How to deal with the Disney Hollywood Studios crowds. The Hollywood Tower of Terror, Rock-N-Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, Toy Story Mania, and The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, these are some of the great rides in Disney's Hollywood Studios that attract huge crowds. And really long lines.
Disney Hollywood Studios is probably the hardest park to tour. Most of the attractions draw long lines all day. There are more shows here than any other park and that creates a challenge when developing a touring strategy.
Crowds at Disney Hollywood Studios
The Best Time to Visit
The first thing you need to avoid Disney Hollywood Studios Crowds is to chose a time when there aren't any crowds, or at least when the crowds are the smallest. What do you know. Dad has just the thing.
Check out Dad's best time to visit Disney World page. It's full of great advice and even has some calendars that will help you determine when the best time for your Perfect vacation might be.
Next you need to have a plan
Dad is big on planning. Even when the crowds are small it's important to have at least an idea of what you are going to do. When crowds are big, it's essential to have a pretty complete plan.
Planning for this park is a little different from the other parks. One of the big issues you deal with here are the shows. There are lots of great shows but unlike a ride, they don't have back to back shows. The worst is Lights, Motors, Action! Epic Stunt Spectacular. It usually only has 2 shows every day and both will be packed. Your plan will revolve around the show time for this show.
The other big issue for avoiding Disney Hollywood Studios crowds is what Dad calls the Big 3. The Big 3 are Toy Story Mania, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Different families will handle the Big 3 differently. Check it out.
The Big 3: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror
If your family is really into thrills and you don't care at all about riding "Buzz Lightyear on steroids" then when you arrive in the park, walk quickly to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and grab a FASTPASS. After you have a FASTPASS, ride the ride. Yes, this way you can ride it twice.
Next walk over to Tower of Terror and ride it (the line shouldn't be too long.)
When you get that done, walk over to Star Tours: the Adventure Continues. Then it's probably time to go back and ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster with your FASTPASS.
Now that's a thrilling morning.
Families with small children
If you have children that are too small or just don't want to ride the thrill rides, you need a different plan. For you, the day will probably revolve around Toy Story Mania (yes, everyone will probably want to ride Toy Story Mania.) So run to Toy Story Mania and grab a FASTPASS and ride it both.
After Toy Story Mania, it's time to run over to Disney Junior - Live on Stage. Yes, guys, suck it up and go. Your kids will love you for it.
The Big 3: Toy Story Mania
For everyone else the plan is pretty simple. Go directly to Toy Story Mania (see a pattern here?) and grab a FASTPASS. If you going to try Tower of Terror and/or Rock 'n' Roller Coaster go there next. If not then head to Star Tours.
Get a Personalized Plan
Would you like a personalized plan to help you avoid Disney Hollywood Studios crowds? Park plans are Touringplans.com specialty. Touringplans has over 140 pre-designed plans and it even has software that will let you prepare your own personalized plan and then tell you how to make it better (optimization).
A subscription to Touringplans.com also comes with the Lines app for your smart phone. Lines is the best, most accurate (in Dad's opinion) park line length app on the market today. Not only does it tell you how long the lines are, it tells you when things are closed and even when the shows are. You gotta have this.
Dad's Sage Advice
Want to know Dad's other suggestions for dealing with the crowds? I thought you might. Here is some of Dad's Sage Advice about tackling the Studios.
Morning at Disney Hollywood Studios
Get to the park early
The early bird gets the best. The least busy time to tour is the first couple of hours after the park opens. Try to arrive at the park at least 20 minutes before it opens (30-45 minutes if you need to get any tickets). Unlike the Magic Kingdom, stroller rental is inside the ticket gate.
Start at Toy Story Mania
Dad has totally revised his crowd avoidance plan for the Studios. I used to say go to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster first then Tower of Terror followed by Toy Story Mania. (That was before Toy Story Mania actually opened.) Now, Dad recommends you get to the park when it opens and go directly to Toy Story Mania. (Have I said that enough yet?)
Once you get to TSM, if the line is less than 20 minutes, ride. If not, grab a FASTPASS.
You'll hear the you need to line up for Fantasmic! at least 90 minutes and maybe as much as 2 hours before show time. It's kinda true. Even now that Disney has gone back to having Fantasmic! every night, long lines form quickly every evening just before sunset. Usually at 30 minutes before the show, earlier during the busier times, Disney Cast Members start turning away guests.
One way to avoid the long lines at Fantasmic! is to get a Fantasmic! Dinner Package. The Dinner Package (also at lunch) gives you early access to special seating (good seats) to one of the nightly performances. If you are planning a meal at one of the Dinner Package restaurants (Mama Melrose, Hollywood and Vine and the Brown Derby) the Dinner Package makes all kinds of sense.
Because of the Disney Hollywood Studios crowds and the nature of the attractions you will probably need to use FASTPASS here more than any other park. This park has more "big" attractions than the other parks. To see all the rides and shows you will probably want to use a FASTPASS for at least one ride and a show or two.
FASTPASS is available for the "big" rides at Disney Hollywood Studios.
- Toy Story Mania
- Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
In some of the other parks, it's possible to tour without using a FASTPASS, but not so much in Disney Hollywood Studios.
For more information about FASTPASS and how to use it to avoid Disney Hollywood Studios Crowds, check out ...
Disney Hollywood Studios Crowds are part of the show
Photo by Samantha Decker
Disney's Hollywood Studios was the first Disney park to have a central place where you could see how long the lines were. There aren't a lot of attractions to spread the crowds, so lines here tend to get very long. You can check out the wait times for attractions at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.
If you still have questions about how to avoid Disney Hollywood Stuidos Crowds, why not see if Dad can answer it. Dad answers hundreds of questions each year about all kinds of things.
Dad's Bottom Line
Disney Hollywood Studios crowds are some of the hardest to avoid at Disney World. Planning can help. Using common sense can help. But you just can't beat getting to the park early.