Considering a Late Arrival at Hollywood Studios with FastPass+

by josh on May 4, 2014

Today we’ll take a look at planning a late arrival at Hollywood Studios with the addition of FastPass+. You may want to approach the Park with a similar plan on an arrival day or an afternoon Park Hop if you can go without using FP+ in the morning. That’s easiest at Animal Kingdom and fairly easy at Epcot if you have two days there or don’t care about Soarin’ or Test Track. You can pull it off at Magic Kingdom if you’re willing to move to the truly anytime attractions at 11am. There are two major considerations. First and most obviously, what you want to see and do. The more shows and attractions you want to see, the earlier you’ll need to arrive. Second, FastPass+ tiering and the ability to FP+ either Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Toy Story Mania but not both:

FastPass+ Priority:

Tier 1 (Choose One):

  1. Toy Story Mania
  2. Rock ā€˜nā€™ Roller Coaster
  3. Fantasmic
  4. Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

Tier 2 (Choose Two):

  1. Tower of Terror
  2. Great Movie Ride
  3. Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  4. Star Tours
  5. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  6. Disney Jr. Live on Stage
  7. Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  8. American Idol Experience
  9. Muppet Vision 3D

This is based on how much time FastPass+ will save you in line in the late morning and afternoon when waits peak.

It’s 5:41pm on Saturday April 26th at the tail end of Easter spring break crowds and we’ve booked the #2 priority from Tier 1 and the top two priorities from Tier 2.

Great Movie Ride was down and we’ll replace it with the Maleficent promo. Our other two FP+ choices save over two hours in line. You may see Star Tours as a higher FP+ priority elsewhere, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a fairly low priority, despite being a major attraction. The wait is just 10 minutes and will remain that way through close.

Disney is running a 15-minute Maleficent promo in the old Sounds Dangerous building, similar to The Lone Ranger promos they ran last year.

This time it was in 3D, which was a nice bonus. I’m not real sure how this movie is going to play – it’s similar in style to Tim Burton’s extremely successful Alice in Wonderland, but it’s not a Burton film and the fun and whimsy seemed to be replaced with dark imagery and gore.

Great Movie Ride remains closed.

One thing that will throw a wrench in plans is the schedule. This is for May 4 – 10 and several quick services close early, in addition to the Backlot Tour and Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground before dusk.

By 6pm, the final show for Beauty and the Beast, Disney Jr., Indiana Jones, and Lights Motors Action is already in progress or over. If you’d like to see one of these shows, plan to arrive earlier and see them in the afternoon when waits remain long at the priority attractions.

If you’re interested in Wreck-It Ralph, The Incredibles, Minnie, and Mickey in the Animation Building, arriving at 5:30pm is best. Hit Ralph, then Minnie, then The Incredibles, then Mickey. Arrive at the other characters 30 to 45 minutes before they’re scheduled to end their final set.

After theoretically riding Great Movie Ride with FP+, we’re off to Sunset Boulevard for Tower of Terror.

And skipping a 50-minute standby queue.

FastPass+ works the same as legacy FASTPASS with the entrance to the right of standby.

After you walk the queue, waits of about 3 minutes are common for the pre-show.

Then another 10 minutes after the pre-show in the boiler room whether you use FP+ or not. We arrived at 6:24pm and were off at 6:43pm, which is about the minimum amount of time Terror takes.

With about 15 minutes until our Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster FP+ time, there’s little to do on Sunset Boulevard other than grab a snack or shop.

At exactly 7pm, the posted wait remains 80 minutes.

Waits were significantly lower earlier in the day, but a cheerleading competition had just let out and the kids swarmed Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

FastPass+ works exactly the same as legacy FASTPASS here too. You’ll run into a wait of around five minutes for the pre-show and then about ten after. You can see the length of the single rider line here, which looks to be at least 40 minutes, though it’s difficult to gauge because it depends entirely on how many parties of 3, 5, 7, etc. arrive.

I like single rider at Test Track due to the way the vehicles are set up (parties of four are split up as two in front and two in back, so you get two single riders in that vehicle, speeding up the line). And Expedition Everest because you can see the length of the line prior to getting in it. Single rider at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a crapshoot and longer standby waits in turn push up single rider lines. I’ve waited longer in single rider than standby would have been.

