Hollywood Studios, Disney World
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Hollywood Studios has gorgeous streets with art deco buildings and California-style palms. It's a pleasure to walk around and look up at the buildings. The park has a lot more shows than rides so it is quite different to the other Disney parks. The food at the casual eateries is also somewhat decent which makes it way better than the food at Magic Kingdom. The laser show, Fantasmic, at the end of the day is truly incredible (scary for your children) and makes your ticket price worth it just for that!
Our favorite show was Beauty and the Beast, which has real performers and some great cabaret-style dancing, plus all the popular songs from the movie. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is also a good show, though it is mostly animatronics, with only one live actress, Ariel. Half of the show is the scary part with the octopus-witch, so skip it if you don't want nightmares for your little kids (my four year old didn't have nightmares after this show though). It is a beautiful show, with bubbles and rain falling from the ceiling and laser lights coming across the ceiling to make it look like you're underwater. The Disney Junior Show says "live on stage" put there is only one live actress, the host, and the characters are puppets coming up out of the ground. It is hard for kids to see them because the stage is so high. But this is the best show for very young children because they delight in seeing their favorite characters from the Disney channel and there is nothing scary in this show. The Muppets show also has puppets and plenty of good songs.
An exciting show is Lights, Motors, Action! Definitely do not miss this one! With a set from the south of France, little European cars do incredible stunts, like drive synchronized, chase through the streets, jump onto trucks, and drive through fire. Another do-not-miss is the Indiana Jones show. Many people like the American Idol Experience, where real park visitors perform on stage. Kids can participate in the Jedi training Academy like they are in Star Wars- you must sign up early in the day. The Backlot Tour takes you in an outdoor train to show you how movies and special effects are made.
There are plenty of opportunities for character greetings spread out throughout the park. You can meet Mickey Mouse, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc characters, Phineas and Ferb, stars of Cars 2, Toy Story friends, Winnie the Pooh with his forest backdrop, and stars from Disney Junior TV shows.
There are also some great street performances outside throughout the day, and a parade at 3pm where kids see all their favorite characters. Arrive early along the route to get a spot with a good view.
Kids can run around in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, amongst huge blades of grass!
If you're looking for classic-style Disney rides, there are a few. The Great Movie show is one of the nice Disney rides where you go slowly indoors through different settings: a jungle where you see animatronic Jane and Tarzan, the set of Wizard of Oz, the scary world of Aliens (you can just cover your child's eyes at this point), and the set of Indiana Jones. It's a lot of fun though pretty tame. The Toy Story ride was not fun at all- definitely don't stand in line for this one. You just ride in a jerky vehicle to different stations where you shoot targets. The graphics aren't exciting. It's been compared to the Buzz Lightyear ride at Magic Kingdom but it is nothing near as stunning as that ride.
The highlights as far as rides go are Tower of Terror and the Rock n Rollercoaster with Aerosmith. Teens will love these rides and you should go on them first thing in the day because the lines get really long. Even the single rider and fast pass lines are long for these rides later in the day. The Tower of Terror is a very exciting ride that will make you scream, set in an old hotel in Hollywood with a haunted elevator. Not for the faint of heart. The Aerosmith rollercoaster is a super fun rollercoaster that takes you on the freeways of LA (just the signs) with awesome music playing that really fits with the ride.
We went on a day that was pouring with rain. The park was fairly crowded and I can't even imagine how crowded it would be on a sunny day. The rain made it pretty awful and we were wet all day long. But maybe it was worth the shorter waits at the rides. The main thing that works every time if you want to avoid long waits is to come half an hour before the park opens and make the most of the early hours of the day.
For food, Pizza Planet was not bad. And there are plenty of other yummy-looking food stands throughout the park, especially in the Sunset Boulevard area of the park near the Tower of Terror.
For some downtime, I saw people hanging out in the peaceful Animation building. It's air-conditioned and there are some comfy benches throughout. The Sorcerers Hat in the middle of the park makes it really easy to meet up with people if you split up to go on different rides. Rent or buy a stroller if you have a young child because there's a lot of walking back and forth to make the shows you want to see. Also, wear good sneakers and of course, some sunscreen. If it rains, you can buy cute clear Disney ponchos at the park for around $9 each.
Check out the other Disney parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. When in Orlando, stay at a resort with waterfalls and beauty all around- this is a good way to relax the day before or after you visit one of the Disney parks: try Hyatt Grand Cypress or Marriott World Center.
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From Florida's Turnpike, take the exit for Osceola Pkwy and head west for 11 miles. Turn right on World Drive and follow the signs to Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios opens at 9am and closes at 9pm. Some days it opens early or stays open late for Disney hotel guests. Florida residents can find highly discounted passes on the Disney World website. Other guests can save money by buying multi-day passes. Cost without discounts is over $100 per person for a one-day ticket.
Parking at Hollywood Studios is $17 a day, but free for Disney hotel guests.
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Overall Visitor Rating:
|Can't wait to get there!|