I thought it would be best to relook at Disney’s Hollywood Studios FastPass+ strategies because there have been some huge changes when it comes to the different tier levels and I actually think that Hollywood Studios has become the most difficult park to create a strategy for. Don’t worry that’s why I’m here to give you a few suggestions as you start planning for the next time you visit Hollywood Studios on your next trip to Walt Disney World, so let’s not waste any more time and get to the Hollywood Studios FastPass strategies as promised.
Before I do anything I want to give you a quick recap of all the changes to FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios. In a nutshell, almost all of the physical rides are in the tier 1 category and the shows are in tier two with one exception which is Star Tours. That means when making your initial three FastPass choices you can only pick one attraction. I don’t know about you, but this is just a tough choice no matter what! So I’m going to do my best to give you some FastPass+ strategies and tips based on the members of your group.
Tier 1 FastPass+ Options
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (opening March 4th)
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Tier 2 FastPass+ Options
- Toy Story Mania
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Disney Junior Dance Party!
- Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Muppet Vision 3D
- Beauty and the Beast
FastPass+ Strategies For Toddlers
First I’ll focus on the groups traveling with the little toddlers who are under all of the height restrictions. So this could work well for a couple and their new baby or even grandparents spending the day with the little ones. Now I will admit that this may not be the best park for this demographic, but I don’t like to leave anyone out so here are my recommendations.
If you’re focusing on the rides that the little ones can get on, then your tier one choice is simple… book Minnie & Mickey’s Runaway Railway. Because it’s the only attraction in Tier 1 that doesn’t have a height restriction.
Your remaining two FastPass+ choices are also pretty darn simple. Honestly, I would just book two shows that you and your family will really enjoy the most. In reality booking a FastPass of the show is not a huge advantage but it does allow you to stick to a schedule, which can be handy indeed. However, if I had to pick the best choices for a FastPass it would be betweenToy Story Mania, Beauty and the Beast, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Fantasmic.
Frozen Sing-Along Celebration has many showtimes a day while Indiana Jones and Beauty and the Beast usually only have five shows a day so they can fill up a little more quickly. Toddlers will especially love the Disney Jr. Dance Party, but I find using FastPass here is useless because it’s very easy to see this show on standby. Honestly, if you really want to keep things streamlined I would leave Fantasmic as your fourth FastPass choice or do a dining package.
Using FastPass+ With Rider Switch
If your child is a little bit older and can get on those bigger thrill rides or if the parents simply want to have their fun too, even though the little one is too small to get on tower terror, this is when Ryder switch is going to become your best friend. Using FastPass+ with rider switch is the best way to go. I’ve had a lot of questions on this and more than a few folks have pointed out conflicting information online about this. But my suggestion is still to split the FastPass Plus reservations between the group and use riders switch pass, that way everyone can get on multiple attractions without waiting.
I know that some of you have found online forums and even seen the Disney Parks Mom’s panel stating that to get a riders switch pass at an attraction that you have a FastPass for, everyone in the group must have a FastPass+ reservation. I continue to find that this is inaccurate from every trip I have had to the parks. Still to this day will do things like book a FastPass for myself on Star Tours and someone else in my group on Slinky Dog Dash.
If you have a little one that is too small to ride both, then get a riders switch pass at each attraction and everyone gets to bypass the standby line. Therefore if you have a group traveling with a bunch of kids of different heights where at least one is too small to ride the thrill rides then I would split my tier 1 FastPass choice with Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
But some of you may not want to split the group up like that, and of the three, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is certainly the most entertaining queue to do stand by in. For your tier 2 options, you could book Tower of Terror or Rockin Roller Coaster.
For your third and final FastPass+ choice, you can again book your favorite show, either Beauty and The Beast, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular or Fantasmic. My personal choice is Fantasmic every single time!
FastPass+ Strategies For Teens and Adults
If you are uneasy about splitting the group up with different fast passes and doing that whole Rider switch thing, then consider the next strategy which focuses on groups with teens and thrill-seekers. This is for those of you who are not traveling with little ones under any of the height restrictions and you want the biggest thrills at Hollywood studios. For me, that choice between Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run can be a tough one. It depends on of you are a Star Wars fan or Toy Story fan.
But I feel very confident that Slinky Dog Dash will be your best choice for three main reasons.
First of all like I said before Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run has a single rider line. You’ll still wait a good 30 minutes, but it will definitely beat the normal standby line.
Secondly, I think Slinky Dog Dash is a good choice because it is outside. I cannot tell you how much of a bummer it is to wait a good hour and a half in the hot sun just to see a rain cloud come pouring in and then be told that the attraction is closed. Yes, cast members may give you a FastPass to come back later, but it’s still a very big waste of time.
Finally, Slinky Dog Dash proves to be the most sought-after FastPass inside this park, That’s why when being forced to choose between these three I would go with Slinky Dog Dash.
For your tier 2, I would suggest Tower of Terror or Rockin Roller coaster assuming that you want to focus on the rides over the shows. So you might as well book this attraction if that’s true and again just choose your favorite show for your final choice.
Boarding Group BONUS Tip!
Although not technically a FastPass, I thought we should talk about the Boarding Group you have to use currently for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This ride is currently operating with no standby line. The only way to experience the new attraction is by using the virtual queue called Boarding Groups. The Boarding Group process has evolved since opening, and will likely see more changes over the coming weeks. We don’t know how long Disney will keep the Boarding Groups, but here is what we know.
To join a Boarding Group, everyone in your party needs to have entered the park, (keep this in mind for later when we give you our suggestion on the best way to use this). Then when the Boarding Group system opens, usually around an hour before the park opens, you go into the My Disney Experience App and select the available Boarding Group. It will give you a Boarding number and time. Think of this like a reservation. Once they call your Boarding number, you will have 2 hours to arrive and get on the ride.
Here’s my suggestion on how to effectively use this Boarding Group so that you are not waiting around all day wasting time. You will need to get to the park early with your entire group, usually, around 6:30 or 7 am when the Boarding Groups open. Get your number and return time. On busy days you will probably get a return time for later in the day. At this point, you are now free to ride other rides in Hollywood Studios OR you can leave and go to another park or resort while you wait. You do not HAVE to stay in Hollywood Studios during this time.
Those are my FastPass+ recommendations and strategies for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This will probably change a lot in 2020 when runaway railway opens and when and if Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge starts using FastPass+. I really hope this helps guide you into some good decisions on which Fastpasses to use when you are planning your next Disney World Vacation.