Hollywood Studios 1 Day Plan – A Rope Drop Story

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Are you planning a trip to the most magical place on Earth? Congratulations on your upcoming trip! We love to craft a solid plan that makes us feel like we are maximizing our time at Disney. No matter which park you attend a good plan is key. We have 3 young kids (ages 8, 5, and 3 on this particular trip). They love it when mommy and daddy know what’s next and they’ve grown to understand that if we are passing something early in the day and we say we’ll come back for it…that we mean it. We take into consideration what is important to each of our kids when making a plan. But remember, make a plan but be flexible to changes throughout the day. Disney would love you to think the magic just happens naturally…and to some degree it does but the real magic happens when a good plan comes to pass.

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We’ve been getting a lot of questions about how we fit it all in. What about the kids? Don’t they fuss about the plan? The answer to that is “no”. The kids thrive when we have a plan. They’ve learned that mom has a solid plan to get the most of each day. This particular plan includes “Early Magic Hours”.

Here is the plan for the day:

Hollywood Studios 7am – 8 am “Early Magic Hours” / Park Hours: 8am- 10:30pm

6am Get dressed- Breakfast in the room and Large To-go Coffee

Drive to HS for Rope Drop

6:30 queue for Early Magic Hours”

7am- Run to Slinky Dog Dash line

7:45 am Run to Jedi Academy sign up

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple prefer 9:40,10:20 or 1:40

10am March of the First order ( on the hour)

Mid Morning Snack Trolley car cafe- Starbucks (Beauty and the Beast cupcake)

10:35am Beauty & the Beast show at 11am

12 noon Minnie ’s Beach Party Lunch 5 DDP credits (480931998992)

1:15 Star Tours (get Rider Swap for later)

Meet Star Lord

Trade Pins at Star Wars Launch Bay

2:50-3:50 FP Rock’n for Jack and Dad ( get rider swap for later)

3:00-3:15 FP Frozen Sing along 3:30 show for Mom, Heidi and Gwen

4:20-5:20 FP Tower of Terror – Heidi, Jack and Dad ( get rider swap for Gwen and mom)

Afternoon Cold Snack- (KRNR or Oasis- RB floats/soft serve ice cream) Hollywood Scoops (ice cream sandwiches)

4:30-4:45 FP Little Mermaid show at 4:50 for Mom and Gwen

5:30 or 6:30 showing of Live stage show Star wars (18 minutes)

6:05- 7:05 FP Alien swirling saucers

7:05 Mama Melrose Dinner 3 DDP credits (480551265579) pay for 1 kid entree OOP

grab Frozen Peach Bellini from PizzaRizza

8:30 Fantasmic Preferred Seating 9pm show

Did it happen exactly like that?

Yes and no. Let me start by saying Toy Story Land had been open for 2 days total on our visit. We had stayed up super late (sounding familiar?) and we were all extremely tired. We almost didn’t rope drop the extra magic hours. But we found the strength to roll out of bed at the Contemporary Resort. The view helped.


We made our huge coffees (we always travel with our Nespresso machine and it saves us a lot of time and the kids do fuss if the first thing we do when we get to the park is wait in line for 30 minutes for a Starbucks coffee).

We got on the road about 5 minutes or so behind our itinerary. We were dumbfounded at the line that had amassed for Early Magic Hours. It was huge. We get through security check and into the giant line that is forming for Slinky Dog Dash…we weren’t even in Toy Story Land yet.

By this time it is about 7:15 and the wait is on. We ended up waiting for 75 minutes to get on Slinky Dog Dash but Disney had not yet released Fast Passes for the ride. We did secure an Alien Swirling Saucer for later in the day. So we waited for the 75 minutes and enjoyed the ride very much! Well, four of us did. Our youngest (3 at the time and just tall enough) did not enjoy it all and screamed the whole way…upon pulling back into the loading/unloading area she promptly said “that ride messed me up”…which we still say to this day about anything that “messes” us up…lol

This part of our day took much longer than we expected BUT, because of my wife’s wizard-like planning skills, we had some time built into the day here just in case we encountered a long wait in Toy Story Land that morning.

We headed over to the Indiana Jones Trading Post (an odd place to signup for Jedi Training but Harrison Ford was at least in both movies) to signup our 8-year old son for Jedi Training. We had missed it every trip up until this one and were determined to get him in. By this time is about 8:25 am and the park officially opened at 8 am. We didn’t know if the signup had closed already or not. We got to signup and there were still spots for signup available.

