Day 4…Hollywood Studios
Back in 2005, when I went to WDW for the very first time, this was my favorite park. Being a movie buff, I loved everything about this park–the rides, the shows, the buildings, everything! Now, it’s changed a bit for me. While I still love a lot of the rides, I feel that the shows need to be updated a bit. I mean, how many times can you see the Indiana Jones show?!? It’s been the same since at least 2005! Of course, Disney must have heard my inner thoughts as word has just been released that they will be closing this show by 2015. I’m excited to see what they come up with to replace it. Word on the streets is that it will be Star Wars, whatever it is. I’m OK with that….I’m a BIG Star Wars fan (the originals, not the newer ones…) Anyway….
Day 4 brings us to Hollywood Studios. Normally I wouldn’t go near this park with a ten foot pole during Star Wars Weekend because it is crowded! I mean wall-to-wall crowded. And not just regular people. but strange looking people! Star Wars fans really take their fan-dom to a whole new level! Lol…. Since I have a brother and 2 nephews that are really big Star Wars fans, I knew we had to be there this weekend.
Part of my family started their day out with the new Star Wars Hollywood & Vine Star Wars breakfast. I chose not to attend because I’d rather be riding Star Tours and shooting targets at Toy Story Mania rather than eating breakfast. From the report I got back from them, the breakfast was “out of this world fun” and totally worth the price. I mean, it’s not every day you get to have breakfast with Darth Vader and Boba Fett.
My kids had FP’s for the Tower of Terror, but I don’t even go within walking distance of that ride I hate it so much(there’s something about my butt lifting off the seat a good 8 inches that I just don’t care for…), so they headed there while I head back to the Backlot Tour. On the way back there, I stopped to take some pictures along the way of the Streets of America.
Last time we came, we tried doing this attraction 3 times, but every single time we’d get in line, we had to get out for some reason or another. I was determined to get on it this time! I have to say I was a little disappointed in this ride. There just wasn’t much substance to it. I think this is one of those rides at HS that needs to be refurbished. They also used to pick audience members and have them participate in a re-creation of a battle scene from Pearl Harbor. It’s actually where my Dad made his film debut two years ago when we were there! I’m not sure I’d ride this again and I certainly wouldn’t waste FP on it.
After the Backlot Tour, our day seemed to unravel a bit. We spent a great deal of time wandering around. I really wanted to go to the Animation Academy, but when we got there, one had just started and it was going to be another 30 minutes or so before the next one started! This would interfere with next FP’s, so we decided to go back later.
Our next FP was for Lights! Motors! Actions!. Now this isn’t really one I’d ever get a FP for again. The only reason we did, was that HS does not have a lot of great rides to get FP’s on their second tier. The only one on the second tier that I really wanted was Star Tours, which is my absolute favorite ride at HS. The seating area for LMA is huge, so really no need for FP’s, but we got them anyway…. I really enjoy this show, even though I’ve seen it so many times. Little boys will love it! Heck my girls even love it! It’s a backstage look at how the movie industry creates all those amazing car chase scenes. It is pretty much the same thing I’ve seen every time I go, so I kind of wish Disney would shake it up a bit. Nonetheless, it’s a great show, and if you don’t hurry out of the stadium, you might get to meet the stunt drivers!
After LMA, it’s time for lunch. During Star Wars Weekend, HS serves these amazing cupcakes called Darth Vader cupcakes. We had them last time we were there, and knew we HAD to get them again, so we headed to the Backlot Express for lunch because we knew they served them there. This is not by any means a 5-star restaurant, and it’s kind of small inside and the lunch is OK, but the cupcakes are to die for! This year, they added the Master Yoda cupcake (my name, not theirs…the Yoda cupcake just didn’t sound appealing) As soon as we found a spot to sit down and eat, the sky opened up and poured rain….in buckets! We hadn’t really had any kind of rain while we were there this time, so we felt kind of fortunate! We decided to just take our time eating and let the rain pass. That’s one thing about Florida rain…it really doesn’t last long!
After lunch (and when the rain stopped), we headed over to Pixar Place to ride Toy Story Mania. I had never done this ride so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. First off, let me say that the queue for this ride is adorable!! Very bright and colorful! All of the elements took me back to my childhood—Etch-a-Sketch, Tinker Toys, Checkers, etc…it was all there! I was not sure how this ride worked, but you catch on pretty quickly—and oh, how fun it is!! I can see why this is one of the top attractions in all of Disney World!! It was a hoot! You wear designer 3-D glasses, get in a little buggy and you shoot at things! Way too much fun! I actually scored pretty high for my first time…a 98,000!
