We visited Disney's Hollywood Studios on New Years Day, and although the holiday crowds were still around, they began to noticeably subside in the final days of our vacation. The Fast Pass situation is a little frustrating at Disney's Hollywood Studios, as they use a tiered system. Rather than picking Fast Passes for any rides that have them available, you have to divide them among two different groupings of attractions. This is clearly to force visitors to pick Fast Passes from less popular attractions. I'm not complaining, because Fast Passes are free and the ability to book them in advance is awesome, but it also meant that we had to be very strategic in what we picked. We ended up with Fast Passes for Star Tours, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Rock n' Roller Coaster.
Most people go on vacation to escape home, but I love being from Southern California, having Hollywood in my backyard. Visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios is like experiencing the prettiest aspects of Hollywood from the Golden Age of movies. It's clean and safe, but still has a familiarity from home.
Our first attraction was The Great Movie Ride, located in a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, which like the original, has famous handprints in the cement out front. The Great Movie Ride is a slow moving dark ride through scenes from classic films such as Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz. I love it, Dan thought that it was dated and boring. I'll agree that it's dated, but that's part of its kitschy charm. It's a celebration of the art of film making.
Next, we walked across the park for our lunch reservations at The Prime Time Cafe. During our walk, Dan took this panorama shot of Echo Lake and Gertie the Dinosaur.
Themed to a 1950's house, The Prime Time Cafe is one of my favorite Walt Disney World Restaurants. You have to be prepared to play along with the theming. this is an interactive dining experience. The servers treat you like a family member ( they might be your mom/cousin/brother/aunt/et...) and they will make you do things like set your own table and they'll harass you to clean your plate before dessert. If you do clean your plate ( and you should), make sure to ask for a "clean plate club" sticker and wear it proud! The service is always good, but be prepared for some teasing. The Prime Time Cafe is excellent for its over-the-top 50's theming and yummy comfort food. I recommend the meat loaf or pot roast. So good!
After lunch, we noticed that the Star Wars Path of the Jedi, was about to begin. We walked inside, having no clue that were were about to waste time watching a short film hyping up the latest Star Wars movie. Meh. This is strictly theme park filler, although a good place to take a short break if everything else is crowded. As we were trying to maximize our day, this was a waste of our time. Top Tip- Make sure you know about the attraction, before you jump in line. I felt like a sheep.
Keeping with the Star Wars theme, it was time to use our Fast Pass at Star Tours. The actual ride is the same as the one at Disneyland, which I've ridden a billion times, but the queue in Orlando is definitely better, you walk under a giant AT AT and through the Endor forest.
We caught the last performance of The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. This is a show where it's beneficial to have a Fast Pass. We were in the regular queue for about thirty minutes and due to the large number of Fast Pass holders, it wasn't guaranteed there would be enough room in the show for everyone in line. We just managed to make it inside. The stadium is huge. Another benefit to having a Fast Pass, is seat selection. We were off to the side, not ideal. During our trip in the summer, we made sure to make The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular a top priority for Fast Passes. Although this is an old show, it still holds up, and is a lot of fun. When we took the kids, they loved it. The show has a good mix of comedy, action, and audience participation. The sets are impressive.
We followed The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, with another stunt show; Lights, Motor, Action. As the name indicates, Lights, Motor, Action is a car stunt show, set on the streets of Paris. It's exciting and unexpected. I'm disappointed that Lights, Motor, Action is now gone to make way for the new Star Wars addition. We had so been looking forward to taking my stepson, Felix, to this show. He's obsessed with cars and it certainly would have been his favorite Walt Disney World memory. I think it might still be in Paris...guess, we will have to plan a trip to France to see it. Darn! It's almost as if I planned this out...
Another beloved attraction demolished? Good-bye Catastrophe Canyon. It was nice to get a last look at you from the Lights, Motor, Action stadium. I miss the Backlot Tour.
Dan and I had some nice pictures taken by a Disney Photo Pass employee at Echo Lake. It's always worth getting the professional pictures.
Here's one we got of Dan battling Darth Vader!
My happy-spot is Muppet Vision 3-D. Who doesn't love the muppets? I've seen it a million times and I always notice something new in the queue. I always laugh at the same jokes. The penguin orchestra is the best.
I get a picture with this snowman every visit. Where are your favorite WDW photo spots?
Next, we headed to one of my all-time favorite Disney attractions ( And I mean favorite of all the parks), The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I have fond childhood memories of watching the annual Twilight Zone 4th of July Marathon with my Uncle; we would hide out from the BBQ going on outside, and sneak ice cream while watching Rod Sterling's morality tales. I was thrilled when the ride was created. I'm a bit chicken when it comes to thrill rides, so I've been through the queue more times than I've actually been on the ride. However, when I finally decided to try it, I loved it. It's not scary at all, just a lot of fun.
A thrill ride that does still make me nervous is Rock n' Roller Coaster. I get anxious about the quick take-off and the loops. It's fine when I'm riding it, but in the queue, I always feel on the edge of backing out. When we visited, the Aerosmith theming was still in place, but I've heard that they are changing the theme. I can't imagine it without Aerosmith, especially when the music is blasting.
Star Wars Launch Bay is filled with costumes and props from the Star Wars films, primarily the current release. It's also the place for Star Wars character meet and greets. We didn't take any character photos this visit, because the lines were long ( get a Fast Pass), but we did in the summer and it was worth the wait to have the kids meet Chewbacca. My husband is very tall, but Chewbacca towered over him, he's enormous!
Our night was not over yet, we had a very special holiday event to attend at Disney Hollywood Studios. It's special enough to warrant its own blog post. Coming soon.