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Touring Hollywood Studios (without Genie+)

Touring Hollywood Studios (without Genie+)

Some parks at Walt Disney World are easier to tour than others, and Hollywood Studios is a more challenging one due to the spread out nature of the attractions and the likelihood of headliner attractions going down during the day.

On this day, we tested out touring at Hollywood Studios – one of us (Heather) toured with Genie+, and the other less lucky one of us (me, Felicia) toured without Genie+.

If you are able to visit Hollywood Studios on a day none of the major attractions go down or are closed for refurbishment, you can most likely have a fairly successful touring day without using Genie+.

Unfortunately, I experienced multiple attractions going down and had an overall rough day touring, even though the day started off great.

Here’s how it went:

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 with Genie+.


During my Hollywood Studios visit, I was only able to accomplish 8 rides/attractions in the roughly 5 hours before lunch time at 12:40 p.m.

I didn’t continue touring after lunch, but if I had I would have likely spent much of the rest of the day experiencing some of the shows I didn’t see before lunch and ended the night by hopping in line right before park close for Rise of the Resistance or going to see Fantasmic!

Here is a summary of what I was able to do:

Hollywood And Vine

If I had stayed after lunch, I would have tried to do these remaining items:

Before we left the room

Because I wasn’t using Genie+ or buying Individual Lightning Lanes, I didn’t have much to do before we left the room except wake up and get ready.

We were visiting Hollywood Studios on May the 4th so expected the park to be busier than a typical day. Regular park opening was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. which meant that Early Theme Park Entry was at 8 a.m.

We left the room extra early, around 6:10 a.m. to head for the Skyliner.

Getting to Hollywood Studios

During this trip, we were staying in a Finding Nemo Suite at Art of Animation which meant we would be taking the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios.

The Skyliner started operating at 7 a.m. on this day but we wanted to be near the front of the line so decided to get in line around 6:15 a.m. By this point, there were already around 20 people ahead of us.


Cast members allowed guests to start boarding a few minutes early at 6:55 a.m. From there, we road the Skyliner to Caribbean Beach Resort where we hopped off and transferred to the Hollywood Studios line with no wait.

We arrived at Hollywood Studios at 7:03 a.m., so it was an overall quick experience.


Unlike the other parks, Hollywood Studios checks guests for Early Theme Park Entry before entering the park.

Once through security, several cast members are stationed near the ticket windows ready to scan MagicBands or park tickets to check for Early Theme Park Entry eligibility.

Hollywood Studios Entrance Early Entry

Once our bands were scanned, we were let through the tapstiles. We were lined up at the tapstiles at around 7:06 a.m. and there were only 5-6 people deep lined up at each one in front of us.

Hollywood Studios Tapstiles

We were held here at the tapstiles until right at 7:30 a.m. By this time, the crowd behind us had grown significantly so arriving so early was a huge benefit for us.

Once inside the park, guests were able to head in 1 of 4 different directions:

  • 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)

Early Entry

Every park has a different opening procedure and Hollywood Studios was one of my favorites on this trip. Sometimes, guests are let in the park and then held near Trolley Car Café until closer to park opening.

Once the park is ready to open, cast members let guests head toward their attraction of choice and this process is chaotic and crowded with mobs of people walking (and often running) toward the attractions.

Luckily on this day we were able to enter the park and head directly to the attraction of our choice to wait in line there instead of being held near Trolley Car Café so we never were stuck navigating with a huge crowd of people headed the same direction.

Heather and I were both headed to the same starting attraction: Slinky Dog Dash. Once inside the park, we headed directly to Toy Story Land to get in line. We were around 10th in line.

line for slinky dog dash

Attraction 1: Slinky Dog Dash

  • Posted Wait: N/A (Early Theme Park Entry)
  • Time entering line: 7:52
  • Time boarding: 7:57
  • Time exiting: 8:00
  • Total Wait: 5 minutes (time it took to walk the queue)

We waited in line outside of the actual Slinky Dog Dash queue until 7:52 a.m. At that time, cast members began slowly walking us through the queue to start boarding. This process took approximately 5 minutes to walk the whole queue.

Slinky Dog Dash On Ride

Because we were let in the queue relatively early, we were able to ride and exit by 8 a.m., which was the official start time for Early Theme Park Entry. Off to a great start!

