Overwhelmed trying to figure out a plan of attack for your future Hollywood Studios visit? You are not alone.
There have been so many changes at Hollywood Studios park these past few years, even we can barely keep up.
We’ve rounded up all of our best posts and merged them to discuss everything you need to know about Hollywood Studios FastPass, strategy, best things to eat and see, and more.
Feel free to read the whole thing, or use the Table of Contents below jump to the section that answers your specific questions.
Insider’s Strategy Guide/VIP members: after reading this post, you’ll want to login to see the specific itineraries and strategy guides to further help plan the details of your HS day.
Not an Insider? Consider joining us! While this post will give immediate insight and relief for planning your Hollywood Studios days, know that we save our juiciest content and detailed strategy for the Insider’s site and VIP FB group.
Hollywood Studios FastPass and Touring Strategies
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- Toy Story Land
- Can I Spend a Full Day There? Do I Need More Than One Day?
- How Much Time Should We Plan For Star Wars Land?
- Is Hollywood Studios Even Worth It? Spoiler: YES
- Should We Park Hop To or From Hollywood Studios?
- What Are the Best Days to Visit Hollywood Studios?
- Extra Magic Hours – Go or Avoid?
- What Time Should We Arrive at the Park?
- Rise of the Resistance: How to Join a Boarding Group
- Hollywood Studios Rope Drop
- Jedi Training Sign Ups
EXTRAS TO KNOW ABOUT
First: Setting Expectations & How to Tour Hollywood Studios
I was tempted to call this post “Holy Freaking Hollywood Studios”, since that’s how many of us feel lately when trying to plan for this park.
While everything I write usually includes “how to do it all or as much as enjoyably possible”, Hollywood Studios can be a bit of a struggle right now – at least when it comes to figuring out the most efficient way to do things.
First, you have to be up pretty early and admitted into the park to even have a shot at riding Rise of the Resistance right now (and everyone who wants to ride must be present and scanned into the park).
Next, you’ll have to choose between three newer and exciting rides for that coveted Tier 1 FastPass. And if you want to ride all three attractions in one day, you’ll need some serious knowledge and luck on your side if you don’t want to wait in long standby lines.
So, it can be overwhelming and quite difficult to figure out how you’ll do it all at this park and predicting how your day there will unfold. Especially for Star Wars fans who are also equally Disney fans and want to do it all, and still have plenty of time to explore the new Galaxy’s Edge section.
Touring this park is going to look different for everyone, especially depending on ages, and priority interests.
You could focus on Star Wars Land and thrill rides, or Toy Story Land and character greetings. Or maybe you’re hoping and trying to get all of the headliners done in one day.
And that doesn’t include watching a classic show or two (Muppet Vision 3D is still waitin’ for ya), catching the fireworks or Fantasmic!, or sitting down for a fun meal at 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Sci-Fi Dine In Theater.
I am currently encouraging readers to prioritize with all of the new changes to the park.
This means thinking about what you’d be OK without doing, and what you’d be upset over if you missed it. And I really urge you to not have your expectations set to do everything (although, it IS doable).
While it can be overwhelming, you can check most things off of your HS bucket list, especially if you have an entire day to spend there (and break for lunch or dinner at one of the brilliantly themed table service restaurants!).
So what all is new at Hollywood Studios? It’s hard to keep up!
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the latest addition to Hollywood Studios, opening March 4, 2020. It opened with FastPass service as a Tier 1 attraction, and is housed in the Chinese Theater and “replaces” the former Great Movie Ride (RIP). It’s a slow-moving dark ride, with no height requirements, and suitable for all ages. We consider it a must for Disney fans.
- Then there’s the big one…
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened in August 2019. It initially opened with one attraction running, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The second attraction, Rise of the Resistance, opened in December 2019. We include more information on the current (March 2020) Rise of the Resistance Boarding Process a bit further down.Other things to do in Galaxy’s Edge include sipping some beverages at Oga’s Cantina, building a Lightsaber or Droid, shopping at a large variety of specialty shops, sampling those weird flavored milks, and opportunities for character interactions.
