Better DHS FastPass+ Choice: Toy Story Mania or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster?

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Toy Story Mania wait times have dropped around 40% since its third ride track opened in late May – from around 83 minutes to around 51 minutes so far this summer. That drop means that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has the longest average wait of any ride in the park, at around 68 minutes.

That leads to an interesting question: Is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster a better Tier 1 FastPass+ choice than Toy Story Mania?

The answer is “probably not.” But the difference  is so small that you’re unlikely to notice the difference. So assuming your family can ride them, either Toy Story or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a good choice for your Tier 1 FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios.

Read on for the details of how we got to this result.

Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Tiers

A quick refresher: FastPass+ rides at Hollywood Studios are separated into two tiers:

Tier 1
(Choose 1)

Tier 2
(Choose 2)

Great Movie Ride
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Toy Story Mania
Beauty and the Beast
Fantasmic!
Star Tours
Tower of Terror
Frozen Sing-Along
Disney Junior
Indiana Jones
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
MuppetVision 3D

The attractions shown in blue are generally the best Fastpass+ choices because they’re all popular rides with long waits.  The stage shows, in green, only need you to show up 15-20 minutes in advance to get a seat. MuppetVision 3D is a high-capacity theater presentation, and it’s unlikely to have a wait of more than 10 minutes. Fantasmic! is a good choice for your fourth Fastpass+ reservation, and we’ll assume you can get one.

The two Tier 2 choices are obvious: Star Tours and Tower of Terror.

We have 3 possible choices for our Tier 1 pick: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, and the Great Movie Ride, a longshot candidate that we’ll include just to be complete.

FastPass+ Start Times

The other choices we need to make are our Fastpass+ reservation times. I chose 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 11 a.m., for a couple of reasons. First, most shows at Hollywood Studios don’t start until around 11 a.m. That gives you a couple of hours to see the park’s attractions without having to work around show schedules.

Second, those show schedules are often hard to align. Sometimes two shows overlap by just a few minutes, meaning you can’t see both in their entirety. Sometimes Disney schedules the shows so close together that you have to run from one to the other. We don’t want to complicate things any further by having to work around a FastPass reservation too.

The final reason to choose early FastPass+ times is so you can choose a day-of, 4th FastPass+ for Fantasmic!.

That leaves us with 18 possible combinations of attractions and FastPass+ reservation times:

Combinations

Next, I tested each combination using our touring plan software and our One-Day Touring Plan for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I chose Thursday, August 11 as the test date because the Studios is a very busy 9 on our 1-to-10 Disney World crowd calendar.

Each combination was run 10 times through the software.  Here are the results, from best to worst [1]:

TSMMvsRNRCFP-results

Here’s the average cost of all touring plans with a specific Tier 1 choice:

TSMMvsRNRCFP-results2

Not surprisingly, Great Movie Ride is the worst FastPass+ choice you can make in Tier 1 – you’d wait in line about 25 minutes longer than if you’d chosen Toy Story. And while the average plan with Toy Story FastPass+ averages about 9 minutes less than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, it’s only about 1 minute per hour of touring more. Most people aren’t going to notice that difference.

Best Toy Story Mania Touring Plan

For comparison, here’s the best touring plan using Toy Story Mania as a FastPass+ choice:

TSMMvsRNRCFP-plan1

This plan has 59 minutes of walking and 70 minutes of free time, mostly in the evening. The 221 minutes of waiting – 3 hours and 41 minutes – might seem like a lot. But almost half of it – 105 minutes – consists of arriving early enough to get a good seat at a show. For some shows like Beauty and the Beast and Fantasmic, you’ll be able to sit for a bit while you wait for the performance to start.

The other thing to notice about this plan is that it doesn’t use the 11 a.m. FastPass+ for Star Tours. Instead, it’s choosing the first Frozen Sing-Along right before lunch. That results in a 16-minute wait for Star Tours at 1:55 p.m. I’d suggest switching the Star Tours time FastPass+ start time to around 1:30 p.m., since you might be able to save 5 to 10 minutes of waiting.

