Back in 1989, Disney’s Hollywood Studios started out as an actual working studio. Back then, it was called Disney-MGM Studios. Mickey Mouse Club (MMC) was filmed here and animated features like Lilo& Stitch, Brother Bear & Mulan were drawn on premises. In case you haven’t figured it out, the theme here is film-making. As soon as you enter the park, you are transported back in time to when Hollywood started booming. Disney cast members portray filmmakers, vaudevillians, famous and wannabe actors as they parade down Hollywood Boulevard, enveloping guests into the trip back in time.
Turning on to Sunset Boulevard, you’ll see The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as it looms high above the park. Here, you enter a mysterious hotel with a supernatural history. A television host, Rod Serling, prepares you for your trip into The Twilight Zone. You grab a seat in an elevator and that’s when the fun starts! You will encounter ghostly patrons of the hotel and journey into a strange dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind. All this before your innocent little elevator turns into a freefall that sends you both rising and plunging into darkness. At night time, be sure to catch the amazing character, light, water, and firework show: Fantasmic!
Taking the Echo Lake path (you’ll know its Echo Lake by the giant green brontosaurus/ ice cream stand on the edge of the lake) brings you to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and one of my personal favorite places to eat; 50’s Prime Time Café. The now-closed American Idol Experience still stands but will be changed during the huge renovations in the near future. Continuing on, you’ll see a giant AT-AT from Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back / Return of the Jedi. Here, you’ll get to take one of many 3D excursions into the worlds of Star Wars. The random destinations insure that you will ride again and again to see different scenery.
Commissary Lane and Streets of America give you the backstage experience as if you were a celebrity on their lunch break. Take a few minutes to check out the MuppetVision 3D or Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Both have giant screens, 3 and 4D interactivity. Watching a movie in a normal theater has never been this fun! Lights, Motor, Action Extreme Stunt Show will have everyone sitting on the edge of their seat as speeding cars come within inches of crashing into each other.
Probably the most popular (and crowded) area is Pixar Place / Animation Courtyard. The main attraction is Toy Story Midway Mania shooting gallery. Because of its popularity (over 2 hour wait in line if you didn’t get a Fast Pass for it), construction has started on an additional track to this wonderful ride. Put on your 3D glasses and prepare to sit and spin through a maze of shooting gallery screens where you collect points and try to get those bonus water-balloons (you’ll know when you hit ‘em!). Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a very underrated attraction (but a great escape from the Florida sun / nice place to take a break) and retells the Little Mermaid story in a unique way.
Seeing as how the upcoming Pixar and Star Wars mega-expansion is close to starting, Disney’s Hollywood Studios are in for a major change. Some rides will be eliminated and the space reused, construction may make the park a little more congested (or maybe attendance will drop during this time and you’ll be able to walk on any ride with minimal wait). It’s hard to know what the next year or two will be like in this park, but one thing I can guarantee is that it will be worth it!
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