dining we’d do in our ideal day at the park. This itinerary is how we’d recommend experiencing all of the, what we consider, Hollywood Studios essentials. While other touring plans are more focused on fitting in every attraction in one day, we’ll be more focused on how to have the best day possible. Instead of constantly running from attraction to attraction, this plan will also have you enjoying some of the little things that make Hollywood Studios special. Yes, we’ll get to the majority of the attractions but some are left behind in favor of, what we consider, better options. If you are more ride focused then check out our Hollywood Studios attractions rankings. We also have entertainment, table-service and counter-service rankings to help out your trip planning. We’ve made it through our Disneyland, California Adventure, Magic Kingdom and Epcot itineraries with more coming soon!
I debated whether doing a Hollywood Studios itinerary was worth it currently. We don’t even recommend staying in Hollywood Studios for a full day so a 1-day itinerary seems counter-intuitive. Since this was next in the logical line of park itineraries, I persevered and made up this plan. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is now open and makes a full day much easier. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railways is coming early next year and the park will definitely improve. As always, we’ll try to update this post if/when need be.
While this itinerary will cover a full day, this could easily be fit into an afternoon and evening. For as much flack as I give the park, there are some great areas to visit at night. All this to say, if you’re trying to make the day at Hollywood Studios a little shorter, sleep in or start the day in another park. Come here after an early lunch and there will still be plenty of time to fit in all of the essentials. If there’s interest in a half-day itinerary then I’d be happy to oblige, let me know in the comments.
Like our other itineraries, FastPass+ plays a big role. We have our guide to FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios that we will essentially be following throughout this plan. Getting the first FastPass ahead of time (60 days if you’re staying on-site, 30 days off-site) is one of the most important steps in this plan so that you can experience the new Toy Story Land with minimal waits.
There are many different factors that go into a theme park day, so we do have to keep this plan somewhat general. I don’t know how busy the park will be when you visit, whether you were able to reserve the FastPasses we suggested, where you are staying, etc. What I do assume in this itinerary is that you are spending the full day inside of the park, getting there before the gates open and leaving after the park closes. Frankly, you should be able to get everything done in Hollywood Studios regardless of most factors. I would recommend staying on-site at Disney World as you are able to reserve FastPasses further in advance and the transportation is simpler. If you are extremely Hollywood Studios focused (you shouldn’t be) and the budget allows, staying at the Yacht or Beach Club, Boardwalk Resort, Swan & Dolphin or Caribbean Beach Resort would be ideal. If not, don’t worry. Just get to the park before opening one way or another. On to the plan!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Whenever You Can
For now and the foreseeable future, the most popular place in Hollywood Studios will be Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There are a couple of ways to approach this in the itinerary. For one, this should be the top priority as it’s not only the most popular but also one of the best areas at Walt Disney World. One way to make sure you visit is by arriving at the Extra, Extra Magic Hours that are available to resort guests. If you’re brave enough to wake up before dawn then this is a great time to enjoy the land, just arrive before park opening.
You can go later in the day, just keep an eye on the My Disney Experience app as Galaxy’s Edge can reach capacity and use a virtual queue. This may make the land feel a little hotter and more crowded but doesn’t have you getting up before the sun. The last option is to try to get into the land at night, sometime around 7. In the first few days of operation, the virtual queue hasn’t had to be enacted during this part of the day so you can take your chances. This is the riskiest option but possibly the most rewarding as the land will be cooler, you can see it at nighttime and the wait times may be lower. Whatever option you choose, just insert that into the following plan. I’d plan to spend 2-3 hours in Galaxy’s Edge, although that will ebb and flow depending on your priorities. Just save time to explore the area.
FastPasses and Toy Story Land
As I’ve already said, getting your FastPass 60+ days in advance is a big bonus if you are staying on-site. If you have your pick of FastPasses then just follow our strategy in this post. Start with Slinky Dog Dash around park opening and then add in Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror over the next few hours. If something isn’t available then just add in what’s next on our list. The big ones to get are Slinky Dog Dash and Rock n’ Roller Coaster.