After we were done at TSM, we headed back over to the Animation Academy. Once again, we got there at an off time so we weren’t able to attend! (Just a friendly note from your Disney Travel Agent-me! If there are scheduled attractions that you want to attend, pick up a schedule at the front of the park when you enter. It’s so much better to have a plan instead of aimlessly wondering around like we did. I knew better, but thought I could just wing it. Disney is not the place to wing it!). We knew we’d miss out time for our Star Tours FP if we got in line for the Animation Academy, so we figured we’d try again later! We got over to Star Tours, and the line wasn’t too long, so we decided to just get in line and ride it one time before it was time to use our FP’s for it. This is a ride I could ride over and over and over again……actually I have done that before! It’s a simulator so it can make some people sick with all it’s bumping and moving around, but I love it! Once again…the queue for this ride is amazing!
After we had a little fun in the Star Tours Gift Shop, the girls all wanted to go see Beauty and The Beast live stage show. We knew we were cutting it pretty close for our evening dinner reservations at Whispering Canyon Cafe, but we decided to try anyway. After we found a seat and got settled in for the show, I started worrying about our reservations so I decided to get on a bus and head over to the Wilderness Lodge to make sure we didn’t lose our reservation. I knew the other half of my family would be late since my nephew’s weren’t able to get into the Jedi Training Academy until about 3:45. I hopped on a bus to the Wilderness Lodge and then got a text from my brother that the training was canceled due to the rain so they were heading to the buses. Of course, now the girls would be late so I texted them to let them know they needed to get over to the Lodge as soon as they could! What did we ever do before cell phones!??! We arrived at Wilderness Lodge with time to spare, which was great since the girls didn’t arrive for a while. The Wilderness Lodge is amazing! You feel like you really are out in a mountain retreat somewhere. We pulled up some rocking chairs and sat in front of the huge fireplace and just rested and talked about our day. By the time the girls got there, it was time for our reservation!
I had been wanting to try the Whispering Canyon Cafe for a really long time! I heard it was a fun family restaurant and they had great food. Well, all the rumors were true! We laughed and had a great time. We had a great waiter name Najeeb who was from Morocco. He did a great job taking care of our family of 15. This is one of the few restaurants on the Dining Plan that offers unlimited milkshakes as your beverage! I encourage you to order one, too…they were delicious! I debated about whether or not to show the pictures of some of the fun that is had at Whispering Canyon Cafe, but decided against it. It really is something to be enjoyed first-hand! By the way…even if you don’t need it, I highly recommend asking for some ketchup!!
Following dinner, we headed back to the park for the evening fireworks show. Since it was Star Wars Weekend, they have a special fireworks show they do, so once again, instead of riding on rides (which we could have just walked on since everyone was at the Star Wars show) I was getting a position and setting my camera equipment up. I was mislead by a Cast Member as to where a great spot would be to shoot the fireworks because once they started, I realized it wasn’t as great a spot as they had thought! I had a big tree in my way and it just wasn’t quite as magnificent as I had imagined! Oh, well….what can you do?
After the fireworks, it was time for Fantasmic!, another one of WDW’s amazing fireworks/pyro shows. I will see this show no matter how many times I go to WDW. To me, it’s always worth seeing. It’s an amazing blend of fireworks, pyrotechnics and shooting water! I’m still not totally sure what the story is, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless!
When Fantasmic! was over, the park had already closed. Now what that means is that the rides close down, but you can still wander through the parks a bit. I find this a great time to shop or to just look around since the parks are pretty much deserted. At Hollywood Studios, they aren’t quite as friendly about letting you roam around as the other parks were. They stationed a CM at the end of every street so you couldn’t go back into a different part of the park. This was a little disappointing to me as I wanted to take some pictures of the park after dark. Next time I know to be at the back of the park when they close so I can more leisurely stroll out of the park! I did manage to get a few shots as I was walking out of the park, though…
Have a magical day!
All photos ©Monica Bryant Photography, 2014. You may not copy, screen shot, download or print any of these images without express written permission from Monica Bryant Photography.
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