By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Hollywood Studios Day 1 Disney World Genie+ Itinerary



By Dave Shute

(Note: this is from the Disney World Genie+ Itinerary.)

SUGGESTED APPROACH TO DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Disney’s Hollywood Studios at its opening in 1989 celebrated and illuminated the making of movies and TV shows in a setting of an idealized Los Angeles. While references to film, movie and animation franchises still dominate its offerings, over the last decade or so it has lost most of its “making of” attractions, and expanded its settings to imaginary places, of both this planet and other planets.

Recently completing a major expansion that includes new Toy Story and Star Wars lands, Disney’s Hollywood Studios now takes more than a day to see with reasonable waits, especially since many days of the year demand for its rides via Genie+ and Individual Lighting Lane purchases quickly can exceed supply, leading to some spectacular waits for those who are shut out. Moreover, reliable reliability issues with a couple of key attractions—Rise of the Resistance and Tower of Terror in particular—make it wise to plan a second day at the Studios just in case something breaks on Day 1…

The best attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are Slinky Dog Dash, Rise of the Resistance, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror. In the next group are Toy Story Mania, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (more appealing to deep Star Wars fans than to the general public), Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and, when it reopens later in 2022, Fantasmic.

All of these rides except the not-yet reopened Fantasmic are accessible via Disney’s new paid systems, “Individual Lightning Lane” (currently Rise of the Resistance) or Genie+ (the rest). Among the half-dozen attractions beyond those noted above available in Genie+, none much needs Genie+, although it can be handy for the scheduled shows like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.

A smaller group of these rides is available to those eligible for Early Entry. All those listed above as “best” and “next group” are on the Early Entry list, as are the minor rides Star Tours and the skippable Alien Swirling Saucers.

Given current guest preferences and wait patterns, how quickly ILL for Rise of the Resistance and Genie+ for Slinky Dog Dash, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway sell out, and how hard it can be on medium or high crowd days to get more than 2 or 3 high-priority Genie+ bookings, it can be very hard to do the Studios without substantial waits.

The most time-efficient way to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios is to see Rise of the Resistance via Individual Lightning Lane, to see Slinky Dog Dash and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway during or right after Early Entry (when almost everyone else in the park is heading for Rise of the Resistance), and to use Genie+ for a few other rides, with your highest priorities for Genie+ being Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (if you are interested), Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Tower of Terror, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Fantasmic may join this group after it reopens, if it has Genie+ eligibility.

While with luck you can successfully do much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in one long day, probably missing some shows as their limited schedules can be hard to optimize, and facing some long waits, a more relaxing and forgiving approach divides it over two days.

In my suggested itinerary, your Day 1 focus is an afternoon and evening covering (mostly via Genie+) the attractions near Sunset Boulevard, interrupted by ILL for Rise of the Resistance.

Later in your visit, Day 2 has you seeing the rest of the park, beginning with Slinky Dog Dash and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway during Early Entry, your key Genie+ target being Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and with more ILL and Genie+ available for re-rides of Day 1 attractions or re-booking rides that didn’t quite work out on Day 1…

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS DAY 1: FIRST SUNDAY AGENDA

Your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios begins today. After you have done the logistics tasks in the early morning, the rest of your morning is free to sleep in and goof off, after which you will see the areas of the park near Sunset Boulevard, interrupted by a trek to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to see Rise of the Resistance via ILL.

LOGISTICS

At 7a, book a time via Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance. Take the earliest availability after noon that you can get. You may have little in the way of choices…

On Genie+, check the return times for Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. If either shows availability noon or later, book the one that overlaps least with your ILL return times. If return times are still showing for the morning, refresh the Tip Board every ten minutes or so, as one or the other—most likely Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster—will start showing post-noon return times around 8a or earlier. If both look about the same, pick Tower of Terror.

Two hours after official general public park open—that is at 11a for a 9a park open most days– come back to Genie+ and book whichever of Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster you hadn’t already booked. Your return time will most likely be midafternoon to early evening, depending on crowd levels.

Today you do not need to use Early Entry.

Given limitations coming out of COVID, I don’t particularly recommend any dining reservations. Pre-COVID, I would have recommended Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or 50’s Prime Time Café.

AT THE PARK

Arrive at the tapstiles at Disney’s Hollywood Studios no later than the opening of your first ILL or Genie+ window, unless they are 3p or later, in which case arrive by 1p.

Your plan today is to see all the attractions in the Sunset Boulevard area, including Fantasmic if it has reopened by your trip, and in addition Rise of the Resistance via Individual Lightning Lane. You will complete your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on another day.

I can’t give you a schedule of which attractions to see when, as your Genie+ and ILL return times will shape your day, but your goal is to see the following (links are to show schedules):

In Sunset Boulevard:

In the nearby Animation Courtyard

  • Disney Junior Dance Party (skippable if your party has no little ones)
  • Star Wars Launch Bay (skippable if your party has no Star Wars fans)

Elsewhere via ILL:

  • Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Check the times for Fantasmic (if open) and for Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (most commonly on the hour into the late afternoon) at the links above to fit them in.

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

You will have an early start for your final visit to Epcot.

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