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 also have itineraries to every other Disney Park we’ve been to. Click here to find those.
Hollywood Studios has vastly improved over the last few years with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land all opening. While this itinerary will cover a full day, this could easily be fit into an afternoon and evening save for the Toy Story Land 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.
Since Walt Disney World reopened, entertainment has slowly trickled back into the park and FastPasses have gone by the wayside. In our original version of the itinerary, both FastPass and shows played a significant role. We’ve adjusted to get rid of the FastPass steps but have left most of the entertainment as it comes back into play. If something isn’t open during your trip that is in this itinerary then just skip it and move on!
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 have Genie+ or Lightning Lanes (this itinerary assumes you don’t), 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. 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. If you’re looking for vacation packages or tickets then follow those links for our recommended sites. On to the plan!
Arrive Early and Spend a Morning in Toy Story Land!
With the park’s most popular ride, Rise of the Resistance, no longer using a virtual queue, our itinerary has changed some. We recommend arriving half an hour early to the park and from there we’ll go against the crowds and save Rise for the last part of the day. Assuming you get to the park half an hour before opening, the move is to go straight to Toy Story Land and ride Slinky Dog Dash. The line is hot and long later in the day and getting there to be one of the first riders on it will pay dividends later. If you arrive a little closer to opening instead of a full half hour ahead then consider saving Toy Story Land for the evening and head straight for the next step.
Assuming you do get there early and you’re able to get on Slinky Dog Dash relatively fast then keep hustling to the other Toy Story Land attractions, Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers in that order. Both should still have low waits but if the times have ballooned over 25 minutes then come back for them at night.
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. The order in which you do these will come down to how high the wait times are and how quickly the previous step was done. Honestly, once you get these two attractions done then the day opens up quite a bit since there aren’t that many rides to go on after this. While we don’t typically advise waiting for anything over half an hour, this is an exception. I’d do either of these attractions if the wait is 45 minutes or less.
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. Be sure not to miss either of them!
First look at Galaxy’s Edge
Our first planned trip inside Hollywood Studios’ most immersive 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 30 minutes then hopping in line is a good way to go. You can also use the single-rider line! 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 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 any random street acts you find. I really enjoy the streetmosphere acts 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 were incredibly bad but have improved slowly over time. Still there aren’t many options so we’ll just list our favorites here for you and you can choose! Woody’s Lunch Box, Toy Story Land’s counter-service restaurant, serves really good grilled cheese sandwiches. Woody’s is a logistical nightmare with long lines, and a lack of seating which all happens to be outdoors without shade. 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. BaseLine Tap House has limited food offerings but I do like the charcuterie offered. Finally, ABC Commissary has a bad atmosphere but surprisingly decent food. If those options don’t appeal to you then you could also leave Hollywood Studios for lunch. Primo Piatto is close by with several great 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.
A George Lucas Late Afternoon
Now that it’s the hottest part of the day, head over to Echo Lake and go for a swim! Kidding. Instead, enjoy a few George Lucas inspired offerings. Star Tours, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, and Jedi Training are all on the docket. Star Tours doesn’t generally have a very long line so you should be able to find it for under half an hour. 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.
While we’re in this step, go ahead and walk over to Walt Disney Presents, which is another short show that is worth seeing. It’s not about George Lucas but another visionary – some fella named Walt Disney. There’s a small exhibit before the show that’s well worth spending some time in, as well!
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
By now we should be into late afternoon and it’s time to bite the bullet on one of the park’s best rides. We’re biting the proverbial bullet because regardless of the wait time, it’s time to get in line for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It’s not a pretty queue, at least the outside portion, but we’ve done almost every other attraction at this point and going here now will free up the rest of the night to re-ride whatever you want! I guess the one caveat here is if the line is over an hour long or it’s exceptionally hot on this day. Otherwise, enjoy the attraction that’s inside of the park’s icon!
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 any of the counter-service options 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.
I should mention that Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge has a great environment, probably the best in all of Hollywood Studios. The drawback is a lack of food offered here. But if you’d rather snack and have drinks then Oga’s is a great way to go.
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 the larger than life architecture and lighting. 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. Riding Smuggler’s Run before closing is the best time to do the attraction because the wait times start to decrease significantly.
Disneyland’s Fantasmic! is far superior to Hollywood Studios version so if you have seen those then skipping this might be worth it. The fireworks and Fantasmic! can be at the same time, if that’s the case then we recommend the 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. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is the worst of them. Spending some time in Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge when they are least crowded would be my preferred option over watching all of the nighttime shows.
Rise of the Resistance and a slow walk out!
Finally, it’s time for the park’s biggest attraction! Rise of the Resistance is an excellent ride and likely had long lines throughout the day. Before closing will be the shortest wait and will also keep guests from wasting other park time. We recommend getting in here just a few minutes before park closing and then enjoy this long masterpiece of an attraction.
As we’ve covered, Galaxy’s Edge is the best environment in the park so linger here for a while on your way out. Outside of that, the central spine of the park has 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. 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
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