Attraction 2: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

  • Posted Wait: 10 minutes
  • Time entering line: 8:05
  • Time boarding: 8:12
  • Time exiting: 8:19
  • Total Wait: 7 minutes

After exiting Slinky Dog Dash, we headed straight for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. While this wasn’t the closest attraction we could have chosen (that would have been Toy Story Mania), this was the best use of our time.

Mickey And Minnie's Runaway Railway

We were able to hop in line by 8:05 a.m. and were off the attraction at 8:19 a.m. This meant that we had already rode two headliner attractions and still had 10 minutes left of Early Entry time before regular park guests would be let into the park. Really great start to the morning.

Sadly, there is where my day kind of went off the rails….

First Hour

The most popular attraction (and the attraction with the highest wait times) at Hollywood Studios is easily Rise of the Resistance. The most efficient way to ride it is to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane. However, I was testing touring without this option so I was going to need to wait in line for it at some point during the day.

A popular option for riding is to rope drop the attraction during Early Entry to try to minimize wait times. If there are no issues, this can be a good use of Early Entry time. However, Rise of the Resistance is notorious for going down frequently through out the day and can often open late for a similar reason.

Because of this, I didn’t want to risk losing my Early Entry time on an attraction that may go down so I chose not to rope drop it. But at the point I was done with Slinky Dog Dash and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway with some time left during Early Entry, I decided to head over to get in line for it before regular park guests were let in the park. I knew I would have a decent wait even at that time, but it would be lower than the rest of the day.

rise of the resistance galaxy's edge

Unfortunately, by the time I made it over to Galaxy’s Edge, Rise of the Resistance was down. I decided to wait about 10 minutes to see if it would come up before regular park guests made it back to that area of the park to get in line. It never did.

I had plans to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run later in the day using the Single Rider line and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was down for refurbishment during this visit, so my next top priority was Tower of Terror. After giving up on Rise of the Resistance I began the trek to the opposite side of the park to ride Tower of Terror around 8:35 a.m.

I hopped in line with a posted wait time of 15 minutes around 8:40 a.m. As I was waiting to enter the library for the first pre-show, Tower of Terror went down. Cast members gave everyone the option to wait it out or leave the queue.

tower of terror hollywood studios

I decided to wait it out a little bit since I was so close to boarding and I didn’t want to have to come back to that side of the park again later in the day and wait in the outdoor portion of the queue in the sun.

After waiting 30 minutes, we were told to leave the line. No recovery was given to come back later in the day without a wait. We were told we could go to guest services to talk to them but I didn’t want to burn more time on this as I had already wasted an hour not doing anything.

Attraction 3: Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight

  • Posted Wait: 25 minutes
  • Time entering line: 9:23
  • Time boarding: 9:32
  • Time exiting: 9:33
  • Total Wait: 5 minutes
  • Notes: Once you enter the building, you are close to meeting Olaf. There isn’t much waiting inside the actual building so you can roughly gauge the number of people ahead of you from the outside portion of the queue.

By this time, wait times were pretty high at a lot of the attractions. Especially because three of the headliner attractions were down (Rise of the Resistance, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster).

The wait to Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight was relatively short so I hopped in line to meet him. The posted wait was 25 minutes but I only had to wait 9.

Meet Olaf At Celebrity Spotlight

Olaf doesn’t sign autographs but you can get a souvenir signature card if this is something you’re interested in. Something else to note is that there is no Photopass photographer here. Instead there is an automated Photopass camera that just randomly snaps photos. Expect to get a lot of not great photos (like the one above) at character meets that have these automated cameras.

There was a cast member available that was willing to use my camera to take photos or videos, but I opted for her to take video so came away with no good photos.

Second Hour

Attraction 4: Star Tours

  • Posted Wait: 25 minutes
  • Time entering line: 9:36
  • Time boarding: 9:46
  • Time exiting: 9:56
  • Total Wait: 10 minutes
Star Tours

After meeting Olaf, I headed to Star Tours. The posted wait time was 25 minutes and I expected that wait time to be rather accurate. I ended up only having to wait 10 minutes to board and was back off the attraction 20 minutes after entering the queue.

