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 save for the Rise of the Resistance rope drop. 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 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!
Arrive an hour and a half before opening and join a boarding group
This is easily the least pleasant part of the plan but is essential to riding Rise of the Resistance, Galaxy’s Edge marquee attraction. For now, the attraction is using a virtual queue called boarding passes. Along with that Hollywood Studios has been opening before the listed time, hence the early arrival. While the posted park hours are being adjusted and getting earlier and earlier, I’d still plan to arrive at least an hour before park opening to have a chance to ride the attraction.
Once inside the park, get on the Disney World app and follow the prompts to join a boarding group. The app does a good job of laying out the steps and there are cast members around to help. After joining a boarding group, you’ll be notified through the app of when it’s your party’s turn to ride the attraction. It’s not the most fun way to start a morning but will give you a chance to ride an attraction that by all accounts is one of Disney World’s best.
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 add Star Tours shortly after that. If something isn’t available then just add in what’s next on our list. The essential one is Slinky Dog Dash.
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 thrill rides. Enjoy them and once your FastPasses are through then book another for the best ride available. If a Toy Story Land attraction or Sunset Boulevard attraction is around then grab one. After that, just take what’s available.
First look at Galaxy’s Edge
Depending on what boarding group you ended up with for Rise of the Resistance, you may or may not have already been back inside of Galaxy’s Edge. Our first planned trip inside the land comes mid-morning after letting the chaos of the rope drop crowds clear out. Keep an eye on Smuggler’s Run wait times and if it’s under 45 minutes then hopping in line is a good way to go. If not, this plan has you back here in the evening and the line will likely be shorter.
Outside of that, take the time to explore this enveloping land. The details are astounding and the design is jaw-dropping. Go in the shops, explore the market and just take a look around. If hungry, move the lunch step up a bit and grab something at Docking Bay 7 or Ronto Roasters. Both are good options.
Shows – Round 1
After you’re done with in Galaxy’s Edge, 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 at Galaxy’s Edge, check out Muppet Vision 3D. This is one of my favorite shows at the park despite it showing some age. After that, head back to Sunset Boulevard and see Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage as well as Lightning McQueen Racing Academy. The former is fine although probably wouldn’t be a bad one to skip. The latter is one of Disney’s newest shows, featuring Lightning McQueen and other favorites from the Cars franchise. I’d especially recommend this show to those with kids. Neither show will blow you away but we’re trying to spend an entire day at Hollywood Studios so what do you expect!
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. There are a few exceptions, one of them being 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 then the aforementioned Galaxy’s Edge spots are also good. There’s also the option of leaving Hollywood Studios for lunch. Boardwalk Bakery is close by with a few good sandwich options and Epcot has a surplus of good places, just a short boat or Skyliner ride away. Caribbean Beach Resort also has a few decent options and is an even shorter Skyliner ride.
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 or the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge 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. That said, the Lounge has some cheaper options that are very tasty. They do have a smaller menu at the lounge but it is much cheaper with a nice, relaxed environment.
Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge 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 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.
Galaxy’s Edge is far superior and is a must-see at night. The lighting throughout the land is really fantastic. Our usual park habits actually end the night at this new land, letting the crowds drain and soaking in the environment while taking photos. This is also a good time to ride Smuggler’s Run.
Fantasmic! if you must
Disneyland’s Fantasmic! is 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 and Galaxy’s Edge when they are 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 a few 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. As we’ve covered, Galaxy’s Edge is the best environment in the park. Outside of that, 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!
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