- Toy Story Land officially opened in June 2018, bringing the two rides Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers to the park. Toy Story Mania is the third attraction in this area, but it first opened in 2010 and then received an expansion with the new Land.There are multiple character greetings throughout the day in Toy Story Land, most with outdoor lines that form casually with no official queues or locations on the map (the best way to see all character greetings is in the MDE app!).…onto what everyone wants to know Hollywood Studios FastPass strategy!
Hollywood Studios FastPass, Tiers, and Strategy
- Let’s discuss the most pressing topic for this park: FastPass strategy.There have been so many changes at Hollywood Studios in 2019-2020 and it’s overwhelming trying to create a plan of attack, especially with FastPass.
Which Hollywood Studios FastPasses should I select?
You’re not alone in the confusion around this park, it’s been tough to keep up with the changes. I completed over 10+ visits to Hollywood Studios last fall just to test strategies r/t all the new changes.
We’re going to review all the basics here to help you figure out your personal strategy.
Hollywood Studios has updated FastPass Tiers as of March 4, 2020:
Tier 1 Attractions (listed in order of suggested priority)
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Slinky Dog Dash
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Tier 2 Attractions (first five listed in order of suggested priority)
Toy Story Mania
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Tower of Terror
Alien Swirling Saucers
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Fantasmic! (the nighttime show)
Disney Jr Dance Party
Muppet Vision 3D
Beauty and the Beast
This means if no one in your group has an aversion to thrill rides and meets all height requirements, my suggested priority FastPasses are:
Tier 1: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway OR Slinky Dog Dash*
Tier 2: Toy Story Mania
Tier 2: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
*If you have access to Extra Magic Hours, you should select Slinky Dog Dash as your FastPass if it’s available, and then rope drop MMRR.
The first decision for Hollywood Studios FastPass is to figure out your non-negotiable attractions.
Do you have to do Slinky Dog Dash? (Probably.) Or maybe you’re a lucky Disney frequent flyer and the newest Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is your priority.
Maybe you’d rather make sure you get in multiple rides on the classic thrills of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Plan your strategy around your #1 preference when it comes to your initial FastPass reservations. If you want to “do it all”, follow the priority order above when booking your FastPasses.
Next, are you at the 30 or 60 day FastPass booking window? If you have 60-day booking, you’ll hopefully have a shot at grabbing one of those coveted Tier 1 FastPasses.
If you are at the 30-day booking window, there’s a strong chance you may not see any Tier 1 FastPasses available. If you do, excellent! – grab them. If not, you’ll have to make all of your FastPass reservations for Tier 2 attractions. In this scenario, I do recommend trying to modify one of those Tier 2 FastPasses and searching for an available Tier 1 FP closer to your trip (starting two weeks or so prior).
How to Choose your Tier 1 FastPass for Hollywood Studios
I am currently recommending Slinky Dog Dash or Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway as your first Tier 1 FastPass – go with what’s more important to you.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will be shorter standby, likely a bit easier to get a FP the day of, AND worst case scenario there’s a Single Rider line – these don’t apply to the other Tier 1s. If everything Star Wars is your absolute priority though, then grab Smugglers Run as your Tier 1 FastPass!
If no Tier 1s are available when you go to select your FastPasses, know that this is quite common, even for 60-day advance bookings. It’s a bummer, but you can always try to refresh and look for Tier 1 FastPasses the night before you head to the park, and of course, day of.
If only Tier 1 is available, we recommend selecting Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror as your three FP. Substitute Alien Swirling Saucers if you have young kids not meeting height requirements, or want to skip thrill rides.
Should you FastPass any of the shows at Hollywood Studios?
Except at some of the busiest times of year (Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays), these shows usually will not get completely full or full very far in advance. It’s not too difficult to get in a few minutes ahead of the showtime without a FastPass. Of course if you have used FastPass for all the attractions you’ve wanted to once you’re in the park, it doesn’t hurt to grab a show FastPass and guarantee yourself a seat. But it’s nothing to worry about prior to your trip. We have rarely used a FastPass for a show except to simply use another one or get rid of one.
- Now that we’ve gotten FastPass out of the way (most stressful), let’s go to the other sections of the park and aspects of your day to devise an overall plan. You’ll learn to personalize how much time you need for the whole park, how many days, the best days to visit, what to do about Extra Magic Hours, park hopping strategy, and how much time you’ll need for the new Star Wars Land, and…everything else (food! drink! snacks!).
