Walt Disney World Touring Plan: Hollywood Studios updated with Genie+

Please note: Walt Disney World operations continue to be in a state of flux. For recommendations about visiting Walt Disney World right now please visit WDW Prep School.

Although a visit to Walt Disney World is a vacation, it’s like no other vacation you’ve ever taken. Considering the expense, the last thing you want to do is spend your days waiting in lines. Having a solid touring plan for each park is a must. That way you can prioritize your “must sees” and get the most bang for your buck.

That said, if you are someone who likes to go with the flow and be more casual about planning, Disney’s new free Genie tool will help. Or you can use the excellent TouringPlans system which costs $18 for full features for a year. In essence for either system you put in your “to do” list and it optimizes your plans based on walking, wait times, and real time crowds. I seriously cannot endorse TouringPlans enough and wouldn’t go on a Walt Disney World trip without it. Their app’s wait time accuracy is unmatched, whereas Disney’s free wait time system is often wrong.

Generally, avoid lines means arriving at the parks early. Being there at park opening aka “rope drop” allows you to squeeze in some top attractions before lines build. Conversely, you can usually get on some high demand rides with minimal wait very late in the day right before closing, or during fireworks presentations. These tactics are tried and true regardless of what system is currently in place for Disney park guests. Please note that many parks open upwards of 45 minutes ahead of the posted time, and if you stay on property you can enjoy an additional half hour early entry to any park each day. That means an even more early arrival (I know, groan).

In Hollywood Studios there are six attractions that can garner long lines:

  • Tower of Terror
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad

To avoid the lines you can use a strategy of early arrival/late day boarding, Genie+ and premium Lightening Lane.

For early arrival and/or late night strategy consider the following:

Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror

or

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad

or

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Included in the new Genie+ pass system which costs $15 per person per day is:

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
  • Disney Jr. Dance Party
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – Returning December 19, 2021
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!

The two premium top tier attractions that are priced separately on a surge pricing basis are:

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Special Note on Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

This new area remains wildly popular, and although you no longer have to reserve a time to actually visit it (thank goodness), it is a good idea to plan, especially if it’s a priority for you.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance remains a ridiculously in demand experience. To attempt to get a spot for a boarding group for free try at 7 a.m. via the MyDisney Experience app. New slots open up again at 1 p.m. but you must be in the park to register for the 1 p.m. release. If you are unsuccessful, this is one case where it’s worth the premium fee to skip the line and experience the attraction. Wait times can easily soar to upwards of two hours.

Once you secure your Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance, do non-attraction experiences first thing in the morning including building a lightsaber (fee), building a droid (fee), visiting the Cantina, and shopping. Please note you can reserve a time slot for both droid and lightsaber building to avoid the lines. These fill up quickly so reserve ahead of time. In addition, shopping can get jammed. Using the mobile app will help you check out faster.

Take photos and explore the area a bit, following along with the Play Disney App, an interactive game based app, as you go. Then jump into line for Smugglers Run, but be prepared for a wait unless you sprung for the line skipping Genie+ system. When your boarding group is called, take a spin on Rise of the Resistance.

The rest of your day can unfold in however you like. Use your planning apps for the best experience. One attraction of note: Frozen Sing – a – long has been reportedly filling quickly and thus better to catch earlier, rather than later in the day. Also noteworthy both Rock n Rollercoaster and Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run offer single rider lanes which always go quicker than regular standby lanes if you are willing to go alone.

Here’s a full round up of the attractions at Hollywood Studios:

  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Star Tours – 4D flight simulator (moving room – bumpy but not crazy) A family favorite.
  • Muppet Vision 3D – 4D theater show with 3D glasses
  • Frozen Sing A Long – Fun Frozen show with slapstick comedy. Snow at the end. We always enjoy it. 
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad – fun cartoon themed dark ride
  • Toy Story Mania – interactive laser gun game ride
  • Slinky Dog Dash – mild, family friendly roller coaster
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Rockin’ Rollercoaster – inverted thrilling coaster in the dark
  • Tower of Terror – freefall ride.

Shows:

Beauty and the Beast – Lovely live show with great singing and dancing

Indiana Jones Stunt Show – fun shows behind the scenes look at movie making. Lots of fire and explosions. Currently slated to return by end of 2021.

End of Day show – Fantasmic is on hiatus (and is speculated it may not return). World of Animation fireworks display is every night at the Chinese Theater.

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