Ghost Town Studios

I have a mug with the original MGM Studios logo on it. Collector's Item!

I have a mug with the original MGM Studios logo on it. Collector’s Item!

I love Hollywood Studios. I have said this before; it’s not my favourite park, but it is my First Day park and my fave to sit and people-watch. I also really love the atmosphere on Sunset Boulevard, the “sets” at Streets of America, and just various other little details.

I’ve defended Hollywood Studios in the past when people say it’s past its prime, but I am ready to admit at any time that it needs work. My love of the park has a lot more to do with its overall feel than with the attractions that are there… and, so far in 2014 and 2015, the existing attractions have begun to dwindle. With the rushed closure of The Magic of Disney Animation, it’s pretty obvious that the park is undergoing some kind of transformation. But although rumours abound, there’s no official word from Disney, so we’re left with guesses and a sort of sense that the park is dated and kind of collapsing in on itself.

Blink, and it's gone.

Blink, and it’s gone.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park in 2015

This weeked on Twitter I asked what my friends thought was the Best Disney News of 2014. The majority of the answers that I got were about Turner Classic Movies partnering on/sponsoring the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, which is indeed fantastic!  Some related news is the fact that TCM is also showing “Treasures From the Disney Vault“, presenting vintage Disney shows and other material that has not been replayed on the Disney Channel for some time now. YAY, TCM! (Also noteworthy: many people were happy about the recent announcement that the Sorcerer’s Hat is coming down – this is also at Hollywood Studios. Hmmm. Coincidence?)

I nipped this from a recent post at takingthefloridaplunge.com - go there for lots of constant content!

I nipped this from a recent post at takingthefloridaplunge.com – go there for lots of constant content!

This led into a general discussion about Hollywood Studios, what it could be, what it is, what we hope will happen.  Admittedly the bulk of this discussion was with LeBeau, of LeBeau’s LeBlog (yes, this is just an opportunity to plus his blog, but it’s worth it), but a few others joined in here and there!

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A Few Disney News Bites

Hello everyone!  There are a number of little Junior News stories about Disney from the past week or two, so I’m going to toss them at you and ask: what are you most excited for?

1: The Jingle Cruise!

Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will both be giving a holiday makeover to the classic Adventureland attraction, The Jungle Cruise. The holiday theming will begin “in early November”, so presumably sometime in the next week or two?  From Disney’s description:

In this new seasonal storyline of the attraction, the Skippers have grown homesick for the holidays, so they’ve added holiday cheer to the Jungle Cruise queue and boathouse with decorations that have been mailed to them from home (plus a few they’ve created themselves). The Skippers have also added a slew of new jokes to their tours that are the perfect way to get guests in the holiday spirit. Additionally, Jungle Cruise boats have been renamed with the holidays in mind, and if you listen carefully, you may hear a holiday-themed radio broadcast playing in the background.

My thoughts: I love the idea of a Jingle Cruise – I’m not sure why, I just do – but I’ve always been struck by how the Skippers on the Jungle Cruise are such smartasses. ;D  Somehow it seems weird to me that they’d be so sentimental as to get “homesick” and decorate for the holidays!  But that’s just me.  I’d still love to see this!  What do you think, are you for or against this makeover?

2: New Lounge at Hollywood Studios’s Brown Derby restaurant!

One of the nicer restaurants at Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood Brown Derby is now opening an outdoor patio lounge area for guests.  The area is shaded with umbrellas and menu offerings include beverages (alcohol included), small bites – that’s “fine dining” for appetizers – and some really luscious desserts:

Small bites are on the menu and include artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, duck confit tacos, steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, Derby Cocktail with jumbo lump blue crab, black tiger shrimp, avocado and a horseradish-tomato juice, and two Derby Sliders – a Wagyu beef slider with cognac mustard aïoli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado; and a house-made chorizo slider with chipotle mayo, manchego cheese, pickles and crispy onions.

You can also just stop for dessert, with Chocolate Three Ways (praline milk chocolate cream, crunchy ganache and orange-chocolate mousse), a banana-white chocolate toffee tower on a cocoa-almond cookie and bananas Foster, or strawberry Champagne cheesecake.

Reservations are not accepted and the lounge won’t take the Disney Dining Plan – this is important to know.  The Brown Derby is on the DDP for *meals*, but not lounge.  However, if you have Tables In Wonderland, it applies!

My thoughts: I’m boring and I don’t go to lounges. I should! but I don’t.  I’m a park commando most of the time, because I need to fill up on Disney experiences while I’m there. Then I think of all the things I missed once I’m back home. 😉

3: Reimagined Disney Magic!

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise LInes

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Magic has been relaunched (cautiously!) with new sailings out of Miami, Florida.  The ship has not been just refurbished, but reimagined, with new spaces and activities and experiences all over the place.  Among the most exciting are the AquaDunk, a water ride that begins with a VERY sudden drop – the floor opens beneath you! – and the Avengers Experience, a kids’ section of the boat with activities and Marvel Comics characters such as a Captain America meet & greet!

My thoughts: They had me at “Cruise ship”. 🙂

So?  What are you most excited about?  Are there any that inspire a yawn and a pass?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Trip Report 2013: The last of Day 2! For reals, now.

