Category Archives: Hollywood Studios

10 photos I take on EVERY trip to Disney World

After going to Disney World many times, you’d think that it would become less and less important to take pictures since we have literally thousands of pictures from the parks.  However, no matter how many times we go there are certain pictures that I find myself taking again and again, even though nothing has changed since the last picture!

One of my biggest pet peeves about picture taking in general is taking a lot of photos where people are not in the shot (things like landscapes, animals, buildings, etc.) because they always seem so interesting at the time but are boring to look through later.  However, I find myself breaking this rule all the time at Disney!  Even after taking these photos every year, I still just can’t resist the urge when the next trip comes around. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in my opinion no pictures really capture the magic of what happens in the Disney bubble… but at least they help bring back those magical memories!

Here are 10 photos that I take every single time I’m at Disney World:
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Lines you WANT to wait in at Disney

They say patience is a virtue and I agree.  I just don’t happen to have that virtue.  I do things to try to practice patience – I meditate when I’m in the doctor’s waiting room, I play loud music and avoid looking at the clock when I’m in traffic and running late.   One place where most people (either patient or impatient) can get a little frazzled is in a long line – couple that with a few cranky kids, cranky husband, hunger, heat stroke, and fatigue – and you have a perfect storm for a meltdown.   This perfect storm is almost guaranteed at some point when you’re at Disneyworld.

However, there are some attractions where the lines are part of the fun – I’m disappointed if we happen to get right through with no wait!  Here are the best along with the worst lines – but luckily all of the worst have Fast Pass availability, so I’d highly recommend taking advantage unless you have a surplus of patience that day!

Here are the best and worst lines to wait in at Disneyworld:

Magic Kingdom

Best Line – Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid (New Fantasyland)

The path to this ride leads through a coral-like rock formation that looks like it was just pulled from the seas.  There is an animatronic show that sings every few minutes, keeping people entertained.  But the most captivating part is the interactive hologram in the fish tank windows.  Guests’ actions in front of the windows cause sea creatures to appear and react – it was pretty entertaining and made the line go by fast.

Worst Line – Big Thunder Mountain 

This line is pretty barren – just up and back, up and back until you zig zag your way to the front.  The worst part is the lack of fresh air, especially in the summer. There’s just a lot of humid air and unpleasant odors at times on a hot day.  Wrangle yourself up a Fast Past, partner!

Animal Kingdom

Best Line – Expedition Everest

This line is pretty cool from the get go.  The theme is a mountain expedition with detailed displays of the supplies, artifacts and anything else that the Sherpas have left behind from their journeys.  In the middle of the line there is a wishing well structure, except instead of water there is a monkey sculpture in the middle, representing the sacred status of monkeys in the area.  Once inside the last room before you get to the ride there are books, documents, masks, and even a giant Yeti footprint cast that makes you question if it’s really real…

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Yeti - Real or Make Believe? Yeti – Real or Make Believe?

Worst Line – Kilimanjaro Safaris

The part I hate most about this line is that it’s very wide and there are several sections where the cast members direct you to ‘fill in all available space’ even if that means you’re coming up beside (what seems like cutting) the people in front of you.  I just don’t like doing that, and there’s not much interesting to look at in this line. Say ‘Jambo’ to a Fast Pass!

Hollywood Studios

Best Line – Toy Story Midway Mania

This line puts you right into the Toy Story movies.  There are giant crayons leaning against the walls, a game board on the ceiling, barrel o’monkeys strung from side to side.  But the best is the interactive Mr. Potato Head at the front of the line who talks to the guests.  This line has so much to look at and is so recognizable from the movies that it can keep you entertained for a while.  I guess with 240 minute wait times they had to come up with something to keep people occupied!

disney vacation 2012 127

Worst Line – Tower of Terror

Until you get up to the entrance of the Hollywood Tower Hotel there’s not much other than a cement path with walls that kids can’t help but want to climb all over, to parents’ dismay.  I’d suggest you take the Fast Pass!

Epcot

Best Line – Test Track

This line was pretty interesting under the old design but with the newly re-imagineered design it’s a look into the future.  The first section has prototype futuristic cars that lend themselves to conversations about what the future will be like, how these cars would work (the car below would run on tracks in big cities – no driving required!)   There’s a little lull in the line when you’re getting into the design room, but then you’re back in action designing your car.  The surprising part about this ride is that after the ride is over, we probably stayed for another 30 minutes in the exit rooms – driving the car we designed around a virtual racetrack, picking a soundtrack for our car, and getting our picture with some of the model Chevrolet cars (all of our car info was on a swipecard that we kept throughout the ride.)

Future car - no driver necessary!

Drive your virtual car after the ride

Drive your virtual car after the ride

Worst Line – Soarin’

This line reminds me of a long hallway corridor in a hospital.  It’s drab, there’s nothing on the walls and it seems to go on forever.  Disney attempted to make this interactive by having giant screens on the wall that you’re supposed to be able to wave at and make plants grow, fly birds around… but the only person who can reach high enough to activate it is my 6 foot 3 husband, not 5 foot 2 me and certainly not a kid!  Upgrade to first class and get a Fast Pass!

I guess we can all take comfort in knowing that in the bubble, even at the end of a bad line is a magical fun time!

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Hollywood Dining

One of the best parts of the Disney Dining Plan is having the opportunity to eat at a different table service restaurant each day.  Since we’ve used the dining plan on a few of our trips, we’ve eaten at places where we probably wouldn’t have if we were paying out of pocket.  We’ve had the opportunity to dine at 3 of the 5 table service restaurants in Hollywood Studios (we haven’t made it to the Brown Derby yet and I don’t plan on making it to the 50’s Prime Time Café!)

