Hollywood Studios One Day Touring Plan with Small Children

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Last week, I talked about using the Magic Kingdom One Day Touring Plan for Small Children, and how I adapted it for usage with my rugrats.  Well, on this very same trip, I had to do the same thing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Again, I’m dealing with a scaredy-cat 5-year-old who does not enjoy thrill rides, and an adventurous 9-year-old who does.  It’s a tough balance, especially when dealing with the Florida heat, snack times, etc.

We arrived at the park about 15 minutes before official park opening, at 8:45.  That’s not what the plan told us to do, which is why I say we “mostly” followed the official plan.  The touring plan calls for you to arrive 30 minutes prior to opening, and I have to say that is definitely the way to go.  The reason for that is the Toy Story Mania trampling that occurs right after the official opening of the park.

Shortly before park opening, you’ll be let into the park but held at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, where a “director’s” truck will park, forcing fans to choose to go straight ahead to Toy Story Mania or down Sunset to Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  If you’re not up front at this pile of humanity then it is exceedingly difficult to execute the first step of the plan, which is to get a FASTPASS for Toy Story Mania.

We arrived at the Toy Story Mania queue area at 9:05, and were faced with getting a FASTPASS, which would take around 25 minutes based on the line, or riding the ride, which was a 30 minute wait.  With the two kids, we chose to ride the ride.  This was a major deviation from the plan, which calls for grabbing a quick FASTPASS and heading to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  However, we felt it a necessary one.  The wait was shorter than expected, everyone had high scores, and we were out the door and onto the next attraction by 9:35.

Toy Story Mania morning craziness

Because of our deviation, Little Mermaid was not quite ready yet, so we decided to let the boy enjoy Tower of Terror.  Now, I’ll say that the plan has you doing Tower later in the day, around dinner time.  Since we were unsure at the time if we’d make it that far, we called an audible.  We headed down Sunset, and I entertained my little girl while my son and wife enjoyed the accommodations of the Twilight Zone.  They ended up getting through in around 25 minutes, putting us on the way to Little Mermaid by almost exactly 10:00.

Passing the times guide sign on the way up Sunset, we noticed that the wait for Star Tours was 15 minutes.  Remembering the sage Len Testa’s advice that if you needed to substitute something, then you should skip a step on the plan, we figured we had subbed Tower for Mermaid, and moved on to Star Tours.  The little one, for whatever reason, loves that ride, so we went on and got attacked by Darth Vader, visited the Wookiee planet, got orders from Yoda, and crash landed on Naboo.  By the time we finished that, it was 10:20, and time for a snack.

We headed to our favorite snack spot in all of the Studios, the Writer’s Stop, and grabbed a cookie and a muffin before regrouping.  The next step on the plan was Jedi Training Academy.  Checking Lines to see when the next show was, it was about 20 minutes away.  After Jedi Training, the plan had us going to Muppet*Vision 3-D.  Since all four of us love the Muppets, we made a family decision to catch up on the plan by skipping Jedi Training (“I’m not in it, so what’s the point?” said the boy) and heading to the Muppets.  We were Muppetational within 5 minutes, and out the door by 10:50.  

The next phase of the plan had us going to the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, which was a dream come true for the kids.  They love this attraction, but it terrifies me as a parent.  It’s very easy for kids to get turned around, for parents to lose track of them and for panic to ensue.  I can only take about 15 minutes in this attraction before losing my mind.  Therefore, when I tell you that we got out of there at 11:15, you know what sort of state I was in – frazzled.

Now, according to the plan, we were supposed to go back over to Toy Story Mania to use the FASTPASS tickets we were supposed to obtain in the morning.  Instead, we looped back over to Voyage of the Little Mermaid to pick that up after missing it earlier.  The smiles on the little girl’s face made it worth it, and we were done with that attraction by 11:45.  According to the plan, it was time for lunch, and we agreed.

