Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a movies theme to it. Up until a few years ago, it was known as MGM Studios, but was renamed. Unlike the other parks, it doesn’t have one iconic image – there are a few that are fighting for that accolade. Personally, I like the Mickey Mouse shaped water tower. Most obvious is the Sorcerers hat which can be seen as you enter the park, at the end of Hollywood Boulevard – some die hard fans think this was a shocking addition as you can no longer see the Chinese Theater behind it, but I quite like it. The other building fighting for the accolade is the Tower of Terror, which towers above the other rides in the park.

There is something for everyone at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

Thrill Seekers

  • Rock n rollercoaster -  a rollercoaster, in the dark that is accompanied by music from Aerosmith. I actually think this is one of the best coasters on property – maybe because you can’t see what’s coming!
  • Tower of Terror – I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve not actually been on this. I can’t be the only one who’s chickened out! It is what it says – it takes you up to the top of the tower – opens the doors so you kept a brief glimpse of the park and them BAM – drops you like a stone! A step too far for me, but I’ve heard it’s great!

Star Wars fans

  • Star Tours was a motion flight simulator based on the Star Wars movie franchise. It has now closed as they renovate it to become Star Tours: the Adventure Continues, which will be opening in 2011. This will be a 3D , high definition motion simulator which is bound to prove popular!
  • Jedi training – bring your little Jedi wannabes to see the Jedi show. If you get there early enough they may get picked to be part of the show and battle the evil Darth Vader.
  • Every year Disney hold a Star Wars weekend – usually some time in the spring. If you’re a fan, you’ll need a special ticket but apparently its worth it.

Kiddies

  • Playhouse Disney has its theme park location at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Playhouse Disney – Live on stage.
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid – live show
  • Beauty and the Beast – see the film played out live in this 30 minute musical
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set playground
  • High School Musical 3: Right here! Right now! This is a show featuring the songs from High School Musical 3. It parades down Hollywood Boulevard, coming to a stop in front of the Sorcerers Hat. It is very high energy and encourages you to sing and dance along.

Movie Buffs

  • The Great Movie Ride – journey through the movies
  • Studio Backlot tour – takes you round the back of the Studios to illustrate how a film set might work
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show – stunts abound in this Indiana Jones themed show
  • Streets of America – a street you walk through designed to look like a New York street.

Everyone else!

  • Toy Story Mania – this is my favourite ride in all of Walt Disney World – and it is always busy! Similar to Buzz Lightyear’s ride in Magic Kingdom, you sit in a pair, each with a ‘gun’. The ride takes you though a series of arcade style games, where you use your gun to shoot at targets, break plates, burst balloons etc. This gives you points and the aim is to beat your partner. It so much fun!
  • The American Idol Experience – this is actually pretty cool, even if you’re not an American Idol fan (us being Brits and all that). If you want to take part you go and audition during specific times throughout the day. If you’re selected you get to sing in front of the audience. If you don’t want to perform you can be in the audience – this sees three acts and votes on their favourite. The winning act goes through to a final show at the end of the day. Whoever wins that gets a guaranteed audition for the real American Idol! The show is fun and worth watching, even if you don’t know who the videos flashing up are of (last years contestants apparently).
  • Lights, Motors, Action extreme stunt show. This show is actually based on one they developed for Disneyland Paris, so if you’ve been there you’ll have seen something similar. It is a stunt show involving live action and car chases and is pretty cool.
  • Muppet Vision 3D – a 3D Muppet Show – did the name give it away?
  • The Magic of Disney Animation – also one of my favourite attractions. This is essentially a drawing lesson where a cast member takes you through how to draw a specific character. It’s not really for young kids – most would get frustrated as the cast member has to move quite quickly. I am an awful artist  and yet I love this – its all very logical and step by step and at the end you can keep your drawings to compare with your family. You can see my husband’s and my efforts with Pluto here.
  • Block Party Bash – this is Disney’s Hollywood Studios daily parade, featuring characters from the Pixar movies. Its lots of fun and you’re encouraged to dance along as they make their way down Hollywood Boulevard.

Fantasmic

I had to give this show a whole section of its own – it’s that good! This is Disney’s Hollywood Studios night time show and it is really really great, located outside in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre. It features fireworks, water effects, live action, and has a great story. It is set on stage across a water way from the audience. The story is Mickey’s journey into his imagination – watching as his dreams allow his fear to develop into a nightmare. It features lots of live characters, from Sorcerer Mickey to the princesses, to perter pan and the ‘evil charcters’ from the Disney films, both on the stage and on floats and includes images projected onto sheets of water.This show can definitely be quite scary for little ones, with lots of bangs and threatening music, and obviously its in the dark as it’s night time. There’s usually a few people taking scared tots out, so it is worth considering if your kiddos will be brave enough.

It is not shown every night any more, so be sure to look into when it is showing during your trip and plan accordingly! It is however extremely popular and people start queuing for it up to 90 minutes before it starts, in busy periods. The theatre can hold nearly 10,000 guests (which includes 2000 standing) but it i still regularly packed out. Most unfortunately will have to queue or take their luck on arriving a bit later. However there are limited spaces which are reserved for people who have purchased a Fanatsmic dinner package. These are specific meals at Mama Melrose, Hollywood n Vine and Brown Derby, where you are also given  a ticket to the reserved seating area. These packages are also popular, so need booking well in advance. Its also worth noting that while you’re guaranteed a spot, some are better than others, so even with these, many still choose to get there pretty early.