If you had asked me a couple of years ago which Disney park was my favorite, I’d have told you “Hollywood Studios!” without considering any other options. There’s a lot that Hollywood Studios has to offer: expansions, great restaurants, classic rides… and it’s definitely made for “older kids”.
It’s still a good park, don’t get me wrong. I may be just a bit bitter, since the Time Warner Classic Movies contract ended and my favorite ride is gone. Or because the whole park was under serious construction. In about three years, loves, Hollywood Studios is going to be impossible. It was already choked with crowds because of Toy Story Land… and when Star Wars Land opens in Fall 2019, it’s going to be impossible to navigate the park.
So, do I still like Hollywood Studios? I suppose yes. But the only parts of it that remain from my childhood are bits and pieces of Echo Lake and Sunset Boulevard. It’s truly a bittersweet adieu to what once was “Disney’s MGM Studios”. It feels like a completely different place.
We only spent one day at Hollywood Studios this trip, whereas we were there three times in 2013. I think this was a solid choice. Construction stretches well out into the parking lot, so the tram only took us about halfway to the entrance. I was tired by the time we got into the park – and then we had to make our way over to Alien Swirling Saucers for our first FastPass+!
I tried, really tried, to get a FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash, but those were gone before even my 60 day mark.
We had a little time before the FastPass+, so we stopped and took advantage of a character spot. This got to be quite the habit – character spots were well air conditioned in a hot Florida September not to my taste. Also ample places to sit down it your feet were hurting, which mine always were.
I won’t say that their Star-Lord looked like Chris Pratt… because sorry dude, he doesn’t. But he had the right personality and goodness gracious he never stopped chattering on. Which is pretty on point for Star-Lord’s character. It was a fun interaction. One of my husband’s favorites (his other favorite was Gaston, lol).
The Baby Groot animatronic was a nice touch. The handler warned us that he couldn’t sign any autographs, because he’s a baby. Made me chuckle. I appreciate the illusion they try to keep up with the kids.
Once we thoroughly assured Star-Lord we wouldn’t slip up and accidentally call him Starkiller (+10pts. if you know who “Starkiller” is), we sauntered off to Toy Story Land.
Not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool.
I’m not even that big of a Toy Story fan? I like the movies, but they don’t rank in my absolute favorites. I appreciate them, though, and damn. I appreciate the levels of detail Disney goes through to really give the guests a full experience of the parks. From the ride signs to the giant Andy-sized footprint in the pavement… it’s all there.
We started at Alien Swirling Saucers, because that was the FastPass+ I could get. Right now, all the lines in Toy Story Land are long. I imagine they’ll stay that way until Star Wars Land opens up, so be prepared to spend a lot of time queueing here.
As you may recall from the Magic Kingdom post, my husband was not overly keen on any spinning rides, so he was not excited as I led him to Alien Swirling Saucers. Loves, let me put you at east about this ride right now – it’s not as spinny as the name implies. It’s a slower speed Scrambler-style design with switching tracks. It’s fun. Good for the whole family.
We skipped Toy Story Midway Mania this time because we’ve been on it several times before, but it’s a genuinely fun ride and I highly recommend it. Instead, we made a beeline for Slinky Dog Dash and waited in its queue for a little over an hour.
I hate waiting an hour for anything guys, and if I’m being honest, I don’t think Slinky Dog Dash was worth that long of a wait? It’s a fun little coaster, but nothing extraordinary. Rock and Rollercoaster is better, with half the queue time. Of course, opinions will differ! Maybe it’ll be your favorite ride ever.
But, you know, it’s new, and we had to try it! 🙂
I gotta give some props to Disney – even though this was an outdoor queue, they did a good job making sure that the riders weren’t dying of heat and misery. There were sporadic water fountains throughout the queue line, and the entire last half of it was in the shade. There were also small, oscillating fans, which I really appreciated. A lot of Disney rides will use large ceiling fans, and I don’t know about y’all, but ceiling fans don’t do it for me. These oscillating ones were nice, especially because you didn’t need to be directly under it to get a little breeze.
The Slinky Dog Dash queue line is the most interesting one in the parks (in my opinion). It’s not an interactive queue, but they did a really good job of making you feel like you’re the size of a toy. They designed it out of folded paper and open books and cardboard boxes, with stickers and jacks and old school toys… it was wicked.
The coaster itself doesn’t have any “butterflies in your stomach” moments, but it was fun. It has two pullback style launches, just like if it was a real toy racetrack from back in the day. Definitely a fun little coaster, but get a FastPass+ for it.
After the coaster, we left Toy Story Land and headed to Echo Lake, where our lunch was. We ate at the 50s Prime Time Diner – probably one of the most fun restaurants we ate at all week. Definitely the best server. More on the next week.