Planning your Hollywood Studios Days
Can I spend a full day there? Do I need more than one day?
Right now, we are saying one day is ok, but if you have more than that, for sure do it! You may want to plan 1.5 days if you’re a major Star Wars fan and/or haven’t been in a while and want to hit most major attractions in the park, including SW Land and some of the shows. This goes extra if you plan on sitting down for at least one table-service meal, and options like Sci Fi and Prime Time make it quite tempting. If you require a 3-4 hour break each day, 1.5 days is a good idea.
Two days or even two half days is a good idea if you want to ensure you have your pick at multiple FastPass options, particularly those Tier 1 attractions if you have 60 day booking.
If you are a group that will need to utilize rider swap and want to accomplish everything at the park, you may want to consider two days, like this mom suggests:
“For me, I was stressing about how to sign up for Jedi Training, rope drop Smugglers Run, and get a Boarding Pass for Rise of the Resistance. In the end, we ended up getting one of the first boarding passes and only had 1 hour to get on. So we did not rope drop. For us, because I had one kid under the height requirement and one at above, we had to use rider switch, so even with FastPass, everything took a long time. I just didn’t realize that. Hollywood Studios is a 2 day park for us because of that. We just did Star Wars and then a few Toy Story rides for one day. Also, I didn’t plan how long the character meet and greets would take, so we did very few of those.” – Leigha W.
How much time for Star Wars Land?
Major Star Wars fans usually want to do the following: get a Boarding Pass for the new Rise of the Resistance, ride the other attraction, Smugglers Run, shop and eat around Galaxy’s Edge, build a Droid or Lightsaber, and maybe visit Oga’s Cantina.
If you fall into this category, it’s a good idea to give yourself 4-5 hours in Galaxy’s Edge, which will likely be in multiple “chunks” of time.
If you’re a “I want to see anything new at the parks” fan (such as myself) and definitely want to experience the new land but don’t need to do it all, give yourself 2-3 hours. That includes attempting both attractions, having a drink at Oga’s Cantina, and doing some browsing and shopping.
Not a Star Wars fan at all? We think it’s definitely worth a walk through, at the minimum! In our opinion, Smugglers Run is skippable if you don’t care for Star Wars. You also likely won’t need a lot of shopping time if you’re not a fan. Give yourself half hour to 1 hour to see the land and maybe grab try some of the amusing food or beverage options, or grab a drink at Oga’s (even if you’re not a SW fan, you’ll probably enjoy Oga’s if you’re a fan of alcohol).
Is Disney Hollywood studios worth it?
Yes, we absolutely think so. It’s a great park in general, and while it’s a bit chaotic to try and lock down a plan of attack, some of the best attractions in all of WDW are here (Toy Story Mania and Tower and Terror, to name a couple). Between shows, character greetings and some of the Toy Story rides, even parents with small children will find that they are happy they included HS in their plans.
Should we park hop to or from Hollywood Studios?
If you have a park hopper, you have the option to do two half days or more to ensure some good FastPass selections. It’s a great strategy and one of our favorite park hopping (routes) to start the morning at Hollywood Studios and then hop over to EPCOT that evening.
What is the best day to visit Hollywood Studios?
In general, all four parks are often less crowded mid week, Tues, Wed, and Thurs. Saturdays can SOMETIMES draw crowds that are lower compared to other parks, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be low.
If we head to Disney for 5-7 days, we usually just pick whichever day works for us, we’re not as picky about say, picking a MK day where crowds really can see big fluctuations. Do what works for you.
What about days with Extra Magic Hours? Go or avoid?
Extra Magic Hours are offered to on-property and a few other hotel eligible guests on select days.
If you’re eligible and are a morning or night person, definitely take advantage of them! If you’re not eligible, you may have heard that it’s a good idea to avoid the Extra Magic Hour days because of extra guests they bring in. There’s also not technically an option to rope drop during these Extra Magic Hour mornings for non eligible guests, since the queues will already have formed with longer wait times.
If you’re wanting to rope drop an attraction you didn’t get a FastPass for and don’t have access to EMH, that’s a good reason to avoid those days. Otherwise, I tell people not to sweat it too much – it’s not worth it if it causes you stress over manipulating days of your vacation.