We chose a signup time (we later wished we chose a different time, read about that here). But we did love Jedi Training…I mean…who gets to say they swung a lightsaber at Darth Vader? More on that a bit later.

After signup, we found ourselves in line to ride Star Tours as the wait was pretty low. Keep in mind that we rope dropped and Early Magic Hours day. The general public was pouring in now and was racing to Toy Storyland or Rockin’ Roller Coaster / Tower of Terror. Star Tours was a ghost town and we enjoyed walking straight to the front. There wasn’t even enough time to get a good photo of the droids.

In fact, we went right back around and in for a second ride and encountered a 10-12 minute wait the second time around. Just enough of a wait to snag a decent photo of the droids.

After we got off Star Tours for the second time it was now roughly 9:15 AM. We wanted to watch the March of the First Order, which was slated to be on the hour that day and we wanted to catch the 10 AM march. We met back up (our little one at age 3, was not tall enough for Star Tours yet. We watched the March of the First Order. It was pretty cool, we hadn’t seen it yet. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is worth the fuss. It is easy to watch, almost by accident as it marches quite a bit across Sunset Blvd and over to the main stage area.

The girls then met Olaf, which happens (usually, behind the theater where the Frozen show is — near the restrooms when headed towards Star Tours. My son and I did a little shopping in the Star Wars store.

At this time the temperature had risen quite a bit and we were in need of a snack. As you can see by our itinerary we were scheduled to get something in this time frame before heading over to the Beauty and Beast stage show. So we headed over to the Trolley Car Cafe (also known as Starbucks). On a previous trip, you could get amazing Cup Cakes from here…not any longer (at least not on several of our last trips). Time for ice cream! The ice cream was perfect for such a hot summer day and we used our stop at Starbucks as a time to grab some FREE ice water. You normally don’t even have to wait in line. There are usually 2 stations of ice water in both corners of Starbucks.

We made it into our seats in plenty of time and enjoyed our snack!. Our family enjoys the rest you get from the shows at Hollywood Studios. Especially if it is a sunny day! Get a snack and get in there for a rest.




Now the time was about 11:35 and we had reservations for the Fantasmic Dining Package at Hollywood & Vine character buffet. We usually only eat the buffets at breakfast but this was the only option left (when we booked several months earlier) for lunch and the Fantasmic Dining Package and we really wanted to get “preferred” seating for Fantasmic. Read all about that here…and trust me you’ll want to if you are considering the package. We were on the Deluxe Dining Plan. We would never pay out of pocket for this type of buffet and dining package combo…it is crazy expensive but on the dining plan you can get away with these type things if you manage your credits correctly.

A character buffet dining package requires 1 credit from each person, ages 3 and up, no matter what. It isn’t a great use of credits. Read more here.

Our reservation was for Noon and we were in and seated without too much of a wait. Normally we’d say if you are only going for 1 day to Hollywood Studios to not eat any buffet outside of breakfast. We’d recommend Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano any day of the week for lunch or dinner. We also love Hollywood Brown Derby…and you can get out of there pretty cheap with their famous Cobb Salad. If we are going to do a quick service (which we don’t do too often) we would do the Backlot Express. Another cool option for table service is SciFi Drive-in Theater. To be honest we aren’t fans of quick service anywhere. Our best advice is to schedule a reservation for lunch and dinner every day. Even if you aren’t on a dining plan you can control how much you spend out of pocket at these meals. The rest in air conditioning is a HUGE benefit.

Bring Gear: we bring in things that make dealing with lines and heat a little easier, check out Mom’s Gear List here and Dad’s Gear List here.

We received our paper tickets for the Fantasmic Dining Package and were on our way to Jedi Training. We headed back to the same place we signed up at (Indiana Jones Trading Post) and checked in. To get the full review of Jedi Training click here.

All in all, we would have signed up for a different time of day. In the summer the stage the Jedi show is on gets blasted by the sun. However, it was amazing.

My son loved it! There were about 20 kids or so in the show. Some young, some as old as 12, some boys, some girls. It was well run and the kids do a cute march from the Indiana Trading Post over to the Star Wars Temple next to Star Tours. Then the show starts! Again, read that full story here.

