Touring Hollywood Studios can be a bit tricky because it is a unique mix of some of the most popular attractions in all of Walt Disney World and a bunch of shows that run on a schedule.
Add to the mix that it is fairly common for the headliners here to go down a few times a day, and you can find yourself quickly frustrated – especially if you don’t have Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes purchased to help “guarantee” you a ride.
Recently, we spent the day exploring Hollywood Studios – one of us (me) had the advantage of using Genie+, while the other (Felicia) did not. And, while we both accomplished a lot, I can say with all certainty that I had a much more relaxed day with a lot less crisscrossing, zigzagging, and waiting in lines.
Here’s how it went when I toured Hollywood Studios for 1 day with Genie+:
How we put together our Hollywood Studios touring plans
We used our guide on How to Tour Hollywood Studios (without waiting in lines) to put together today’s plan for touring Hollywood Studios.
There, you’ll find everything you need to create a touring plan for your day at Hollywood Studios, too, including a detailed breakdown of each attraction with insider tips on the most strategic times to ride.
In addition, there are user-friendly graphics that can be easily saved to your phone, providing you with the necessary information to make informed, real-time decisions throughout the park.
If you’re interested in comparing what a day at Hollywood Studios would be like with and without Genie+, read also about our experience on the same day Touring Hollywood Studios without Genie+.
This morning, I set out to tour the parks at a pace similar to what the average family might. My aim was to avoid dashing from one attraction to another and instead, take my time, pause for restroom and refreshment breaks, and walk at a moderate speed. In other words, I attempted to maintain a normal pace and take short breaks whenever necessary.
Having Genie+ and pre-purchasing Individual Lightning Lanes made “slowing down and smelling the roses” so. much. easier. I was never too worried about the lines getting too long while I was enjoying a cold drink or snack, and when attractions went down, I wasn’t stressed about not getting to ride.
On my visit to Hollywood Studios, while using Genie+ and purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance, I was able to accomplish 8 attractions before our 12:40 p.m. lunch reservation.
Here’s a summary of what I was able to do:
- 7:57 Slinky Dog Dash
- 8:05 Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- 8:25 Toy Story Mania
- 9:00 Alien Swirling Saucers
- 9:35 PhotoPass for May the 4th (long wait for this)
- 9:45 – Muppet*Vision 3D
- 10:13 For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration (show started at 10:30)
- 11:25 -🧞 Tower of Terror
- 12:06 -🧞 Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- 12:40 – Lunch at Hollywood and Vine
If I had stayed after lunch to tour more, I had already lined up several additional Genie+ reservations for attractions I rode Standby earlier in the day (so that I could re-ride my favorites) plus I had my Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance:
- 2:05-3:05 -🧞 Star Tours
- 2:25-3:25 – ⚡Rise of the Resistance
- Vacation Fun – An Original Animated Short with Mickey & Minnie
- Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage
- 4:35-5:35 – 🧞2nd ride on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- 6:15-7:15 -🧞 2nd ride on Toy Story Mania
- 9:20-10:00 -🧞 2nd ride on Slinky Dog Dash
Before We Left the Room
I started the day by buying Genie+ for myself. This is available to purchase starting at 12 a.m. on the day of your park visit. I was already asleep by then, so I bought it in the morning at 6:20 a.m.
Because we are staying on-site at Art of Animation, I was able to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane at 7 a.m. for Rise of the Resistance. There were plenty of return times when I was booking, so I had no issue getting a time that worked with my plans for the day. I chose a return time of 2:25 to 3:25 because I knew we had lunch at 12:40 at Hollywood and Vine, and I wanted to be able to walk over after lunch and ride.
At 7 a.m., I was also able to make my first Genie+ selection. My first selection was for Tower of Terror. Lots of people like to try for Slinky Dog Dash for their first selection of the day (and honestly, sometimes we do, too), but instead I wanted an attraction that would likely have an earlier in the day return time so that I could book my second Genie+ reservation faster. My return time for Tower of Terror was 9:05 – 10:05 a.m., which was just about perfect for my morning. Remember, you can’t choose your return time, so I just had to go with whatever I got, but for this morning, I was hoping for something early (which I got!).
Getting to Hollywood Studios
From Art of Animation, the best way to get to Hollywood Studios is on the Disney Skyliner.
One of the best parts about staying at Art of Animation is the convenient location to the Disney Skyliner. It makes getting to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot a breeze.
Because we were heading to Hollywood Studios on May the Fourth (Star Wars Day), we knew that the park would be busy. So, we went down to the Skyliner station earlier than what we might have on a normal day.
We got in line at 6:15 a.m., and there were probably about 20 people ahead of us. They started letting us board the Skyliner at 6:55 a.m. and after we transferred at Caribbean Beach, we were unloading at Hollywood Studios right at 7:06 a.m.
Every park does Early Entry a little bit differently, and at Hollywood Studios they scan your Magic Bands before you get to the tapstiles.
