The Best Time to Visit Disney's Hollywood Studios

Choosing the Right Month, Day, and Time of Day Can Make All the Difference

Tim Allen and Buzz Lightyear calls Star Command, during a special preview of Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Handout / Getty Images

More than 10 million people visit Disney's Hollywood Studios, which until 2008 was known as Disney MGM Studios. As the country's fifth most-visited amusement park, the best time to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios is in May, before summer has kicked off and spring breakers have retreated.

When you are planning your Disney vacation, you should first choose the time of year that best suits your needs, then you can focus on the day and time that works best for your travel party. Most months at Disney have special events throughout the year.

With the 2011 opening of Star Tours, the continued popularity of Toy Story Mania, the Tower of Terror, and the Rock n' Rollercoaster, crowds at all times of the year can make it tough to see everything you want, but if you plan your visit wisely, you'll be able to see most attractions.

Peak Season at Disney's Hollywood Studios

If you are looking for fewer people crowding the parks, then your best bets are probably May, the middle of August before Labor Day weekend, and early December, after the Thanksgiving weekend and before the winter break.

As for best days to visit, it depends if you are staying at a Disney Resort or not. If you are a resort guest, then you might want to take advantage of the Disney Resort "Magic Hours." This is a perk that is only for Disney Resort guests, which allows you entry to the park an hour earlier or allows you to leave an hour later.

Disney Resort Guests

If you are staying at a Disney-owned resort, then head to Hollywood Studios on a Friday morning for an extra "Magic Hour." If you prefer to visit during the evening to catch Fantasmic!, plan to head to Hollywood Studios on a Wednesday evening, and you will be able to stick around and play after the park has closed to non-resort guests. Make sure to check the Disney schedule before solidifying your plans, the park can close or cancel magic hours for special events.

The Best Time of Day to Visit

If you plan on spending the day in the park, head there first thing in the morning on the day you have chosen.

If you are using the Disney transportation system, allow at least 30 minutes of travel time. If you are driving yourself, you may need a little less time. You should be waiting when the park opens and proceed directly to your favorite attraction.

Since Hollywood Studios usually hosts extra magic hours on Wednesdays and Fridays, avoid visiting on those days if you are not staying at a Disney Resort. The park will be crowded with resort guests who will most likely plan to take advantage of this perk. If you visit on a different day, then you will likely see a lot less congestion, though popular attractions like Star Tours will still have a line most times of the year.

How to Use FastPass at Disney

Disney's FastPass+ service was added as a way for customers to cut down the waits for popular attractions in their parks. There is no additional cost to use FastPass+ service―it is included with your theme park admission. Although, the sooner you get your park admission, the sooner you can sign up for FastPass reservations for rides, shows, and character encounters. You can reserve FastPass selections 30 days in advance. And, if you are staying at a Disney Resort, you can make reservations 60 days in advance.

FastPass selections may also be made the same day at a FastPass kiosk in the theme park or using the My Disney Experience mobile app.

If you have not secured your FastPass reservations before arriving at the park, then consider sending the fastest member of your party to a kiosk or make reservations by the app to secure your FastPass options for attractions later in the day. Toy Story Mania typically has the longest line and runs out of FastPass for the day mid-morning during the busier times of the year.

Using a Disney Travel Specialist

If you feel that planning all these things on your own is overwhelming, then you should consider enlisting the help of a Disney travel specialist. These agents—most work on commission from Disney—usually charge no fee to the customer, attend Disney courses, and can assist you with all your travel plans including tips on the best times to visit, scheduling FastPass selections, magic hours, and finding a Disney Resort that fits your family and budget.

Spring

Spring can be a great time to visit Hollywood Studios, as the park isn't super crowded. Ideally, time your visit to May, before Memorial Day weekend. Weekends draw in lots of locals, so visit on a weekday if possible.

Summer

Summer is the most crowded season across all the parks. As expected, Florida's weather is intensely humid and very hot. Unless you have no other options, skip a summertime visit in favor another season when the weather is better, and the park is less crowded.

Fall

Crowds at the parks thin from mid-September until the week before Thanksgiving, as kids go back to school. While September is still quite hot, late fall can be an excellent time to visit. Be aware that hurricane season in Florida lasts until November 30.

Winter

After the rush of the holidays, crowds are typically smaller. From mid-January through March, you'll find Hollywood Studios to be enjoyable and less crowded than at other times of the year, except for weekends. Weather is also mild, although even Florida can experience the occasional cold snap.

Events to check out

  • The park celebrates its annual Flurry of Fun each year during the holidays. The celebration includes festive shows, holiday decor, and more.
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