Honeymoon Trip Report: Hollywood Studios (very long, lots of pictures)

The more often I go to Disney the more I realize that Hollywood Studios is becoming my least favorite park. I just don’t think there is enough to do inside the park; at the same time it is Disney so I love it nonetheless. Besides Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania and Star Tours there isn’t much to do.

Hollywood Blvd. is my second favorite park entrance behind Main Street U.S.A. This is looking towards the entrance, not the big Sorcerer’s Hat.

The most popular attraction is Toy Story Mania. I’m talking 100+ minute wait every afternoon. On our trip we only went on it once. Instead of going on it first thing in the morning we actually went on it about 30 minutes before the park closed and ended up waiting about 15-20 minutes. It was probably the longest wait for any attraction we had our entire trip.

The queue for Toy Story Mania is one of my favorites.

The whole thing looks just like Andy’s room.

I actually didn’t mind the 15-20 minute wait at all.

There were a lot of little details about the movies I forgot about until going through the queue.

Also in the queue for Toy Story Mania is a very interactive Mr. Potato Head. I couldn’t tell if there was actually somebody sitting in a room somewhere controlling him or if it was very good computer programming. Either way, he makes the wait more entertaining and I think Disney should find a way to put something like this in more lines throughout the various parks.

He is themed as a carnival barker. He is quite funny.

His eyes burn through your soul.

The closer you get to the loading bay the more the theming comes alive. The ride itself is very fun and definitely more advanced than its cousin Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin in Magic Kingdom. Instead of a “laser” you have a canon with a pull rope that shoots various things – rings, darts, arrows, balls – when you pull on it. You move around to different screens, each with their own unique scenario, and get a score based on each screen and a total score for the entire ride.

Here is a VERY blurry picture of us. The gentleman that offered to take our picture has even worse photography skills than yours truly.

Going above the ride before going down to board. The man in the baseball cap was quite annoying. His wife even more so, she was on the phone for a while. It was just like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkjHtUYkZk4

It’s a serious condition.

I do enjoy the ride but I don’t think it’s worth the hype. Unless you go on it first thing in the morning or right before the park closes you are looking at an hour long wait on a good day; sometimes it gets close to two hours on a busy afternoon). I guess for children it could be very exciting (well, it is for adults too) but the wait is simply not worth it here. Because we went on it at night, the one morning we got to Hollywood Studios before it opened we went on Tower of Terror once (because Ashley is scurred) Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster three times and Star Tours in the first hour while everybody and their brother headed to Toy Story Mania.

Playing a G chord on this baby may be a little difficult.

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has always been my favorite roller coaster at Disney since it opened in 1999. I do like Expedition Everest but for some reason going through a corkscrew backwards messes with my stomach so I can only go on it a few times in a row. I could go on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster 25 times in a row and still love it.

The pre-show is getting a bit outdated but the ride itself is as fun as ever. The slingshot start is awesome and you think it can’t get any better until you invert twice in the first five seconds of the ride. After that the ride tames itself a little but the darkness mixed with neon signs and Aerosmith songs blasting in your ears make the experience all the more enjoyable. Even the exit into the gift shop is awesome. Everything is awesome.

Turning the recording world upside down

Heh, make it a SUPER stretch!

Before turning to go into Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster you walk past the ominous Tower of Terror. Easily the most frightening ride at Disney, I was terrified of it as a child. I loved the ride itself but HATED the queue and pre-show. I would always close my eyes during the pre-show and stick close to my parents as we walked through the queue, especially the basement, it’s creepy down there!

And this elevator travels directly to…The Twilight Zone [lightning and thunder] #scary

Like I said before, we only rode this once because Ashley isn’t too fond of the whole dropping thing but I managed to talk her into it at least once so I was happy. As usual it was a great ride with a lot of random drops and screaming. My arm was howling for blood circulation as we exited the ride thanks to the iron-clad grip Ashley had on it for the entire drop sequence.