The Echo Lake area of Hollywood Studios is a little dull right now. There’s a Frozen show in one of he buildings, but without all the backstage stuff that used to be there, not much is going on. Next year, this area will be bustling since it’ll be connected to Star Wars Land, but for now, it’s a quiet little getaway. Our restaurant was probably the busiest thing, but after that, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues.
I’m not sure if there’s a randomizer that flips between the old ride based on the original trilogy, and the sequels… but if there is, we rode the sequels. It was definitely fun – Star Tours has always been fun – but I think Vader was a far more intimidating opponent than Kylo Ren.
Also, I think there was more screaming on Star Tours than any other ride we went on all week. Kinda funny, since it’s a 3D experience and not a real, mechanical ride. Haha, oh well.
On our way over to Sunset Boulevard, we stopped and met Chewbacca. Because how do you NOT stop and meet Chewbacca.
For the record, Matt’s shirt was a HUGE hit that day. Guests and cast members and even Chewbacca pointed it out. If you haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok, it’s one of my Top 3 in the Marvel universe. And the shirt came from TeePublic, which I love for nerdy shirts. 🙂 Matt was pretty on top of his t-shirt game all week, between this one and people randomly cracking up at “Why is Gamora?”.
On the way down Hollywood Boulevard, we took about 10,000 pictures because there were Photo Pass photographers all over the place, and we had the memory maker package, so why not.
So we got to the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (which, yes, still has its Twilight Zone theming) and it was broken down.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m afraid of heights, and that tower drops scare the living bejeezus out of me. Throw in a consolatory “sorry, the Terrifying Tower Drop of Doom isn’t working properly” and I’m basically in he fetal position. BUT WE STAYED. We stayed because if you go to Hollywood Studios, you go on the Tower of Terror. We stayed because as far as tower drops go, this one isn’t too bad. And we stayed because we still had about an hour before our FastPass+ to Rock & Rollercoaster, so we didn’t have much else to do.
I tried really hard not to think about the BROKENNESS of the SCARY RIDE and shutupIknowI’manadultIcanhatetowerdropsifIwantto.
This is another ride where I love the queue line, which is nice. You really do get the aesthetic of an abandoned prestigious hotel – from the flowing vines taking over the back courtyard to the layers of dust on all the furniture. Ultimately it ended up that one of the towers was down, and the other one was working, but you know… started off on the right foot. Also I forgot that this ride puts you in a car that they moves into the tower drop position.
Here’s my thought process:
- Why aren’t there shoulder harnesses.
- WHAT IF I FLY OUT OF MY SEAT AND DIE.
- What if the car doesn’t hook properly in position.
- Why is it moving towards that open window.
- DID IT CLICK INTO POSITION. I DID NOT HEAR IT CLICK INTO POSITION.
And so forth.
This is our lovely ride picture. You don’t see me, because other people having fun are blocking my face in the upper left corner of the photo. I am 100% okay with this. I am a visage of pure terror.
But I did my duty and I went on it once and I am done forever until the next trip. That’s about the best I can do. Kind and loving husband only moderately teased me about my terror. It is the Tower of Terror, right? I felt I helped it live up to its name…. 🙂
After that was the awesome Rock & Rollercoaster, which I had forgotten went upside down, and I was 100% okay with that, too. I LOVE indoor coasters, especially dark ones (did I mention in my Epcot post how pumped I am for the new indoor Guardians of the Galaxy coaster?).
My husband’s undying love for Rock & Rollercoaster amuses me. This ride is still sponsored by Aerosmith, which is perfect. The ride’s theme song is “Love in an Elevator”, which is one of my personal favorites by the group. But my husband hates Aerosmith. Matt hates Aerosmith with a passion and will change the radio station or confiscate my phone if I try to play them while he’s in earshot. You’d think Steven Tyler had personally insulted him, but nope. It’s his mother’s favorite band and she played it endlessly when he was a kid, so he is DONE.
That said, Matt’ll go on Rock & Rollercoaster over and over and over and over again until the end of time. It’s his favorite ride at Hollywood Studios, and definitely one of his favorites across the entire resort. It’s that much fun.
After Rock & Rollercoaster, we called it a day at Hollywood Studios and began the eternal trek back to our car. We didn’t experience this park to the max, but we knew that it would be under construction, and with Toy Story Land having opened earlier this summer, we knew it would be very busy. I’ve spent a lot of time here in the past, so the only thing that hurt was the lack of the Great Movie Ride (not over it yet). Normally I’d flail about and demand everyone visit Hollywood Studios, but for now… I think it may be best to hold off on this park until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens next autumn. You’ll get a much better experience.
New week will be my final installment in my Disney vacation series, which will be mini reviews on all the restaurants we went to! It’ll be a long post, but I’m excited for it, because we had SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. Can’t wait!
Have you been to Hollywood Studios?
What is your stance on rollercoasters?
Which Toy Story movie is your favorite?