Now and then I’ll go around my site and look for pages that are out of date or perhaps I have a new opinion on based on a recent experience. It’s not uncommon for things to change or for my perception of something to change and not too long ago I reworked my full day touring guide to the Studios. This is the all-in-one touring plan that will aim to allow someone using it to see the entire park and everything inside of it, in one day. It’s not an easy task and I thought I’d outline some thoughts of why I ordered things the way I ordered them so you can get an idea of the madness (or brilliance, depending on your disposition) behind the plan. Personally, I love to spend more than one day in the Studios and take things easy and work everything in when it's convenient to me but I also realize I'm a bit obsesed with the Studios (hence this site) so many guests can only allocate a day to see it all so here's why I recommended what I wrote.
First and foremost, you must be on hand for opening at the Studios to have any shot at doing it all in one day. I can’t emphasize this point enough and this isn’t just for visiting the Studios. The first hour at any theme park is the “magic hour” where you can basically walk onto any attraction with little or no wait at all. This is the best time to experience any park’s most popular attractions. By getting to the park for opening, you should be able to experience Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster with very little wait.
In terms of which to do first, I prefer to do Coaster first because I think the line for Coaster develops faster than at Tower. For some reason, Tower seems to handle crowds more efficiently than it’s neighbor on the other side of Sunset Boulevard. This has been my experience so that’s why you should ride Coaster first and then go ride Tower immediately afterwards. Assuming nothing breaks down and you arrived to the Studios before it opened (so you can be on hand for its opening), then you should be finished with both attractions by about 9:30 am.
Going with the Great Movie Ride is fairly obvious as it’s line tends to get long as well. Once Toy Story Mania opens up, I think I’ll slip Toy Story Mania into the number 3 slot and move the Great Movie Ride down to fourth. The big change (in my opinion anyway) in this touring guide from its previous iteration is when I suggest riding Star Tours. Previously, I had Star Tours right after the Great Movie Ride but I changed this for two reasons. First, the wait for Star Tours really doesn’t get that long until afternoon. It has a high capacity and simulators don’t agree with everyone. In addition, I moved Star Tours down to cut down on walking across the park because the next step is to do Voyage of the Little Mermaid or Magic of Disney Animation. Mermaid gets mighty busy as the day progresses and it’s shown so often (and early) that I think it’s a good suggestion for the fourth spot.
Depending on the show schedule, you may arrive too early to wait around for Mermaid. If the wait is more than 20 minutes (as a Cast Member how long until the next show), then grab a FASTPASS and go see the Magic of Disney Animation. At this point in the morning, it’s too uncrowned to spend time waiting around for anything. The Magic of Disney Animation should be all to yourself this early in the morning. Ideally, you should be able to see Mermaid and the Magic to Disney Animation right after each other and then you can work in Star Tours.
Again, I wanted to cut down on walking so after Star Tours I recommend seeing Muppetvision 3D because there will be no wait for it (hardly ever is one) and after that, I recommend having an early lunch to beat the crowds to eat. If you’re trying to do it all in one day, I might recommend counter service but a meal this early (11ish) is fine to have a sit down meal since your food and service ought to come very fast since there wont be many eating then. When you’re done eating, that will be when the real lunch crowds will start and you’ll take advantage of everyone else eating by experiencing other attractions.
After a fulfilling lunch, a ride on the Backlot Tour should be easy on your digestion and some more rest for your feet. Following this, we begin the hardest part of planning your day the Studios; figuring out when to see the shows. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is easy to work into a schedule since it has continuous shows all day. But shows like Beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular have maybe 4 or 5 shows a day and they will get quite crowded. See if you can work in both before the 3:00 parade. Don’t worry about spending some time waiting around for the shows to begin because the infrequent show schedule dictates that you go out of your way to see it. If the parade interests you, go see it (I recommend seeing it near Echo Lake). If parades aren’t your thing, you can take some more liberty with working in Indy and Beauty.
By about 4pm, you should have the major attractions done. All that’s left are the easy to see anytime attractions like One Man’s Dream, Sounds Dangerous and the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure. The only competitive attraction left is the High School Musical Pep Rally and you should try seeing it after the parade (since many families with small children leave after the parade). The best spot is going to be waiting for it opposite the Brown Derby restaurant. You’re going to have to be a little pushy to get a good spot, but if your kids enjoy it, it’s worth a little extra elbow.
Have dinner and work in anything else you’ve missed out on previously or you want to re-ride. If you noticed, I only recommended using FASTPASS once in this plan (if it was even needed then) and the reason is that FASTPASS should be your parachute if things don’t work out as easily as I write them here. I like to use FASTPASS for Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show so I don’t have to worry about getting a seat way in advance. Additionally, sometimes you’ll get to an attraction and just miss a show or just never time things right so it may be best to get a FASTPASS, continue with the plan and come back to it. As I mentioned, working in the shows is not easy but it is doable. Give the shows priority over the attractions and you should find it a little easier to work it all in.