Our trip has officially come to a close. We are loaded up and heading north, excited to sleep in our own beds and love on our critters. It was an amazing trip, full of magical moments and special shared memories. Now that the frantic pace of the last few days of vacationing is done, and I have a moment to reflect back on the fun of the last few days, I will be blogging about our last four days of this epic vacation.
On Wednesday, we headed to Hollywood Studios for the second and final time. While my first post was focused on the new and amazing Toy Story Land, this post will focus on all the other wonderful rides and attractions we enjoyed at Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios is very different than the other three parks of Disney World in that it has fewer rides and more shows. Some members of our family love this about Hollywood Studios, making it their favorite of the four parks, while others (I’m talking about my ADHD kiddos) find the experience less appealing than the other parks that offer dozens of rides. For one child in particular…I’m sure you can all guess who…the idea of sitting through one show after another can be a bit painful. This very aspect of Hollywood Studios that makes it hard for some, makes it a favorite park of the girls in our family.
Luckily, the lack of ride quantity is more than made up for in ride quality.
Hollywood Studios is home to two of the biggest and most thrilling rides offered at Walt Disney World.
The first is:
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
“Rock and roll in the dark on your way to an Aerosmith concert, passing legendary landmarks along the way.
Tour the famed music studios of G-Force Records, where legendary rockers Aerosmith are wrapping up a recording session. When the band’s manager informs the group that they’re late for a concert on the other side of town, the rock band invites you to come along. Hop inside a gleaming, super-stretch limo and hold on tight as you take off at a whopping 60 miles per hour into the Los Angeles night on your way to the big show—hard-rockin’ grooves of Aerosmith echoing all around you.
Careen up and down into the inky, nighttime city darkness. Rocket through the famous Hollywood sign and speed past illuminated landmarks. Maneuver through city traffic and swoop in and around 3 thrilling inversions—2 rollover loops and one corkscrew—as the wind races across your face.”
This is a favorite ride of everyone in the family, with the exception of Rusty who finds it more thrilling than he enjoys in a ride. Having one family member who isn’t a fan works to our advantage, however, since he willingly holds on to all our gear so we can ride unencumbered.
The other is:
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
“Step uneasily inside the infamous Hollywood Tower Hotel and find a dusty lobby frozen in time. Even the subdued hotel staff seems strangely out of another era.
Suddenly a television set springs to life and Rod Serling welcomes you on a journey into the Twilight Zone. He reveals that on a gloomy Halloween night in 1939, some hotel patrons were riding the elevator when a violent storm struck the building… and they were never seen again. The hotel closed down and has stood empty ever since.
Enter the rickety, elevator-style lift, strap yourself in and prepare to discover what lies beyond the darkest corner of your imagination.
Shriek in terror as you’re suddenly propelled up and down the abandoned shaft—unexpectedly dropping and rising again—as you hear the sound of cables snapping and metal clanging overhead.
Will you make it back to the real world… or will you become a permanent resident of the Twilight Zone?”
This is another ride that isolates family members in one of two camps. Half love it, half hate it. Those who fear heights, and more specifically, falling from great heights, find this ride to be a manifestation of their worst nightmare, rather than a thrilling ride. Those who don’t labor under a fear of heights, would declare this ride one of the best in Disney World.
Both of these thrilling rides more than made up for all the musical productions that the boys “were forced” to sit through. We found that alternating rides with sitting and watching the amazing shows offered at Hollywood Studios, made it an enjoyable and manageable situation for all involved!
Some of our favorite shows included:
Beauty and the Beast- Live on Stage
“Relive the romance and magic of a tale as old as time in a lavish Broadway-style musical version of Beauty and the Beast.
The heartwarming tale of Belle and the Beast swirls to life in this lush stage performance. With colorful costumes, gorgeous scenery and the songs you’ve come to love, this sumptuous show will sweep you away—all over again!”
Muppet Vision 3D
“Take your seat in a perfect replica of the Muppet Theater from the classic television series, The Muppet Show. As the curtain rises, Kermit, Miss Piggy and the whole Muppets menagerie appear in eye-popping 3D. They’re taking you on a zany tour of their lab and showing off their new movie-making invention: Muppet*Vision 3D.
Things go haywire when Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker set a disastrous string of events in motion!
With onscreen musical numbers and live in-theater special effects, it’s a show kids of all ages will love—and guaranteed to bring down the house.”
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
“Drift over to your seat in the theater and listen spellbound as the Royal Historians of Arendelle recount the frosty story of their enchanted kingdom. Watch as thrilling moments from the movie play on-screen, then cheer as Anna, Elsa and Kristoff appear to sing along with the audience! Projected lyrics make it easy to belt out irresistible show-stoppers like “Let It Go.”
