Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood Studios’

Below is the first part of a trip report of Matt and my quick vacation to WDW a few weeks ago.  As you see, I’m very detailed, so I’m still in the middle of writing out the rest of our trip.  So, since this post is long enough, enjoy day 1, July 16, 2011:

After a flight I care not to mention again (unless I can tell you about it in person) Matt and I arrived at MCO, ready to hop aboard DME and get whisked away to the Caribbean Beach Resort.  Or so I thought.  As we were taking the tram to the main terminal, Matt gave me my last surprise of the trip: we weren’t staying at the Caribbean Beach, he had been sneaky and upgraded us to the Boardwalk Resort!  It wasn’t the Grand Floridian, but we would once again be staying at Disney in style in one of their Deluxe Resorts.  It took me a while to believe him, but once he showed me the DME paperwork, and we were in the line for the Boardwalk bus, I was so excited.  I have the best husband, by the way.

We didn’t wait in line very long at the airport, though we did wait a long time on the bus for it to fill up and head out, which was kind of frustrating.  I wasn’t going to let it bother me too much though, since the bus was free of whining and screaming children (and our flight wasn’t; oi), and we were heading to a nice hotel. 

The Boardwalk was the first drop off (yay!) so we were soon walking into the lobby to check in.  We tried to get an upgrade to water view, but settled for a king room instead.  Side note: We couldn’t upgrade to a water view because “we didn’t pay for one”, which, ok stingy Disney, I get, but then it wouldn’t be called an upgrade, would it?  Anyway, as a bonus I’ve never had at Disney, our room was ready, so we got to head there first instead of leaving our bags with bell services.  Despite a few eyesores (bubbling wall paper, stain on the bathroom wall) the room was really nice and had a nice balcony (which we used exclusively for spraying on sun screen during the trip).   We spent a few minutes admiring the room, and then it was off to the parks.

Now, one thing you must know about Matt and me is that we are planners.  I don’t know how to relax while on vacation, especially at Disney.  Before we left we had everything planned out.  Where we were eating (thanks to the dining plan), which parks we were going to on which days, everything.  For the first time though, when we got there we threw all that out the window.  We kept our Dining reservations of course, but when we headed out of the room, we decided that this time around, we would go where the wind takes us, and I think we decided this independently of each other.  So while we were planning to head to Magic Kingdom and stay there all day, we actually ended up walking out to the Boardwalk and taking the ferry to Hollywood Studios. 

Now there is a walking path to Studios, but I opted for the ferry, thinking it would be air conditioned.  I THOUGHT WRONG.  I don’t know if it used to be at one point, or if I just imagined it was before, but goodness, that was one uncomfortable ride.  It wasn’t the heat so much as the smelly, muggy air that never moved.  As more people got on (huge crowds from the Swan and Dolphin) the ride got more uncomfortable.  That was the only time we took the boats this trip. 

Once we got into Studios, we raced back to the Tower of Terror.  Since this was July, I was expecting tremendous wait times, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised throughout the trip.  The longest wait we had the whole time was for Soarin’ the next day at 50 minutes.  That’s not to say that there weren’t ridiculous wait times ever, just that we were able to avoid most of them. 

We lunched at the ABC Commissary to enjoy some air conditioning.  To our surprise our cheeseburgers came with three fried shrimp on top.  Apparently it’s called surf and turf on the menu, which tells you how much we were paying attention when we ordered.  Yay for the dining plan!  I have to admit, Disney could do much worse with their fast food.  Generally speaking, it’s pretty good across the property.  The advantage of the dining plan is that you can sub a bottle of water for your dessert.  It’s not a cost savings, but it feels better doing that than always choking up $2.50 every couple of hours. 

Now forgive me as I don’t remember everything we did in order, but I think it went, Tower, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, then back to Tower.  Rockin’ Roller Coaster had a 80 minute wait when we got in line, but they opened the single rider lane soon after and Matt and I hopped the line and were through in about 20 minutes.  I think we could have made it through faster, but the cast member working loading seemed to have a grudge against the single rider line for some reason, and refused to use it when called for.  She got switched out fairly quickly though and we were back in business.  Star Tours was a pretty short wait.  A part of me wanted it to take a bit longer, since it was all new and such, but I’m not going to complain, I saw enough to get the gist.  The new ride was sweet!  I’m a fan of simulators and it was even more fun the first time through since we were in the last row, which means my feet didn’t touch the ground.  I was thrown around a lot.  I couldn’t tell you where we went, but there was a lot of falling if I remember correctly. 

