Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10 (Still) Lovable Things

So many negative comments are made these days (my own included, I’m afraid) about Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I agree that the Studios aren’t what they used to be and fortunately, change is on the way.  The park is in limbo…”Out with the old” has been happening for quite some time.  “In with the new” seems to be taking forever.  Considering the current state of affairs, I can understand why a lot of Disney fans are steering clear of this park altogether or rushing in for a couple of rides and hopping to a park with more to offer.  I’m headed to Disney World in a couple of weeks and am still spending time at the Studios.  Why?  I’ll tell you.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10 (Still) Lovable ThingsDisney's Hollywood Studios - 10 (Still) Lovable Things

Atmosphere – It’s still awesome!  I thought the Sorcerer’s Hat was cute for a while, but loved the park’s original feel – and that feeling is still there for me.  When I first enter the park, I’m struck by all the colorful details.  So different from every other park!  I love the signs, billboards, sight gags, and storefronts.  I always make time to stroll around looking for some small gem I’ve never noticed before.Disney's Hollywood Studios - 10 (Still) Lovable Things

Tower of Terror – After Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom, Tower of Terror is my favorite Disney attraction.  Every second from queue to gift shop is as perfect an experience as Disney Imagineering has ever designed.  Classic and thrilling, every visit to the Studios includes at least one visit to the Hollywood Tower Hotel.Disney's Hollywood Studios - 10 (Still) Lovable Things

Rock’n’ Roller Coaster – Staying with that end of Sunset Boulevard, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster is another must-do attraction.  While I still love Aerosmith, I’m not against a change in music after all these years.  The coaster’s just fine as is.  From the ride vehicles to the breathtaking start, through the loops, past the neon signs…it’s a wonderful, exhilarating rush!Entrance for Toy Story Midway Mania

Toy Story Midway Mania – While I must have a FastPass or I’m not riding this one, it’s one of the best experiences in any park simply for exceptional guest interaction qualities.  Sure, I almost always have the low score in my vehicle, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy every second.  The plate-breaking is absolutely the best!

Star Wars Launch Bay – I’m a pretty geeky Star Wars fan and while I do like Star Tours, I LOVE the Launch Bay!  Part museum, part character spot, there’s something about this new-ish offering that satisfies yet hints of things to come at the same time.  If the intention was to get me excited about Star Wars Land, it’s working.

Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards – I can still find Citizens of Hollywood from time to time along these iconic streets.  Shops, snacks, small and large details, the overall feeling of old Hollywood can still be found.  While Toluca Legs Turkey Co. and Starring Rolls Café may be gone, there’s still plenty to enjoy.

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage – Way back (a long time ago), the live show at the Theater of the Stars was The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  It was a great show!  I was a little sad to see its run end.  Then along came Beauty and The Beast and I was captivated once again.  No, it’s not a must-do on every visit, but it is well done and offers a relaxing, shaded respite from our normally hurried touring plans.  And there’s Gaston!  If only Four for a Dollar were still performing the pre-show.  Those were the days.

Hollywood Brown Derby Patio Lounge – This is my favorite place in the Studios to stop for a light meal or a snack.  Between FastPasses, Raymond and I have been know to pass the time by enjoying cheese and wine here.  The service is good, the menu solid, and the people-watching excellent!

Gertie the Dinosaur – Most visitors probably don’t associate the adorable giant brontosaurus (Apatosaurus) on the shore of Echo Lake with the park’s original theme.  Considered by many to be the “mother of all cartoon characters” the original Gertie is an important historical figure and paved the way for all the characters, Disney and otherwise, we know and love.

Nostalgia – I was fortunate to marry a Disney fan who introduced me to Walt Disney World shortly after our wedding.  Among my happiest memories are the time we spent in Disney’s MGM Studios shortly after the park opened.  Many of the park’s original attractions, its name, and even entire sections (Roger Rabbit!) are gone now.  But what remains is enough to whisk me back nearly 28 years to those early days when we were just starting out.  We still feel young, we’re every bit as happy, and we still love being together on a Disney vacation…the best feelings there are!Volunteering for the Studios Backlot Tour

While the future will certainly bring many more changes to this particular corner of Disney World, it will always hold a special place in my heart.  I’m super excited about the additions of Star Wars and Toy Story lands and am hoping Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or whatever it will be called) will return to being an exciting full-day park for everyone.

Are you a Studios fan?  What’s your favorite memory?  What are your favorite attractions?