After redoing Star Tours, we headed on over to Toy Story Mania to finally use our FastPasses.  It was the same ride it always is, which is to say, FUN as heck and fast-moving but I will not ride it without a FastPass.  I used the standby queue ONCE, on soft open in 2008.  It was 45 minutes and honestly?  It was WORTH it, because I was alone, the ride was fun, and Mr. Potato Head was awesome. It is a great queue! But I wouldn’t wait 45 minutes now, with my kids, and I’ll tell you one more thing: the line is never, ever as short as 45 minutes. I never see it less than 60 and sometimes up to 90 minutes.  No deal.

So long story short, I haven’t seen Mr. Potato Head in 5 years. His loss, really.

He's been waiting for me to return, all this time.

He’s been waiting for me to return, all this time.

Anyway after TSM, it was past 6:30 so we were off after dinner.  I had picked out Fairfax Fare as our dinner place, because D loves herself some mac and cheese and they have some really interesting gourmet hot dogs.  I hadn’t paid much attention to where Fairfax Fare is located but I knew it was on Sunset Blvd, and had a pretty good mental picture of where I thought it was. Because I am awesome, I was pretty nearly EXACTLY right. 😀  (Still no maps, people! I didn’t pick up a map of HS until the next day!)

Sunset Blvd is my favourite area of the park, and normally I snap a ton of pictures as I walk down it.  This time I was trying to conserve batteries, so I didn’t, but you know – it’s kind of the same most times, I’ll admit.  So here are a few from my 2011 trip. 😀

Lovin' this walk!

Lovin’ this walk!

And lovin' this view!

And lovin’ this view!

Ever buy any produce from here? I'm sure it's very Anaheimy.

Ever buy any produce from here? I’m sure it’s very Anaheimy.

I have nothing special to say about this picture!

I have nothing special to say about this picture!

Ever found this luggage?

Ever found this luggage?

I'm almost sure that when I was here in '08, this same woman was assisting a director. I'm NEARLY sure it's her. Way to climb the ladder to fame, honey! :D

I’m almost sure that when I was here in ’08, this same woman was assisting a director. I’m NEARLY sure it’s her. Way to climb the ladder to fame, honey! 😀

The downside of being on Sunset Blvd is you’re staring down Tower of Terror, which you love like whoa, and on your left is Rock N’ Roller Coaster, which you also love like crazycakes, and your daughter is scared of both so you can’t do them this trip. Ohhhh, wellll. 🙂

 

This is from 2011, but I just can't resist sneaking in a pic of this view!

This is from 2011, but I just can’t resist sneaking in a pic of this view!

 

We picked out our meals at Fairfax Fare and moved off to the side to wait for them.  My plan for dessert was to pick up a cupcake from Starring Rolls that we could split; they had a limited time Halloween Minnie carrot cupcake at various counter service places that looked delicious and I’d eyed it but decided not to go for it this time, mainly because carrot cake normally has walnuts and D is allergic to nuts.

Well, our food took a little while to come, and while we were waiting the CMs told another couple of guests that they’d get the turkey legs that they had ordered for free if they gobbled like turkeys.  I had heard this as a rumour but never actually seen it demonstrated!  Sadly, the guests declined, and paid for their food.  Ahhh, well. 😀  They must have needed to give something away for free, though, because when our food came the CM looked at the time on our receipt and said “You guys have been waiting too long – be right back” and she came back with TWO full-sized Halloween Minnie cupcakes.  D asked “Do they have nuts?” and guess what?  They DIDN’T! 😀

So a quick food review: D got mac and cheese with carrot sticks and grapes, pretty standard.  I decided to get one of these fancypants hot dogs, so I got one covered with mac and cheese, bacon, and truffle oil. Yep – TRUFFLE OIL.  To be completely honest, I… don’t know what I thought of it. 🙂  Everything on it was good, but maybe I just don’t like hot dogs enough.  Or it might be the combination of the quick serve mac and cheese WITH the hot dog, I don’t know.  Either way, I have to admit I don’t recommend it.

Gourmet hot dog from Fairfax Fare: Mac&cheese, bacon and truffle oil. I give it 2 1/2 stars.

Gourmet hot dog from Fairfax Fare: Mac&cheese, bacon and truffle oil. I give it 2 1/2 stars.

The cupcakes, on the other hand – oh, myyyyy.  Neither of us could finish them (not even one, let alone both!), but they were wonderful. The frosting is orange – and is actually orange creme flavoured cream cheese frosting.  It’s topped with a little chocolate witch’s hat, in purple and orange.  D ate the hat, and some of the cake, but she said the frosting was too sweet and she didn’t really have much more than a few bites of her own.  I ate about half of mine, and D ate more of just the cake on mine before we had to toss them both; we were too full, and the frosting on them was melting in the heat!  She really enjoyed the cake part though.

Minnie Mouse Halloween Carrot Cake cupcakes!  4 stars! :D

Minnie Mouse Halloween Carrot Cake cupcakes! 4 stars! 😀

Absolutely wonderful, though, and worked out perfectly since I was going after cupcakes and no allergies got in the way. I do LOVE carrot cake.

By now it was getting dark. I decided that it would be fun to do a little shopping for ME; and for years now I’ve been looking for a particular shirt. I saw it in 2008 and thought “Nah, I’ll get it later” and then couldn’t find it in 2011.  It’s a Tower of Terror shirt.  So in the waning light I had D follow me to the gift shop for Tower of Terror – this was neat because she was able to see the entrance, some of the spooky decor, and the sign lighting up with the attraction logo on it – and we FOUND MY SHIRT! 😀

We also browsed around for some other gifts and I got into a discussion with a CM about Star Wars Episode 7.