Evening Extra Magic Hours have also returned at Hollywood Studios. While they’re still likely to be some 30-60 minute waits during this time, it’s great to see these EMH night hours return.
As far as strategy for Extra Magic Hours, always keep an eye on posted wait times and head where YOU want, but here are some general tips:
Don’t plan on lower waits for Slinky Dog Dash except for the very beginning of EMH mornings or end of the EMH evenings. If you want to ride SDD, you’ll still want to “rope drop” it for EMH morning; for EMH evening, save it for the absolute last ride of the night close to closing time. The only other likely time there will be a short wait is the first few minutes when the park is technically closed to the public – most people will be seeing Fantasmic or gearing up for firework viewing. If you don’t care about these, hit Slinky about ten minutes into EMH evening.
During EMH evening, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror will likely see an initial bump after Fantasmic! lets out – and the lines will be longer the half-hour following Fantasmic’s ending. However, these are great rides to save till the end of EMH, when others are in Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge.
If you want to ride Smugglers Run during EMH AM, hit it right after Slinky Dog Dash or first thing; during EMH, keep an eye on wait and plan to go the latter half of the evening hours.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has not been open long enough for me to study any crowd patterns during EMH times at the time of writing, but plan on hitting it either first thing in the AM or last night in the evening if it’s your top priority.
What time should you get to the park?
Let’s start by saying there’s currently two reasons to get to the park early, the first being unique and temporary: securing a Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance, and rope drop.
In general, you’re always going to have a leg up with queues and FastPass availability when you get to a park before opening or as close to opening as your sleep habits can handle. This is definitely the case for Hollywood Studios right now.
We go over both in more detail below.
What’s the deal with Rise of the Resistance?
Currently, the park is using a virtual boarding group. This could completely change and will eventually move to a FastPass system, but no one knows when. Disney has not made any announcements, and they are still experiencing technical difficulties with the ride. We’re all eager to see how long the Boarding Group process will last, as it’s causing a lot of problems and dissatisfaction for both Disney and guests.
Read more details about the Boarding Group process here at DisneyTouristBlog.
Hollywood Studios Rope Drop
Rope dropping (arriving a bit before opening to try to be one of the first on an attraction) this park is not a bad idea since three popular Tier 1 FP attractions mean you’ll only be able to book one in advance for a guaranteed short wait time. You can, of course, try for day-of FastPasses, but they’ll prove hard to get for the next few months since they’re all great attractions to experience.
Rope dropping and arriving at the park early is a great way to ensure you’re getting on another one of these attractions.
I personally prefer and recommend a FastPass for Slinky Dog Dash, and then plan to rope drop Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The latter has a higher capacity and will likely see shorter rope drop waits, and doesn’t require as much of a fight (crowds), which is nice for those that don’t feel like being cutthroat on our vacation (no thanks).
photo from Disney
To rope drop at this park in 2020 and likely even 2021, it’s going to require getting there quite early. Yes, even with the amount of attractions there are to “rope drop”. If you’re rope dropping Slinky or Smugglers Run, I recommend a minimum 60-90 minutes prior to park opening, and that is based on respective crowd levels. This means if it’s a slower Tuesday in September, 60 minutes may be ok; but a Thanksgiving weekend day may require you to be there 90 minutes in advance. Insiders members, just ask in the VIP group or search posts to see what the current recommendations are when you’re heading to the parks.
Also, you’ll need to decide if you want to rope drop and/or arrive at the park opening. IMO, there is a difference between rope drop and park opening. For example, if you want to rope drop Slinky Dog Dash you’re going to need to be at the parks a lot earlier than you would if you wanted to rope drop RNR & TOT (which is another good rope drop strategy, as you can try to hit them back to back due to proximity).
The Boarding Group process for Rise of the Resistance is why you’d need to currently arrive and be in the park before the official opening time – you simply need to be there then to have a chance at a Boarding Group.
If you’re OK to skip a few attractions and sit out Rise of the Resistance on your trip, feel free to arrive a bit later. You can still get many attractions done and tour Star Wars Land if you have a good plan.
Jedi Training Sign Ups
Jedi Training is available to kids ages 4-12, and sign ups typically open when the park officially opens. It is a free experience, and it’s quite epic and will likely be one of the most memorable moments of your Disney vacation. It’s a must if you have mini Star Wars fans.