We got in line at 7pm and were on exactly 10 minutes later at 7:10pm.

And back out front at 7:15pm.

This is a good time to swing by Star Tours if you’re interested in riding. Muppet Vision is another attraction you could easily fit in. Great Movie Ride was operating again with short waits.

It’s 7:25pm and there are about 15 people in line here with just two simulators operating. Our simulator was half full.

Back out front at 7:42pm.

If you’re skipping Fantasmic, the end of the night is the best time to to re-ride one of the priority attractions.

Studios is closing at 8pm, which means you can enter any attraction’s queue up until that time. Wait times are usually exaggerated to dissuade people from getting in line so everyone can close down and go home. You can ask the cast member at the entrance and they will usually cop to the fact that waits are much shorter than posted. This guy told us the “wait is a little shorter.”

Indeed it is.

With the last FP+ people arriving no later than 8pm, there are going to be few to bog us down. In the afternoon, 200 people in front of you in standby can result in a 60+ minute wait. At this time of night, 200 people will take about 15 minutes with just a handful of FP+ returners with priority pushing up our wait.

We got in line at 7:50pm and were on a vehicle at 8:05pm.

And back out front at 8:15pm for a total wait/ride time of 25 minutes.

So in 2 hours 15 minutes we accomplished:

  1. Great Movie Ride (theoretically since it was down, which is uncommon)
  2. Tower of Terror
  3. Rock n Roller Coaster
  4. Star Tours
  5. Toy Story Mania

That’s all five major rides at the Park. Had we arrived around 3pm, we could have easily accomplished a few shows or a couple secondary attractions like Backlot Tour, Muppet Vision 3D, and the like. This would have been impossible under the old system, where legacy FASTPASS would have been long gone for Roller Coaster and probably Tower of Terror too by the time we arrived. We had made the FP+ reservations three days prior.

Consider doing something similar if you’re satisfied with one ride on the major attractions. An 8:15am arrival affords the ability to ride each major attraction once in the standby line and then use FP+ later in the day to easily re-ride a second time.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous May 4, 2014 at 9:05 am

I really like seeing the time guide. Are they posted for the othrr parks?

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josh May 4, 2014 at 9:06 am

http://wdwent.com/ posts the information for the next week each Saturday night.

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Mike May 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

” In the afternoon, 200 people in front of you in standby can result in a 60+ minute wait. At this time of night, 200 people will take about 15 minutes with just a handful of FP+ returners with priority pushing up our wait.”

So the use of the FP+ (or legacy) system on this ride quadruples the wait time? Presumably due to the number of people who have tickets. Would it be fair to say they maybe should cut back on the number of FP+ reservations then? I realize it has an incredibly low capacity, and my experience at DLCA w/ Toy Story that doesn’t have FP (or the last time I went it didn’t) you still get long lines, but still… 4 times longer just due to fast pass? Or is +45 minutes kind of an upper range in wait time extension whether there’s 200 people in front of you or 500?

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Sailbill May 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

Nice choice of Avatar on MDE.

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HildaI May 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

We used your advice and as a last minute decision (actually the morning of) switched our evening park hop from Epcot with FP+ for Test Track, Spaceship Earth and Nemo to HS for TSMM, Lights, Camera Action Stunt Show and Great Movie Ride. It worked out beautifully! HS was closing at 10 that day I believe so waits for TSMM were still at 70+ min at 8:25 pm when we showed up with our FP+. We loved the half day touring. It was definitely more relaxed! Thanks again for all your help and advice!!

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Rhonda May 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

Perfect for our second HS day when we will be sleeping in after a MK EMH night. Looks like we could shoot for 3:00ish and still do great!
Thanks as always for the post!

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LoriC May 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

Josh, just curious, when did you book those FP+? Was it the day of your visit to the Studios or a few days before?

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Alex May 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Lori, he mentions it at the end that the choices were made three days prior. :)

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LoriC May 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Thanks, Alex!

