One of the most difficult aspects of touring the Disney-MGM Studios is finding a way to work in the shows to your day while seeing the attractions. Rides are easy to plan for in a touring plan; figure out the best times to see each ride and plug it in. Shows are more difficult because some are shown more frequently than others and the length of each show can vary. The good news is it’s not an impossible task by any means so with my help, you should be able to see all the shows while still riding everything in one day.
First, you’re going to want to make very certain you arrive at the Studios right at park opening. Part of being able to work in shows is making sure you have enough time for the rides or you wont have time to do much of anything.
The easiest shows to see are Sounds Dangerous, Muppetvision 3D and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream because they’re open at park opening and run all day. Neither has any waits in terms of guests in front of you so really it’s just a matter of finding time in your schedule. You’ll want to experience these three at peak times of the day, which is usually early mid-afternoon. More than likely you’ll be able to walk on to these and be able to sit down in a nice air-conditioned room and relax for 10-15 minutes. The only thing to keep in mind is One Man’s Dream is a two-part attraction: half self-guided tour, half show and once the show part begins, you’ll have to wait for it to be over and so often guests take too long in the self guided portion and then stand around waiting for no reason for the next show. The solution is simple; walk in and blow past the entire self-guided tour portion and be certain to see if you can sit down for the next showing of the film. Once the film is over, exit through the way you came into the theater, see the self-guided tour portion and then exit through the entrance. No Cast Member will care about the reverse exiting.
Most shows begin their first show at some point in the morning. A lot of it depends on the time of the year as the busier the day, the earlier the first showing. Voyage of the Little Mermaid typically is the first show to start running. The good news is this is show runs nearly continuously from 9:45ish in the morning until a little before park closing. You’ll want to be on hand for the first showing, which works out usually if you go ride Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster first. Because of how often it’s shown, if you can’t make the first show try to get it in before 11am otherwise grab a FASTPASS for it later.
Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage has 22-minute shows that run about once an hour so the key is to see it early because this is a favorite for kids. Ideally you should see Voyage of the Little Mermaid for it’s first showing, and then get right into line for Playhouse Disney, which is across the courtyard. You’ll likely be there a little early but lines get long quickly and you don’t want to miss out.
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show has only 3 shows per day so it’s important to figure out which seating you go to. When the show first opened, I often recommended seeing the first show of the day but because of the huge capacity for capacity of the stadium and the somewhat faded popularity of it now that it’s been open for a year or so means seeing it early isn’t as important as it once was. This is a good show to see in the afternoon but in the warmer summer months, it can be brutal sitting in those stands, in which case you may want to see the last showing of the day. FASTPASS is available but shouldn’t be necessary unless you’re coming on a very busy day like a holiday.
The Magic of Disney Animation show runs continuously through the day once it opens around 10am. The wait to get into the show tends not be that long in general and it also it’s capacity is average. You’ll want to see this in the late afternoon only because there’s other rides and shows to see and do before that. Keep Magic of Disney Animation as a fallback if you’re kind of in a no-man’s land in terms of what to do next.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will get crowded and you should try working it in to the late afternoon. It’s not nearly as popular as it was in years past (mostly due to the increased amount of alternative attractions, including shows (hence the need for this article!) so sneaking this in won’t be difficult. It’s a great attraction to FASTPASS so if you’re in the area around 2 or 3 pm, stop by and get a FASTPASS for it.
Arguably the hardest daytime show to get into is Beauty and the Beast at the Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard. First, everyone loves the story, second, it’s on Sunset Boulevard which is overcrowded from Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster goers to begin with, third, there tend not to be that many shows in the day, especially in the off-season and finally, there’s no FASTPASS available. This is the show you need to look at the show times and make sure you’re in the area 15-20 minutes before show time to make certain you make it in.
Fantasmic! is always interesting to get into. Some prefer the Fantasmic! Dinner Package although I tend not to recommend it because it’s not so great seating area at the far right of the theater. Depending on the time of year you’re at the Studios will dictate how early you have to show up to wait. During the slower times of the year, 20-30 minutes before the start of the show should be fine. If you’re going during a busier time of the year, get there 45-60 minutes before show time. A good tip is if there is more than one show per day, ALWAYS see the last showing of the day as it will be much less crowded and you’ll have more time in the day to do other attractions.
The big problem most guests run into is the dilemma of “Oops, I forgot to see ____ and now there are no more showings left today”. The best solution to that is to make sure you plan ahead and figure out the best times to see each show. If you can go dedicate two days (or at least one full day and a portion of another day) to the Studios, then you can be more cavalier in your touring of the park although most folks don’t have that luxury. The key is the know which shows are the most popular and give those priority while working in the other shows into your day.