At this point I was lugging around several bags, and it was dark, so we decided that MuppetVision 3D would be our next, and last, attraction before we left.  (We never did make it to meet Woody or Buzz, nor several other things I had said we would “consider”. That’s OK though.  We have no regrets.)

MuppetVision is the same each time, and yet each time I laugh like I haven’t seen it before. It’s such a goofy, lovely show.  The fact that it’s one of the last Muppet projects that Jim Henson worked on, and completed, may be part of why I hold it in high regard.

So you know how D got a little acknowledgment from the Tin Man in the Great Movie Ride?  Well, Statler and Waldorf picked on me. 😉  “Hey Waldorf! Look at that guy in the Goofy mask!” “That’s not a mask!” “Oh. Sorry, lady!”

Honestly I really do feel like they're actually really up there. :D This photo is by Jack Spence @ AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/08/i_know_i_heard_it_someplace_qu_2.html

Honestly I really do feel like they’re actually really up there. 😀 This photo is by Jack Spence @ AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/08/i_know_i_heard_it_someplace_qu_2.html

I noticed during this that they were looking approximately in our direction, so I said to D, “Hey! I think he meant me!  Statler, you’re a jerk!”

D took this seriously and kept reminding me afterwards that Statler heckled me. XD

One of my big joys was that I got D to start pointing out where Bean Bunny was.  There were not many people in the audience, and even fewer were kids; plus she’s not really a big “participation” kid, but when the voices come in saying “I see one! Over there!” I kind of said something like “Hey yeah! Up there!” to go along with it – this is how we’ve always watched “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” too, with me answering the TV first and then her picking up on it.  Well, it worked this time too and she jumped right in. “Up there!  He’s right up there!”  Ahhhh, I like to think it’s probably kinda gratifying for the Sweetums guy when kids actually join in. 😀

D was also super-impressed by the state of the theatre as we left, and by the fact that by the time we were nearly out the doors, it was miraculously “fixed”. “How’d they DO that?!” she wanted to know.  Sometimes I tell her (usually if it’s something kind of scary), and sometimes I just say “Magic!” 😀

…So.  It was now nearing 8pm, and that was our time to leave.  We walked through the Muppet Stuff store in search of Fraggle Rock memorabilia (spoiler alert: there is none), then just wandered about a little bit.  I hated to leave, because I really do love this park.  Does it need some TLC?  Oh, yes.  I want it to be about the movies and Hollywood the way it used to. Kick out American Idol Experience – kick it to the curb!! – nobody likes that one.  (Now I’ll get comments from people who love it. In fact I’ll be sad if I don’t, b/c the idea that everyone really DOES dislike it is sad.)

Take out Lights, Motors, Action.  I love Indiana Jones but that show could be replaced or even removed.  I’m trying to resign myself to the reality that they will likely take out MuppetVision, even though I will cry if they do, and I hope it is still there for at least one more family trip so that my son can see it again before it’s gone… he doesn’t remember it from last time.

Star Wars Land would be fine but I would be happier if they’d revamp the Backlot Tour. I never do that anymore because frankly… what backlot?  And if they take out Graumann’s Chinese Theatre to put in Star Wars Land, I am going to kick some shins.  I’m serious.  SHIN-KICKING WILL HAPPEN.  Update the Great Movie Ride but don’t you DARE get rid of it! 😛

And that, my dear friends, is Day 2. And we can say farewell to Hollywood Studios now. 🙂

Trip Report 2013, Day 2, Part 3: Fewer Photos, More Words!

Still Day 2, still Hollywood Studios! (Only for 1 more post after this though…)  When we left off, D and I were heading to Pizza Planet for lunch.  Join us, won’t you?

Going in, D wanted to play a game in the arcade, as you do.  And she picked out – The CLAAAWWWW.  I should preface this by saying that D has played The Claw once before and didn’t win.  I told her before and after that people rarely win but she still took it hard.  So I didn’t really want her doing it this time, especially because it was a full dollar to play, but she was set on it.  She picked a machine with stuffed dogs in it, chose the one she wanted, and went for it.

Well, she didn’t get the dog she wanted but to my absolute astonishment she got the one next to it!  I don’t know, maybe they have the Claws set so that they’re easier to win on in DHS?  Or maybe it was just Disney magic at work! 😀 Anyway, all it took was a dollar and a single try!  She named it Mary. 😀

Mary the Lucky Dog! :D

Mary the Lucky Dog! 😀

So I know a lot of people who do not love Pizza Planet.  And I understand that.  There’s not a lot of food choices – I ended up not getting anything and just eating D’s carrots that came with her kids’ pizza.  But I do love the theming, and D’s not picky about her pizza, so we were happy. 🙂

I wanted to take pictures of Pizza Planet but didn't want to kill my battery. Here ya go. :P

I wanted to take pictures of Pizza Planet but didn’t want to kill my battery. Here ya go. 😛

On the way out I let her get a pressed penny.  This is something else I really never do – I consider pressed pennies to be a waste of 76 cents (or however much they cost now).  Those poor pennies!  But in this case, it was a decent option, because there weren’t many games in that arcade you could put money into and have something to show for it afterwards.  Since D is not a very good gamer yet I thought it was better to leave with a souvenir instead of a frustrating game attempt, so we went ahead on it.  She chose a Maleficent design. 😀

