Monday, September 17, 2012

Hollywood Studios - Walt Disney World 2012

Day 5

Hollywood Studios (HS) is the smallest park in WDW. Initially, we thought we would be able to finish this park early and then hopped to Epcot. Since we were done with Epcot, we didn't need to rush anymore. We would just leisurely spend our day in this park, trying to visit as many attractions as we can. Fortunately, we found a very good one day tour plan from touringplans.com. So we had a full itinerary for today filled with headliners and major attractions of this park. 

We also checked the crowd level as usual, and it seemed that HS was always crowded during the week that we visited. However, today was the lowest crowd level for this park throughout the 7 consecutive days. So, in short, we chose the best time to visit this park during our 8 days trip.

We arrived early around 8AM like usual. Similar to Epcot, the parking lots were located close to the entrance of the park. While waiting in front of the turnstiles, we didn't forget to obtain the park maps and daily show schedules. Those two are very crucial for a successful Disney park visit =P

Oh yeah, since today was my birthday, we asked the Guest Relations for pins. Disney's guest relations officers are usually very generous in giving pins. Do not hesitate to tell them that you're there for a celebration. Sometime you might get special treatments from Disney. Especially if you are staying at Disney's resorts. They might offer to upgrade your room! In addition to birthday pin, we also got a various celebration pins. 



Right before the entrance there was this mickey as a sorcerer's apprentice topiary. Of course we couldn't resist the temptation to stop and take picture =P





Remember how I mentioned above that the daily show schedule is crucial for planning your day at Disney's Parks? While waiting in front of the turnstiles, I read the daily show schedule and tried to integrate some of the shows, parade, and character greetings into our itinerary. Then, I learned that Minnie's character greeting schedule at HS was actually before the park opens and it was located in front of the turnstiles. So we left our position in the line and took picture with Minnie first.





Later when we came back to the line, this was how it looked like at approximately 8.40ish AM. It wasn't that bad, right?



When the park finally opened, we followed our touring plan itinerary and rushed to Toy Story Mania to obtain Fastpass. It seemed that a lot of other guests were heading there too.



This attraction is really popular. When we got there, the Fastpass that we obtained was already for 9:50AM to 10:50AM. For those of you who are not familiar with Fastpass ... Fastpass is convenient yet tricky. It helps you avoid line because basically you are following Disney's time and not your own time. So in the Fastpass you will have a time window where you can play your ride. On ours, it was between 9:50AM to 10:50AM. If we come back to play the attraction within that time frame, we wouldn't have to wait in the normal line. We can enter the attraction through Fastpass line with minimal or no wait at all. However, you can only have one Fastpass per ticket for one attraction at a given time. As you can (barely) see at the bottom of our Fastpass, there was given a time frame when we can get another Fastpass. So be very careful when you make your plan. Sometimes, Fastpass is better than waiting at the normal line and vice versa. 




HS is divided into 8 areas: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Streets of America, Commissary Lane, Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue, Animation Courtyard, and Sunset Boulevard. As you can see from the pictures, Toy Story Mania is located in Pixar Place. 

Next, still following our itinerary, we went to the Sunset Boulevard area for two of the major headliners in HS: Tower of Terror and Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. First we went to the roller coaster. We were surprised by the length of the line. However, we felt that the line wasn't moving. So I went to the front and learned that the attraction was not ready yet. To make it even worse, the cast members didn't know when the ride will be opened.

So instead we went next door to the Tower of Terror. We saw an even longer line =P However when I was just about to go to the front to ask, the line suddenly moved. I was suddenly nervous LOL. I actually didn't really want to go to this ride because I didn't think I can handle it. My husband, on the other hand, was very enthusiastic about this ride. He kept telling me that it will be okay. The line was moving rather fast. We had difficulty stopping to take picture.

