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Are you looking for a perfect 1-day Hollywood Studios itinerary to outsmart the crowds and get the most out of your Walt Disney World vacation?
Need a summary of rope drop tips and info on how to plan your day in the park to maximize efficiency and minimize time spent standing in lines?
Our 1-day Hollywood Studios itinerary highlights all of these topics and offers a step-by-step touring plan and map for an ideal day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
For an absolutely perfect one day at Hollywood Studios, utilize these practical tips while taking time to enjoy the ambiance that makes this Disney park so special!
*Recently updated for 2023!
Hollywood Studios Itinerary: Important Considerations
You can’t just wing it when it comes to planning a Walt Disney World vacation.
You can try to go without a plan, but you’ll probably end up being disappointed, especially if it’s your first visit.
Our Hollywood Studios itinerary makes it easy for you to get the most out of your experience by outlining the order in which you should visit the rides and attractions.
It is the perfect strategy for those visiting Hollywood Studios for one day.
If you’re visiting the park for a longer period of time, you may still take advantage of this plan, however.
When customizing your Hollywood Studios touring plan, stick to the general idea of having a solid rope drop strategy and overall itinerary that compliments the layout of the rides within the park.
This will maximize efficiency and decrease the amount of time spent standing in long lines.
Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane
Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) passes are Disney’s new ‘skip the regular’ line options that can be purchased in addition to your regular theme park entry.
Though it seems confusing at first, they’re actually quite easy to use if you do your research ahead of time.
When you only have one day at Hollywood Studios, I recommend that you purchase both Disney Genie+ and an Individual Lightning Lane pass for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. (if your funds allow).
Purchasing Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) passes is especially important when visiting the parks during the peak seasons of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break, and 3-day weekend holidays such as President’s Day and Memorial Day – unless, of course, you don’t mind standing in line for 2 hours for rides like Slinky Dog Dash.
For guests who want to get on as many rides as possible, Disney Genie+ and Individual Lighting Lane purchases tend to be well worth the added cost to avoid spending hours waiting in line.
With that said, let’s take a look at the first important steps required to plan a successful day at Hollywood Studios!
Hollywood Studios Itinerary: Initial Steps
- Check Hollywood Studios reservation availability.
- Purchase your theme park tickets.
- Make Hollywood Studios theme park reservations.
- Know Hollywood Studios’ park hours for the day of your visit.
- Consult a Hollywood Studios crowd calendar.
- Review the Hollywood Studios map.
- Make a list of ‘must-do’ rides and shows.
1. Check Theme Park Reservation Availability
Along with purchasing a theme park ticket, you need to make a theme park reservation for each day you’d like to visit any of the Walt Disney World theme parks.
This includes needing to make a reservation to visit Magic Kingdom.
It’s important that you start by checking Disney’s theme park availability calendar to see if the date(s) you plan to visit have availability before purchasing your ticket, Annual Pass, or vacation package – as park reservations do run out during peak seasons.
2. Purchase Theme Park Tickets
After ensuring reservation availability, purchase your Hollywood Studios tickets.
The easiest way to purchase a ticket to Hollywood Studios (or any of the Disney World theme parks) is to buy them directly from a Disney Travel Agent or from the Disney World website.
Others choose to buy them from an authorized ticket seller or discounted ticket site.
Be sure to stick with reputable third-party sellers, however, and verify that there are no hidden usage rules that apply.
Check here to read about the three different types of them park tickets available: 1 Park Per Day, Park Hopper Option, and Park Hopper Plus Option.
3. Make Theme Park Reservations
Then, due to the limited availability of theme park reservations, make your reservation immediately after purchasing your admission ticket in order to guarantee your spot.
Theme park reservations can be made online on the Disney World website, or via the My Disney Experience mobile app.
4. Review Hollywood Studios’ Hours
Disney’s Hollywood Studios hours vary by day, by month, and by season.
It is very important to check the Hollywood Studios hours for the day that you plan on visiting so that you can plan your Hollywood Studios itinerary accordingly.
The Hollywood Studios park hour calendar shows early entry hours and park hours, as well as the times of events, parades, fireworks, and nighttime entertainment.
You’ll also want to check this calendar for temporary ride closure information.
Additional planning tip: Early theme park entry is a benefit for registered Guests staying at Disney Resort hotels and other select hotels.
