Headed to Hollywood Studios

For those of you who checked in faithfully last week, you read all about our adventures at Epcot in posts one, two, and three.  Today and Wednesday, we jump over to the next park: Hollywood Studios.  For us, Hollywood Studios broke into two main categories of attractions: rides and shows.  Today, it’s all about the rides!

DSCF0552Pictured above is arguably Hollywood Studios’ most famous ride: the Tower of Terror.  We enjoyed the thrill of that one.  As with everything, Disney really sets up all the details for you.  The intro to the actual ride did, I’ll admit, freak me out a little bit.  The real shock, though, was that first drop.  I expected a standard free fall where they lift you up, you hang at the top for a few seconds, and then drop.  Nope.  Disney drops you before you even realize you’ve gone high enough to be dropped.  And then they drop you again.  And again. And again.  Awesome.

One of my favorites of the day was The Great Movie Ride.  This slow-moving ride takes you through scenes from classic films throughout the twentieth century.  I remember riding this one as a kid and I don’t think it has changed at all.  I had pictures of Indiana JonesTarzan, John Wayne, and more but they turned out blurry.  Thankfully, I did have some good ones turn out, including quite a few from The Wizard of Oz.  My sister-in-law would have been beyond excited during that segment.

Hollywood Studios has the most “connections” with brands that you don’t think of as Disney.  For instance, we went to Muppet*Vision 3D and saw the gang running around on screen and in the theater.  I loved that those two grouchy old guys were seated in an opera box commenting to each other through the whole movie.  They are, without question, my favorite Muppets.

DSCF0588Another brand most of us do not immediately associate with Disney (at least not until recently) is Star Wars.  Although we were there during Disney’s annual “Star Wars Weekends,” we visited on a Tuesday, so we missed most of the festivities surrounding that event, but we did see Star Wars merchandise everywhere.  There were mini sets from the movies set up all over the park, too, so you could get your picture as if you were on Tatooine or becoming Darth Vader.  Of course, they also had a simulator ride which sent you all across the galaxy.

In line for that ride, they had replicas of C3P0 and R2D2 chatting away about something or other.  The ride itself….well, let’s remember our trip to Mars back at Epcot.  Simulators are not for me.

We thought at first that all the Star Wars stuff had been added quickly in the past few months after the acquisition of the rights from Lucasfilm.  Turns out, though, that Disney has been having Star Wars weekends for years now.  I guess their partnership with George Lucas goes back a lot further than we realized.

Of all the parks, Hollywood Studios displays the most evidence of Disney’s relationship with Pixar.  In one building, characters from Pixar movies were all spread throughout a big room available for pictures.  The line to take pictures with characters from Toy Story had a wait of nearly an hour.  We did not do either of those things, but we did ride Toy Story Midway Mania.  It easily qualifies as our favorite ride of that day.

Each rider gets a gun of sorts and you go flying through a series of games where you aim at moving targets and rack up points.  Really, it is such a simple concept, but Disney has executed it extremely well.  Had the wait not been so long and we had not been using our Fastpasses for other things, we would have ridden this one several times.  For the record, I beat Kevin.

DSCF0570

We skipped several movies at Hollywood Studios, including one about Walt Disney’s life and one about Disney animation.  After walking through the galleries, we felt we had gotten the gist.  I did, however, take a picture with Walt’s many Oscars.

Our biggest disappointment of the day was the Pirates of the Carribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow.  We waited for nearly a half hour and then were ushered into a room with 50-100 other people and cordoned off into a small square.  As various screens and holograms asked for our participation in doing things like chanting or yelling or whatever, Kevin and I both kept expecting to then be ushered on to the actual ride.  Sadly, that measly display was the whole deal.

The last ride of our day was the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  It’s themed as though you are riding with Aerosmith through traffic on the way to a concert.  Right before you get on, there’s a whole set up where it’s as though you are in the studio with them finishing up a recording session and then they invite you to come along.  It’s not a super thrilling ride or anything, but it’s one of the better roller coasters Disney has.  Our general takeaway is that  Disney is not out to get your adrenaline pumping with most of these rides. Instead, they want to offer a full experience, with a back story and everything.

Well, that pretty much covers the rides at Hollywood Studios.  This park, more than any of the others, has a wide variety of shows to see throughout the day.  Make sure you come back later this week to hear about those!  If you haven’t already, subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss out on a moment of Disney magic (Magic Kingdom adventures and our takeaway from our whole experience yet to come!) or of what’s happening with us in general.

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