Best of Disney’s Hollywood Studios – includes a one day itinerary

Our first-timer experience and guide to getting the big Hollywood Studios rides done without purchasing Genie+ or a Lightning Lane pass – includes wait times and ride times – plus a discount ticket promo code!

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We recently explored all four of the major Walt Disney World theme parks in Florida for the very first time.

Our first theme park was the stunning  Magic Kingdom , and later we also visited EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

In this article we’ll focus on our second park choice of the trip – the amazing Hollywood Studios theme park. We did each Walt Disney World Park without purchasing Genie+ and still got everything great done – here’s how!

We loved our day at Disney's Hollywood Studios!

We loved our day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Where can I buy discounted Walt Disney World tickets online?

Firstly, if you’re planning your own Aussie family holiday trip to Walt Disney World, we have a tickets discount promocode for you!

Australia and New Zealand new Klook purchases booking tickets online to Walt Disney World in Orlando can use our LETSGOMUM20 promocode at checkout and save *USD$20! (you must click on the following link for the promocode to work!):

Go to Klook to buy discounted Walt Disney World tickets online
*$200 minimum purchase

This page may contain affiliate links. If you book a stay or an attraction through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for your support!

Sunset Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios!

Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

What is Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

Disney Hollywood Studios was the third park to be opened at Walt Disney World and covers an area of 135 acres – that’s 102 football fields! Best of all, it’s packed full of amazing Disney rides and shows.

Opened in 1989, Hollywood Studios is one of the more recent USA Disney Park openings. It’s here you’ll find the movie-themed Disney and Pixar rides and shows. It’s a bit like the Disney California Adventure Park of Florida!

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride

What are the best rides at Hollywood Studios?

Everyone has their favourite Disney rides but as this was our first visit to Hollywood Studios, so we had a clean slate to choose from. Our stand-out top four Hollywood Studios rides were:

1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Also found At Disneyland in California, this ride is an absolute marvel of story-telling-meets-technology with its trackless operation, exciting battle scenes and life-like animatronics.

2. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

This unique Twilight Zone version of the classic Tower of Terror rides has a different forward-travelling start before the characteristic plunging up and down in darkness – it’s a really fun version that we loved.

3. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

This comically chaotic family ride is full of Disney-charm. Another trackless technology triumph now also at Disneyland, this first-ever Mickey dark ride also features Minnie, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and is a fun ride for all ages.

4. Slinky Dog Dash

This rollicking roller coaster ride is another family favourite with the endearing Slinky Dog of Toy Story taking you for a fun joyride. Definitely a don’t-miss for the kids.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Hollywood Studios Genie+ & Lightning Lane pass

What are Genie+ and Lightning Lane passes?

These extra-cost digital fast passes use a separate ride entry with a shorter path to by-pass the normal stand-by lines. This will fast-track you to the head of the ride queue. Download the My Disney Experience app for free in the Apple Store or on Google Play to buy fast passes.

How early can I buy Hollywood Studios fast passes?

Genie+ passes – All guests can buy Genie+ on the Walt Disney World My Disney Experience app from 7am on the morning of your visit. You don’t have to be at the actual parks to buy it.

Lightning Lane pay to ride (only currently available for Rise of the Resistance) – If you are a Disney hotel guest then you get early access from 7am on the morning of your visit to buy Lightning Lane on the Walt Disney World My Disney Experience app.  Other guests must wait until the park opens to buy them.

How much is Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+?

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ was USD$25 per person the day we visited – a Wednesday on the 31st of May.

How much is Rise of the Resistance Lightning Lane?

It costs about USD$20 per person to buy Lightning Lane access for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which is currently the only pay-to-ride ride at Hollywood Studios.

Should I buy Genie+ at Walt Disney World?

Yes, I would recommend that you do. This will potentially get you three or four ride queue short cuts and save you hours of wait time. Not buying Genie+ means you are short on time if you want to get a lot done, and you still usually end up missing out on one or two lesser rides which could have also been fun.

We were determined to get the top rides and experiences done, and we ticked off every single one we wanted to. That said, although it’s still really fun, it can be exhausting, as you are on the run all day. With two teenagers this was fine, but if you have younger kids this wouldn’t be as easy.

My recommendation – if you can afford to add on Genie+ at each Walt Disney World Park then do it and enjoy your precious holiday time more at Disney.

Disney Hollywood Studios ride strategy – without Lightning Lane

Green Army Men at Toy Story Land

Green Army Men at Toy Story Land

Can you do all the main Disney rides without Genie+?

Yes, you can ride all the main Walt Disney World top rides done without purchasing Genie+ or Lightning Lane passes.

We decided not to buy the Genie+ or Lightning Lane add-ons at all four of Walt Disney World theme parks. So we needed to hit the parks hard and use some Disney ride strategy to be able to fit in all the top rides in one day!

Should you arrive at WDW early for Disney hotel entry early?

As we were staying at Pop Century Disney Hotel we received early entry to each of the four Walt Dis

ney World parks.

Even though Disney Park early entry is a great advantage, there are a lot of people that also get it. So it’s best to arrive at the park gates around 30 minutes early. That way you will be ready to line up for your first ride for the day as soon as possible.

What ride should I do first at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

During early entry, it’s best to get a popular ride or two done first, as they will be even busier later on. Slinky Dog Dash is one of the most popular rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As it had the longest ride queue, we decided that this should be our first ride. Although Rise of the Resistance is also a great first ride choice we had already ridden it several times in Disneyland California. So we prioritised Slinky Dog Dash as a new ride experience for us.