Best Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Touring Plan

Here’s the best touring plan using Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster as a FastPass+ choice:

TSMMvsRNRCFP-plan2

Compared to the Toy Story plan, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster option has 8 more minutes of walking but 6 fewer minutes of waiting in line – those are a wash. There’s also 68 minutes of free time – again, a wash.

There are a couple of slightly more concerning things in the plan. First, it doesn’t use the 9 a.m. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster FastPass+ until 10:04 a.m. That’s fine, because Disney allows a grace period of around 15 minutes at the end of most FastPass+ windows, and 4 minutes is absolutely fine.

The second thing to note is that about half of the free time happens before lunch: 18 minutes after Tower of Terror while we wait for the Star Tours FastPass+ to begin; and 12 minutes after Star Tours before we need to get in line for Voyage of the Little Mermaid. That gives us the sequence:

Tower of Terror > Free Time > Star Tours > Free Time > Mermaid > Lunch

I know from experience that many families prefer not to have that much free time before noon. When half of your break comes that early in the day, it feels like you’re wasting time. There’s still almost half an hour of free time before getting in line for Fantasmic!, and that’s good.

Conclusions

Both of these plans are good. The Toy Story plan is a candidate to replace our existing standard one-day tour of the Studios . We’ll be testing both versions for the rest of the summer. If you use one of these in the parks, let me know how it goes!

Notes:

[1] The cost of a touring plan is measured in minutes, and takes in to account four things:

  1. Time spent in line
  2. Time spent walking
  3. Free time (for example, if you’ve got a spare hour before Fantasmic! starts, that’s 60 minutes of free time)
  4. Penalties, such as arriving excessively early or late for a show, meal, or break

 

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Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

7 thoughts on “Better DHS FastPass+ Choice: Toy Story Mania or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster?

  • August 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm
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    Another thing to consider in favor of using TSMM as your FPP is that RNR has a single rider line that you can take advantage of. We are going in Sept and will def be using our FPP for TSMM.

    Reply
    • August 9, 2016 at 4:54 pm
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      Same here, albeit for a December trip.

      Reply
    • August 19, 2016 at 11:20 am
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      Worst thing we did on our trip in December 2015 was try the single rider line at RNR, the people that entered the normal line at the same time got on way before us. Not too many people ride it without a partner in crime preplanned, so you’re stuck waiting forever

      Reply
  • August 10, 2016 at 5:46 am
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    I think RRC could be a good option over Toy Story if only because of the awful queue if lines are long. Between the boring exterior queue and those darn noisy marbles everyone wants to run their fingers over, I’d gladly choose to wait in the Toy Story queue instead now that I think about it, even if it’s a bit longer. That said, I’ve never used a fast pass for RRC, so I’m not sure how far it gets you by comparison. Bypassing the marbles = worth it.

    Reply
    • August 10, 2016 at 2:42 pm
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      I agree that the Toy Story queue is much better than the RRC, if for no other reason than that the entirety is in the A/C. Thanks for the article, I switched my early September FP+ from Toy Story to RRC!

      Reply
  • August 12, 2016 at 9:43 am
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    We went to DHS yesterday, arriving at 8.40 and getting through by 8.55 am, we hopped straight onto the Great Movie ride with 0 wait, over to rockin roller coaster with a 35 minute wait, then used fast passes for star tours at 10 am toy story at 11 am with one man’s dream in between. That plan worked great for us. My families only negative comment was we didn’t get to spend 50 minutes in line at Toy Story with Mr Potato Head! The fast pass queue takes a different much shorter route!

    Reply
  • August 15, 2016 at 11:28 am
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    And after all of this work, HS ended up being a crowd level 3/10 on August 11 instead of the forecasted 9/10. Len, what’s going on with the crowd forecasts and how are forecasts being adjusted going forward?

    Reply

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