It involves getting to enter Hollywood Studios and riding select rides 30 minutes before the park’s scheduled opening time.
5. Consult the Hollywood Studios Crowd Calendar
When you choose to visit Hollywood Studios will make a substantial difference in your Hollywood Studios itinerary.
It’s safe to assume that Hollywood Studios is always going to be busy, but there are times such as Christmas, Spring Break, mid-summer, and other 3-day weekend holidays when the crowds are overwhelming.
Bigger crowds mean longer attraction lines, and consequently experiencing fewer attractions – unless, of course, you’ve carefully planned your Hollywood Studios itinerary and plan to take advantage of Disney’s paid ‘skip-the-regular-line’ options.
You’ll be happy to know that this 1-day Hollywood Studios itinerary assumes moderate to high crowds when lines are expected to be long.
In fact, this exact plan was utilized when crowds were rated 9/10 according to Touring Plans.
In order to accomplish this itinerary in a single day, some less popular attractions are skipped.
No matter when you visit, however, this Hollywood Studios itinerary is optimized and ordered so that walking and your waits in line are minimized.
Additional planning tip: If you are planning on visiting several Disney Parks during your Orlando itinerary, we highly recommend alternating park days with non-park days.
Disney World non-park days offset the busyness of the crowds and help keep you fully energized!
6. Review the Hollywood Studios Map
Hollywood Studios is huge – 135 acres to be exact – and it’s important to have a general idea of the layout of the park before visiting.
The grounds of Hollywood Studios are organized into 9 areas (as shown in the visual below) and have literally doubled in size since its opening in 1989.
The 9 areas of Hollywood Studios include:
- Hollywood Boulevard
- Sunset Boulevard
- Echo Lake
- Animation Courtyard
- Commissionary Lane
- An Incredible Celebration
- Grand Avenue
- Star Wars: Galaxy Edge
- Toy Story Land
When planning your Hollywood Studios itinerary, be sure to know what ‘must-do’ rides are in which area, as the overall goal is to do as many rides as possible in each area before moving on to the next one.
This decreases the amount of time you will waste zig-zagging within the park.
It also cuts down on the amount of walking you will do throughout the course of the day.
Additional planning tip: In addition to this itinerary, don’t forget to consult our helpful know-before-you-go Disney tips to avoid preventable touring mistakes.
And last, double-check your Disney packing list to be sure that you have not left behind the top 9 most forgotten items to have with you in the park.
7. Make a List of Your ‘Must-do’ Rides
Hollywood Studios is a combination of rides, shows, character-meet-n-greets, dining experiences, and entertainment.
Talk with your family or whoever you’re visiting with and make a list of your ‘must-do’ rides and attractions and be sure to allow ample time for them in your Hollywood Studios itinerary.
The most popular rides include Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Muppet Vision 3D, “Walt Disney Presents”, and the nighttime show Fantasmic! are other attractions that most people typically don’t want to miss.
1 Day Hollywood Studios Itinerary
Prior to your arrival at Hollywood Studios, be sure to download the official My Disney Experience app on the App Store or the Google Play Store.
This app, which has always been helpful, is now essential.
You’ll use it to view the park map, look at wait times, order quick-service food, and make dining reservations, as well as access all Disney Genie digital services and virtual line queues.
I also highly recommend installing the free Play Disney Parks app as there are some great attraction-themed games, activities, and trivia that will keep kids busy while waiting in line.
Hollywood Studios Arrival
If you drive your personal vehicle to Hollywood Studios, there’s a gigantic open-air parking lot that opens 2 hours before the park’s official opening.
After paying a $25/day fee, you’re directed to a parking space.
From there, you’ll walk to the Hollywood Studios entrance.
Guests staying at select Disney Resort hotels can travel to Hollywood Studios by bus, water transportation, or the Disney Skyliner.
Disney’s new Skyliner (aerial gondolas) conveniently connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot to:
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
Hollywood Studios Park Entry
We recommend getting to the park turnstiles 45-60 minutes prior to the scheduled park opening, especially on projected busy days.
This act has long been long-known as ‘rope drop’.
Rope drop involves getting to Hollywood Studios before it begins operating for the day so that you can be among the very first guests to enter and enjoy the attractions.
