The other day I was checking the WDW Today listener emails in preperation for an upcoming episode when I ran across this email from Van Edwards of Fayetteville, Georgia.
It just so happens that we (me, wife & 3 boys age 12,10,8) are planning a trip to the world for late September 2011 (or 20xx). On our last trip, we spent 6-days in the parks (arrive on Saturday, leave on Saturday). We spent a day in every parks, but we toured Magic Kingdom and EPCOT twice. The length of the trip seemed to work great. So we're going down for another 6 "park day" trip. This time I'd like to shake things up a bit. I'm trying to make a case for visiting Hollywood Studios twice. Matt, I need your help. What, in your opinion, would make the Studios worthy of two stops in the same trip? I'm a Touring Plans subscriber and don't see any two-day plans. Any suggestions on planning two days so that we vary our experience? Our other option is to add on the park hopper and play it by ear. But, I thought I'd give Matt a chance to talk up the Studios a little.
I'll eventually get a chance to answer this question on the podcast but I wanted to take some time to answer Van's question in more detail here because spending more than one day in Hollywood Studios isn't just an option; It's a necessity!
What I really love about Hollywood Studios is the variety of entertainment the park has. From stage shows to thrill rides to street theater to dark rides, this park has it all. And by the same token, so much attraction variety is what can make scheduling just one day in Hollywood Studios a challenge. Between the stage shows, Fantasmic! and everything inbetween, there's a lot going on during your average day in the parks.
If you're looking to "see it all", then two days in Hollywood Studios will make your life a heck of a lot easier. Tackling the stage show schedule in addition to the popular attractions is never easy and it's probably the biggest roadblock I find for guests trying to figure out their plan of attack. I guarantee if you try to wing it in one day, you will come out of Hollywood Studios having missed a couple of stage shows simply because you didn't have the time to fit them into the schedule. Some shows only have a handful of performances each day. Breaking up the trip into two days will make the pace of touring far more relaxing.
The other compelling reason to break up the days is Fantasmic!. On days when Fantasmic! is being performed, average park wait times are longer than on days when there is no Fantasmic! showing. By breaking up your trip into two days, you can enjoy one day of touring on a non-Fantasmic! night and reap the benefits of a less-crowded park. You'll still be able to enjoy Fantasmic! on the other day you're in the Studios but you wont have to fight the crowds to see the more popular attractions on the busier day.
Of course, when you're talking about visiting any Disney park on more than one day, there's the possibility of revisiting your favorite attractions once more. With Van's boys ranging in age from 8-12, there isn't a shadow of a doubt that they would love nothing more than to ride Toy Story Midway Mania as many times as possible. Two days in Hollywood Studios means more opportunity to ride! And I'd definitely encourage Van to sign his boys up for the Jedi Training Academy, but what many don't know is that Jedi Training Academy is quickly becoming one of the hardest attractions to get into due to its popularity. You'll have to show up in the first hour after park opening to sign up and having two days in the Studios makes it so much easier to fit that in since there will be less pressure.
I hope by now you're seeing the advantage of touring Hollywood Studios over two days is the pace of touring can substantially relax and it gives you more opportunity to, well, do more. With more time in the park, you can afford to take an hour or two for a sit down meal in a place like the 50's Prime Time Cafe or check out the hillarious Citizens of Hollywood. And Van and his family will need that extra time because he's going to Walt Disney World during one of the times of the year when park hours are at their lowest. September and January routinely present the leanest park operating hours of the entire year so with the least amount of in-park hours possible, having two days will make a big difference.
There's no doubt that between the entertainment schedule, limited park hours and relaxed pace, touring Hollywood Studios over two days is the way to go. There's so much more to gain by spreading their trip to the world's greatest theme park over more than one day. With a little planning, Van can give his boys a trip they will absolutely love.