Disney World Favorite Random Details

WDW-EntranceYou know that expression (attributed to Aristotle), “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”?  To me, that saying is never more true than when applied Walt Disney World.  There are incredible components from the tiniest magical detail (like peanut shell impressions in cement) to the enormity of a single attraction like Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom) or Jungle Cruise (Magic Kingdom) – add them together and the whole is more – so much more!  That, I believe, is what makes Disney World infinitely more than a gathering of some hotels and theme parks – those millions of parts combine to make a destination like no other in the world.

 Disney World Favorite Random Details

Let’s talk about a few of the parts that make up the wonderful whole of Disney World.  Remember the other day when I talked about the things I think about while riding Spaceship Earth?  This is sorta like that only these random favorites were chosen from the World at large based on my vacation history – small treasures gathered through the years that add to the happiest memories and keep our family coming back for more as often as we can!Be-our-Guest-Gargoyle

Bouncy off-ramp – Have you ever noticed the exit ramp for Space Mountain’s extreme bounciness?  No?  Next time you leave the ride and you’re riding the conveyor belt, bounce a little bit on it.  Seriously!  It’s hilarious and fun and if you see me on those screens that show live video of guests leaving the ride, I’m the woman-of-a-certain-age jumping up and down.  Every time.image

Breaking plates – Is it just me or is the sound and feel of breaking plates on Toy Story Midway Mania ridiculously satisfying.  Clearly this says something about my psyche, but that is what I love most about this attraction.  So forbidden yet satisfying.  Clearly I need help.Entrance for Toy Story Midway Mania

Yeti – it’s real! – Abominable snowmen…mythical creatures or not?  Doesn’t matter!  The queue for Expedition Everest has me 100% convinced the Yeti exists.  I always wish there were a way I could take as much time as I wanted to see every single item in that Yeti museum and outfitter shop.  If the line’s being held up by someone, it’s probably me!  The footprint casts are my absolute favorite.  If you’re too scared to ride this attraction – do not miss the queue!Expedition Everest Queue Yeti Museum

Bathing beauties – I don’t get in line for Jungle Cruise (Magic Kingdom) thinking about those elephants in the water hole.  The moment I see that one happy baby pachyderm though…instant happiness!  He’s just the epitome of cute.  Every time I see him, I wish I could buy him in lawn-ornament form to take home.image

The first bite of a Mickey Bar – There are so many beloved snacks at Walt Disney World, but one stands out as my favorite for the thrill of the first bite.  Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar – soft and creamy vanilla ice cream encased by a smooth, hard chocolate shell, shaped like Mickey Mouse.  I peel the wrapper off carefully, clutch that thin wooden stick and savor the moment when cool chocolate gives way in an audible crunch and my teeth sink into that sweet ice cream.  After that there’s no time to savor anything else since I’ve got to eat that puppy in record speed before it melts all over my hands and clothes!Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar

Singing ‘Possums – You know the ones, don’t you?  On Splash Mountain – there are so many animals and adorable details to take in, it’s hard to see everything.  I look all around and enjoy the experience until our log floats us under those ‘possums, then I only have eyes for them and their extreme adorableness.Splash Mountain "You May Get Wet" sign

What about you?  What random details are your favorites at Walt Disney World?








Best Ride Vehicles at Walt Disney World

STUDIO_ROCKNRCOASTERRIDE_7071496091Let’s talk about ride vehicles!  There are so many different kinds of rides and vehicle types at Walt Disney World, there’s something for everyone!  Imagine for a minute you’re on your most favorite ride!  Now answer this:  Does your favorite ride also contain your favorite ride vehicle?

I’ve been spending a lot of time running lately in preparation for the Glass Slipper Challenge – which means I’ve had a lot of time to daydream about Walt Disney World.  I started thinking about which rides and attractions I like the most and then I was thinking more specifically about each ride’s vehicle and realized that some rides I love, actually have vehicles I…hmmmm….let’s say “dislike”.

It’s true!  For example – I love Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but find getting in and out of the limo verywd001wdw201414578668651 awkward and the harness very restrictive – I know it has to be secure for safety reasons, but that restraint makes me very glad I’m not claustrophobic like my friend Heather!  Space Mountain is so near and dear to my heart, but those rockets are ridiculously uncomfortable.  I guess what I’m getting at here is that I’m about to name my most favorite ride vehicles which, in some cases, have nothing to do with my overall feelings about the ride in which they reside.