After we got through our highlight of rides, we decided to take the bus to Epcot.  I thought walking all the way there would take too long, and I wasn’t getting back on the boat.  As we entered Epcot, the line for Spaceship Earth was pretty short, so we took a turn on that.  It was the only time we rode it, which makes me a little sad, but I know that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  After checking out wait times in Innoventions Plaza, we decided to head over to Mission: Space and Test Track as there was no way we would get on Soarin’ at that time of day. 

Mission: Space Orange (the more intense version) had a surprisingly long wait that ended up being even longer because the ride kept getting shut down.  I suspect protein spills.  We spent quite a lot of time being, ah, “entertained” by many international cheering squads that were all over that weekend, especially while in this line.  (“They’re not even saying real words!”)  We ended up having a very nice conversation with the family behind us in line on the values of working hard to get what you want in life.  I love Disney people.  The dad and youngest daughter ended up being in our shuttle.  I would guess she was round 6 or 7 and was terrified going into it, but left the ride laughing. 

As we left Mission: Space we saw looming dark clouds of a coming storm.  We decided to risk the long wait in line at Test Track.  Matt and his family historically have bad luck with waiting in line for this ride and having it be shut down due to inclimate weather right before it’s their turn to go, but we tried anyway.  Once we got in line we wondered if the ride had recently started operating after being shut down a while, because we waited 10 minutes total, even though the posted stand by time was 40 minutes.  We got to ride before the storm set in and I had a blast screaming around the hairpin turns.  We got a laugh from the entire car as I explained to Matt that I like to scream at that particular spot to scare the people waiting in line. 

We took a quick jaunt around the World Showcase as we were looking for a quick service place to eat that was air conditioned.  Thinking the Land pavilion would be too crowded, we ended up at the American Adventure eating the recommended chicken nuggets.  I’ve only eaten there once before a long time ago, but it was pretty empty and quiet, so I didn’t mind the uninteresting food.  At this point we were getting pretty close to Illuminations time, but as we were both breaking in new sandals, we decided to head back to the hotel to change shoes.  Can I say what a luxury that was?  We walked there and back in about 10 minutes.  10 minutes!  That’s nothing in Disney time!

Anyway, we stopped in France on our way back so I could enjoy a Grand Marnier Orange Slushie, for which we waited an annoyingly long time.  There was a group of very drunk people taking orders at the one and only stand that sold this drink for all their drunk buddies or random passerbys, it was hard to tell exactly who was getting all the alcohol.  They didn’t even buy a slushie, which I will remind you, they were at the only stand that sold them.  Why they didn’t head to another stand, I’ll never know.  I hope they all got woken up nice and early and loudly the next morning. 

Anyway, the storm was coming in earnest by the time I got my delicious drink, so Matt and I got prime seats in Italy to watch it come in and wait for Illuminations.  There was no one else around us.  The storm was pretty awesome and we were out in the rain for a while until the cold got the best of me and Matt took pity and bought us rain ponchos.  After that the storm died out pretty quick and we only had to wait about 15 minutes for Illuminations.  If you’re wondering, Illuminations goes on every night, rain or shine.  Thankfully we enjoyed it without the rain.

After that we walked back to the hotel and enjoyed some time in the Boardwalk’s main pool before heading to bed. 

Look for day 2, soon to come!


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Wow, a little over two weeks left.  Before I know it I’ll be boarding a plane and landing in the sunshine state, then Disney’s Magical Express will take me away. 

So what am I looking forward to today?


My mother-in-law and I have seen the show before, but I don’t think anyone else has.  I’m excited for them to see it, but I’m trying to be careful not to put too much hype on the show.  It’s entertaining, but it’s no Wishes.  Although at least we won’t have to worry about dragon malfunctions like they do in Disneyland. 