Once we got through security and scanned for Early Entry, we were able to join a line at the tapstiles that wasn’t too long – maybe 5-8 people or so.
But, it didn’t take much time at all for the crowds behind us to grow:
They officially opened up the tapstiles at 7:30 a.m., and guests moved into the park, splitting up into 4 different groups heading primarily to these attractions:
- Sunset Boulevard (for Tower of Terror)
- Toy Story Land (for Slinky Dog Dash)
- Hollywood Boulevard (for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway)
- Galaxy’s Edge (for Rise of the Resistance)
We are fans of the Early Theme Park Entry procedure we encountered on this day at Hollywood Studios. Big fans of it, in fact.
Both Felicia and I were heading to Toy Story Land for Slinky Dog Dash, and we were kind of expecting to have to wait in a crowd of people like what you do at Magic Kingdom. That’s what we’ve had to do in the past.
However, instead, they formed a nice, orderly line (like what they did at Animal Kingdom) and let us walk all the way up to the entrance of the Slinky Dog Dash queue. We wound up being around 9 or 10 in line.
This is such a better guest experience, and I’d have to think that if you have little ones, it would be a million times better and so much less stressful and scary than the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train dash you have at Magic Kingdom.
Even though I had Genie+, I still wanted to make sure I was at the front of the pack for Rope Drop because I was hoping I’d be able to ride a couple of my favorites twice – once standby (during the morning) and again later in the day, with Genie+ reservations. Because I was at the front of the crowds this morning, that was very easy to do, as you’ll see below.
Attraction 1: Slinky Dog Dash
- Posted Wait: none
- Time entering line: 7:52
- Time boarding: 7:57
- Time exiting: 8:00
- Notes: We lucked out in that they started letting us on Slinky Dog Dash a few minutes before Early Entry began
You have several good options for your first attraction at Hollywood Studios, but here’s why we like making Slinky Dog Dash our first ride during Early Entry: it doesn’t break down as often as your other 3 best options (Rise of the Resistance, Tower of Terror, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway).
For example, on our Early Entry morning, both Tower of Terror AND Rise of the Resistance were down – and everyone who waited in those lines lost out on the opportunity to ride something before the park opened to all the other guests.
Riding Slinky Dog Dash during Early Entry also meant that I could select a less popular attraction for my first Genie+ selection of the day, which also made it easier to churn through more Genie+ attractions.
Attraction 2: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Posted Wait: 10 mins
- Time entering line: 8:05
- Time boarding pre-show: 8:07
- Time boarding ride vehicle: 8:12
- Time exiting: 8:19
- Total wait: 8 mins to board
Because we were so close to the front of the line at Slinky Dog Dash, we made it back over to Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railray quickly. This one is great for families because it has no height requirements. It’s also just cute, and knocking it out once during Early Entry meant I would have a pretty good chance to ride it again later in the day (if I wanted to) using Genie+.
At this time of the day, both Rise of the Resistance and Tower of Terror were both still down, which was causing the lines at other attractions to be inflated.
Attraction 3: Toy Story Mania
- Posted wait: 40 mins
- Time entering line: 8:25
- Time boarding: 8:45
- Time exiting: 8:54
- Total wait: 20 mins
I decided to head back to Toy Story Land to knock out the 2 remaining attractions there: Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers. The posted wait at Toy Story Mania was already sitting at 40 minutes, and I was a little concerned that the wait might be accurate, considering there were 3 major attractions not open – but I was pleasantly surprised to only wait a total of 20 minutes.
The line and wait here can be a bit deceiving because there are multiple rooms and multiple tracks, so it can be difficult to know just how many people are in front of you.
Attraction 4: Alien Swirling Saucers
- Posted wait: 35
- Time entering line: 9:00 am
- Time boarding: 9:22
- Time exiting: 9:27
- Total wait: 22
After exiting Toy Story Mania I made the short walk over to Alien Swirling Saucers. I was actually pretty hungry at this time, and I looked into mobile ordering at Woody’s Lunchbox, but the return times were 45+ minutes out, so I skipped it. If you think you might want to grab a snack here, I recommend mobile ordering first thing in the morning before all the spots fill up!
The queue at Alien Swirling Saucers feels a lot hotter because it is all outdoors. But a large chunk of it is covered, so there is at least some shade. This isn’t an absolute must-do, but it is out in the open and has fun music and kids are really drawn to it.
When I exited the ride, I noticed the push notification saying that Tower of Terror was still down and that my Genie+ reservation had been converted to what is basically an “anytime” Genie+ pass that I could use at Tower of Terror later in the day (after the ride came back online) OR there was a list of other attractions (basically everything except Rise of the Resistance) where I could choose to use it instead.
I went ahead and opted to save it for Tower of Terror for later in the day, and then it was time for me to make my next Genie+ reservation. I chose Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run for 11:50-12:50, which would put it right before lunch, which was going to work perfectly for me.
I was flying through attractions and since I was still hungry, I decided to go ahead and mobile order over at Ronto Roasters in Galaxy’s Edge. The return time there was only 20 minutes away, so I jumped in one of the lines for special Star Wars Day Magic Shots and snagged a pic with Ally.