The full-scale Hollywood hotel looks real. At first, we entered a small room where we were told the story of the Hotel. One night the Hotel got struck by thunder, and some people who were riding the service elevator were forever missing. Later, we were ushered into that same elevator. We saw the twilight zone... and it was pretty. Later we also saw the whole park through a window. When we were admiring the beautiful scenery, suddenly the elevator fell down.

 Well, I guess for most people it was a fun ride. My husband likes it so much. I read somewhere that computer randomizes the drops, so there isn't any twice exact ride experience. I think we had around 5 or 6 drops on our ride. The drops weren't very high too. However, I still strongly feel that this ride isn't my cup of tea. No second ride for me =P


Posing on the Lobby after the ride
Looming Tower of Terror in the background
After the ride, We checked the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster again. To my delight, it was up and running. We checked on our online iPhone apps, the normal line was around 40 minutes wait. We felt that we could still make it. Actually the wait was just around 20 minutes. We're so glad we didn't skip this attraction to catch up with our Toy Story's Fastpass.


   
Boarding the super big limousine
It was super fun! Initially we went inside a room where we could see Aerosmith members in their recording studio. Suddenly, a woman who was supposed to be their manager came and told them to hurry up to a concert. They were almost late for their concert and still had to beat LA's busy traffic. The Aerosmiths asked us to join them in their super big limousine. So we sat inside a super long limousine and began our rock 'n' roll drive through LA. The roller coaster was pretty fast. It had three upside down inversion so we had to be very careful with our loose belongings like backpack and sunglasses. 

Then we rushed to Toy Story Mania. It was quite a long walk from Rock 'n' Roller Coaster to Pixar Place. Fortunately, we were still able to catch our Fastpass time frame. We waited for around 5 minutes before playing. 




This is the best shooting game that we've ever played. My husband totally loves this ride! I enjoyed the 4D details like bursting water balloon and swooshing plates. Once we were done, we quickly obtained another Fastpass for this game. By far, this was my husband's favorite attraction in Orlando.

Although there were some changes in the order of attractions, we were still trying to follow our itinerary. Next, we headed to the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Boulevard. We passed through the icon of HS: Mickey's sorcerer hat.


 


The Great Movie Ride
The Great Movie Ride building was a remake of Hollywood's historic Grauman's Chinese Theater. The decoration for the waiting area was very pretty.



We also spotted some award-winning movie costume like this one:



This is Susan Pevensie's costume at Narnia: Prince Caspian movie. Then we rode a vehicle into scenes of historic favorite movies. We saw some explosive fighting scenes too along the journey. We saw scenes from Mary Poppins, Tarzan, Wizard of Oz, Alien, etc.



Next, we went to Star Tours - The Adventure continue at Echo Lake area. We didn't take Fastpass for this ride. The normal waiting line wasn't so bad. We waited for approximately 20 minutes. This was a 3D simulator ride. 




Turned out the vehicle's movement was too rough for my husband's taste. He felt slightly sick after riding this attraction. We continued to a milder attraction: Muppet Vision 3D. Similar with Star Tours, we waited for approximately 20 minutes for the show. The show was just okay. Maybe because both of us weren't a fan of the Muppet =P We took a lot of pictures in front of the attraction tho'. 



Ms. Piggy's fountain
After the Muppet, we went to the Streets of America area. There are two major attractions there: Studio Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme stunt show. The latter had only two showing time that day. Since the first showing time for the extreme stunt show was still an hour and a half later, we went to Studio Backlot Tour first.

We saw this giant coke on the way:



When we arrived, the waiting area was pretty crowded. It was divided into four or five lanes. At first we waited at the fifth lane, which was the most left lane. But somehow the first three lanes moved faster so we switched to the third lane. We saw this amazing props from Pirates of Caribbean in the waiting area.




We were lucky not to move to the first lane. Turned out the first show on the Backlot Tour was a simulation water show and the first lane was splash zone. In the simulation, we were shown how to create a water war scene like the one in Pearl Harbor movie.



Next we walked through a warehouse full of props. I spotted this props from Narnia's first movie: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. This was the stoned fawn.