Here are the pros and cons of each restaurant:

Mama Melrose

Pros: I think this is the best of the 3 restaurants.  The food is good Italian, probably similar to what you’d get at an Italian chain restaurant outside the bubble, but no complaints – even better with a nice glass of wine.  My daughter’s favorite was the dessert spaghetti with meatball.

Dessert Meatball

Dessert Meatball

Another perk of dining at Mama Melrose is the Fantasmic Dinner Package that is available on days when the nighttime Fantasmic show is scheduled.  If you purchase the package you get dinner plus a VIP voucher to get into the show through a side entrance and you don’t have to fight the crowds going through the main entrance to the amphitheater.  You still sit on stadium bench seating, but when we did this it was less crowded than the regular seating area with a bird’s eye view of the show.

Cons: None – there’s nothing I dislike about this restaurant!

Sci-Fi Dine In

Pros: Every restaurant in Disneyworld has a theme, but one of the best for really feeling like you’re somewhere else is the Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre restaurant.  As soon as you walk into the dining area it’s like you’re transported to a summer night at the drive in.  Classic car-shaped tables fill the room, all pointed at the giant movie screen in the front.  Even the stars shine from above so you get the feel of being outside (without the mosquitos, of course!)  The old black and white movies that are played are pretty funny – Devil Girl from Mars, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman – too ridiculous to actually be scary, even for kids.

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Cons: The same qualities that make the restaurant fun are what I would consider cons – it’s dark, everyone is facing forward in the ‘car’ so you can’t really have a conversation, and the food is just okay.  But I would recommend everyone dine here at least once.

Hollywood & Vine

Pros: None that I can remember.  Not a fan of this restaurant (see Cons.)

Cons: It’s a buffet, which in itself is not a con, but for the price you’re paying the buffet food is what you’d get at the local $9.99 all you can eat joint.  Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but I wasn’t impressed.  This restaurant’s layout is not conducive to people getting up and walking back and forth to the buffet – space is pretty tight, not to mention the yucky décor.  But since we ate here on the dining plan I couldn’t be too upset, I just chalked it up to another experience accomplished in the bubble.

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May the force be with you

One of the major events that Disney World hosts each year is Star Wars weekends. It’s usually in the spring but this year it’s from May 17th – June 9th. We didn’t plan our Disney trip around this event, but it was one of those unexpected ‘magical’ experiences that happen so often in the bubble.  We happened to be at Disney World during Star Wars weekends a few years ago when it fell during the same time as spring break and I’m glad we got to experience it. This event takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and requires admission to the park.

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Hollywood Studios has a few Star Wars-related attractions year round, but the atmosphere just feels different when you see Storm Troopers patrolling the streets and hear the menacing voice of Darth Vader.  What’s more eye catching are some of the lesser known life forms that seemingly appear out of nowhere and make you wish you had your light saber! Continue reading

4 Parks, 1 Day

DISCLAIMER: What I’m about to outline should NOT be attempted by anyone with the following:

  • A desire to sleep late and/or go to bed early
  • A young child (6 and under)
  • Uncomfortable shoes
  • An aversion to running – you can’t dilly dally and hope to get to all 4 parks
  • A park ticket without the ‘park hopper’ option – they’ll shut you down at park 2 (I’ve learned that lesson the hard way)

On one of our trips to Disneyworld our daughter, who was 7 at the time, asked if we could go to all four parks in one day – that’s Magic Kingdom – Animal Kingdom – Epcot – Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Any of these parks could take up an entire day itself so we had to make a strategic plan on when, where and what we would to do at each park in order to accomplish this lofty goal with minimal tears (and blisters.)  With our matching Mickey t-shirts on, we headed out on a mission.

Park 1: Magic Kingdom was our first stop – we were fresh and ready to go.  Our must-see attractions at MK are Big Thunder Mountain (my daughter’s favorite), Mickey’s PhilharMagic and “it’s a small world,” (my husband’s favorite) and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (my favorite.)  It might be one of the slowest moving rides in the entire park, but I love cruising through the dark and relaxing on a hot day!

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Park 2: Epcot – Since the Magic Kingdom and Epcot are connected by the monorail, that was our next stop.  Our favorite ride is not Soarin’ or Test Track, which are the 2 most popular rides, but the Maelstrom in Norway.  Yes, another slow moving ride, but since my husband comes from a long line of Vikings we just have to ride it every time we’re in the park!

Stop 2: Epcot

Stop 2: Epcot

Park 3: Animal Kingdom – Time is usually a consideration when going to the Animal Kingdom because, like a zoo, the animals come out early and go back to their enclosures at dusk.  Most days the park closes around 7pm (earlier in the off season) so we got there just in time to ride our all-time favorite roller coaster – Expedition Everest.   The line going into the ride has so much to look at that you don’t even realize you’re waiting and before you know it you’re face to face with the Yeti!

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Park 4: Hollywood Studios – Last but not least we made it to Hollywood Studios.  The shows are really what makes this park great – Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show… but the ride we can’t miss is the Tower of Terror.  No matter how many times I go on this ride, my palms get sweaty as we wait in the basement to board the elevator and my legs shake after we get off the ride – so scary but yet so fun!

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios

That’s how we made it to 4 parks in 1 day.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but I’d highly recommend it to make one perfect day in the Disneyworld bubble!

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