Hollywood Studios Best Rides: How to Spend Your Time

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HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS BEST RIDES

Disney’s Hollywood Studios may have a cool, laid-back vibe, but it is packed full of amazing rides.  With newer themed lands for Toy Story and Star Wars, no wonder this park is so popular.  You will need a strategy to make the most of your day.  We cover the best rides in Hollywood Studios so you can decide how to spend your time.

RISE OF THE RESISTANCE

Scene from Rise of the Resistance ride
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Ride name: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Location: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Restrictions: Guests must be 40 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Rise of the Resistance may be the best ride in all of Disney World.  It is a fully immersive experience where you are thrust in the middle of heated battle betweenthe First Order and the Resistance.

You are given an assignment by Rey and BB-8 on behalf of the Resistance.  Unfortunately, you are captured by the First Order for interrogation.  

For part of the ride, you are walking or standing.  Much of the time, you will be in a trackless transportation vehicle.  You will move forward, backward, sideways and experience a sudden drop

The ride includes live human beings, larger-than-life props, simulations and more.  You will feel like you are literally in a scene of a Star Wars film. The whole experience is absolutely amazing.  This is the way!

TOWER OF TERROR

Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios
Tower of Terror

Ride name: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Location: Sunset Boulevard.

Restrictions: Guests must be 40 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Tower of Terror will always be one of my favorite rides.  As a family, we have so many good memories on this attraction.

You enter the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but find yourself stuck in the eerie twilight zone.  This haunted elevator ride feels like the floor has been pulled away, leaving you in a free fall.  You are instantly filled with fear.  Everyone screams as you plummet toward the ground.

The elevator rises and falls a few more times as you gasp for breath.  This ride scares me so much, all I can do is laugh.  I love it!

AEROSMITH DISNEY

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Ride name: Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.

Location: Sunset Boulevard.

Restrictions: Guests must be 48 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

The Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster is a speedy coaster ride along a dark freeway.  From the very start, you blast off like a rocket in your stretch limousine, making your way to an Aerosmith concert.  

This ride is fast, fun and rocking!  Plus, you will hear Aerosmith tunes throughout the ride.

MICKEY AND MINNIE RUNAWAY RAILWAY

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway in Hollywood Studios
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Ride name: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Location: Hollywood Boulevard.

Restrictions: There are no height restrictions.

Don’t let the cartoonish themes fool you.  This is a great ride!  You will burst into a cartoon world with Mickey and Minnie on a wild, runaway train.

Some of the technology is similar to Rise of the Resistance.  You will be in a trackless vehicle that moves about freely.  There are different scenes along the way, each offering distinct motions and effects.

This ride appeals to both kids and adults.  Don’t skip this one.  You will be pleasantly surprised!

TOY STORY MANIA RIDE

Toy Story Mania! in Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Mania!

Ride name: Toy Story Mania!

Location: Toy Story Land.

Restrictions: There are no height restrictions.

This is a carnival mid-way style, 4D shooting game with Toy Story themes.  You wear 3D glasses for this experience.

Your car whips around the corner as you approach each shooting stage, or mini-game.  Objects move across the virtual screen as you rapidly fire your pull-string cannon trying to hit the targets.  

Scores tally on your display, as well as your shooting accuracy percentage.  At the end of the ride, you can see who is the top gunslinger

This ride has made it abundantly clear that I am a lousy shot.  My kids like to ride with me on this one because they know they will win.  

Whether you are competitive or not, this game/ride is a lot of fun.  It is a workoutthough.  Your arm will be tired by the end of the ride.

As a bonus, the ride queue contains tons of nostalgic imagery of toys and games.  You will be giggling like a child throughout the whole experience.

MILLENNIUM FALCON RIDE

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at Hollywood Studios
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Ride name: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

Location: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Restrictions: Guests must be 38 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Have you ever dreamed of flying in the Millennium Falcon?  Now is your chance!

This is not a sit back and enjoy the moment ride.  It is a working ride.  

Don’t sweat it.  The jobs are easy and fun.  They are part of the experience.

