• Hollywood Studios Ride Strategy

Hollywood Studios Ride Strategy

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Feb 09, 2024

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2024

Hollywood Studios Ride Strategy
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Rock N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Fantasmic
  • Star Tours (optional)
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (optional)
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (optional)
  • Muppet Vision 3D (optional)
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration (optional)

If you plan on buying Disney Genie+, start reading this.

If you want to Rope Drop or have access to Early Entry, start reading this

If you want to check the best Kid-Friendly rides, start reading this.   

Hello, young padawan. Glad to see you plan on visiting one of the best theme parks in the United States. Hollywood Studios is absolutely packed with amazing rides and lands that have some of the most popular attractions in all Disney World. In fact, Hollywood Studios got a lot of love from our friend Mickey Mouse in the past decade, which skyrocketed it to a must-go destination for all theme park lovers.

Previously known mostly as the place to go to experience the Tower of Terror and Fantasmic, Hollywood Studios got not one, but two whole new lands making it what many consider the best Disney park in Florida. Now you and your family can visit Toy Story Land to shoot stuff at Toy Story Mania or ride the awesome family roller coaster Slinky Dog Dash. Of course that I need to talk about Galaxy’s Edge, the perfect place for all Star Wars fans with one of the best dark rides in the whole world in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. 

First things first: this guide is mostly aimed at adults, or adults accompanied by a teenager. You also won’t need Disney Genie+ to follow this ride strategy. Here is a valuable tip, though, Hollywood Studios is one of the best Disney parks out there (and one of the busiest ones), so Disney Genie+ might be a very good buy if you want to save precious time. If you want to buy it, make sure to click on the link for the Disney Genie+ guide above.

So, what kind of Jedi preparation do you need to do on your day of visit? First of all, it’s a good idea to open the My Disney Experience app or check the official website to see what attractions are closed on that day. Rock N’ Roller Coaster is an amazing indoor thrill ride, but it breaks down a lot. Also make sure to check out show hours for Fantasmic, which is one of the best and most classic night time shows in all Disney. 

Disney Hollywood Studios Entrance.webp

Fantasmic will take place two times per night or one time only, depending on the season or how packed the park is. Once again, the My Disney Experience app will have all the information you need. Show times are usually at 8pm and 9:30pm, so it might be a good idea to bring an extra jacket if you are coming over during the winter. 

At the time of this writing, there isn’t a single ride in Hollywood Studios that used the Virtual Queue system. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance actually was the first ever attraction to use it, but you can now use the standard queue or buy an individual Lightning Lane pass for it if you wish. Still, keep in mind that Disney can open the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance during very busy days, especially close to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so keep an eye on the My Disney Experience app and click the “Virtual Queue” tab just in case.

So, what should you bring to Disney’s Hollywood Studios? It’s a good idea to grab a backpack, so you can bring some snacks and a bottle of water. Oh, you will also need it to store all the “May The Force Be With You” t-shirts you’re gonna be buying. Remember that you will stay here until late in the night - around 10pm or so - so prepare accordingly. 

Check at what time the park opens a night before the day of your visit. Make sure to get plenty of rest and wake up early! This isn't exactly a Rope Drop guide, but it's a good idea to arrive early since Hollywood Studios is packed with stuff to see and do.

Ready? Time to visit a galaxy far, far away…

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Rating: 10/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Rise Resistance 2.webp

Before talking about the ride itself, let me tell you that Galaxy’s Edge looks absolutely amazing. As someone who loves Star Wars and considers The Empire Strikes Back my favorite movie of all time, I personally give it two thumbs up. Galaxy’s Edge is very reminiscent of Tatooine, the planet we see in Episode IV where Luke Skywalker lived with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. There is even a full-scale version of the Millennium Falcon docked near the entrance to Smuggler’s Run! I don’t even need to tell you to bring your camera, right? Just take in a deep breath, relax and let’s continue for now, there will be plenty of opportunities for pictures later.

The main idea is to head straight to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, one of the most popular Disney World rides. If you did arrive early, the queue shouldn’t be much longer than one hour, since most people will still be at Slinky Dog Dash. This is one of those rides where queue times can take 120 min or more most of the day, so it’s better to arrive early and experience it first thing in the morning. 