I have to confess to one thing: I can’t quite remember the precise sequence of events here.  I think we might have gone on the Great Movie Ride *before* heading to Muppets, but timewise, I’m honestly not sure of that.  So I’m sticking it in here, anyway. 🙂

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, the majority of the attractions at Hollywood Studios had very little lines, so our wait time was generally pretty low (and as I’ve also mentioned, this was lucky for D, who has no waiting skills at all).  We moved thru pretty quickly – didn’t even take any photos this time – and when we got on I tried to find the Hidden Minnie I knew was in the mural.  But it’s been so long that I couldn’t find it until we were passing it, and as we’re passing is NEVER long enough for D to pick these things out, so we missed it. ARGH.

Have you seen the Hidden Minnie in the Great Movie Ride mural?  It’s one of my favourites. 😀

Anyway, we got the gangster track this time around.  I think I always get the gangster track. I’m pretty sure I almost never get the western one.  I will say though, today it looked as if they only had one car running due to the small lines, so it probably would’ve been impossible for me to get the western track. *lol*  Anyhow, Mugsy was better than our guide. I wasn’t a huge fan of our guide, but Mugsy was pretty good.  Weird thing, I’ve had a few times when I’ve ridden this and the “bad guy” has been somewhat sympathetic, and sometimes totally not.  This Mugsy played it all Gangsta. 😀

D had wanted to go on the ride, but I don’t know if she remembered precisely what it was.  She enjoyed it, but the entire section from “Alien” until you pass the “horror movie” part, she really just can’t watch.  She has to bury her head agianst me and wait until I say it’s OK.  However, the whole thing is apparently worth it for her because of the “Wizard of Oz” part.

We got to the spot where Dorothy and her friends are standing and looking at the city of Oz, and D says to me “Wow! The Tin Woodman looks GREAT!” (He’s her favourite; she probably has a little crush on him, you know, as 7-year-olds do.)  She swears that when she said that, he turned in her direction and smiled. What I saw: programmed animatronic movement in her direction. What she saw: “I think he actually moved, like, with his feet. I think he heard me and turned around and smiled.  I’m pretty sure he’s not really an animatronic.” 🙂  She was talking about this for DAYS and DAYS, folks.

Anyway, as I said, that part is probably out of order because the next shots on my camera are in the Indiana Jones Stunt area, and I’m pretty sure we did that on our way out of the park (and it makes sense given that we were coming from that side).  I kept trying to find some of the “hidden” details in Hollywood Studios, and this time I found, for the first time, the “Do Not Pull Rope” excavation area near Indy.  So I told D to pull it.

I don't know, I'm getting a mixed message here.

I don’t know, I’m getting a mixed message here.

To her credit, D REALLY pulled. HARD.

To her credit, D REALLY pulled. HARD.

She was not enthusiastic at first, but I insisted, so she tugged, and there came a lot of noises and a man’s voice said “Hey you! Stop mucking about up there!”  D asked if there was someone really down there. 🙂

Then we made our way out of the park, taking the route around Echo Lake that has a good view of Gertie the Dinosaur, and past the 50’s Prime Time Cafe.

"I fed her those leaves," said D as we passed. "I feed Gertie leaves every day." <3

“I fed her those leaves,” said D as we passed. “I feed Gertie leaves every day.” ❤

I can't believe Eddie Valient STILL hasn't replaced that window blind.  Darn it, Roger!

I can’t believe Eddie Valient STILL hasn’t replaced that window blind. Darn it, Roger!

Then it was back onto the tram, so that we could drive to our campsite and set up camp.

This is our site before I set up the tent!  Annnnd I forgot to take a picture with the tent set up! *headdesk*

This is our site before I set up the tent! Annnnd I forgot to take a picture with the tent set up! *headdesk*

They put us in the 1500 loop both nights we were there (nonconsecutive)!

They put us in the 1500 loop both nights we were there (nonconsecutive).

So this was the plan. Leave around 2:30, get set up etc by 3, pool from 3:15 or so until 4pm, and then get dressed and head back to HS for the evening.  Most of it went OK; I took a little bit longer than I expected to get the tent set up, b/c D was fascinated by tiny lizards and was not interested in helping me unless I raised my voice. 😛

TINY LIZARDS EVERYWHERE.

TINY LIZARDS EVERYWHERE.

Second problem: Could not find swimsuit. (It turned up later but we only did the pools the first two days.)  D can’t swim, but she LOVES being in the water, so we walked across the road – our campsite loop was right across from the pool! 😀 – and I kept her from plunging into the deep end, which she was all ready to do.  I took her around to the front and had her play near the stairs the full time, so she mainly hung off the bars leading into the pool.

Here's the reasonably-awesome Fort Wilderness pool!

Here’s the reasonably-awesome Fort Wilderness pool!

And here is D absolutely loving water.

And here is D absolutely loving water.

I kept trying to get her to go into the splash area, but she really loves being immersed in water, so she held off.  Eventually I found some life jacket style floaties and had her get into one, then I sat and watched her for a while.  Eventually she decided she wanted to go down the waterslide, which is an AWESOME one, and even though I couldn’t be right there to catch her I let her go ahead; well, apparently the ride down was great but she swallowed/inhaled water at the bottom so there was no more slides after that. 😉  At this point she finally DID go hit the splash play area and had a great time.