Before boarding, you will be designated as a pilot, gunner or engineer.  The cabin holds six guests.  So, two people will handle each job.  

Each role is important and will determine the level of success in your mission.  May the force be with you!

SLINKY DOG COASTER

Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios
Slinky Dog Dash

Ride name: Slinky Dog Dash.

Location: Toy Story Land.

Restrictions: Guests must be 38 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Slinky Dog Dash is a launched roller coaster ride with lots of smooth twists and turns.  You have the sensation that the springy coils are being stretched as you make your way around turns and up and down hills.  

This coaster is fun for both kids and adults.  It is not an extreme thrill ride, but the experience is worth your time.

If possible, try to ride Slinky Dog Dash at night.  Toy Story Land takes on a whole different vibe when everything is lit up!

STAR TOURS

Ride queue for Star Tours
Star Tours ride queue

Ride name: Star Tours – The Adventures Continue.

Location: Echo Lake.

Restrictions: Guests must be 40 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Star Tours is a 3D flight simulator where you get to experience multiple settings from the Star Wars films.  Scenes are chosen randomly for each flight.  

Since there are so many iconic movie settings, the options are almost endless.  So, you will likely have a different experience each and every ride.

Although ride technologies have advanced, this is still a fun experience.  If you are a Star Wars fan, you definitely will want to ride this a few times.

Since this is not one of the newer rides, the wait times are usually short.

If you tend to get motion sickness with simulator rides, you may want to skip this one.

ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS DISNEY WORLD

Alien Swirling Saucers in Hollywood Studios
Alien Swirling Saucers

Ride name: Alien Swirling Saucers.

Location: Toy Story Land.

Restrictions: Guests must be 38 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

This ride is really targeted at kids, but can be surprisingly fun if you keep an open mind.  The adorable Toy Story aliens take you on a spinning jaunt in a flying saucer

This reminds me of the old Scrambler ride common at county fairs.  It has a whipping motion as you make your rounds.  Nothing revolutionary here, but it is fun.

The wait time for this ride can get long.  Personally, 20 to 30 minutes would be the longest time I would wait.  If you have younger kids and this is a top priority, it may be worth waiting longer if necessary.

VISITING HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

What time does Hollywood Studios open?

Hollywood Studios normally opens at 9:00 am.  However, park hours vary throughout the year.  There are days when the park opens at 8:00 or 8:30.  Your best bet is to monitor the Hollywood Studios site to verify park hours during your visit.

Best time of year to go to Disney World

Let’s face it, Disney World is busy most of the year.  However, there are a few guidelines to avoid the most crowded days.

In general, stay away from:
  • Typical school vacation weeks
  • Holidays
  • Weekends
  • Summer travel season
Crowds tend to be lighter:
  • Mid-January
  • Late January to mid-February
  • Late February to early March
  • Late April to mid-May
  • Last two weeks of August
  • Most of September and October
  • Early to mid-November
  • Early to mid-December

Best day to go to Hollywood Studios

With themed areas for both Toy Story and Star Wars, this park has become very popular.  It draws big crowds daily.  If possible, try to go here on a weekday rather than a weekend.  The crowds should be a little lighter.

From our experience, we feel you are almost forced to purchase Genie+ (and possibly individual Lightning Lane where available) in order to enjoy this park.  More on that in a moment.

Best time to go to Hollywood Studios

It is best to arrive at Hollywood Studios early in the morning before it officially opens.  The lines build quickly and you will need to knock out a couple attractions early in order to have a productive day. 

Crowds can thin out a bit around 6:00Some prefer to go in the evening after 6:00.  

Both the Toy Story and Star Wars lands are wonderful at night.  In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you will see many young guests happily parading around with a glowing light saber.  Toy Story Land is illuminated with strings of holiday lights.

If you stay at a Disney resort, consider going early in the morning and after 6:00.  You can head back to the resort in the middle of the day to nap or take a refreshing swim.  I think you will find this tactic rejuvenating.

Disney early theme park entry

If you are a Disney resort guest, be sure to take advantage of the Early Theme Park Entry.  Daily, Disney World resort guests can enter the parks 30 minutes before the general public.

