If The Great Movie Ride Has to Go

Nearly three years ago I wrote this article about the rumored demise of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which so far has remained unscathed.  The newest Studios scuttlebutt predicts the replacement of The Great Movie Ride with something completely different.  I’ve got mixed feelings about this one.  Let’s discuss!

If The Great Movie Ride Has to GoThe Great Movie Ride

Like much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in recent years, The Great Movie Ride hasn’t received a whole lot of love.  New intro, change in narration, and nothing else.  The scenes are stale, some of the animatronics don’t work, and the scripts on the two versions are exactly the same…every. single. time. The Great Movie Ride

The premise of this attraction makes it perpetually ready for awesome updates and theme/action changes at regular intervals.  So much Hollywood greatness to be showcased, incredible potential for an infinite number of scene changes and movie genres to explore.  None of that has happened and I still ride it on nearly every visit.  Why?  Nostalgia mostly.  I have a love/hate relationship with many of the scenes.  I love the Casablanca scene, hate Tarzan, love John Wayne and Mary Poppins, hate The Public EnemyThe Wizard of Oz is my absolute favorite and so well done!  If other fans are like me, nostalgia alone probably isn’t enough to keep this ride alive.

If the Rumors are True…

According to speculation from August, 2016, The Great Movie Ride may be replaced by The Great Mickey Ride.  Think about the possibilities!  Trackless vehicles moving guests through the history of Mickey in all his lovable forms.  He’s recognized world-wide and has yet to have his very own attraction!  The original spirit of the Studios would live on and new generations of Mickey fans would learn the story of the world’s most famous Mouse.  Makes sense as Mickey will celebrate his 100th birthday in 2028.  With so much to showcase, this could easily be one of those attractions guests would ride again and again to see what they might have missed on previous visits.The Great Movie Ride

With money and resources currently allocated for Star Wars and Toy Story lands, it seems doubtful that anything will happen in the near future.  Goodness knows, the Studios can’t handle anymore closures without new attractions to fill in the gaping holes.  I can see how the long-term survival of The Great Movie Ride in its current form is unlikely though, and I’m prepared for it to go away.  In the meantime, I intend to ride it a few more times and enjoy one of the last vestiges of what Disney’s MGM Studios originally used to be.

How about you?  Are you a fan of The Great Movie Ride?  Are you ready to see it replaced?

 

Our First Disney World Dessert Party

Walt Disney World’s Dessert Parties have been around for a while.  We’d been curious about what those up-charged special offerings were all about, so I booked a reservation and paid the price for…

Our First Disney World Dessert Party

Seriously, the name alone made the party sound exciting – “Jingle Bell Jingle BAM Dessert Party”.  And even though it was expensive (about $70 per person) to attend, I thought that during the ridiculously crowded Christmas week, it made sense add a special event that included a reserved viewing area for the Jingle Bell Jingle BAM fireworks/projection show.  We were excited about ending our vacation with this extra splurge.

The weather had turned unexpectedly cold and windy on the day of the party.  We bundled up with what we’d packed for cooler weather and spent the day at Animal Kingdom.  I’d moved our Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge) dinner reservation to 5:30 so we could enjoy our meal and still get to the party on time and this part of the plan went off without a hitch.  We arrived at the party’s check-in area near the Chinese Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at around 8:00 pm.  We’d even had time to shop for some extra layers to ward off the freezing cold weather for the evening.  I say ‘we”, but it was all me.  I bought a hat and scarf and the purchase-with-a-purchase throw that was being offered.  It was probably only in the mid-40’s, but it was COLD!

At check-in, we were given special bracelets and some hand-warmers (nice touch!) and shown to our assigned table (#3).  I loved that we had an assigned table and that it had a nice tablecloth and looked festive.  It was nice and warm at our table and we took turns going to the different food and beverage stations.  There was a small menu that described the party highlights…those highlights included more than dessert!  We received special glasses to wear for the show that turned all the lights into gingerbread men.  We also got to meet Santa Goofy during the party.  So far, so good!

We’d just finished a great dinner at Jiko, so we weren’t interested in any of the savory offerings at the food tables.  I opted to fill a small plate with sweet treats to share and I grabbed a glass of white wine on my way back to our table.  Raymond got a glass of red wine (which I ended up drinking) before he noticed there was coffee (and hot cocoa) available.  Joseph had a beer and then some hot cocoa.  I had everyone sample the desserts I’d chosen and the verdict was unanimous – poor quality and extremely dry.  Even the frosted small cupcake-shaped rice crispy treat was disappointing.  Our opinion was that the food was not good enough for the price of the experience.

It was time to make our way to the designated viewing area for the show.  A Cast Member handed us a parting gift of plastic-wrapped gingerbread people. (Poor little guy’s arm broke off after I carried him around in my bag.)More Cast Members with light sabers guided us to a roped-off area in front of the theater.  The show was just okay.  Best part? We wore our glasses and when the fireworks started and it looked like multicolored gingerbread men were shooting out in every direction, Raymond and Joseph both burst out laughing…that alone made the experience worthwhile for me.

To sum it up…

Dessert party pros:  Great hospitality, reserved seating, festive atmosphere, adult beverages, extras like the special glasses, Santa Goofy and gingerbread cookie.  The special viewing area was good.

Cons:  The food and price.  We could have watched the show for no extra charge…but the show was just meh.