When it was time, I headed over to grab my food with the plan to eat it over by Muppet*Vision. But, when I walked up, the line for Mobile Order stretched for miles and miles, and I realized that Ronto Roasters was the pickup spot for a special “sipper” cup for May the Fourth.
The line was not moving, so I opted to abandon my quest for food and headed over to watch the Muppets instead.
Attraction 5: Muppet*Vision 3D
- Posted wait: 10 minutes
- Time entering line: 9:45
- Time boarding: 9:50
- Time exiting: 10:06
I wanted to catch the 10:30 Frozen Sing-Along, so I needed to kill about 20 minutes. What better way to do that than watching Muppet*Vision 3D!
Yes, the show is a bit old and outdated, but I am a huge Muppets stan, so this is always a must-do for me.
Other options to kill time would have been Star Tours (it had a 15 minute posted wait) or meeting Olaf. The only reason I didn’t choose Star Tours was because it is one of the attractions that makes me pretty queasy – especially on an empty stomach – so I wanted to save it for after lunch.
Attraction 6: Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Posted wait: 10:30 show
- Time entering line: 10:13
- Time boarding: n/a
- Time exiting: 11:00
- Notes: plenty of seats
I showed up a bit earlier than I needed to for this show; there were plenty of seats until the time the show started. If you are traveling with a Frozen fan, this is a must-do, but you don’t typically need to use a Genie+ reservation for it unless you are traveling during the absolute busiest times of the year (like over Christmas). Afternoon shows also tend to be a bit more crowded, too, so showing up a bit earlier in the afternoon isn’t a bad idea.
Attraction 7: Tower of Terror (with Genie+)
- Posted wait: 105
- Time entering line: 11:25
- Time boarding: 11:38
- Time exiting: 11:43
- Total wait: 13 minutes
After being down for most of the morning, Tower of Terror finally came back up while I was in the Frozen Sing-Along. Because I was using my “anytime” Genie+ reservation that I received earlier in the morning, I didn’t have to rush over there so I took my time, stopping for the bathroom and a drink and a snack on the way. I sat for a few minutes on Sunset Boulevard and then headed in.
Only 1 side was operating, and the lights came on in our elevator – but at least it didn’t break down on me!
Attraction 8: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (with Genie+)
- Posted wait: 95 mins
- Time entering line: 12:08
- Time boarding: 12:20
- Time exiting: 12:30
- Total wait: 12 minutes
- Notes: Had I not been testing things out, I would have just used the Single Rider line here and saved my Genie+ reservation for something else.
Now, for the hike. I had to go from Tower of Terror all the way back over to Galaxy’s Edge for my ride on Smugglers Run. That’s a pretty long walk and to make it worse, Galaxy’s Edge was packed with tons of people celebrating Star Wars Day.
Even though some areas were shoulder to shoulder, I made it through and boarded with a group of first-timers (which was a lot of fun). As soon as I tapped in, I snagged another Genie+ reservation for the afternoon. It was for Star Tours with a return time that was going to be during lunch, but I just modified it a couple of times while we ate to push it back until we I knew we would be done.
By the time I exited here, I was super hungry and very much ready for lunch at Hollywood and Vine.
Lunch and the Rest of the Day
After my journey to Batuu, I headed over to Hollywood and Vine where we had lunch reservations. By this time, it was about 12:40, and I was hot, tired, and ready to just sit for a bit.
Typically, we recommend you try to eat around 11:00-11:30 a.m., but because we knew we weren’t going to have time to tour much after lunch, we opted to dine a bit later.
By this point in the day, I had done nearly everything and had my next Genie+ reservation for Star Tours secured. My next window for booking opened up, so I snagged one of the last spots for Slinky Dog Dash (9:20-10:00 p.m.).
How I Would Spend the Rest of My Day
Had I continued touring, here is how I would have spent the rest of the day. I did secure the Genie+ reservations you see below, however, because we had other things we needed to do in the park, I wasn’t able to use them.
- 🧞 2:00 Star Tours
- ⚡2:25-3:25 Rise of the Resistance
- Vacation Fun
- Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage
- 🧞 4:35-5:35 2nd ride on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- 🧞 6:15-7:15 2nd ride on Toy Story Mania
- 🧞 9:20-10:00 pm 2nd ride on Slinky Dog
Just like I recommend using Genie+ at Magic Kingdom, I also recommend it for touring Hollywood Studios, too. There aren’t the same number of attractions here, but, the ones they do have are extremely popular and always have long lines.
I had a ton of success using Genie+, and even though attractions went down during the day, having those Genie+ reservations were a great backup to help ensure I still got to ride everything that I wanted to without long waits.
Even though I hate having to spend more money on an already expensive vacation, I definitely think that at Hollywood Studios having Genie+ and purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance is more than worth it.
VIDEO: Is Genie+ WORTH IT at Hollywood Studios? We tested it out!
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