So, what is Rise of the Resistance? I could just say that it’s an awesome dark ride which puts you face to face against AT-ATs, Kylo Ren and hundreds of Stormtroopers. In fact, it’s much more than that. So much so that most websites say that the entire ride takes 18 minutes, since they consider the pre-show part of the attraction. And let me tell you, what a pre-show it is.

Rise of the Resistance has the best queue and pre-show in all Disney World rides. I won’t spoil much, but get ready to see a few characters from the sequel trilogy, embark on a dangerous mission inside a spaceship and also see THE most amazing queue transitions in history. Seriously, make sure you have your cellphone in hand, this looks really cool and makes people go completely crazy when they see it for the first time.

What about the main part of the ride? Well, you board a vehicle for eight guests and from that moment onwards your mission is to escape from the evil claws of the First Order. Think of it as a traditional ride similar to Transformers 3D from Universal Studios and The Amazing Spider Man from Islands of Adventure, but you won’t be wearing 3D glasses. The setting in Rise of the Resistance is also way, way bigger than any other dark ride I’ve experienced, giving it an amazing sense of scale and making each set piece look epic. Can you imagine a dark ride with life-size AT-ATs hunting you down? Yep!

Once you exit, queue times should still be pretty long. You can always buy a Lightning Lane pass to come back later or, if there is enough time, face the standard queue by the end of the day. For now, let’s continue our Star Wars adventures!

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

Rating: 8/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Star Wars Galaxys Edge Millenium Falcon.webp

Hey, have you ever wanted to be like Han Solo and pilot the famous YT-1300 Corellian light freighter Millenium Falcon (yeahhh, I like Star Wars)? Now is your chance! Smuggler’s Run is a motion simulator that makes you part of the crew of the most famous spaceship in all fiction (sorry, Enterprise). Six guests board the Falcon to fill the positions of pilots, gunners and engineers.

The fun thing about this ride is that there are several interactive elements, way above what you would find at Epcot’s Mission Space. The pilots will need to guide the Falcon through the scenery and basically dodge obstacles and make sure to not hit any walls. Gunners shoot down Tie Fighters and any obstacle in their way. Engineers have the arduous job of fixing the Falcon and preventing damage caused by our skilled pilots. 

Smuggler’s Run also has above average waiting times, but nothing compared to Rise of the Resistance. On a regular day, expect to wait around 30 to 40 min in line. Still, it’s well worth a first visit, and make sure to take a picture next to the Millenium Falcon, which is docked close to the exit. 

That’s it, you’re done with the two main attractions in Galaxy’s Edge! Now you have some time to walk around, take pictures and buy stuff. Trust me, there is a lot to see, and you can easily spend hours here just browsing shops and snapping pictures with characters. There are Stormtroopers walking around, Imperial officers and even Rey appears from time to time. Shops sell Lightsabers in an almost infinite amount of styles and replicas of R2-D2 and BB-8. 

There are even movie posters signed by actors like Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford which cost thousands of dollars. Take your time and enjoy. Once you are done with Star Wars, it’s time to move to a land of living toys.

Toy Story Mania

Rating: 9/10

Disney hollywood studios toy story mania.jpg

Congratulations, you made it to Toy Story Land, which is just as packed as Galaxy’s Edge. It looks just as awesome as well. Toy Story Land is mostly aimed at kids, but it has a couple of rides that everyone should go, since they are just so much fun and charming. This is also a nice and colorful area which is great for some pictures. You can also spot Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jesse from time to time, and an entire army of Green Army Men marching around and yelling orders while playing the drums. Awesome.

Your first stop here is Toy Story Mania, an awesome shooting gallery which is very reminiscent of a 3D videogame. You sit down on a small vehicle next to another guest, put on 3D glasses and take part in a bunch of carnival mini-games where you control a gun and shoot stuff on a screen in front of you. Sometimes you throw darts to blow up balloons, and sometimes you throw rings to hit targets and score points. It’s simple, it’s fun and everyone can enjoy it. Just make sure you’ve been hitting the gym, since your arm might get sore from shooting stuff over and over and over again. 