In other words, the same four rides you experience in 1 hour upon rope dropping can take as long as 5 hours after 10:30 AM.
The following tips will help you master rope drop at Hollywood Studios:
- Hollywood Studios lets early-entry guests in through the turnstiles approximately 20 minutes before the posted early-entry time. From there, guests are held at the entrance to rides until the posted early-entry time.
- As an example, we arrived at Hollywood Studios at 7:05 AM for 8:00 AM early entry. We were let through the turnstiles at 7:40 AM and then held at the entrance of the Tower of Terror (our first ride), until exactly 8:00 AM.
- We rode and were off of Tower of Terror at 8:10 AM.
- After Tower of Terror we rode Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster twice (with no wait), and then were in line for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad right at 8:30 AM (official park opening). Keep in mind that we purchased an Individual Lightning Lane reservation for Rise of the Resistance, so we did not need to rope drop or hurry to that ride.
- Keep in mind that if you truly want to ride the rides without a wait, be as close to the front of the waiting rope drop crowd as you can. Within 15 – 30 minutes after rope drop, instant waits of up to 60 minutes for popular attractions (such as Rise of the Resistance, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) will form.
Hollywood Studios Rides: Morning Plan
The following 1-Day Hollywood Studios itinerary assumes an 8:30 AM park opening with the early entry benefit for onsite guests.
Adjust the times accordingly if you’re visiting when there’s a different park opening time.
If you do not have early entry access, be ready to line up at the turnstiles as soon as the early entry crowd is let through (30 minutes before official park opening).
We also purchased (and recommend) an Individual Lightning Lane pass for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance so that you do not have to feel rushed or overwhelmed trying to get on the ride.
We do not factor in Disney Genie+ reservations as not everyone uses Genie+, and for those who do, every ride choice and return time is different making it impossible to create a universal touring plan.
7:00 AM Purchase Individual Lightning Lane Passes (if you choose). Set your alarm to go onto your My Disney Experience app to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane pass for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
7:05 AM Park arrival. Wait at park turnstiles until you’re let into the park. Afterward, you’ll stand at the entrance of your first ride until the opening. (Let through turnstiles at 7:40 AM.)
8:00 AM Early-Entry opening time.
8:30 AM Offical Park Opening. (Head straight for your first ride as listed below.)
Morning Rides and Attractions Schedule
The first half of our Hollywood Studios touring plan includes rides on Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, Grand Avenue, and Echo Lake.
Begin by heading straight to Sunset Boulevard to ride:
1.The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (or Slinky Dog Dash if that is more age-appropriate for your family.
2. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (temporarily closed – reopening sometime in the summer of ’23)
Then, backtrack to Hollywood Boulevard, Grand Avenue, and Echo Lake.
3. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railroad
4. Muppets 3D (25-minute indoor show)
5. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (30-minute show in a covered amphitheater)
6. Star Tours
7. Lunch at PizzeRizzo (Mmmm!)
Hollywood Studios Rides: Afternoon Plan
Be prepared for the potential of an afternoon rain shower at Hollywood Studios, as this is very common in Orlando, Florida.
…That is also why we always recommend having a Disney day bag fully stocked with touring essentials including disposable rain ponchos in order to stay dry.
Oddly enough, the afternoon hours are also when temperatures will be at their highest.
For this reason, be sure to check out our favorite ways to beat the Florida heat while standing in lines.
Afternoon Rides and Attractions Schedule
The second half of our Hollywood Studios touring plan includes rides and shows back on Sunset Boulevard, and in Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy Edge.
Start by heading to Sunset Boulevard to watch the following two shows to let your stomach rest after lunch.
1. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy (10-minute indoor show)
2. Beauty and the Beast on Stage (25-minute show in a covered amphitheater)
3. Toy Story Mania
4. Alien Swirling Saucers
5. Slinky Dog Dash (expect a long wait for this ride unless you have rope-dropped it or are using Disney Genie+)
6. Millenium Falcon: Sumggler’s Run
7. Spend the rest of the evening enjoying Star Wars: Galaxy Edge: get a Ronto Wrap from Harbor Bay 7, have a drink at Oga’s, get a cup of Batuu’s legendary blue or green frozen milk at the Milk Stand, and check out Savi’s Workshop where you can see Handbuilt Lightsavers being made.