After the show, we were all roasted from the sun and this was the one day we forgot our Frogg Toggs Cooling Towels. Those things were a lifesaver so many times…except this day of course. We then got drinks for everyone. Dad (that’s me) enjoyed a beer from one of the many beer carts around the park.

Because we rode Star Tours earlier (twice!) we skipped it at this point on our itinerary and headed over to meet Star Lord and Baby Groot, which was awesome. If you’ve read my story, you’ll know I am a big Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Lord fan.

We then headed over for our first Fast Pass of the day! The boys would ride Rockin Roller Coaster and the girls would go to the Frozen stage show (again, a good one because it has a/c!). If you notice, we always write down the Fast Pass window (which is an hour). This gives us the ability to coordinate when we will go to a ride, especially if we need to split for the smallest person in our party. We try to make it special for her when splitting for the big kids. (she doesn’t know she’s not a big kid….shhhhhh)

We met back up for another switch and our second Fast Passes of the day. The older 2 kids and I went for the Tower of Terror and the Mom and the youngest went over to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid (which is a cool show, glow in the dark, lasers, singing, dancing, puppets….oh and my favorite….a/c!).

The funny thing about the Tower of Terror is my middle child, who is 5 (on this trip), is an absolute thrill seeker. She is super excited about her first time to ride the Tower and is calm. Everyone around her is freaking out. She is unphased and quite a few man cards are turned in while in line.

That’s her behind the guy in the yellow shirt.

That’s her starring at the screamers on the ride.

We then headed over to meet up with Mom and the little one to go meet Kylo Ren. If you are a Disney Visa Reward Card holder by Chase you get a short line to meet Kylo Ren. It was cool.

This was a great break to grab a little cold snack…preferably Mickey shaped.

Afterward, we watched the Star Wars stage show. Which is about an 18-minute show so pick out your place to watch from wisely. There are a few shady spots and a brick wall to sit on if you time it correctly.

Next up was our last Fast Pass of the day! Alien Swirling Saucers (our first time to ride it…only open for the third day now). It was awesome! I don’t think I could wait an hour for it but the kids loved it. Think of it as the Tea Cups ride from Magic Kingdom on steroids, where the cups changed from one position to another as you spin in a circle.

Toy Story Land Mini-Review — we weren’t super impressed with Toy Story Land as a whole. The 2 new rides were great (and the 1 that was already open — Midway Mania). We knew those would be great. It feels far from the rest of the park. From inside the land itself, you can see Star Wars construction. The environment was not as detailed as we’ve grown to expect from Disney. It was great but don’t build it up too much and you’ll enjoy it. At night it is beautiful.

We then headed over to Mama Melrose’s for dinner reservation that was for 7:05 PM. Again, we were on the Deluxe Dining Plan and were looking forward to a break from the heat in the a/c with good food! The 2 younger kids were exhausted by this point and needed a rest. They slept during dinner (2 credits SAVED, whoop, whoop!). And we enjoyed our food and our son (oldest) enjoyed the time at “full attention” of mom and dad.

We got done with dinner around 8:00 PM, collected our stroller and headed to the Fantasmic Amphitheater. We were super excited about our VIP viewing area and weren’t too worried about rushing as we had a spot safely secured….right…I mean…surely…

Nope! We got there and this was what the place looked like.

Read all about that story in our Fantasmic Dining Package — Is It Worth It? Post.

There is special stroller parking at the theater itself. You’ll roll yourself up the hill a good bit of the way and then park your stroller so don’t worry about trying to find a spot before you go in.

The show started at 9 PM. It did not disappoint. Although our seats weren’t amazing the show still was!

One thing you need to note while you are planning out your Hollywood Studios day is that you’ll have to choose between the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Show and the Fantasmic Show. There just isn’t a way to see them both. The smart people at Disney figured out how to split the crowd instead of having 2 “sold out” shows.

That’s it! That is our awesome day at Hollywood Studios. If you liked this plan you should hop over to our Magic Kingdom Plan — you won’t believe what we did before 9 AM!!

And if you are a planner, like we are, sign up below with your email to receive our FREE Making Magic Happen Park Planner printable. You’ll love this FREE printable planner. It will help you layout your day, keep important details handy and is good in print or on your phone!

Happy Planning!

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