This is D at the height of slide enjoyment. A split second after this she had water up her nose and pretty much everywhere else.

This is D at the height of slide enjoyment. A split second after this she had water up her nose and pretty much everywhere else.

The Ft. Wilderness Splash Play area... there are height restrictions but I won't pretend I didn't get soaked, myself.

The Ft. Wilderness Splash Play area… there are height restrictions but I won’t pretend I didn’t get soaked, myself.

So it was more like 4:30 before we were ready to leave the pool, and closer to 5pm before she was changed, dry, and ready to go back to DHS.  Ahhh, well.  Flexibility is key when you are at Disney World!!

So around this point, I realized we were going to have to drop something from our schedule and I was pretty sure that something was going to have to be Beauty and the Beast.  I had intended to see the 5:30 show, meaning we’d want to get there between around 5:15 or so, and when it was done at 6pm we’d still need to do Toy Story, Star Tours, Muppets, AND get dinner in there somewhere within about 90 minutes or so (since I intended to leave before 8pm).  So I asked D, and we discussed it and agreed that it was OK to drop Beauty and the Beast this time, even though I have been trying to take her to it since LAST trip! Oy! But yeah.

So we went on Star Tours again when we got there, and this time D was not the rebel spy, but I thought the adventure was better.  It was ENTIRELY different from the first one, not just one part different but two different planets (we got Tatooine on this one), and a hologram of Admiral Akbar instead of Princess Leia as we had on the first.  Afterwards D got to do her “Big Souvenir” for the trip, and she chose – not a surprise – a Build Your Own Lightsabre!  It was more affordable than I’d expected, with a single-blade one coming in at $21.95 pre-tax, and she really liked customizing it for herself. 🙂 To keep her 4-year-old brother from feeling left out I got him a flashing green lightsabre-shaped keychain. Which, I should emphasize, he LOVES and has used almost daily since we got back. 🙂

Okay friends and followers, we are NEARLY done. Honest. 🙂 One more post at Hollywood Studios, and I’ll have covered the full day!  Unfortunately that post is very low on pics, so I may see what I can cull from earlier trips just to have something to show off.  Give me a while and I’ll put something decent together.  Meanwhile, have a magical day! 😀

Trip Report 2013: Day 2, Part 2: More Hollywood Studios!

So, it was nearing about 11:30 or so and we got to Star Tours – finally! Our first ride at Disney World!

D wanted to take some pics as we approached and I’m all for that so I handed her the camera.  And she took pics of the souvenir cart.  Ohhhkay.

I don't know why, but she found this HILARIOUS.

I don’t know why, but she found this HILARIOUS.

I liked this one more. Nearly got it for my son, but hey, someday he'd outgrow it and then what?

I liked this one more. Nearly got it for my son, but hey, someday he’d outgrow it and then what?

I stuck D on the speeder bike but she wasn't really sure what she should do on it.

I stuck D on the speeder bike but she wasn’t really sure what she should do on it.

So I had to show her.

So I had to show her.

When we got to the entrance to Star Tours the wait was REALLY short.  That was cool!  It turned out there was a Jedi Training Academy going on and D stopped to watch.  I expected her to ask to participate, but I had forgotten she’s gotten really shy about standing up in front of people and doing things, so it never came up. After a while she was like “This IS exciting, but… it’s also kind of boring. Can we go?”  Haha.  So there we have it.

As it turns out, pics of the outdoor queue of Star Tours are REALLY tough to get!  Some of these were by D and some by me.

Ewok village!

Ewok village! Complete with authentic FastPass machines!

Worst. AT-AT picture. EVER.

Worst. AT-AT picture. EVER. I was hoping it would look like it was walking over us, but instead it just looks badly-lit.

You can't even tell what this IS, except it's going to crush D.

You can’t even tell what this IS.

The indoor queue is not all that much easier, btw.  Lighting issues. 😛

I get geek vibes when I actually pass C3P0. EEEK!  It's really HIM! XD

I get geek vibes when I actually pass C3P0. EEEK! It’s really HIM! XD

Artoo knows what he's doing.

Artoo knows what he’s doing.

Here are your departure times for the day, non-Basic speaking humanoids.

Here are your departure times for the day, non-Basic speaking humanoids.

REX! :D This was a pretty awesome throwback.

REX! 😀 This was a pretty awesome throwback.

I'vvve been workin' on the saaaame droid... Sigh. I can't tell you how many times I've HEARD the queue for the old ride even though I only rode it like, 3-4 times.

I’vvve been workin’ on the saaaame droid… Sigh. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve HEARD the queue for the old ride even though I only rode it like, 3-4 times.

Actually I love these guys. I read somewhere that these are "naked" versions of the geese in Splash Mountain.

Actually I love these guys. I read somewhere that these are “naked” versions of the geese in Splash Mountain.

Then the robot stewardess told us there was no photography allowed so I obediently put the camera away.

Best part: when she gives a little "click" and shifts to Spanish.

Best part: when she gives a little “click” and shifts to Spanish.

This was my first ride on Star Tours 2.0.  It was GREAT!  Last time I rode it was in 2008 (it was closed when we came in 2011), and I had thought to myself “well, that was fun, but I don’t feel like I really need to ever do that again.”  They did a great job with the new version!  I don’t know, I might not have enjoyed it quite as much if I hadn’t been with D, who is a HUGE Star Wars fan and was utterly delighted with it. ^_^

AND guess what happened???