I acknowledge that this is not a lot of time.  It does help more than you would think.  Use that extra half hour to your advantage.

One day at Hollywood Studios

Can you see all of Hollywood Studios in one day?  Based on recent crowd levels, this is difficult without utilizing Genie+.  If you are at the park before it opens, stay all day and use your time wisely, you will have a possible chance to do most everything.

If you purchase Genie+, your odds of seeing it all in a day will increase significantly.

FASTPASS FOR HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Ride queue for Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror ride queue

Ride lines can get long at theme parks.  This has always been an issue.  

Disney World previously used a system, called fast pass, that decreased your wait times for a few attractions during your visit.

The approach to this ongoing issue has evolved through the years.  The current system employs the names Genie+ and Lightning Lane.  The concept is the same, but the mechanics have been tweaked.  

Each ride essentially has two lines.  Your general park admission gets you in the regular line.  

If you prefer to shorten the wait times for some of your rides, you can pay additional fees to get in the Lightning Lane.

Most attractions allow access to the Lightning Lane if you purchase the general service, Genie+.

A few attractions require an individual, or a la carte, purchase to gain access to the Lightning Lane.

Hollywood Studios genie plus rides

The following attractions are offered through Genie+ (subject to change without notice):

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior Play & Dance!
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway*
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!

The following attractions are available for individual lightning lane purchase (subject to change without notice):

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

* Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be offered through the general Genie+service until August 7, 2022.  At that time, it will once again require an individual Lightning Lane purchase.

Disney genie plus cost

The cost for Genie+ is $15 per person per day.

Disney lightning lane price

The cost for an individual Lightning Lane (a la carte) purchase varies by park, attraction and dateCurrently, Disney charges $15 for Lightning Lane access to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Hollywood Studios genie plus strategy

Effective June 8, 2022, you can only buy Genie+ through the My Disney Experience app on the day of your visit (beginning at midnight).  Genie+ must be purchased one day at a time.  

Use these tips as part of your ride strategy:

  • Purchase Genie+ at midnight or first thing in the morning when you wake up.
  • Prioritize what rides are most important to your family.  Plan your day around those attractions.
  • Lock in your first Genie+ attraction promptly at 7:00 am.  This is the earliest time you can make a Lightning Lane selection.
  • If you plan to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you have a choice to makeGet in the regular line as soon as the park opens or purchase the individual Lightning Lane so you can set a time to ride.  This attraction is popular.  The line builds early and typically stays long throughout the day.  The Lightning Lane for this ride has been known to sell outIf you plan to make the a la carte purchase, you should also lock this in at 7:00 am.
  • Immediately upon redeeming your Genie+ Lightning Lane or when 2 hours have passed (whichever occurs first), set your next Genie+ Lightning Lane.  Note that the 2 hour wait starts when the park opens, even if you booked a selection at 7:00 am.
  • Consider using Genie+ early for Slinky Dog Dash.  There is strong demand for this ride.  Although riding at night is a blast, you will likely be in the regular line.
  • Smugglers Run, Tower of Terror, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster all tend to have long wait times.  Consider how these attractions fit into the priorities for your family and plan accordingly.  
  • Always set your next Genie+ Lightning Lane as soon as it is available.  The key is to start early and to set the next one immediately when your window opens.
  • If the Genie+ times for a specific ride are completely booked or only open late in the day, keep checking your app.  People cancel Genie+ Lightning Lane times regularly.  Guests get tired, become hungry, or change their minds.  If you periodically check the app, you will find that time slots may become available.  When you find one that you like, be prepared to act quickly.

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

  • Visit the Hollywood Studios site for park hours, ticket information and updates.
  • Watch our videos for additional Hollywood Studios travel tips.
  • Consider purchasing the unofficial guide to Walt Disney World 2022.  Thisguide covers everything about the parks, resorts, restaurants, rides, tour plans and more.  It includes lots of tips to save you time and money!  We have used this book for every Disney trip we have ever taken.
  • Pack sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Pack your camera to capture memories.

Check out our other theme park guides:

About the author

We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.

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