Would I attend another dessert party? Maybe. Especially for the Galactic Spectacular show that returned to the Studios this month.  For sure, I’d have more realistic expectations about the food and might opt to bring a less-full belly in order to give the savory offerings a try.

Have you attended a dessert party at Walt Disney World?  Which one was it and did you feel it was worth the price?

Disney Dining – Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

In theory, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios sounds like a winning place to enjoy a casual lunch or dinner.  A tribute to the drive-in theaters of old along with those cheesy horror movies from the ’50’s, ’60’s and ’70’s and a menu of classic American entrees and sides…it’s bound to be great, right?sci-fi-dine-in-menu

Disney Dining – Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

We gave this place a try for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  Here’s the verdict:

What we liked:  This place is certainly unique.  We thought the theme was fun, the movie clips hilarious, and the menu broad enough for everyone to find something they were happy with.  Our server was good – she was taking the orders of seven people split between two cars and managed to make us all feel like she was sincere and attentive.  The beer was cold and delicious and our meals arrived in a timely manner.  The food was okay.  Better than typical fast-food, which is good because it was a little pricey (and hard to photograph in the dark!). sci-fi-dine-in-sandwich

What we didn’t like:  The waiting area and the hostess left much to be desired.  Our first impression wasn’t a good one.  We didn’t wait long afraid ter we checked in, but the area we sat in was disappointing compared to other places like 50’s Prime Time Café.  The hostess was so bland and monotone, I thought maybe it was some sort of act.  I’m still not sure, because she never smiled, made little eye contact and spoke in a deep voice devoid of inflection.  She walked us to our car-tables as if she was headed to the gallows.  This made us feel rather like a burden.sci-fi-dine-in-darkness

Our tables were split between two cars with Raymond and I in the back of a car with a random family of four – this seemed weird to me and made me wish I’d done more research on how a party of our size would be handled.  The other five in our group were in the car next to us, but far enough away that conversation with them was impossible.sci-fi-dine-in-ticket

What would get us to eat there again?  We’d go back again if we were with someone who would get a big kick out of the movie clips and drive-in experience.  Ideally, we’d be with an even-numbered party of four or six so we could all eat in one vehicle.  sci-fi-dine-in-signProbably the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater will now be in our once-and-done category simply because I expect the Star Wars expansion to bring with it new dining experiences for us to try.  And I like the food at 50’s Prime Time Café better.

Have you tried Sci-Fi Dine-In?  How was your experience?

WDW Attractions – Best Lead Up

RM-Haunted-Mansion-Exterior2We’ve talked about queues, we’ve talked about favorites and today it’s time to talk about the best attractions for attention-grabbing from afar – the one’s with real curb appeal, if you will.  With some of the very best rides, it’s all about the lead up!

Some attraction exteriors offer absolutely no clue what to expect (think Soarin’, Country Bears, Space Mountain), but some attractions draw you in from far away – the theme, the park setting – long before you step into the queue, you know you’re about to experience something extraordinary!  I’m going to talk about just five today – go ahead and leave a comment if your favorite gets left out – I’ll do a “part 2” in the future!

WDW Attractions – Best Lead Up

  1.  Haunted MansionRM-Haunted-Mansion-GraveyardFrom WAY far away, the draw to Haunted Mansion is incredible!  It looks exactly the way you hope it will – Grand yet a bit sinister.  You can immediately tell the Mansion holds room after room to explore – haunted corridors, ballrooms, attic and much more!  RM-Haunted-Mansion-ExteriorThe minute you see it, you know it’s going to be the perfect combination of scary and fun!
  2. Big Thunder Mountain RailroadThe Red Rock of Big Thunder MountainThe train flies along the track – you can see the passengers raise their hands, you can hear them screaming in delight, but that’s not the primary draw.  In Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland, the whole landscape of Big Thunder that makes you eager to get inside that mountain – so out of place with the surrounding Florida palm trees and lush tropical plants.  Big Thunder Mountain is a wasteland of epic proportions and the details are mesmerizing!  Best of all, the queue at this mountain is top notch.
  3. Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorDisney's Hollywood Studios Tower of TerrorIt looks elegant and disheveled, classic but unique – first impressions are everything here in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Strolling down Sunset Boulevard, you can’t help but notice the tower’s façade and how it stands out.  Walk a little farther, and you’ll notice something else – the SCREAMING!  The sound will draw your eyes closer to the tower where in an upstairs window, you’ll see motion, but little else.  If you’re a thrill ride junkie, this is the ride for you!
  4. Rock’n’ Roller CoasterRock'n'-Roller-Coaster-GuitarThe location actually hurts this attraction because Tower of Terror tends to steal Rock’n’ Roller Coaster’s thunder.  You have to turn left at the very end of Sunset Boulevard to even notice the upside down Cadillac let alone the gigantic guitar, but once you see the setting, you know that for music fans and coaster addicts alike will find this the place to be!
  5. Expedition EverestRM-Expedition-Everest-ApproachIn Animal Kingdom, you can be far from Everest and still be drawn in.  Call me biased, but there’s a reason this is my favorite ride in all of Walt Disney World and one of the main reasons is that from the moment you see the mountain in the distance, you can’t help but want to be a part of its magic.  “Forbidden Mountain” is like a double-dog dare to those of us who love an amazing coaster – every single detail is beyond perfect!  Hands down, Expedition Everest has the best draw from afar of any attraction in the World.

Is your favorite “love at first sight” attraction missing from this list?  Which Walt Disney World rides grab you from afar and draw you in?Expedition Everest