Yep, D was the Rebel Spy!  Bahahaha!  She said it made her a little embarrassed but oh well for her. ;D  No, she was happy and excited, and what a great start to our trip!  It was really the first magic moment of quite a few. 🙂  The funny thing was, things went wrong left and right, but nothing ever ruined the magic for us.  I think it’s impossible to have a truly bad time at Disney World unless something HUGE happens, or unless you’re willing to let it ruin your day.  Neither was true for us, thank goodness!

Well, stepping back for a moment, we came out in Tatooine Traders and of course D wanted to buy everything.  At first she saw what looked like Storm Trooper helmets and really wanted one, but it turned out they were giant piggy banks – lol.  She moved on from that. ;D  I looked around for something for my son, who is 4 and also a huge Star Wars fan, but nothing was jumping out at me.  D became entranced by the “Build Your Own Lightsabre” display and begged to do it, but I said no, too big, too expensive.  I promised we’d come back and do Star Tours again FOR CERTAIN, and think about buying something then, so we moved on out and headed to Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

D and vaporator. I actually expected that to be a water fountain or a mister or something and was disappointed that it's fully dry.

D and vaporator. I actually expected that to be a water fountain or a mister or something and was disappointed that it’s fully dry.

This was the point at which my battery took a hit, so the number of pics will decrease from here on out. 😛

However, this is a recreation of a picture I took last trip:

2011, age almost 5...

2011, age almost 5…

2013, age 7!

2013, age 7!

Two and a half years of difference!

So about Voyage of TLM… I have to be honest here. I love this movie SO MUCH, and it’s always fun to see this show with D, but it’s uninspired.  And although the puppets they use are good, this particular performance was even less inspired than usual.  Ariel was flat, and the final sequence between Ariel and Eric could not have been more “eh, we’re bored, we’re going through the motions” on everything. It just looked like “meet the cues, meet the cues, another show is almost over.”  I didn’t really love it the first time I saw it either, but the times in between had been OK. This time… lackluster.  If D wants to see it again next time I’ll still take her, but meh.  We ended up taking Beauty and the Beast off our list due to lack of time this trip, and next time I think I want to push for that instead. (I liked it WAY better when I saw it, but I’ve still only seen it once.)

After this, since we were right near the Magic of Disney Animation, we headed over to meet some characters and eventually get some drawing done.  I didn’t love the idea of waiting in long lines, though… by this point I was getting restless because time was ticking away and we were still down an hour.  But I didn’t want to skip characters completely, so we made our choice: Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope!  No regrets. First of all their queue was neat (though I wished these screens had actually been interactive… but they were still fun), and second it was just cool to meet them!

This is just a window to the house in Wreck-It Ralph.  Our best attempts didn't actually make it do anything. :(

This is just a window to the house in Wreck-It Ralph. Our best attempts didn’t actually make it do anything. 😦

Here's the card that Ralph and Vanellope sign in advance (since Ralph's hands mean he can't do autographs).

Here’s the card that Ralph and Vanellope sign in advance (since Ralph’s hands mean he can’t do autographs).

To pass the time, I gave D the camera. Not a bad shot really.

To pass the time, I gave D the camera. Not a bad shot really.

AACK!  Not to panic anyone but CYBUG ALERT!

AACK! Not to panic anyone but CYBUG ALERT!

Because I'm the type of person who has to be in the shot too. XD

Because I’m the type of person who has to be in the shot too. XD (D said: “Wow. Vanellope’s really BIG.” LOL.)

Then we hung around, played a few of the little games in there (you know, “What character are you?” and “Colour the picture”, those ones) until they let us into the Animation Academy.  We got to choose between drawing the Genie and Dopey; I would’ve done the Genie if I’d been by myself, but D preferred Dopey and I could tell it would be easier for her.  Plus I was outvoted anyway, as everyone else wanted to do Dopey too. 😉 Mine came out pretty well – considering I haven’t done any drawing in about a year. D’s picture… well… the problem was that she was trying very hard to follow the instructions but they just threw her off.  So she’d start at the point where the animator would say to start, but not end where she was supposed to, so everything is off.  I think she’d have done a better job just trying to copy it herself instead of following his instructions.  However, I’m not saying it’s a BAD try for a 7-year-old, in fact I think it’s really good! Only that she got turned around on placement because she was trying to do it two different ways.

This was taken at home. Purple walls = D's bedroom.

This was taken at home. Purple walls = D’s bedroom.

As it was getting on towards 1:00 we decided to hit up the Muppets and then get lunch at Toy Story Pizza Palace.  Back through wherever we went yet again, passing this window which D utterly loved:

D thought this was hilarious.  She was like "LOOK at the face he's making!!"

D thought this was hilarious. She was like “LOOK at the face he’s making!!”

Then we got in line for Muppets, and I was surprised to find that there was a LINE.  Outside!  This NEVER HAPPENS.  I figured the timing must have been just awkward or something so we settled in to wait.  I got a chance to look at details I normally don’t see, like the fact that there are eyes EVERYWHERE…

The posts are watching you too.

The posts are watching you too.