Toy Story Mania is a popular attraction, so expect queue times around 40 minutes and even more during peak times. Still, it’s well worth it. When going to Hollywood Studios, it’s better to forget a little bit about waiting times and just enjoy the ride.

Slinky Dog Dash

Rating: 8/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Slinky Dog Dash 3.webp

I just told you to forget a little bit about waiting times, huh? Hey, guess what, Slinky Dog Dash is just as busy as Rise of the Resistance, so expect queue times to be anywhere from 1-2 hours. Is it worth it? Yeah! First of all, this is one of the best family coasters in Florida. Secondly… it's Slinky Dog! He is just so adorable, it would be a shame to just skip this attraction.

Slinky Dog is an amazing stepping stone for young guests that want to go from junior roller coasters to the big ones like the VelociCoaster and even Rock N’ Roller Coaster. There aren’t any steep drops or huge twists and turns here, but you will find some curves and thrills for the entire family. There is also a very fun section where Slinky goes into a straight line and jumps up and down three to four times, making you leave your seat for a second. I do love some air time in my roller coasters.

I would certainly give Slinky Dog Dash a higher rating if the queue times weren't so high almost always. There is also the fact that there isn’t much going on in the queue, which is basically an open space that can get really hot during the summer. 

You probably spent the entire morning walking around Galaxy’s Edge and Toys Story Land, which means it’s probably time for lunch. Grab something to eat, relax a little and then it’s time to head to Hollywood Boulevard.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Rating: 8/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Mickey Minnie Runaway.webp

Hey, another amazing trackless dark ride in Hollywood Studios, featuring everyone’s favorite mascot, Mickey Mouse! And Minnie. And Donald. And Goofy too. Runaway Railway is a recent addition to the park, opening in March 2020, with visuals inspired by the most recent Mickey cartoons. This is a very fun attraction which mixes animatronics, beautiful scenery and amazing visuals with top notch animations. 

Unlike Rise of the Resistance, there aren’t any height requirements here, so the entire family can have a great time together. There are also a bunch of fun set pieces that I’m sure everyone will love. My favorite is Daisy Duck acting as a maestro, playing a classic song and making every vehicle waltz across the floor as if they are dancing. Really, really well done. 

Basically the only downside here are the above average waiting times. Everyone knows by now the equation for the theory of theme park queues: fun ride + recent attraction = long queues². Not as long as Rise of the Resistance or Slinky Dog Dash, but expect to spend from 50 to 60 min in line.

With that said, let’s talk to Steven Tyler for a little bit.

Rock N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Rating: 9/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Rock Roller Coaster.webp

Yep, it’s time to rock n’ roll with one of the most popular bands of the past few decades! Rock N’ Roller coaster is an indoor coaster which puts you inside a vehicle that resembles a limousine, and sends you with a “vip” pass to check out one of Aerosmith’s live shows. By the way, it “sends” you with an initial launch from 0 to 57 mph in 2.8 seconds. It’s certainly one of the best launches in all roller coasters and it’s also what this ride’s known for.

Rock N’ Roller Coaster doesn’t only have a great launch, oh no, it’s more than that. It only features one initial loop but, other than that, expect steep turns in the dark. Yeah, you can’t see much, similar to Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain, but just know that Aerosmith will be there with you during your whole trip. Each seat comes with a set of speakers which randomly play an Aerosmith classic like Walk This Way, Love in an Elevator and Dude Looks Like a Lady. The perfect soundtrack for you to scream your lungs out while spinning in the dark. 

This roller coaster opened way back in 1999, but waiting times can still be high. I’ve seen anywhere from 20 min all the way to 50 min. If every ride in the park is available to the public, there is a good chance that you will only face a queue that lasts around 30 min. I’ve also tried the single rider queue here on multiple occasions, but never had a ton of luck, so I don’t think it’s a better option over the standard queue most of the time.

Done? Great, now it’s time to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Rating: 10/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror.jpeg

This is an absolute classic, and joins well known rides like Epcot’s Spaceship Earth and Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain as a must see. Tower of Terror is much more than just a drop tower dark ride with horror elements. It’s a symbol of Hollywood Studios, an amazing spot to take pictures and proof that old rides sometimes just need a few updates to keep relevant and attract a new audience. This marvelous hotel opened way back in 1994 and still manages to have queue times that can reach the 70 min mark. It’s well worth it, though.