An adult/parent and the participating child must be present, so adults can’t separate from the kids to sign up. Yes, you’ll have to make the decision if you want to head here first to guarantee your child a spot, or rope drop an attraction…
While slower times of year are seeing spots open for a few hours before filling up, historically it’s quite popular and fills up quickly. We recommend playing it safe and heading to the signup area first thing if this is a priority for you. The signup area is typically near the Indiana Jones Adventure, but it can move at any time so make sure to check the night before or first thing in the morning (just ask a cast member).
Here’s a great post with more information on the Jedi training with all the details.
- Now, let’s cover everything you need to know for visiting the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Guide
Attractions and Fastpass for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge features two rides.Rise of the Resistance is the “bigger and badder” attraction and is currently using the nutty Virtual Boarding Group process. It does not currently offer FastPass, but will sometime in the future (the FastPass queue is already built). And no, Disney has not released any information on when FastPass service will come available for ROTR.Smugglers Run does now offer FastPass, and is currently in the Tier 1 category. Smugglers Run also has a Single Rider Line, which tends to have waits of less than 15 minutes most of the year. While those with young children may not want to split up their party, the Single Rider Line is a great option for those with an adult-only party and we highly recommend taking advantage of it if you can’t get a FastPass.
What to Eat and Drink in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
There is one large quick-service establishment in Star Wars Land, and a few other places to grab quick eats and drinks.
Docking Bay 7
Mustafarian lava (cinnamon) roll at Docking Bay 7
Docking Bay 7 is our new favorite quick-service location in Hollywood Studios. This park is not known for having any exceptional quick-service, so this was a welcome addition. While the food is a bit pricey, that makes it a solid use of a Dining Plan QS credit – one of the top uses in all of WDW currently. We’ve eaten most menu items and enjoyed all of them. Docking Bay 7 is open for both breakfast and lunch/dinner, although the breakfast menu is small.
Ronto Roasters is a food stand with a limited number of very unique offerings, most notably the Ronto Wrap that consists of “Roasted Pork, Grilled Pork Sausage, Peppercorn Sauce, and Tangy Slaw wrapped in Pita Bread” (DisneyWorld.com). We haven’t tried it, but it gets rave reviews. There are limited breakfast offerings here as well.
Kat Saka’s Kettle
A small stand offering funky popcorn flavors and a few beverages.
The infamous Blue and Green Milks, and a few small breakfast items. The “milks” are vegan/dairy free and include rice milk and coconut oils to give it the flavor and texture, with other additives, of course.
We tried the Blue Milk (with rum) and were actually surprised that we liked it, and thought it had a watermelon bubblegum type flavor reminiscent of our childhood. The milks really seem like a one and done thing though – we wouldn’t get them again and neither would anyone we’ve talked to so far.
If you’re on the Dining Plan, all of these things are a good use of a snack credit to be able to say you tried them. Otherwise, we vote to skip the Milks. And save your booze money for Oga’s Cantina or Baseline Tap House.
Oga’s Cantina is the official in-park bar in Galaxy’s Edge, and will likely be the most unique “bar” you ever visit. It’s loud, primarily standing room only around the bar and other tables, and we think it’s a lot of fun. The drinks are a bit out there and crazy expensive (really: our total was a nice $84 after tax and tip for two drinks each). However, it’s a fun experience to go at least once. If you enjoy drinking in the parks or are just a huge Star Wars fan, we think it’s a must.
If you want to enjoy Oga’s, they do operate on the reservation system like table-service restaurants, so book that ADR. They do take walk-ups if it’s not packed, but we don’t recommend relying on that. If you can’t find an ADR beforehand, just look for an open reservation the day before heading to Hollywood Studios or even day of. There are usually plenty of openings last minute.
Oga’s Cantina and Kids
Yes, you can definitely take the kids. There are almost as many non-alcoholic and fun concoctions as there are adult libations. I’ve visited Oga’s over 4x now, and many kids seem to be enjoying it more than the adults.
Best Drinks at Oga’s Cantina
This is obviously subjective although I’m quite the libations connoisseur, but I’ve tasted everything at Oga’s and here are my top picks:
Fuzzy Tauntaun (pictured above) – my pick for the most fun/hip drink. Sweet but not too sweet, easy to drink, and has the tingling foam which is kitschy but fun to try and say you did. Tastes like a Sex on the Beach…if anyone remembers what those tasted like!