But unfortunately after a few minutes we were told that MuppetVision was down and they needed some time to fix it. 😦  No idea what went wrong (maybe the Chef shot something with that cannon that he shouldn’t have?), but we just gave in and headed to Pizza Planet for lunch.

Trip Report 2013: Day 2, We Made It!

Day 2 – 10/1/2013

D and I awoke early. We didn’t really mean to, and I had the alarm set for 6am but we were both up by 5:30. Sometimes it just happens. I guess we were like that Disney World ad, “We’re too excited to sleep!” Orrrr maybe it was just not a comfortable room. ;P

Ready and waiting to go in her 3 Caballeros shirt!

Ready and waiting to go in her 3 Caballeros shirt!

Anyway, I let D watch some TV while we were getting everything together, and I made her write a bit in her trip journal. (The trip journal was sadly neglected for the rest of the trip, really.)  She found a little Phineas and Ferb and we watched that while I packed things up and took them out to the car. It was still dark outside even after we’d picked up breakfast in the lobby and were heading out back onto the road again.

There’s a movie D took as the sun was coming up, but I am not going to share it, because it’s long and not much happens in it. However, it’s full of me saying a lot of things like “Full tank of gas, the road ahead of us, and Disney World at the end of it!” and “Palm trees… warm sand… Though sadly we just left Rhode Island! AH I made a Muppets reference!”

It didn’t take too long for the sun to come up, and initially it looked pretty promising that we’d make my schedule and get there around 9:30 as I’d planned! Sadly… fate had other plans in store. We ran into a couple of traffic jams… nothing major at first… but right after getting onto I-4 we hit a HUGE backup. There were warnings on the signs, but I didn’t know any alternate routes, so I just stuck with it. It took us about 40 minutes extra to get through it. 😛

Not her most "I'm thrilled to be here!" face.

Not her most “I’m thrilled to be here!” face.

So, instead of checking in at Ft. Wilderness at 9:30 and getting to Hollywood Studios by 10am, we got to Ft. Wilderness around 10:20 and made it to Hollywood Studios by 10:45. This meant that the tram was a necessity (normally when I drive I like to get there at park opening so I can walk to the entrance, but you do what you can). We JUST missed a tram so D went into her first “I HATE WAITING” response of the trip and schlumped around bored waiting for the next tram. The PARKING TRAM. Sigh.  Sometimes I thought it was going to be a loooong trip. 😉 Fortunately, spoiler alert! The crowds were REALLY low and we had FastPasses for the stuff we most wanted to do, so we were barely in long lines at all!

Anyway once we got onto the tram and I prodded her a little bit about the face she was making, she perked up. 🙂

That's my girl!

That’s my girl!

Then I treated the tram ride like an attraction and took pictures of some of the mini-billboards they had up to advertise their shows and movies. At this point, I had really intended to take a million billion photos and I set off on that goal with a vengeance.

Planes. For some reason I actually took two pics of this. I guess because we were sitting in front of it for a while.

Planes. For some reason I actually took two pics of this. I guess because we were sitting in front of it for a while.

Is there anyone on my Twitter list who doesn't like this show? Seriously, I can't even go on Twitter on Sunday nights without spoilers. ;)

Is there anyone on my Twitter list who doesn’t like this show? Seriously, I can’t even go on Twitter on Sunday nights without spoilers. 😉

I took this because I liked the picture. I have NO idea what this show is.

I took this because I liked the picture. I have NO idea what this show is.

Outside of the entrance of Hollywood Studios, they have a Monsters University topiary. There was even a LINE to stand right in front and get your picture taken, which I found funny. Polite, but funny. LOL. I just snagged a couple of pics of the front, and then when we went around to the other side there were topiary representations of the various frat houses in MU. I told D to pick her favourite and stand in front of it; somehow it doesn’t surprise me that she picked PNK, the girly-girl sorority. ;D

Really cool tope, but I wouldn't stand in line for a photo opp.

Really cool tope, but I wouldn’t stand in line for a photo opp.

PNK forever!

PNK forever!

Once we got inside, I started my traditional photo blast of the … well… the entire park, really. I LOVE the design of HS.

And people talk about loving Main Street USA. BAH! I say to them. BAH!!

And people talk about loving Main Street USA. BAH! I say to them. BAH!!

017

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I’m on the fence about the Sorceror Hat, really. I actually like it and think it’s a cool design, but using it just for pin trading etc feels like a waste, and the location sucks. I don’t like it blocking Graumann’s Theater. It just feels dumped into what was initially a really thought-out designed area.

Doesn’t stop me from getting our pics taken in front of it though! 😀

I personally think the PhotoPass photographer could've tried a little harder with this one even if he was using my camera.

I personally think the PhotoPass photographer could’ve tried a little harder with this one even if he was using my camera.

I took this one. I like it! :D

I took this one. I like it! 😀

Why, precisely, I feel a need to take pictures of the DHS wait time board is beyond me. Not only that, I have done it before… And ONLY in DHS. None of the other parks.

To satisfy your curiosity here is what the wait times were at 11am on October 1, 2013. WOW!

To satisfy your curiosity here is what the wait times were at 11am on October 1, 2013. WOW!

Anyhoo, once I’d stopped gawking at everything (plus squealing to D “We’re here! I can’t believe we’re here!” because I do that), we moseyed over to Toy Story Mania to get FastPasses. I was hoping they wouldn’t be entirely out of them at 11 in the morning, and I was lucky, they still had some! …For 6pm. Like seriously. That was actually a perfectly good return time for us, though, as it gave us a chance to catch up a bit for our late start and not worry about slotting TSM into the mid-afternoon.

