Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) was the one park at Disney World that we had very low expectations of before going there. I had gone online and watched complete park walkthroughs of all the Walt Disney World parks to get an idea of what we were getting into and to know our way around (at least a little bit), similar to how we can get around Disneyland.
Watching the walkthrough for Hollywood Studios, I felt like there was no good theme connecting anything together, no good, stand out food locations and it appeared hard to navigate. When we arrived there, we pretty much agreed. When you enter the park, you go down a Main Street like road, which you can either go to the end of where the Great Movie Ride is located, or you can split off in a couple of different directions.
On direction takes you down another road toward the Hollywood Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I know that most people think that the Tower of Terror in Florida is superior to the one in California, but I would have to disagree. I don’t think the elevator “walking” through the third dimension was that good. The rest of the attraction is pretty much the same.
I had experienced the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster when I was at Disneyland Paris a few years ago and thought this was the same as it was there and highly enjoyable. For Disneyland folks, it is like an indoor California Screamin’. However, the wait time for this was TERRIBLE. The MyMagic+ system that allows 4 FastPass holders in for every 1 standby guest was what made this huge difference here.
We also watched the Beauty and the Beast stage show, which I was thinking was going to be similar in style and quality to Aladdin in DCA, but it was not near that level of production. It didn’t help that it was an outdoor venue and like 100 degrees out.
There was a walk up burger joint on this road as well that we got food at before Beauty and the Beast, and it was ok.
Returning to the main street, we went on the Great Movie Ride that was actually pretty cool. I liked the concept of riding through scenes of old, famous movies and having our guide interact with some of the sets was also a nice touch.
To the right of this is a courtyard like area that had the Star Wars Launch Bay. I found this to be superior to the one in Disneyland. There was a lot more stuff from props to paintings to drawings and everything in-between from Star Wars.
Walking back behind the Great Movie Ride was the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream which had a museum like area that was really neat to see. There was a preview playing for some upcoming Disney movie and not the Walt feature, so we skipped that.
Further on was Toy Story Midway Mania, which also suffered from the MyMagic+ wait issue. It was pretty similar to DCA’s version, but I think the exterior theming at DCA is way better. Past this was a dead end. I know that before the Star Wars Land construction started, this used to connect to another part of the park, but now it was just a dead end and felt strange for a Disney park.
Heading back toward the Great Movie Ride and walking past what would be off to the left of the main street when you come in was an area called Echo Lake that had a couple of places to eat. Straight ahead was Star Tours. Pretty much an exact copy of what is in Disneyland and was fun, as always. What makes this version superior to Disneyland is the external theming where there are trees, an X-Wing and an AT-AT. Pretty cool!
Going past Star Tours to the right is a Muppet themed area that, at the time of our visit only had Muppet Vision 3-D. Same movie and stuff as at DCA as well. Nothing to write home about.
Turning back and walking past Star Tours is the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! This was going to be a highlight of this park for us, but it ran a limited version of the show due to the fact that it had just rained as we were being seated for the show. When I say rained, what I mean is heavy downpour! What little bit of the show we saw was ok, but I think it would have been much better to see the whole show.
We didn’t get a chance to see their (inferior, judging by the videos I have seen online) version of Fantasmic! We did, however, get to see the Star Wars fireworks show titled Star Wars: A Symphony in the Stars that was pretty amazing for what was described as a temporary show. In fact, I would almost say that we liked it better then what we have seen online of the new “better” show. Star Wars music really was meant to be played to an epic fireworks show.
That pretty much sums up Hollywood Studios. It was by far the most disappointing of the 4 parks.
Next time, I will write about the last of the parks at Disney World – Animal Kingdom.