8. Watch Fantasmic! (Get to the amphitheater at least 45 minutes early for the best seats.)
Hollywood Studios Dining
There are several restaurants at Hollywood Studios that provide a great time to relax and refuel.
Between sit-down restaurants and quick-service dining, the options are endless.
Our absolute favorite quick-service restaurants (no reservations required) are PizzeRizzo in Grand Avenue and Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo in Star Wars: Galaxy Edge.
For a splurge, try to snag advanced reservations at Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant or 50s Prime Time Diner – two of the most popular table service restaurants at Hollywood Studios.
If you’re visiting Disney World on a budget, however, consider ‘snacking’ your way around the park, instead of spending big bucks on Disney dining.
Some of our favorites include giant Bavarian pretzels from Baseline Taphouse, Lunch Box Tarts from Woody’s Lunchbox, and Outpost Mix Popcorn from Kat Saka’s Kettle.
And last, for an amazing cocktail experience (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) be sure to go to Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy Edge for an unforgettable ambiance!
Best Hotels for Hollywood Studios
The proximity of onsite hotels to the theme park entrance, and the Disney theme and customer service that carries over to their hotels is a major enhancement to the overall Disney experience.
As with all major theme parks in Florida (Check out our review of on-property locations at Universal Studios), we strongly recommend staying at a Disney hotel or resort if you can afford the more expensive cost of their hotels.
It’s also very convenient if you have younger kids and might need to take a break in the afternoon for a nap or a swim in the pool.
For families with older children who plan for their day from rope drop to park closing, proximity to the park might not be as important.
Therefore, you might want to check out off-site hotels for lower nightly rates.
Hotel Types at Disney World
Hotels at Walt Disney World are broken up into three categories- Deluxe, Moderate, and Value.
This categorization is in relation to their amenities and their nightly room rates. (Deluxe being the most luxurious and expensive, Value being the most basic and affordable.)
Disney also offers onsite Deluxe Villas and campgrounds.
Most guests consider Disney’s Deluxe Hotels as being a bit more luxurious as they offer more amenities, beautiful rooms, and truly immersive experiences.
The perks of Disney’s Deluxe Resort hotels include additional Disney transportation options, location to the theme parks, and larger standard room sizes.
Disney’s Deluxe Resort Hotels include:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Boardwalk Inn
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa,
- Polynesian Village Resort
- Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Additionally, the new Riviera Resort is considered a Deluxe Resort.
- Other select deluxe hotels include: Disney’s Dolphin and Swan Hotels, and Swan Reserve
Disney’s Moderate Resort hotels typically include a full-service restaurant in addition to food courts, a swimming pool with a slide and hot tub, recreation options, and some forms of Disney transportation.
Disney’s Moderate Resorts include:
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Port Orleans Resort – Riverside (where we stayed)
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Value Resorts are known to be the most budget-friendly.
The standard rooms at the Value Resorts are typically slightly smaller in size, with fewer amenities than you’ll find at the Moderate or Deluxe Resorts.
Each Value Resort includes an onsite food court, two or more swimming pools, and Disney transportation via bus.
In addition, Disney’s Skyliner now offers aerial transportation from a shared station between Pop Century and Art of Animation to Caribbean Beach, where guests transfer to either Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Value Resort Hotels include:
- Pop Century Resort
- All-Star Music Resort
- All-Star Movies Resort
- Art of Animation Resort
1 Day Hollywood Studios Itinerary: Conclusion
In conclusion, this 1-day Hollywood Studios itinerary is the perfect combination of rides, attractions, and shows.
We felt like we did it all, and you will too!
We were not zig-zagging throughout the park, and we never stood in line for more than 60 minutes (on a day when every ride had a 60-120 minute wait in the afternoon).
Every parent knows their kids’ limits, as well as knows what touring plan is going to work for their family, so do adjust your personal Hollywood Studios touring plan accordingly.
If you find yourself wandering around the park and the lines are long, check the free Disney Genie app and head to the rides with the lowest advertised wait times.
If you liked reading our Hollywood Studios Itinerary, continue planning your Walt Disney World vacation with us!
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Disney World Cost:
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Having read this article, are you feeling ready for your first trip to Hollywood Studios? What questions can I answer for you about this Hollywood Studios itinerary?Jen
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*