Dagobah Slug Slinger – my pick for the most well-rounded cocktail as far as actual flavors and effort. The herbs and bitters used in this drink made it one of the ones that didn’t taste just like alcoholic juice. It’s tequila-based, and I generally don’t like tequila except in margaritas. This was good and wasn’t too much on the tequila factor.
Blue Bantha – the blue milk that you’ll find outside of Oga’s, but served with a giant sugar cookie with a yummy topping. This one is non-alcoholic. If you want to experience Oga’s but don’t drink alcohol and are interested in blue milk, this is a great option to kill two birds with one stone/payment.
Carbon Freeze – my nonalcoholic pick as far as amusement/coolest drink. Kids will likely appreciate this drink and its effect the most.
How long for Droid Depot, Savi’s Workshop, and Oga’s?
Droid Depot – allot 30 minutes total.
Savi’s Workshop – allot 30-40 minutes total to check in and complete (the actual workshop is approximately 15-20 minutes).
Oga’s Cantina – allot 45 minutes, which is the amount of time they currently give you. It’s easy to stay the whole time and watch the action.
What’s not to miss at Hollywood Studios?
Star Wars fans will probably want to be there early to get a Boarding Group for ROTR and allow 3-4 hours to experience the land – that includes a visit to Oga’s Cantina and possibly a Droid or Lightsaber building experience. If you just want to see the land, give yourself an hour.
Parents with younger children will likely want to spend time in Toy Story Land. All three attractions can be quite fun (Alien is not a must-do), but there are also plenty of character interactions that don’t have FP and will usually require a 15-30 minute wait.
Almost all ages will enjoy most of the shows at Hollywood Studios.
Our favorite shows include Muppet Vision 3D, a quick classic. Frozen Sing-Along is a must for Frozen fans and even adults will appreciate the humor and air-conditioned respite.
Indiana Jones and Beauty and the Beast are also great stage shows (FYI both outdoors); we have a slight preference for Indiana Jones – and it’s nice to sit down for the later evening show of this one, once it cools off and we’ve FastPassed everything else.
Thrill seekers should not miss either Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. These are classic attractions that will prove to stand the test of time in these parks. Personally, we’d prefer to experience them even over the two new Star Wars rides. Even my Star Wars obsessed husband agrees!
And adults who like to imbibe should consider a happy hour or beverage stop at one of the great watering holes we discuss below (happy hour is “whatever time you feel like it is” when you’re at Disney, no judgment here).
We also love grabbing a Starbucks and hitting the shops on Sunset Blvd and taking in the 20’s era music. Even our newbie readers say the ambiance here is one of the most enjoyable parts of the park.
Finally, there are the nighttime shows. We’re biased towards Fantasmic!, as it’s a huge large scale production in a large amphitheater and complete with a full soundtrack. Star Wars fans will typically have to choose between the SW fireworks and this.
Consider our Insider’s Strategy Guide when making plans. Included are park touring plans, overviews, and even things like Flowcharts to help you choose the best Tier 1 FastPass for you, offering full strategies on how to most efficiently complete all attractions in one day.
What to Skip at Hollywood Studios?
Because the park is show and theme heavy, this really depends on personal preferences maybe more so than any other park. If you don’t care for stage shows or princesses, it makes sense to skip Beauty and the Beast Live and use that time to hit thrill rides again. Maybe you’re a Star Wars junkie and love rides; skipping a lot of stage shows so you can hang out in Galaxy’s Edge all day will make sense.
We don’t typically travel with young children, so we skip Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy and Disney Jr. Dance Party. We also don’t need to do Voyage of the Little Mermaid every trip , or hit Star Wars Docking Bay (the older area that’s outside of the new Galaxy’s Edge). Star Tours is a simulator ride and leaves motion-sickness prone adults shaky sometimes.
We recommend looking at a map or attraction list before your vacation – list and triage your top picks!
Restaurants, Snacks, and Drinking at Hollywood Studios
Best quick-service meals at Hollywood Studios
As stated before, Docking Bay 7 is our pick for the best quality QS in the park. More pricey out of pocket – although this translates to being an excellent QS credit use if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.
