Of the four parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida, the Hollywood Studios theme park has quickly become the go to park for every resort guest after the opening of Toy Story Land in 2018, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019, as well as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in 2020.
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First Time Planning? If you are planning your first ever Disney trip or first trip since the pandemic, check out my Disney trip planning tips for first time guests to see how to prepare for your visit to the Happiest Place on Earth! (Link opens in a new tab so you can continue reading the story below)
Note: This post assumes you’ve bought your Park Tickets and made a Hollywood Studios Park Reservation.
The popularity of the aforementioned attractions, combined with a small total number of rides at Hollywood Studios, means it’ll take some strategy and good timing on your part to get on all the top rides in a single park day. The rankings of the rides at Hollywood Studios can be summarized like this (click to open 360° ride videos on a new tab or in the YouTube app):
- Rise of the Resistance
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway
- Rock n rollercoaster
- Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania
- Millennium Falcon
- Star Tours
- Alien Swirling Saucers
(The Star Wars videos are technically from Disneyland, but the rides are exactly the same in both parks)
The middle 5 could be swapped in any order by anyone you ask, which means at least 7 of the 9 rides at Hollywood Studios are going to be on the must ride list of nearly everyone going to the park on a given day. The Star Wars Rise of the Resistance ride is the only Individual Lightning Lane attraction at Hollywood Studios, which means you can buy a pass specific to this ride to skip the line. If you’re an on-site guest, you get first dibs at 7am to purchase the pass. They should be available at least long enough to give everyone awake right at 7 the opportunity to purchase.
The rest of the rides are all available in the Genie+ package. Genie+ is a separate purchase from the Rise of the Resistance Lightning Lane, you don’t have to buy one to buy the other and vice versa. With 8 rides available in Genie+, everyone will need to prioritize their top ride of the day. Slinky Dog Dash is considered the top ride in the park available on Genie+ and most guests are going to try for that first, which means you likely could end up with a late evening time slot for the ride even though you selected the ride right at 7am.
So, what are your other options for riding Slinky Dog Dash and which one is best for you? Both very good questions. Let’s start by listing your options, in order of best to worst, in my opinion.
Note: use the links to skip down to a specific section.
- Rope Drop! – if staying on-site.
- Get in line at the end of the night
- Get in line any other time of day
- Stalk the wait times in the My Disney Experience app waiting for a ride closure.
As an early riser and someone motivated to get to the parks early, I love the Rope Drop option. Rope Drop essentially means the time the park opens (some parks use a literal rope to hold guests back). Right now, only guests staying at an on-site or good neighbor hotel has access to Early Entry, so this strategy may not work for everyone.
In order for Rope Drop to work for you, you’ll need to line up at your transportation center 90 minutes before the actual Early Entry period begins in order to be towards the front of the line. If you’re staying at one of the Epcot Boardwalk area hotels, you can walk to the park and beat everyone. Taking an Uber/Lyft before transportation starts running can also improve your chances of being first in line (ride share drop off is near the bus stops and can be accessed at any time). Taking your own vehicle is usually a crapshoot, but could be beneficial if you can’t get out of the door 90 minutes early, but 70 minutes is ok. That’s 6:50am instead of 6:30am for an 8am early entry time.
Your other options are Skyliner, if you’re staying along that route, or the Disney bus. Arriving 90 minutes early will nearly guarantee you a place towards the front of the line. Both options will start running 60-70 minutes before Early Entry begins, however, the line will be long if you wait until then to arrive. Once you arrive at Hollywood Studios, you’ll have about a 30 minute wait before you’re able to scan into the park and head to your first ride. The above 360° image shows an empty entrance waiting area when everything goes according to plan. The video below shows the crowds just before you’re allowed to tap in.
When you head straight to Slinky Dog Dash, you’ll have another 20-25 minute wait before they walk you through the queue. If you do all of these steps, you’ll have a short wait to get on the ride.
Of course, for anyone that can do math, that’s 90+ minutes waiting! So why would anyone do this? Yes, you spend 90 minutes waiting, but it’s all before the park opens. This strategy will also allow you to get a few other rides in prior to the official park opening. For example, I rode Slinky Dog, Toy Story Mania, and Alien Swirling Saucers then was in the Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway queue before the official park opening when the rest of the guests were allowed into the park.
End of Night
The next best way to ride is to get in line towards the end of the night. Typically, lines are shorter as most guests head towards Fantasmic or the exit gates. This typically results in a shorter wait than you’d expect during the middle of the day.
If you really don’t want to wait in line, then purchasing Genie+ may be worth it, depending on the cost. Genie+ gives you a guaranteed ride time and typically a short wait, however the cost varies by day and has been between $15 & $35 for the day. Going this route allows you to use the service throughout the day while Lightning Lane passes remain available. Most users can get 2-4 ride passes in one day as well as multiple shows.
The last two options, are nearly identical, however, just getting in line and waiting however long it takes will be better than stalking the app for downtimes and trying to jump in line when it reopens. Yes, you can get a short wait doing this, but a lot of things have to go in your favor to make it work, including the ride going down to begin with.
So why would I recommend Rope Drop over purchasing Genie+? Mainly principle. Why should I pay x dollars when I can ride for free, or rather with the cost of admission? Up above, I shared my Rope Drop video strategy. I was able to ride 3 rides and get in line for a fourth before the gates officially opened. I then rode 2 more rides beyond that before 11am. I skipped the Star Wars rides, but I likely could have been on and off Star Tours by 11:30, rode Millennium Falcon via single rider by 12 and Rise of the Resistance by 2pm if I didn’t eat lunch first. Yes, this strategy is very difficult to achieve and maintain, however, it pays off well as you’ll ride everything in the first half of the day, then when it gets hot, you can take in some shows or head to your hotel pool to cool off.
If I were to buy Genie+, I’d be more likely to select Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway as I could possibly get an early arrival time, allowing me to select my second pass of the day before most of the rest of the Genie+ users, while still rope dropping Slinky Dog Dash and riding the rest of the Toy Story Land rides. Of course, by 7am you’ll know if you’re going to be on the transportation soon or not, and if not, Slinky Dog Dash will likely be your best pick, regardless of the return time.
What do you think? Are you more likely to Rope Drop Slinky Dog Dash or purchase Genie+ or ride later in the day? Do you have any other Rope Drop tips to share?Comment below to let us know!
If you’re ready to start exploring a Walt Disney World or Disneyland family vacation, I recommend checking out Undercover Tourist for your ticket options. I’ve already used them twice, once at Disneyland and once at Disney World and will plan to continue comparing their prices with other sites, however I usually come back to UT because they have the best deals and their instructions make it easy to add your tickets to the Disney apps.