 We’re doing the dining package for the show, which I’ve never done before.  We’re eating at The Hollywood Brown Derby super early (earlier than senior citizens would normally eat), then we have to be at the reserved seats at least a half hour before show time.  I’ve never done the package before, but from the reviews I’ve read, the reserved seats are not too bad.  It sure beats waiting 2 or more hours in uncomfortable bleachers to have your view ruined by the people finally joining their friend who was reserving spots for their group of 20 Brazilian tourists, which includes the tallest person at Hollywood Studios deciding to sit in front of you 10 minutes before the show starts, leaving you nowhere to go and nothing to see.  Just saying.

I haven’t seen the show since 2004, but I’m assuming much hasn’t changed since then.  I hope everyone likes it, and that the wind is blowing the right way so we all don’t get wet from the water fans.

Has anyone else done the Fantasmic! dinner package?  Tell me about it in the comments!

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“A salute to all nations but mostly America.”

I’m usually not a huge fan of 3D movies because for some odd reason, they don’t work that well on me.  I see things coming out of the screen, but they don’t pop out and make me think they’re going to touch me, like other people seem to experience.  Maybe it’s because I have a lot of eye problems, I don’t know, but I can tell you that Avatar was a very boring movie for me. 

Anywhoo, I do like seeing Jim Henson’s Muppet Vision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, mostly because I love the Muppets.  I spent a good portion of my childhood watching The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, and the very popular Muppet Babies cartoon show.  Jim Henson had a very large impact on my life, and I love the character’s he created, which are featured in this show (except for Ralph.  Poor dog just seems to have fallen off the face of Muppet-hood, which is really sad since he’s my favorite).

The show is funny, entertaining, and air conditioned, which is really all that you can ask for from a Central Florida theme-park ride.  Except for Waldo.  I can’t stand that thing.  I understand its purpose in the general plot of the film, but it drives me bonkers!

If you’ve never seen it, keep an eye out for my favorites, Kermit (of course), the Swedish Chef, Gonzo, Beaker, and Sam the Eagle.  They give Sam the best lines, which I’ve been known to quote from time to time.  You also can’t beat the little soldier Muppets in the finale and the penguins.  Ahh, I just love it, I can’t wait!

“Yes, it’s a glorious three hour finale!”

“You got a minute and a half.”


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Picture, if you will, a family on vacation.  They’re having a lovely time touring along Sunset Boulevard when they happen across a towering hotel at the end of the street.  They can see lush gardens behind a towering gate with a bellhop waiting at the entrance.  Soft music beckons the children closer, but their parents are hesitating.  There’s something not right about that place they think.  They refuse to go any further.  Their children insist, what could happen in a place like this, they ask.  Still the parents are unsure.  After a few minutes of discussion, the children and their father decide to go into the hotel.  The mother waits at the gates, worrying at the fate of her children and beloved husband.  Before long, she hears what she believes are elevator doors, and terror grasps her heart as she’s sure she hears her family screaming in the distance.  Avoiding the stare of the sinister looking bellhop beckoning more unsuspecting guests through the gardens to the hotel, the mother can do nothing but wait, hoping for the safe return of her children and husband. 

 The wait is fast becoming unbearable, and just as she’s about to go off in search of her family, she hears something that makes her pause.  Could it be?  Yes, thank the Lord, our mother hears the laughter of her children, the welcoming sound of her husband’s voice calling her name, returning to her from another part of the hotel.  They run to her with smiles on their faces and strange stories of a haunted elevator, a gift shop, and a request to do it all over again.  Only this time, she should come along. 

 Yes my friends, that was my family’s first encounter with the Tower of Terror (if only slightly exaggerated).  It took us a long time to convince her to go.  To my mother’s credit, she was fairly afraid of heights, but did eventually go on.  Also to her credit, once we got her on, it was hard to get her to do anything else, she loved it so much (as we knew she would)!

 I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve ridden the Tower of Terror.  I know that I’ve ridden it 11 times in a row when I worked at WDW.  We only stopped because the park closed.  I’ve also tested how well the cast members pay attention when working the ride, leaving various items in the pre-show room to see how quickly they pick them up again.  I wonder if they ever kept my Doug Live! lunchbox…

 Tower is a ride that I never tire of and I’m so excited to “drop by” the Hollywood Tower Hotel again!

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