Next we boarded a vehicle and toured more warehouses. We also saw more props. We went through a facility where all the costumes for Disney's characters were made.




In addition, we saw another movie scene simulation. This time the simulation not just involved water but also earthquake and fire. It was pretty cool!



Once we were done, we rushed to the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. We were almost late for their first show. The half stadium was almost filled with guests. Fortunately we were able to get a good spot although it was pretty high up in the stadium.



In the middle of the show, we had a special appearance of the famous Lightning McQueen =)  


My husband also loved this show. I personally agreed that this was one of the not to be missed attractions in HS. It was pretty late already and we haven't had our lunch. We decided to eat somewhere in the Sunset Boulevard's area. On our way, we took picture along the Streets of America and Commissary Lane.



New York skyline in the background
SF skyline in the background
Commissary Lane
This was what I had for lunch. Hotdog with mac n cheese and truffle oil. It tasted pretty good actually.



I was hoping to catch up the next performance of Beauty and the Beast - Live on stage ... however, we spent too much time for lunch. So we had to wait for the next show which is around 45 minutes later. Meanwhile, we decided to checked Voyage of The Little Mermaid. Too bad, the show was in progress and we had to wait for 20 minutes for next show. We wouldn't be able to make it for the Beauty and the Beast since the Little Mermaid show itself was 17 minutes. So we went to The Magic of Disney Animation instead. We met Pooh and watched a quick show about how Disney's animators created Mulan's Mushu. 


Entering Animation Courtyard
Pooh!
Some in-progress characters
  
Once we were done, we rushed to the Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage show. I loveeeee this show! 


Belle and Gaston


This is another must-see attraction in the HS. On our way to Toy Story Mania, we stopped and took pictures along the Sunset Boulevard. 




Our second Toy Story mania for the day =D



Next we watched Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Unlike the first extreme stunt show, Indiana Jones was more relaxing and comical. First we saw Indiana Jones trying to escape from a temple. Next we saw more fighting scenes with the help of guest volunteers. They also taught the guests how to do fighting move stunts.




When we were done with Indiana Jones show, we went out and saw this Nessie in the Lake. 



Then we watched Voyage of the Little Mermaid which was another musical show. This was our last attraction for the day. I was tempted to ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster again but the 40 minutes wait was just too much. We decided to end our day early, saving Fantasmic! for tomorrow.  

We headed back to Downtown Disney for my birthday dinner. We considered having dinner at Planet Hollywood Orlando ... 




but ended up having dinner at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant. I ordered the special Meat Loaf while my husband chose the specialty burger. It was delicious. We also got a complimentary birthday dessert =)

My Meat Loaf
The Specialty Burger
Us with the dinner
Complimentary Dessert
Cheesecake with Caramel and Peanut Toffee
I was planning to visit MK for my birthday but ended up visiting HS instead. I felt I made the right decision. By far, this was my most favorite park. I love Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Beauty and the Beast Musical show, Toy Story Mania, and the Extreme Stunt Show. It was a very fun birthday =) I also felt proud for manning up to ride Tower of Terror although I didn't like it. At least I can say I've tried =P

This park is always crowded. We thought the size of the park might be the number one factor that caused this. It was very tricky trying to come up with a good itinerary for this park since most of the attractions were shows that have exact schedule. I ended up making a lot of changes to the order of attractions on my itinerary. However, we managed to ride all of the attractions that we want and still finished early =)

Coming next: Animal Kingdom!

2 comments:

  1. Phew, finally done reading this. Such an insightful post! It makes me wanna go there now and try the hot dog with mac and cheese and the meatloaf. They look delicious! Your hubby looks more macho with his after-5-shadow. Haha..

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  2. Thank you for reading this super long post de! haha. I wrote in detail as much as I can, partly for my future reference =P I'm hoping to visit the park again once the Fantasyland expansion in MK is done :) Maybe we can go together next time. Should be fun!

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