Other special surprises and magical touches make this show a real royal treat!”
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
“Watch live as the daring duo dodges deadly traps, battles bad guys, leaps from tall buildings and makes thrilling escapes straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The edge-of-your-seat suspense ends with a dynamite finale!
Along the way, get an inside look at how stunts are done with demonstrations that reveal how to safely throw and take punches, fall from tall buildings, and even wield whips in the midst of complex action sequences.”
This show was by far the most popular with they boys in the family. The combination of stunts, explosions… and lack of singing… made Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular the favorite show of the day.
Hollywood Studios is currently undergoing some major renovations that are changing the face of this classic park. Many of the attractions that were “oldies, but goodies” have been retired to make room for new, exciting changes. We had the pleasure of experiencing some of those magical changes with Toy Story Land, but another major change is coming later this year with the much-anticipated Galaxy’s Edge area at Hollywood Studios.
We were able to catch a glimpse of the magic unfolding behind the construction barriers while at the top of Slinky Dog dash.
It looks like it will be an amazing addition to Hollywood Studios. In the meantime, we were able to get our Star Wars fix by riding:
Star Tours- The Adventure Continues
“Blast off on a thrilling tour of the Star Wars galaxy aboard a Starspeeder 1000. Come face-to-face with Kylo Ren, Boba Fett or Darth Vader as you voyage to amazing alien worlds like Jakku, Coruscant, Naboo or even Crait—an all-new planet from Star Wars: The Last Jedi!
Featuring state-of-the-art technology—including a flight simulator, digital 3D video, Audio-Animatronics characters and “in cockpit” special effects and music—Star Tours – The Adventures Continue immerses you in the Star Wars mythology for an unforgettable intergalactic adventure.
As you prepare for lift-off, a series of mishaps unwittingly causes your starship to launch and C-3PO to take control. Suddenly, your space cruiser is intercepted by Imperial forces. Fearing capture, C-3PO pilots your ship on an unpredictable flight that will rocket you to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and back!
During your voyage, interact with many of the otherworldly characters and places made famous in the Star Wars saga.
Hold on tight as you exit hyperspace and find yourself in the middle of a furious battle on Crait. Plunge into the oceans of Naboo and avoid the clutches of monstrous sea creatures. Retreat inside the dreaded Death Star to escape Darth Vader before facing off with Boba Fett.
Will your starspeeder elude capture and safely transport you—and the rebel spy—safely back to the Alliance base?
May the Force be with you.”
Lunch on day 2 in Hollywood Studios was at Backlot Express. Everyone was craving a juicy burger and this counter service restaurant is one of the few in Disney World that offer free refills on drinks.
For our snack later in the day we headed back to Woody’s Lunchbox to enjoy the homemade pop tarts.
We had read great reviews of these homemade pastries and decided it would be a perfect final treat in Hollywood Studios. There were two flavors offered. Some opted for the chocolate hazelnut pop tart, topped with candied bacon, while others ordered the homemade raspberry pop tarts. Both were tasty but the raspberry ones were our favorite!
On our second day in Hollywood Studios, we also set aside time for some character “meet and greets.” It is funny the different aspects of the Disney experience that appeal to each kid. They all find their “magic” in different ways.
For Tyler, it is all about the pin trading and rides. If it were up to him, we would stop at every store and approach every cast member so he could trade pins.
For Ozzie, it is all about the transportation of Disney. He has little to no interest in the characters or shows, but could spend hours riding and learning about the different vehicles of Disney World. He would rather have a souvenir of the monorail or the Disney busses (or maps of the parks), than a souvenir from a favorite Disney movie or character.
For my older kids, characters are as much a part of the experience as rides or shows. I think this is due in part to the magical memories made on their first trip to Disney that are tied with magical interactions with characters. For the older kids, waiting in line for a photo with or autograph from a favorite character is as much the Disney experience as the rides, shows and food.
It was interesting to watch Brandon’s evolution over the last two weeks as he went from being reserved and distant with some of these Disney experiences, afraid or uncertain of how to let his inner child come out and play, to embracing the childlike joy that comes with the Disney World experience.
Because Brandon had to play the role of protector and provider from such a young age, he struggles to feel safe and comfortable just being a kid. One of the greatest blessings of this vacation was watching that evolution happen and getting to watch some of those walls fall.
One of Brandon’s character requests was to meet Buzz Lightyear, so for the sake of the older 4 we made sure to stop and see Buzz before we left at the end of the night. Located in Toy Story Land, our visit with Buzz corresponded perfectly with our last fast passes of the night to ride Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania.
Our final stroll through Hollywood Studios allowed us to soak in the nighttime ambience of old Hollywood.
It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!