Our next two picks for QS are Backlot Express and Woody’s Lunch Box. Backlot Express has a large menu and more basic items for picky eaters (nuggets, sandwiches, burgers), while Woody’s Lunch Box has a limited menu with ‘specialty’ items like a delicious BBQ brisket melt and three cheese grilled cheese sandwich.
Also, the S’more French Toast Sandwich at Woody’s Lunch Box is PRETTY hard to beat. It’s only offered during breakfast hours though, so make sure you plan accordingly!
Best table service meals at Hollywood Studios
First, you may be wondering if you will have time or if we recommend sitting down for a meal here. Our answer is yes! Two of our favorite restaurants at WDW are here. We suggest either lunch or dinner at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or 50’s Prime Time Cafe.
Sci-Fi takes our pick for best restaurant at Hollywood Studios – the theming is incredible. They used to be known for subpar food, but the burgers got a makeover in the past few years and they are now some of our favorite on property (the Blue Cheeseburger is so so good, and so are the fries).
50’s Prime Time is quite entertaining, and you’re back in “mom’s” kitchen in the 1950s with a nice selection of quality comfort food (we like the meatloaf and fried chicken). Oh, and there’s that whole slapstick humor thing going on. The servers will yell at you for putting elbows on the table, being on your phone, etc. It’s a hoot.
You’ll need an ADR (reservation) at these places, they are very popular.
Best Hollywood Studios Snacks
This park has a smaller selection of iconic snacks (particularly savory ones), but there’s some good choices, especially if you like sweets.
Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums at Pixar Neighborhood Bakery*
Carrot Cake Cookie at Trolley Car Cafe (Starbucks)*
Funnel Cakes at Epic Eats*
Cheese and Charcuterie Plate at Baseline Tap House
Bavarian Pretzel with Beer Cheese at Baseline Tap House
Funky popcorn at Kat Saka’s Kettle
Mustafarian Cinnamon Roll at Docking Bay 7 (breakfast only)*
Mac and Cheese Cups at the food truck near Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Totchos at Woody’s Lunch Box
Lunch Box Tarts at Woody’s Lunch Box*
S’mores French Toast Sandwich at Woody’s Lunch Box (breakfast only)
*marked selections are available as a snack credit on the dining plan at the time of writing
Jack-Jack Cookie Num Num (chocolate chip cookie tart)
Fantasmic Dining Packages
Hollywood Studios offers a Fantasmic! Dining Package at three participating restaurants, which includes a meal and guaranteed VIP seating at the nighttime show. The three restaurants include:
- Mama Melrose’s
- Hollywood & Vine
- The Hollywood Brown Derby
Is the dining package worth it?
If you’re on a Disney Dining Plan that includes table-service credits, it definitely doesn’t hurt and is a decent use of a TS credit for the first two restaurants. The Hollywood Brown Derby package requires 2 credits and is a waste of two credits, in our opinion. We also think The Hollywood Brown Derby is the weakest of all the signature restaurants at Disney World (head or break to the nearby Flying Fish or Yachtsman Steakhouse if you want a more upscale meal after your day at Hollywood Studios).
The most important thing to know here is that unless it’s a crowded holiday time (Thanksgiving or Christmas), it’s not difficult to get a seat for Fantasmic!, whether grabbing a last minute FastPass or just walking in standby. For that reason, I don’t recommend paying extra for it or doing it if you’re not on the dining plan.
Tip: Again, this same advice goes for FastPasses for the live shows, like Indiana Jones and Beauty and the Beast. You don’t need a FastPass, but there’s no major harm in playing it safe (with the exception that you can’t keep refreshing and looking for a better FastPass).
Drinking at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios makes it easy to get your drinking fix in, between the number of dedicated bars/lounges, and the various stands scattered around the park. The tipsier the guest, the looser the wallet for those Star Wars souvenirs.
Bars and Lounges
Baseline Tap House (pictured above) – our favorite spot to grab a beer and people watch in the park. Baseline is an indoor/outdoor joint focused on California craft beers, but also offers things like cocktails and wines on tap. There’s a small but quality selection of food offerings and snacks too – we highly recommend the pretzel with beer cheese and the cheese & charcuterie plate. A must stop for beer lovers
Oga’s Cantina – reviewed in detail earlier in this post, this is the themed bar in Star Wars Land and it is a must for Star War fans.
Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge – this is an outdoor spot so it will only be open if the weather is okay. This is the more upscale choice of drinking spots in the park, and a delightful experience. They are known for serving both martini and margarita flights (pictured below)! As far as food, they offer a nice small plate menu for snacking or to make a meal out of.
Tune-In Lounge – the bar seating of the 50’s Prime Time, which is all walk-in and first-come first serve. Small adult parties that couldn’t get a reservation may want to dine here, but it’s not a very exciting bar to grab a drink at compared to the other options.
Star Wars Dessert Party Reviews
Here are four reviews from a thread in our VIP Facebook group, with two people giving the thumbs up and two people giving a thumbs down for their perceived value of the event. Remember that when it comes to Disney, it’s not usually a “good or bad” experience question. The question to ask/reflect on is “is it worth it for the high price tag?” An experience can be a lot of fun, but it doesn’t always equate with the value based on cost.
Note: the first review is ours.
“I think the dessert parties are ridiculously overpriced for what they offer, but many people on their “once in a lifetime” or not super frequent Disney vacations enjoy them and don’t mind the cost. The Star Wars one is specifically my least recommended one. The desserts aren’t that great and the viewing is something you could get 45 minutes in advance quite easily (you are in your own “VIP” spot, it’s neat, but not as gold as say, getting that Magic Kingdom garden viewing area.” – Ali
“You get meet and greets with characters and a prime spot to watch, but the view is just as good from other areas. I, personally, thought the food was only marginal, and none of us enjoyed the specialty drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic. We are huge Star Wars fans and weren’t impressed. The Frozen dessert party ended up being a better experience for us (and none of us are Frozen fans). The food was better and the view was way better + you get to ride Frozen, which we would have never waited in line or used a FP for.” – Suzanne
- “It’s cool. You get some really amazing interaction with the Storm Troopers—they are really funny. IMHO, it’s the best value for what you get in terms of dessert parties.” – Deanne
- “We did it in January. You get priority access to meet Darth Vader – which is AMAZING. You have to stand in line to meet the other characters (Chewbacca and BB-8) but the lines were not long. The Storm Troopers patrolling are awesome. The food and drinks were good. The one negative for me is I felt rushed between trying to eat/drink and meet characters. If you decide to splurge my advice would be to go extra early and meet the characters other than Darth Vader so you can take your time enjoying the food and beverage.” – Andrea
Top Resting Places for Parents or the Overheated
- Frozen Singalong: not just a great show, but 30 minutes of cushioned seated, air-conditioned bliss. Photo courtesy of FlickrIf you are desperate for air-conditioning and a seat, here’s where to head (in order of comfiest/best nap potential):
- Frozen Singalong
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Walt Disney Theater
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
Underrated Activities at Hollywood Studios
Every Disney park has “hidden” gems, and here are our top picks at Hollywood Studios:
- Walt Disney Presents Gallery and Exhibits – a museum dedicated to the life and creations of Walt Disney. It’s warm, inspiring, education, all the things.
- Meeting Mike and Sulley – yes, they’re at Hollywood Studios. There’s no FastPass and it can be a long wait (30-50 minutes), but it’s worth it and has great photo ops if you’re a fan.
- Watching Jedi Training even if you don’t have a child participating. It’s beyond cute to see the kiddos battle the Star Wars villains.
Become an Insider for Even More Hollywood Studios FastPass and Touring Strategy!
And that’s a wrap with covering the essentials for Hollywood Studios (shoo!)
Heading to Disney soon? We go into much more specific detail in our flowcharts, touring itineraries, strategy videos, and VIP group when it comes to everything Disney World. Use our guides, videos and even group tips to learn how to deal with all those pesky Tier 1 rides and FastPass them all (no FOMO here!)
Ali Wigle is the founder of Wish Upon a Planner and creator of The Insider’s Digital Strategy Guide to WDW (with Line Hacks™!). Her specialty? Using her love of numbers and data to analyze crowd patterns, wait times, and pricing trends to show her community members how to plan more efficient, stress-free Disney visits. To date, she’s helped more than 10,000 people skip long lines, get the most bang for their buck, and experience the Walt Disney World vacations of their dreams.