When I exited Star Tours, I went to Galaxy’s Edge and spent about 20 minutes doing some May the 4th activities before heading to my 5th attraction of the day.

Attraction 5: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

  • Posted Wait: 110 minutes
  • Time entering line: 10:23
  • Time boarding: 10:27
  • Time exiting: 10:32
  • Total Wait: 4 minutes using the Single Rider Line
  • Notes: There are 3 possible roles while riding this attraction (Gunner, Pilot, and Engineer). The pilots actually steer the ride while the gunners and engineers basically press buttons. You will almost always be an engineer if you ride via Single Rider line. If being a pilot is a priority, consider waiting in the regular standby queue for this.

Once I was finished meeting up with Allyson and Heather for a few minutes to do some May the 4th activities, I went to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. This attraction has a Single Rider line that I wanted to use to minimize my wait.

Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run

The regular standby line posted wait time was almost two hours. With Single Rider, I was able to enter the queue and be off the ride in just 10 minutes. If you decide to ride this way, be prepared for your party to be split up.

Third Hour

Attraction 6: Toy Story Mania

  • Posted Wait: 40 minutes
  • Time entering line: 10:42
  • Time boarding: 11:00
  • Time exiting: 11:07
  • Total Wait: 18 minutes

At some point while I was riding Smugglers Run, both Rise of the Resistance and Tower of Terror came back up. Unfortunately, by the time I was exiting Smugglers Run the waits for these were over 2 hours and an hour and a half, respectively.

On the positive, those two attractions opening drew crowds away from Toy Story Land so the wait times there went down. Both Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania had a posted wait time of 40 minutes so I headed to Toy Story Mania to ride.

Toy Story Mania

I only had to wait 18 minutes to ride, and I received the highest score in my vehicle. Yahtzee!

Attraction 7: For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration

  • Show start time: 11:30
  • Time entering show: 11:17
  • Show length: 30 minutes
  • Time exiting: 12:00

After riding Toy Story Mania, the remaining attractions I wanted to ride all had really long waits. It was close to the start time for a Frozen Sing Along show so I decided to head there and watch the 11:30 a.m. show.

For The First Time In Forever Frozen Sing Along

I arrived about 10-15 minutes before the show start time and there were plenty of seats still available. The show is approximately 30 minutes long and is an entertaining option, even for non-Frozen fans.

Fourth Hour

Attraction 8: Muppet*Vision 3D

  • Posted Wait: 10 minutes to next show
  • Time entering line: 12:04
  • Time boarding: 12:14
  • Time exiting: 12:30
  • Total Wait: 10 minutes

After leaving the Frozen Sing Along, I knew I had time for one more thing before our lunch reservations. The Frozen Sing Along is right across from the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show. I was exiting the sing along around 12 and Indiana Jones was starting at 12 so I could have possibly hustled over there and entered the show a couple of minutes after it started.

Instead of doing that, I opted to go watch Muppet*Vision 3D. In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated attractions at Hollywood Studios. There is rarely a wait more than just waiting for the next show to begin, it is inside out of the heat, and it is both cute and hilarious.

Muppet Vision 3D

The show lasts approximately 15 minutes so I was exiting right at 12:30. It was now time to head to our 12:40 dining reservation at Hollywood and Vine (read our review of that here).

In the 4 and a half hours before lunch, I was able to accomplish 8 total attractions. I hadn’t ridden 3 of the headliner attractions (Rise of the Resistance, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror) so it wasn’t the most successful touring day. I was definitely hindered by rides being down during the start of the day.

How I would have spent the rest of the day

After eating at Hollywood and Vine, we decided to head back to the hotel to get some work done. However, if I was visiting for vacation, I would have stayed at the park and finished out the rest of the things I wanted to do there:

fantasmic at hollywood studios

Final Thoughts

Overall, touring Hollywood Studios would have been so much easier with Genie+. If you don’t want to buy Genie+ at all of the parks, I would recommend first buying it for Magic Kingdom but second purchasing it for Hollywood Studios.

Also, be prepared for some of the larger attractions here to go down through out the day. If and when this happens, be ready to pivot. Consider trying to see one of the many shows available here as an alternative or hop in line for a less popular attraction while you wait for everything to be fully operational again.

VIDEO: Is Genie+ WORTH IT at Hollywood Studios? We tested it out!