How to Plan an Itinerary for Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World

One of the best ways to make your Walt Disney World vacation extraordinary is smart itinerary planning. Planning a good itinerary ahead of time is the best way to experience the parks’ many attractions with less time waiting in line. Hollywood Studios has many must-do rides and shows, and with careful planning guests can see most of what the park has to offer in one day.

First of all, guests should be sure to acquaint themselves with Disney’s FastPass+ system. A FastPass will give guests entry to a separate queue from the standby line, thus allowing for a much shorter wait to ride. Guests may select 3 FastPasses at one park per day before arrival. Additional FastPasses can be obtained after the first 3 have been used. Note that Hollywood Studios has a tiered FastPass+ system, meaning the park’s FastPass+ eligible attractions are divided into two groups. Guests can choose 1 attraction from the first group and 2 from the second. Attractions in group 1 include: Fantasmic!, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the Great Movie Ride, and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. Attractions in group 2 include: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Star Tours, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney Junior – Live on Stage, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, MuppetVision 3D, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, and Lights! Motor! Action! Extreme Stunt Show.

One of the most challenging aspects of planning an itinerary for Hollywood Studios is fitting in all the shows, because this park has a lot of them. For the most part, I would not recommend using FastPasses for shows, unless you are planning to skip most other FastPass-eligible rides. The theaters for these shows are quite large, and it is unlikely that you will not make it into a show if you arrive at least 15 minutes or more before it starts. Most of the shows, such as the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Disney Junior – Live on Stage, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular have showings from late morning to early evening. The earliest and latest shows will be the least crowded. Note that Lights! Motor! Action! typically only has two shows in the afternoon. Check show times and plan your FastPasses and meals around the shows you want to see.

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My picks for FastPasses are Toy Story Midway Mania from group 1 (you can also use it for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster if you plan to visit Toy Story first thing in the morning or do not plan to ride it, but I would not pick any other attractions in this group at the expense of one of these two rides), and Star Tours and the Tower of Terror from group 2. All other eligible attractions either do not usually have long waits, or are shows that do not really need FastPasses. If you are not planning to ride the more intense attractions and have children in your group, other FastPasses you might consider include Voyage of the Little Mermaid and the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. The FastPasses may not be necessary, but you must choose 3 when you make your FastPass selections (and the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration has been very popular, especially if you have little Frozen fans in your family).

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Plan to arrive about 30 minutes before the park opens. Your first stop, depending on your FastPass selections and what your family wants to do, should be either Toy Story Midway Mania or the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Other attractions to visit early include the Tower of Terror, the Great Movie Ride, and Star Tours. Devote the late morning and afternoon to visiting shows and using the rest of your FastPasses.

Hollywood Studios’ evening spectacular is Fantasmic!, performed on a stage past the end of Sunset Boulevard. This is a popular show, and its schedule also varies. Depending on the season, Fantasmic! may not have a show every night – make sure you are visiting on a day it is scheduled. Sometimes there will be two showings scheduled, and in this case the later showing is much less crowded. If there is only one showing, plan to line up 40-50 minutes before show time. If you want guaranteed good seats for the show, consider booking the Fantasmic! Dining Package, which includes a reserved center seating area for the show and lunch or dinner at select Hollywood Studios restaurants.


by Elizabeth R Perry