I first went to Tower of Terror on launch week, twenty nine years ago, when I was just nine years old. Yeah, I was very, very scared, but part of me was thrilled to experience something new and unexpected. At that time, the ride only featured a single drop, but updates throughout the years made it so the elevator drops multiple times. Sometimes you even go up before the initial drop in fact happens, so it’s pretty cool that there is a random element involved to take you by surprise. 

Tower of Terror isn’t only about being dropped from a service elevator, oh no! This attraction has so much style, from the way the haunted hotel is set up, to the pre-show revealing a bit of backstory to Mark Silverman voicing Rod Serling in one of his classic Twilight Zone monologues. The visual effects are also gorgeous, especially during the first minute of the ride. 

Well, we showed here the main rides you can find in Hollywood Studios. You should still have some free time before Fantasmic, which should be used to re-ride your top favorites or try something like Star Tours, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular or Beauty and the Beast live on Stage. All three are very fun offerings, but don’t feel bad if you can’t go to them in a single day. As stated before, Hollywood Studios is massive and has some of the best rides in all of Disney World, so you should definitely come here at least two times.

Okay, ready for Fantasmic? Try to arrive at least half an hour early, since this stadium gets packed very, very fast. You want a good seat, preferably in the middle. Let’s go!

Fantasmic

Rating: 10/10

Oh my God, another perfect ten! Just so you know, Fantasmic isn’t a traditional ride, but a night time show which features water effects, fireworks, live actors, characters in costume and a whole lot of Disney magic. The premise is simple: we take a voyage inside Mickey’s mind in a world of imagination, where we visit various Disney movies and even get to see our favorite mouse fighting against a giant, badass dragon.

The show is a mix of live action with various stunts and also musical sequences with your favorite Disney songs, from Aladdin to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Water is often used as a TV screen, where classic sequences from Disney movies are shown, like Simba growing up with Timon and Pumbaa, Aladdin riding the carpet with Jasmine and so on. It’s basically a celebration of the Happiest Place on Earth, all condensed in a twenty five minute show. 

This is one of the best live shows in Disney and perfect for guests of all ages. It also ends with a very pretty sequence, in which you can basically see a bunch of Disney characters together sharing a boat and waving to the crowd. Ariel, Elsa, Mickey, Pinnochio, Belle, random bear I didn’t know existed… yeah, they are all there! You should watch Fantasmic at least once. Just know that it gets a bit chaotic once the show ends, since everyone wants to exit the park at the same time, so keep your family and friends close by.

Let’s now take a loot at the not-so-optional rides. They are still very fun, but moved to the optional space since you might not have enough time to visit them in a single day or you just want to ride Rise of the Resistance once more.

Optional Rides

Star Tours

Rating: 7/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Star Tours C3PO.webp

A Star Wars ride not located in Galaxy’s Edge, wow! Star Tours is one of the first ever motion simulators to launch in Disney World and dates way back to 1989. Since then, Star Tours went through a great number of upgrades and even re-launched in 2011 with the name Star Tours: the Adventure Continues. 

When it launched more than three decades ago, Star Tours had one location based on the original trilogy. This means you would see the same movie and go through the same simulation over and over again. With time, more and more movies and scenes were added, from the prequel trilogy all the way to the new movies with Rey and Kylo Ren. You never know what planets you will be visiting once you sit down and put on your 3D glasses, which is rather exciting and makes re-riding Star Tours more interesting than other rides.

Other than that, Star Tours is a classic motion simulator, similar to The Simpsons at Universal Studios. You sit down on a large vehicle and bounce left and right following whatever is happening on the screen.. You can be shooting down Tie Fighters in one scene just to escape from an Imperial Destroyer in the next one. It’s a little dated, but still pretty fun. Also, you get to hear John Williams' epic score, so that’s always a plus. 