How do you do all the rides at Hollywood Studios without using the Lightning Lane?

Our Hollywood Tower ride photo

Our Hollywood Tower ride photo

Here are our main Walt Disney World do-all-ride strategy tips (for families without young children):

  • Start your day at Walt Disney World as early as possible – preferably with early entry.
  • Do the most popular rides early – in the first hour preferably (see how our day went in the following itinerary to work out which would be your top Disney rides).
  • Prepare for a day of long ride queue waits – download some fun ride queue game apps like Disney Play and Heads-Up and have water and snacks.
  • Get quick snacks on the go from food stands and eat meals at off-peak times at Disney restaurants.
  • Ride right up until and beyond park close time.

Can you ride Disney rides after the park closes?

Yes you can. It’s possible to extend your Disney day out to be even longer by riding after hours.

Walt Disney World parks don’t usually close the ride queues until right on park close time, so you can enter your last ride queue right before close time. Often, ride queues have also shortened by that time as well, because families with small children leave the park right after the fireworks. So even after the park has closed you can stay in the queue and ride your ride as normal when it’s your turn. The ride doesn’t stop until the queue is empty.

How late are the Hollywood Studios Disney shops open?

Something else to take into account is that if you do want to do some Disney merchandise or gift shopping, you’ll need to do it earlier if you join a ride queue at closing time. By the time you have completed your last Disney ride the gift shops, snack vendors and even your hotel dinner restaurant may be closed! It can all be a big balancing act. Don’t go back to your hotel hungry!

Don't miss Galaxy's Edge for fun treats like blue milk!

Don’t miss Galaxy’s Edge for fun treats like blue milk!

Our Disney Hollywood Studios one-day itinerary

7:45am – Arrive at Disney Hollywood Studios

8:02am – Join queue for Slinky Dog Dash ride, Toy Story World

8:40am – 8:42am – Slinky Dog Dash ride

8:45am – 9:09am – Breakfast at Woody’s Lunch Box opposite Slinky Dog Dash

9:10am – Leave Toy Story Land

9:21am – Arrive and explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

9:38am – Join queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, Galaxy’s Edge

10:10am – 10:30am – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride

11:02am – Stop for a character meet and greet with Goofy at Toy Story Land

11:15am – Stop for a character meet and greet with Donald and Daisy Duck at Animation Courtyard

11:47am – 12:27 – Indianna Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular live stunt show

12:30pm – 1:35pm ABC Commissary restaurant for lunch

2:36pm – Join queue Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride

3:02pm -3:18pm – Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride

4:42pm – Stop for a character meet and greet with Buzz Lightyear at Toy Story Land

4:51pm – Join queue Alien Swirling Saucers ride, Toy Story Land

5:32pm – 5:35pm – Alien Swirling Saucers ride

5:50pm – Join queue Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Hollywood Boulevard

6:42pm – 6:50pm – Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

7:20pm – Join queue Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

7:52pm – 8:05pm – Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

8:06 – 8:27pm – Shopping at Galaxy’s Edge

9pm – 9:30pm Fantasmic show at Hollywood Hills Amphitheater

9:30pm – 9:50pm Disney store shopping

9:50pm – Leave Disney’s Hollywood Studios

What rides are missing from this itinerary?

  • Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster (closed for the day)
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
  • Star Tours

At Hollywood Studios, don’t miss…

Indianna Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular live stunt show

A genuine Hollywood-style stunt show with real stunt actors, this exciting presentation is great fun to watch. It features all kinds of live action antics, behind-the-scenes reveals and dangerous movie stunts!

Fantasmic night show

Fantasmic is an amazing nighttime show

Fantasmic is an amazing nighttime show

This amazing half-hour production is the perfect way to cap off your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Featuring the star of the show – Mickey Mouse of course!

Mickey introduces wonderful light and sound shows featured around and on a moat surrounding an island stage. There are water fountain projections, boats and so much more.

The stadium seats 7,000, however to get the best seats it is recommended to get there an hour early – this is definitely a don’t-miss!

How do I buy Walt Disney World tickets online?

Klook sells Walt Disney World tickets

Klook sells Walt Disney World tickets

Purchase your Walt Disney World tickets on Klook. Klook is a registered Walt Disney World ticket reseller who offer discounted tickets.

Quick, easy and cheap, Klook is the best way to buy Walt Disney World tickets online, and you can do it all from your armchair at home or work!

Is there a Walt Disney World promo code?

Yes! Australian and New Zealand purchases get *$20USD off Walt Disney World tickets if you’re new to Klook by using our promocode: LETSGOMUM20 at checkout!

Book tickets online to Walt Disney World in Orlando
*$200 minimum purchase

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a fantastic, fun theme park with so much to offer. Exciting rides and shows, lots of Disney characters to meet and yummy snacks to try.

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is a holiday your family will be reminiscing about long after your vacation is over.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please consider giving it a Facebook “Like”, share or we’d love to hear about your own Disney experiences in the comments below!

You may also like to read these other Walt Disney World blogs:

How buy Walt Disney World tickets from Australia
Our Australian family Walt Disney World trip – Magic Kingdom
Our Australian family Walt Disney World trip – EPCOT
3 Walt Disney World theme park hacks for your Australian family holiday

Disclaimers: Let’s Go Mum may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you with bookings made with Klook
The Let’s Go Mum family partnered with Disney & Klook for this Walt Disney World trip.  As always, all opinions are our own.
All prices and times quoted were correct at September 2023, the time of publishing this article, but can change frequently. Please always re-check for current prices.

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Best of Disney's Hollywood Studios - includes a one day itinerary


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About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at!