We headed out of the park for lunch, grabbing the boat to Beaches & Cream, which let us rest in the air conditioning.  The plan calls for a long afternoon break, which we took advantage of as well.  Upon our return, the plan calls for seeing Beauty and the Beast followed by Lights! Motors! Action!.  One problem – Lights! Motors! Action! was done by the time we returned to the park at 4:30.  Since none of us was interested in Beauty and the Beast, we instead decided to hit the Indiana Jones show.  Finished with that by 5 p.m., we sprinted next door to the American Idol Experience, which was the next attraction on the plan.

Indiana Jones was our substitute show

Upon finishing that off, it was 5:35, and the plan allowed for Fantasmic as the next thing on the list.  There was no Fantasmic that night, so we were done!  We skipped out of the park, headed off to dinner and to spend a relaxing evening elsewhere.

So, how did the plan work?  To be honest, we put ourselves behind the eight ball by not arriving 30 minutes early as the plan suggested.  Not following the instructions of the plan for the first hour the park was open worked out okay.  This is why we let you make your own touring plans on the site, because one-size-fits-all doesn’t always work.  All in all, this was a very effective plan, as we accomplished everything in the park we wanted to hit by 5 p.m., and that was with taking a long afternoon break.  I highly recommend this plan.

What about you?  What have your experiences in the Studios been with our touring plans?

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Posted on September 12, 2011

12 Responses to “Hollywood Studios One Day Touring Plan with Small Children”

  • We’re taking our 3 DD’s (ages 3, 6 & 9) in December. First time with kids, so we’re going to use a modified version of your 1-day tour w small children when we visit. We have Fantasmic dining package, so we’ll definitely need mid-day break to re-charge for long afternoon/evening. Thanks for information — always helpful to get feedback from others.

  • These articles have been Sooo helpful Ryan! My husband, 4 year old daughter and I are heading to WDW in November. Hearing another parent’s thoughts on the small children touring plans is just wonderful! You have really helped us pick the “right” plans :) This trip will be my husband and daughter’s first trip and my 4th trip.
    I just wanted to say Thanks!

  • We found this summer that the fastpass line is quicker than it looks. We also arrived a little late to the studios. At 8:55 they had already opened and I zoomed to Toy Story as quickly as I could. I was in line by 9 and out by 9:08. We hit the first Little Mermaid, followed by the first Disney Junior with no problem. We were back last week and this time my wife and 2 year old went to get the Toy Story fastpasses while the 10year old and I rode Rockin Roller Coaster followed by Tower of Terror. That also worked well. We were there for extra magic hours this time so we were there an hour before the shows started.

    • I’ve had mixed results. There have been times when the FP line moved REALLY fast, and others when it’s very slow. This time I described was really slow, but a few months later, it was pretty quick. I think you have to see how it is the day you are there.

      I like your splitting up plan, too. That works well for us.

  • As my little boys LOVE TSM and it is impossible to get there quickly with them in tow. I always go with the mad crush of people and get FastPasses while my husband and boys go to Star Tours. I meet up with them there and go on that attraction. By the time we get off, it’s usually our FastPass time for TSM. It’s too hard to try and get FP to TSM unless you have someone go on ahead without the kids. They will get crushed!This may not be part of the touring plan, but ti works great for us!

    • That definitely works. Splitting up can sometimes work for us and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the crowd levels. This day, it was too crowded to try, but on lower days (6 or lower) it works pretty well.

  • What was the crowd level on the day that you visited HS? We’re planning on going in early Dec with a 4yr old and wondering if we need to follow the plan so thoroughly with a (predicted) lower crowd level.

    • The day we went it was an 8. If the crowd levels are lower, I doubt you would need to be following the plan religously. You can see we had success even though it was a high crowd level and we didn’t do it quite step for step.

  • We used that same plan in May when we visited. HS was our favorite park and the plan worked beautifully. We revised some as well and rode Toy Story first then got a fastpass for it and rode again later!