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joe May 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm

what happens if a cast member tells you the ride is closed when you arrive at 7:50 pm
and the park closes at 8. do you tell them they have to let you on. we go every year
during jersey week/ wine and dine marathon and we are going follow your plan

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RebeccaMcK May 4, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Has anyone tried to do the child swap thing in a single rider line? I mean, if two adults are in line with a child who is tall enough to ride but too scared to do it? The adults would have to ride separate from each other anyway, in a normal child swap situation. The adult left behind with the child could let people pass him/her in line until the other adult gets off the ride and could take the kid through the exit. Just wondered. It’s something I could try with RnRC and EE.

I think it’s kind of sad that you have to choose between RnRC and TSMM in the same tier for FP+. I’d want both of those and not really anything from the second tier’s options. Same with choosing between Soarin’ and Test Track at Epcot.

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Ronnie2Hotty May 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Mike – as someone who’s been to both DCA and HS and rode both versions of TSMM, I honestly believe the wait times are so different is because the number of high-level attractions at the respective parks. At DCA there is Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin’, Soarin’ Over California, Tower of Terror plus about 5 or 6 other rides all in the same park. HS has Toy Story, Rock N Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, about 3 other rides, and, uhhh, yeah, thats’s about it. Crowds are more dispersed throughout DCA, thus the lower wait times. I don’t know for sure, but in a side by side comparison, I’m sure Tower of Terror is the same way.

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Jenn May 5, 2014 at 11:31 am

Is Minnie meet and greet a good choice for FASTPASS at a arrival around 4:30pm at the end of June? FRI June 27th to be exact.We actually never met Minnie on our last trip! I thought I remember reading its FP option at HS but i dont see it here? then also hoping for TSMM and The Great Movie Ride then hoping to not wait long in Star Tours and Muppets. Then Captain Jack as we have never been. Along with a resservation at SCI FI at 6:15 in there too. Hoping I am not asking to much at such a busy season. End of June craziness.

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josh May 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm

How FastPass+ works for the characters expected to be “FastPass+ only” remains to be seen. It looks like Minnie is going to be a Tier 1 selection, which makes it somewhat insane to choose as your one Tier 1 over Toy Story Mania or Rock n Roller Coaster initially. She currently meets in the Animation Building to virtually no waits whatsoever. I’m not sure what they’re thinking if she ends up being Tier 1. You would want to pick it as your 4th or 5th selection after using the initial three.

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Tricia May 6, 2014 at 5:53 am

This is great Josh, thank you so much!!

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Jenn May 6, 2014 at 6:55 am

Thanks Josh! Wow ya i would not use Minnie as a tier 1! Unless I could not get any other tier 1 options! Really no waits for Minnie! Thats great! So “fast pass+ only” characters? Does this mean some will only be meeting as Fastpass +?

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josh May 6, 2014 at 7:19 am

Potentially.

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Kenzy May 6, 2014 at 8:35 am

Are cast members able to book fastpass+ in advance like other guests staying on property?

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Tenay May 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

If we arrived late to HS in the off season (early Feb), do you think there would be any openings for the Jedi Academy? How late do you think one could arrive before all time slots were gone? Thanks!

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josh May 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Anything is possible but it would be rare that spots are available in the afternoon.

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Sarah May 7, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Oh wow, thanks! This is absolutely perfect for the day I was going to mostly spend at AK, but hop over to HS later in the afternoon/evening (mostly to catch Fantasmic).

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phaet2112 May 12, 2014 at 1:04 pm

So will the fastpass+ reservation for fantasmic ever be worth it?

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Michelle UK May 14, 2014 at 1:49 am

On our visit a couple of weeks ago (April 30th), Hollywood Studios was the one park for us where we really struggled co-ordinating everything and didn’t manage to fit into one day everything that we wanted to do. We rope-dropped and left just before park close at 6 pm, but we had a lunch ADR and our FP+s scheduled late morning / early afternoon which clashed with all the shows we wanted to see. In the end we went back to the park for a second day to get everything done, but because of the high number of showsnand the fact that the likes of Beauty and the Beast and Disney Junior are only scheduled about 5 times per day, especially on an early close (and therefore recommended day), I absolutely get why Josh says you need to prioritize. There just aren’t enough hours in a (short-ish) day to see all the shows (particularly as a lot of their timings overlap / clash), eat a table service lunch and do all the headliners while using FP+. This may have resulted in me visiting an FP+ kiosk to try and make changes and grumbling to the cast member that I was not having a magical day :/

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