If you checked in on Monday, you know that we visited Hollywood Studios during our trip to Disney this May. On Monday, I talked about the rides at that park; but Hollywood Studios, more than any other Disney park, is all about the shows.
We tried to fit in as many as we could, but the trying to work the schedules of all of the shows together is quite the challenge. We stuck with the ones we were most interested in.
We started our day by heading over to the American Idol building. Every day at Hollywood Studios, Disney puts on several shows based on the hit TV show, starting park guests as the contestants. After much back and forth, Kevin talked me into doing it. I did a quick audition that morning and was told to come back for one of the afternoon shows. I didn’t take it too seriously and I didn’t win anything, but I did get hair and makeup done and got to sing on a pretend American Idol stage. That’s as close as I’ll ever get to the real thing. The ‘judges’ had nothing but positive comments; I’m pretty sure that’s their job, though. Kevin was my always-supportive Mr. Manager throughout the whole process and is still convinced the whole show was rigged. I had a fun time doing it, even though it took up a fair amount of our morning.
After all that time catering to my interests, we took some time out to fulfill one of Kevin’s lifelong dreams: eating a turkey leg. Sadly, the turkey leg failed to meet his lofty expectations. We both thought it had an odd flavor – almost like a turkey leg made with ham – and the meat was pretty dry. We will be sticking to nice, moist, roasted turkey legs at home from now on.
We took time during that little lunch to map out our schedule for the day. Because of the abundance of shows, we knew we could only do the ones we were most interested in. We skipped Voyage of the Little Mermaid (my sister’s favorite as a child) and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. I know, I know. I am the biggest Beauty and the Beast fan alive, but I had seen the show as a kid and, frankly, I knew that watching it would just make me want to nitpick about all the things I would change. Nothing beats the movie. Besides, I had my ultimate Beauty and the Beast experience waiting for me the next day at Magic Kingdom. You’ll have to come back to hear about that.
The first show that we enjoyed together (American Idol doesn’t count since I was on stage) was the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. The show involves mostly physical stunts such as hand-to-hand combat. The premise of the show is that Disney is making a movie and the audience just happens to be there to witness and participate in some of the scenes. It’s entertaining, although, since all of the stunts are so physical, I would have liked to be closer. It’s a big stadium and we were near the back, poised for a quick exit to get to our next show.
After Indiana Jones, we ran to the back of the park to see Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. We missed the first few minutes, which, of course, exhibited some impressive opening stunts, but we saw most of the show. This show focuses on stunt work with vehicles. We found it a lot more exciting than the Indiana Jones show. I think that we have a much better understanding of how difficult and dangerous car stunts are since we are both licensed drivers. We were especially impressed since the stunt team did everything in a light drizzle that had to be complicating their jobs.
Not only did the stunt team execute their stunts, but they spent a good amount of time explaining some of them, which was cool. Of course, the real attraction is seeing the stunts performed live. At one point, a car went up a ramp inside one of those semis, flew to the roof of the next semi, and landed on a huge inflated airbag. They also did work with motorcycles and jet skis. At the end of the show, a car drove through a wall of flames…which I managed to miss a picture of by half a second. You can see in those pictures above how the flames are just beginning. Despite the wet, dreary conditions and the uncomfortable stadium seating, I would say this was our favorite show of the day.
We hit the Studio Backlot Tour near the end of our day. I would classify this attraction as half ride, half show. The tour gives a behind-the-scenes look into the movie making business. The first half uses audience members to demonstrate the filming of a boat scene. They instruct the participants how to act while they set off water cannons and drench them with tons of water. Then, you get to see a rough cut of the scene featuring those participants.
After a quick walk through a prop warehouse – we got to see the Mr. Tumnus statue from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe! – you hop on a tram for a winding tour through prop graveyards and various departments. I was particularly fascinated as we drove past the costume department. While you are on the tram, you get to see another example of movie magic as they flood a canyon with water and fire. Since I rode the Backlot Tour as a child, I knew what was coming and put by camera away before the waterfalls poured over the tram.
I did snap a few pictures of the larger props we passed in the graveyard. Above you can see a Mickey Mouse topiary. He’s not from a movie, but he still is cute. The water tower from the start of the post was featured on the tour as well. We saw two versions of Herbie the lovebug, one all cleaned up and one not so much. We saw several Star Wars props as well. Also in the backlot, the airplane used when Walt Disney flew over thousands of acres of Florida land and decided to build his parks there.
When you leave the Backlot Tour, you walk through an exhibit of classic movie props. I’ll be honest, this small gallery was one of my favorite parts of the day. I got pictures with costumes and props from some of the greatest movies ever made, including Gone With the Wind, The Sound of Music, and Chicago.
As with all Disney rides, the final step was a themed gift shop. For the first time, I was actually interested in the collection of movie-themed goods they were selling. I could have stayed all day looking through the books about the Academy Awards, movie stars, and other things. Kevin, not so much. We did get a good laugh out of the mini-Oscars they had for sale boasting awards for “Best Mom,” “Best Sister,” and so forth. Of course, nothing in the store beat the experience out on the streets of Hollywood Studios where I stepped into a scene from my childhood favorite, Singin’ in the Rain.
We had a great day at Hollywood Studios. After having spent so much on food at Epcot, and knowing we would have more expenses the rest of the week, we cancelled our reservation at The Hollywood Brown Derby replica restaurant and hit Wendy’s on the way home. We did not leave, however, without getting some of the popcorn I had been smelling and craving all day long.
We left before the fireworks show, Fantasmic!, because we knew the next day would be a long one. We actually did end up seeing a bit of it from afar while driving home from Downtown Disney a few nights later. We could have stayed, but our rational was the same as it had been regarding the Epcot fireworks show. We’ve seen fireworks before and we would stay for the ones at Magic Kingdom. We knew those would be the best out of all the parks. Besides, after two very manageable days at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom presents a challenge to even the most prepared visitors. We knew it would be a long, great day. Make sure you follow or subscribe to Napp Time so you don’t miss out on hearing about our experience there. It was by far our favorite day at Disney; it included one of the top ten most magical moments of my life. You don’t want to miss it!