Best Ride Vehicles at Walt Disney World:

DoomBuggy – This timeless classic is the Model T of the ride vehicle world.  Basic black, smooth and rounded, they glide gently along, keeping you safe from the ghosts and ghouls of the Haunted Mansion.  Turned backwards, they easy you comfortable downward through the cool and eerie darkness.  This mode of attraction transportation is about as perfect as can be!RM-PeopleMover-Seat

PeopleMover – These beauties represent omnimover awesomeness.  Maybe I love the fact that their blue upholstery matches my eyes.  Maybe it’s how you can sit facing forward or backward.  Maybe it’s the cars’ boxy shape.  Whatever the reason, the humble PeopleMover vehicles rank high on my list of favorites.RM-Jungle-Cruise-Backside-of-Water

Jungle Cruise Boats – Happy little sailing vessels with snappy names and shady awnings.  What else needs to be said?  Plenty of room for everyone – party on the rivers of the world!RM-TSMWM-Vehicle

Toy Story Midway Mania Cars – Have I mentioned lately that Rex is my TSMWM spirit guide?  Of all the vehicles in all of Disney World, this is the one I most want to take home!  Think about it!!!  Armed and dangerous on my morning commute – cut me off and bam!  Dart to the tire.  An armory of virtual missiles at my disposal.  I’d add projectile goo – because when you are driving slow in the fast lane?  You deserve goo to teach you a little bit of a lesson.  Driving down the highway, wind in my hair, launching an array of items from my vehicle’s cannon….livin’ the dream, baby!

I really want to know!  What is your favorite ride vehicle and why?  Which one would you most love to take home?


Disney World’s Toy Story Midway Mania – Love it but…

DSCN2524There’s a reason Toy Story Midway Mania (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) is wildly popular.  It is (in The Fam’s opinion) one of the most action-packed, fun-filled experiences you can have at Disney World – even for people like me with no eye-hand coordination and poor aim!  As the name suggests, this ride simulates carnival midway games.  In 3D!  And the games include all your favorite Toy Story characters.  So what’s the “but…” for in this post’s title?  I’ll tell you, but first the good news… 

The GOOD News – About the Ride:

Once you make it to the front of the line, you board an adorable little ride vehicle – seats for two onDSCN2527 the front and on the back, everyone facing outward.  In front of you is a little toy cannon-looking thing with a pull-string on the back.  This is your “weapon” – a launcher of virtual items you will “throw” during the various midway games you’ll visit during the ride.  3D glasses on, you’re vehicle spins you into position in front of the first game – you get a little practice first – and then?  Game ON!  Pull that string on the back of your cannon as fast and as often as you possibly can and hit as many things as you can before time runs out – rack up points as you move from game to game (breaking plates, popping balloons, shooting ducks, etc.).  I just laugh hysterically while this is all going on – it’s that much fun!  Probably, the laughing hurts my score as much as the poor coordination and aim, but hey – I just love this ride.  You may have a seriously sore arm later from pulling the string to fire that cannon aIMG_3072 gajillion times.

The BAD News – About the Queue:

The fastpasses for TSMWM go fast – like all gone for the entire day by midmorning!  If you don’t get to this ride first thing, you either have to wait in what is usually a very long line (60 minutes or more) or pass altogether.  Lets say you choose to wait in the standby line – let the rest of this post serve as a strong warning against doing that!  The queue for this ride is almost indescribably horrible.  At first you’re like all “wow!” and “cool!” and “this is great!” – but those feelings fade away all too quickly.  Here’s the dealIMG_3071 – yes, there are giant toys and games and a giant talking Mr. Potato Head – but somehow after just a few moments of nostalgia and feeling toy-sized yourself, it gets annoying – really REALLY annoying.  The colors are too bright, Mr. Potato Head won’t be quiet and you are winding back and forth and back and forth for an eternity before you finally get to the 3D glasses.  Surely this means you’re almost to the ride boarding area, right?  HA!  Joke’s on you – still more waiting in line to go!  As much as I love the actual ride, I just cannot endure waiting in line for it – seriously, it could be used as a form of torture to extract top-secret information from international spies or something.  Please!  No more!  I’ll tell you anything!  Cannot take moreIMG_3081 giant toys!  Make Mr. Potato Head stop talking!

Consider this my last official public service announcement for 2013.  DO NOT wait in the standby line for Toy Story Midway Mania.  You’re welcome.