Next on the list was Star Tours, but I didn’t intend to rush through the park for it (HS is sort of the only park where I feel like there are few enough attractions that we can get our must-dos done and still have time to wander). We headed off – without a map, maps are for sissies – OK, I’m lying, I did need it a few times but I like to think of myself as knowing DHS reasonably well and mostly I did fine – and D wanted to stop and see Woody or Buzz. I said we’d come back later, but we did run into a few green army guys! D was under the impression that they were my husband’s favourite b/c they were the only character he was particularly interested in getting a picture with last trip so she made sure to get several pics “for Daddy”.

You can see she's a little bit shy - she told me she was "shy" with any character she "didn't already know".

You can see she’s a little bit shy – she told me she was “shy” with any character she “didn’t already know”.

I love that you can just run into these guys wandering around in Pixar Place.

I love that you can just run into these guys wandering around in Pixar Place.

Then we just kept going… I was NOT taking the most direct route to Echo Lake, and I knew it, but I figured who cared? We were heading towards the Streets of America, I think, and that’s my least familiar area of the park. For instance I don’t think I’d ever seen these mist-structures:

Just like her mother!  Running at a giant Coke bottle with open arms! :P (Disclaimer: D doesn't drink soda, she hates it. she just likes things that spray water.)

Just like her mother! Running at a giant Coke bottle with open arms! 😛 (Disclaimer: D doesn’t drink soda, she hates it. she just likes things that spray water.)

I kept trying to get a shot of it spraying mist. Never did come out right.

I kept trying to get a shot of it spraying mist. Never did come out right.

She's waiting for the fire truck to shoot mist out... She looks like she's a little terrified. XD

She’s waiting for the fire truck to shoot mist out… She looks like she’s a little terrified. XD

And my Splash fountain! I got a pic back in 2008. I need to buy this movie. Actually I was being adorable with my pose, but you can’t tell b/c D didn’t frame it the way I thought she would. Oh well. XD (Yes, you heard me. I’m blaming it on a 7-year-old.)

Seriously, I was all rocking this adorable post... oh whatever. :P

Seriously, I was all rocking this adorable post… oh whatever. 😛

It's SAN FRANCISCO TIME, PEOPLE!!

It’s SAN FRANCISCO TIME, PEOPLE!!

This is the tallest hill in the WORLD!

This is the tallest hill in the WORLD!

And yes, they are putting the Osborne Lights up at HS already.

And yes, they are putting the Osborne Lights up at HS already.

This is as close as I've ever come to seeing the Osborne Lights.

This is as close as I’ve ever come to seeing the Osborne Lights.

D's entire understanding of phone booths is that Superman changes clothes in them.

D’s entire understanding of phone booths is that Superman changes clothes in them.

They play all these "city sounds" in Streets of America, so I was like "NO, don't run! WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!!"

They play all these “city sounds” in Streets of America, so I was like “NO, don’t run! WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!!”

Coast to coast!  Now we're in NYC!

Coast to coast! Now we’re in NYC!

Stylish little mannequin!

Stylish little mannequin!

I am *really* glad we took our time through the Streets of America, because I had a great time taking pics and it was shortly after this that I got a “low battery” alert on my camera. And… I had not brought my camera charger. I KNOW, RIGHT?? That was possibly my biggest planning hole. 😦 We had D’s camera and that ran out of batteries before mine did. (And no, I don’t have a camera in my phone, before you ask.) So while I fully intended to just go nuts with the pics, this is the nutsiest I got. But it was pretty nutsy, what can I say? So it’s OK. 🙂

FastPass to History: Sorcery In the Sky

Nowadays, the only nighttime entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Fantasmic!, and everyone is more than prepared to spend their evening sitting on metal bleachers for this awesome show.  At certain times of the year there are other, special event fireworks shows – New Year’s Eve, the 4th of July, etc.

BUT, back in the day, before MGM took on Fantasmic!, they had a fireworks show in the evening called Sorcery in the Sky.  Do you remember it?  Maybe you’ve heard of it but you’re not sure what it was about? The show was a Hollywood-themed fireworks presentation; it ran from 1990 until 1998, and until 2004 had seasonal (ie, holiday event) presentations before being replaced with new holiday fireworks shows.

Since Sorcery in the Sky was developed the same year that “Fantasia” celebrated its 50th anniversary, much of the fireworks were themed in association with it, and the framing of the show was the development of Hollywood “sorcery” – heavily built around Walt Disney’s own sorcery in his movies.  The original show was narrated by Vincent Price.  Movie themes and iconic moments were represented throughout the 9-minute show, and the finale was when a giant Sorceror Mickey appeared and had sparks shoot from his fingers!  (I’m not making this up!  See this page for photographic evidence!)

Since YouTube preserves pretty much everything, here is a video with a full performance of the fireworks show.  Enjoy!  It’s the 90s again! 😀  If you have any memories of this show please share them in the comments!  I visited MGM in 1995, and there is a chance I may have seen this show, but if I did I have NO memory of it at all. XD

This post is part of the FastPass to History blog hop hosted by FrontierlandStation.com!  Check out the other posts for more Disney history and thanks to Kimberly for hosting the blog hop!

FastPass