Assuming you do get that coveted Slinky Dog Dash FastPass, start the day hustling to the other Toy Story Land attractions, Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania in that order. If you weren’t able to get the Slinky Dog Dash FastPass then start there and get to the park around half an hour early. This plan will take you back to Toy Story Land several times throughout the day so just spend this time attraction hopping instead of looking around. If you don’t care about night time shows that Hollywood Studios offers then going to Toy Story Land at night is a better option.
Morning on Sunset Boulevard
After three quick attractions, head over to Sunset Boulevard for a mix of Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and a light breakfast. In what order you do these will come down to how the FastPass reservations went and how quickly the previous step was done.
As a whole, I typically stay away from Starbucks in the park as they are busier than other spots and I don’t care for coffee. The one in Hollywood Studios is enjoyable though. Named Trolley Car Cafe, this Starbucks has a nice aesthetic and has a few unique treats. While this blog would never do something so unhealthy 😉 we wouldn’t judge anyone who gets a cupcake for breakfast here. I’m a big fan of the Fruit Tart at this spot. That’s healthy because it has fruit on it!
Sunset Boulevard packs quite a punch with two of Disney World’s better attractions. Enjoy them and once your FastPasses are through then book another for the best ride available. If Star Tours is available then take that. If a Toy Story Land attraction or Sunset Boulevard attraction is around then a re-ride is the next best option. After that, just take what’s available.
Shows – Round 1
After you’re done with Sunset Boulevard, it’s time to slow down and enjoy something that Hollywood Studios has in abundance – shows! Some are good, some are bad, some are decidedly average but we have time to see most of them. Since the itinerary already had you on Sunset Boulevard, stick around and see Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage as well as Lightning McQueen Racing Academy. The former has aged some but a few of the dance numbers are well worth seeing. The latter is one of Disney’s newest shows, featuring Lightning McQueen and other favorites from the Cars franchise. Neither show will blow you away but we’re trying to spend an entire day at Hollywood Studios so what do you expect!
From there, walk over to Muppet-Vision 3D for some laughs. The attraction is steeped in history but unfortunately shows a little age, as well. Of all the shows to see at Hollywood Studios this would be one of the top 3, in my opinion. The humor still plays and it’s a fairly unique attraction. The pre-show area is great, full of puns and wordplay especially if you are familiar with the Muppets.
If you have time before lunch, there are a few other shows that you may want to see including Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Frozen Sing-along and the Citizens of Hollywood. I really enjoy the Citizens of Hollywood, a streetmosphere act around Sunset Boulevard. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is fine. I despise the Frozen Sing-along but your mileage may vary there.
Counter-service options at Hollywood Studios are incredibly bad. One time my friend got a foot-long hot dog at one of the places and just looking at it made me gag. While that is a very small sample of what is offered at counter-service spots in the park, it is also a good representation of the quality of food there. The one exception is Woody’s Lunch Box, Toy Story Land’s counter-service restaurant. Woody’s is a logistical nightmare with long lines, and a lack of seating which all happens to be outdoors. Fortunately, the food is quite good and at a fair price. Use the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to avoid the line and then be prepared to eat on a trash can! If Woody’s doesn’t appeal to you and you’re looking for a good counter-service spot then leave Hollywood Studios. Boardwalk Bakery is close by with a few good sandwich options and Epcot has a surplus of good places, just a short boat ride away.
I do recommend two table-service spots at Hollywood Studios – 50’s Prime Time Cafe and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Neither place has exceptional food, especially Sci-Fi, but the environments are some of the best of any restaurant in Disney World. If this itinerary followed our usual habits, we would just leave the park for lunch and skip Sci-Fi but since this is the Hollywood Studios Itinerary and we’re sticking it out, darn it!