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

Rating: 7/10

Yeah, I know, you read Indiana Jones and the theme song instantly starts playing in your head, right? As the name implies, this is a very fun stunt show which opened in the same year as Star Tours. This 25 min show is composed of a bunch of set pieces, most of them inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark, so you’re going to see a Harrison Ford look alike robbing the idol from a mysterious temple and also fighting bad guys near a scaled down version of a Luftwaffe aircraft.

Epic Stunt Spectacular isn’t about set pieces, since there will be a movie director appearing from time to time to talk a little more about what happens behind the scenes and give some insight on how it is to produce stunts for a big blockbuster movie. I do think these parts take a little more time than they should - most people are there to watch awesome fight scenes, after all - but I’d still say that this is a fun attraction that you should attend.

Since this is a performance with live actors, you should check your park map to see showtimes and plan your perfect itinerary. 

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

Rating: 8/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Beauty and the Beast Live show.webp

Just like Epic Stunt Spectacular, check showtimes for Beauty and the Beast to see what time slot works best for you. Unlike Indiana Jones,  Beauty and the Beast is purely a musical which tells the classic story you probably saw dozens of times. It features Belle, Gaston, Beast,  Lumière, Cogsworth and almost every character from the original animated movie. Belle leaves her village, ends up inside Beasts’ castle, earns his love, breaks his curse, happy ending!

I really like how colorful and well made the whole show is. Every costume looks amazing, and it also helps that the actors are really good when it comes to choreography and expressing their emotions to the audience. They sing some of the best songs, from Be Our Guest to the classic Beauty and the Beast main title theme. If you like musicals or Beauty and the Beast, you must come here. If there are kids in your party, you should definitely come here. 

The whole show takes around 25 minutes. Make sure to arrive a little bit earlier than usual if you want to sit up front and grab a good spot!

Muppet Vision 3D

Rating: 7/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Muppet Vision entrance.webp

C’mon, everyone loves the Muppets, right? Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie, they have all survived generations and still manage to be fun and charming. Muppet Vision 3D is a short 15 minute movie directed by Jim Henson himself, the man who created the Muppets. It’s all about our beloved characters guiding the audience through a movie studio and working on sketch acts that show how 3D technology works. Hey, Muppet Vision 3D launched back in 1991, and 3D was a huge thing at the time (and still is, honestly). 

So, is Muppet Vision 3D one of the best 3D movies out there? No. I don’t think it’s in the same league as Magic Kingdom’s Philharmagic or Animal Kingdom’s It’s Tough to be a Bug, but Muppets is still very, very charming, and a special delight for kids of all ages. There is also something very comfy about entering the theater and watching something that launched so long ago and helped kick off the age of 3D movies in theme parks. Is it nostalgia? Perhaps. If you have extra time and want to chill out, you certainly can’t go wrong by siding with Kermit the Frog.

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

Rating: 7/10

Disney Hollywood Studios Frozen Sing along.webp

Yeah, that’s a long name. And yeah, that’s a Frozen musical show, which means that someone, sometime, somewhere will be singing Let it Go inside that theater. This is a 30 minute show which tells the story of the first movie with musical acts and also with the help of actors that come on stage to explain what’s going on and tell a few jokes. While Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage can be enjoyed by basically anyone, I’d say that Frozen Sing-Along is mostly aimed at kids and fans of the franchise.

I just wish that the musical acts were longer and more frequent, since the actors take a lot of time with their dialogues and entertaining kids with light jokes, basically incorporating the role of a narrator. I also wish that Anna and Elsa appeared sooner, since they only show up near the end of the show. Still, if you have children in your party or any Frozen fans, you do need to bring them here. Just make sure to check out showtimes on your park map. Ps: yes, they sing Let it Go.

Closing Thoughts

We all hope you had an awesome time reading the strategy for enjoying Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Don’t feel bad if you can’t see everything in a single day. Hollywood Studios is massive and queue times can be really rough sometimes, so make sure to come here at least two times if you want to experience everything. 

You can also buy Disney Genie+ to skip lines at the most popular attractions like Slinky Dog Dash and the Tower of Terror, or spend extra and get priority access to Rise of the Resistance with a Lightning Lane pass. Whatever you decide to do, we hope you have a lot of fun. Until next time!

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