The clever Cast Members at Tower of Terror have a little fun with the wait sign before it gets too busy. I was under the impression the second number could only be a “0” or “5.” Shows what I know…

We also found some sweet swag in the gift shop. I would have let Ashley buy some of it had she ridden it more than once. But, because she is a sissy I SHUT HER DOWN! Not really, I don’t think she actually wanted anything.

It may be a little warm for a winter cap in Florida but I think this would fit better than the regular Mickey ear hats.

The fourth large attraction at Hollywood Studios is Star Tours. It was redesigned a year or two ago and this was the first time either of us had been on it since the refurb. It’s always exciting to go on or see something new at Disney!

I’m not so sure they updated the sign though…

AT-ATs are larger than they appear

The newer version is so much better than the old one. There is something like 50 different scenarios they send you through so it’s always different (unless you just rode it all day then maybe you would see some repeats) and the two different scenarios we went through were awesome; we were in a pod race and chased down some Storm Troopers in the forests of Endor. I think they added a lot more “Light Speed” sequences too; it felt like we were jumping to “Light Speed” every two minutes: exhilarating.

The loading bay was updated (I think?). The instructional pre-show is definitely new.

The 3-D glasses are the coolest I have ever seen. As you can tell they also make you look hard as hell.

Now that Disney owns Marvel I figured I could wear the shirt without ridicule.

Also, the gift shop you exit into has a bunch of really cool Star Wars merchandise including a build-your-own droid AND build-your-own light saber. I didn’t do either because of the price (and because I don’t need either one) but they were both very popular with young Padawans.

Here is a young Padawan. I wanted to get a picture of the Speeder Bike but there was always a damn kid on it so I shamelessly took a picture of somebody else’s child.

Other than those four rides I would say there is no other attraction you HAVE to go on while at Hollywood Studios but plenty of attractions and shows you SHOULD see.

The shows/attractions we didn’t do this trip were: Indiana Jones EPIC Stunt Spectacular; Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show; Beauty and the Best Live; Disney Junior – Live on Stage (for obvious reasons); The Magic of Disney Animation (a little bummed about this one, wish we would have checked it out); Voyage of the Little Mermaid and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure (Read: playground). And for the most part I wasn’t that broken up about missing any of these.

Here is a picture of the waiting area for the American Idol Experience. And the back of Ashley’s head.

We saw the American Idol Experience finale one of the nights we were there. It’s a pretty exciting show and it’s air conditioned which is a rarity at Hollywood Studios, especially while you are eating. We also saw Fantasmic! once. We were planing on going to the later showing but at 8:15 decided to go to the 8:30 show. Well, we did find a seat but it was at the very end. Not the best viewing angle but the show is incredible so neither of us minded much. I did get a lot of funny looks when I came back with quite a food haul though. If I remember correctly we got a pretzel with cheese, popcorn, a pop and a Mickey ice cream bar.

So many characters at once!

We also hit a couple obligatory attractions: Muppet Vision 4 3-D, Backlot Tour and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.

A Tribute to All Countries but Mostly AMERICA

The Rocketeer’s jetpack on the Backlot Tour

Mickey ear water tower from Backlot Tour

Walt Disney’s personal jet on Backlot Tour

Streets of America from Backlot Tour

The Backlot Tour is nowhere near as good as it used to be when I was a kid. I remember going past model houses used for shooting, the studio was actually a working studio and you generally saw a lot more stuff. We went on a weekend too so the costume drive through wasn’t operational.

More Streets of America. Can’t wait to see the Osborne Lights strung up here!

And San Francisco

Oh look, the fountain from Splash

One Man’s Dream is one of my favorite attractions at Disney because you get a very in-depth look into Walt’s life. Knowing about the man who made this all possible is wonderful. There is even a little 5-10 minute show at the end with some pretty cool clips.