Shows – Round 2
This round of shows includes anything you wanted to complete but didn’t in the first round as well as Walt Disney Presents. I think the exhibits heading into Walt Disney Presents are interesting to look at so save a little time before that show to walk through those. Any meet & greets you want to do would fit in nicely here, as well.
A George Lucas Late Afternoon
After you have completed whatever shows you want to watch then head over to Echo Lake and enjoy a few George Lucas inspired offerings. Star Tours, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, and Jedi Training are all on the docket. Ideally, you were able to snag a FastPass for Star Tours at some point but if not then just go for the stand-by line if it isn’t too long. For the other two shows check the times guide. Jedi Training is great for those with kids, as the show features kids earning their Jedi stripes. Even without kids, this is a fun show to watch as everyone seems to enjoy themselves and the production value is pretty strong. If you are hungry during this time, stop by Gertie, our favorite dinosaur, for some ice cream.
If it’s too early to eat again then just swap this step with the following step. For dinner we recommend 50’s Prime Time over anything else. As we’ve already covered, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater has a great ambiance so that’s not a bad choice. If you didn’t try Woody’s Lunch Box for lunch then it’s an option here and fits in with the following step. If you want to spend more money then the Hollywood Brown Derby is unequivocally the best restaurant in the park albeit a little pricey. They have a smaller menu at the lounge but it is much cheaper with a nice, relaxed environment.
Toy Story Land at Night
Opting for Woody’s Lunch Box leaves you in Toy Story Land as the lights start to take effect. Even if you didn’t eat there then walk on over and enjoy some of the details and the energy this new land has. If the wait times are low then go for an attraction. Grab a dessert and enjoy the atmosphere, either exploring the details or pulling up a chair and relaxing for a little bit.
Fantasmic! if You Must
Disneyland’s (and Tokyo Disneyland’s) Fantasmic! are far superior to Hollywood Studios version so if you have seen those then skipping this might be worth it. If you haven’t seen those, then either try to FastPass it earlier in the day or line up fairly early. The fireworks and Fantasmic! can be at the same time, if that’s the case then we recommend the fireworks.
Wonderful World of Animation and Fireworks
Hollywood Studios has some fun and interesting nighttime shows centered around the Chinese Theater. Wonderful World of Animation is the latest projection show at Disney World, featuring vignettes of animated classics projected on the Chinese Theatre. Disney Movie Magic is another projection show that celebrates Disney’s live-action films and shows on certain nights. The park’s fireworks are typically a Star Wars themed show, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, that is fun and exciting, especially for fans of the franchise. Around Christmas time, Hollywood Studios does a holiday themed show called Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! All of these are worth seeing and fairly different from other Disney World firework shows but I likely wouldn’t plan to see them all. Spending some time in Toy Story Land when it’s least crowded would be my preferred option over watching all four nighttime shows.
Final Attractions and Neon
Once the nighttime spectaculars end, it’s time for one last ride on Slinky Dog Dash. The coaster is more fun at night and worth an extra ride if you have the energy. This time can also be used to fill in any attractions that you want to re-ride or somehow missed. With only 6 actual rides in the park, you should have completed all of the attractions easily at this point though.
Once done with any re-rides or attractions you missed, it’s time to enjoy Hollywood Studios ambiance. Around the central spine of the park is a large amount of neon that makes for some easy nighttime photos and interesting settings. The Hollywood Tower looks a little spookier at night and the Chinese Theater is beautiful anytime of day. My favorite part of Hollywood Studios at night is Echo Lake with some beautiful reflections and a few interesting subjects behind it. If photos aren’t your thing, then find a bench around there and take a moment to relax and enjoy the night. As we already mentioned, Toy Story Land is enjoyable at night too. Slowly make your way out of the park and maybe go buy yourself a drink. You just made it through a whole day of Hollywood Studios in 2018!
As always, if you have questions or thoughts on our Hollywood Studios itinerary then leave a comment below. If you are planning a trip to Disney World, then check out our planning guide. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Park Itineraries