Entrance marquee

Swanky

Ashley had read some of a book about Walt before our trip. She was an informative tour guide.

Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland model

Walt’s first desk

Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland model

Adventureland in Disneyland model

Vintages pictures of either Disneyland or Disney World. Awesome.

Recreation of Walt unveiling his plans for EPCOT

Cinderella Castle in Disney World model

…and the tears started to flow. Horizons, Journey into Imagination and Kitchen Kabaret (which may as well be Food Rocks) all in one beautiful case, forever preserved.

Model of New Fantasyland which should be mostly complete when we go in mid December!

Paradise Pier in California Adventure model

I almost forgot about my second favorite ride at Disney: The Great Movie Ride! We only went on it once because there was actually a bit of a line the few times we walked past it but it was still great. I do admit though that the ride could use an upgrade. I don’t know which movies they would remove or which they would add but the ride is definitely showing its age.

Entrance marquee

Chinese Theater replica with The Great Movie Ride inside

Action!

We ate lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In the last day of our trip. We had both been before but not for a long while. We both got the Picnic Burger and were both a bit disappointed. The consistency difference between the burger and the hot dog was very strange. The burger was soft while the dog was a bit hard yet chewy; it’s hard to explain. Anyway, I took the hot dog off my burger and ate it separately.

The theming inside and out is amazing

No caption necessary

This is the best picture I have that captures the atmosphere inside Sci-Fi. It is very similar to San Angel in that it is always night. Also, as you walk to your car (table) you are actually “traveling back in time.”

I took about 50 pictures of all the different B-movies and old advertisements they show on the big screen. I’ll spare you the time and only show this one.

We also got an order of onion rings which were DELICIOUS and some fancy, glowing drinks.

They were both yummy. We still have the glowing “ice cubes.”

And in blue

Aforementioned picnic burger

We somehow managed to still get cupcakes from Starring Rolls. They were 1) GIGANTIC and 2) DELICIOUS. I felt bad they we wasted about half a cupcake each but these things happen when you are on the Dining Plan.

Butterfinger on the left. Chocolate peanut butter on the right.

Inside the Butterfinger cupcake. The icing itself was easily an inch thick. The cupcake as a whole was very sweet and super tasty.

As I said before we didn’t spend a ton of time at Hollywood Studios this trip. We went at night twice – once just to watch Fantasmic! and ended up going on a ride or two and the other two go on rides – and the last morning of our trip. While Hollywood Studios is very fun there just isn’t a lot of stuff to do. Many people consider Animal Kingdom to be a half day park (which is crazy in my opinion). If this is the case, Hollywood Studios ranks right up there. After you ride the handful of rides available you only shows left. If you wanted to see all the shows you would probably need a whole day or two half days to hit them all just because there are so many.

It’s weird because they have two of the best thrill rides at Disney, which are popular with a lot of people, but there isn’t enough to keep those people around. You could easily hit all of the rides at Hollywood Studios in the first two hours, have some lunch and be gone by noon if you are uninterested in any of the shows. We will still go to Hollywood Studios on future trips but probably in the same fashion we did for this trip: one, maybe two nights and one morning.

I’m finally finishing this train wreck with some random pictures of Hollywood Studios. Enjoy.

The “icon” of Hollywood Studios. Notice the lack of people. They were all at Toy Story Mania.

And at night

The actual costume from the Power Rangers Movie.

I found these bad boys (or girls) in a shop while Ashley went potty after Fantasmic!

Sundays at 8 p.m. EST

Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST

The Pixar area is where you can find Toy Story Mania. If I were Disney I would definitely expand this area and add some more attractions. Pixar is and has been huge in the last decade. Lots of material to work with.

The lines before we entered. Hollywood Studios was actually open by the time I took this picture. They seem to open about 20 minutes early and let people do whatever they want. Better than the “rope drop.”

They serve stuffed sandwiches here. Definitely want to try them sometime.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful couple.

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