Wednesday was our last day at Disney and we headed over to Disney Hollywood Studios. My initial impression of Hollywood Studios was that the security and ticket lines were the worst of any of the parks that we visited. Also, it was the only park that I had never been to, so I wasn't familiar with the layout, which hampered navigation. Admittedly, I have a terrible sense of direction, but the layout of the park is kind of strange. I'm sure it's strategic to make you walk in circles so that you'll get hungry and need to buy a $9.00 bag of popcorn, but I just got cranky.
The center of the park is this big Mickey Sorcerer's Apprentice Hat that doubles as a stage and there was some kind of show going on that was like the Fresh Beat Band, only that's Nickelodeon, so it was some Disney version of that deal. Is High School Musical Disney? It was like that...or what I imagine that to be like. Lots of jazz hands.
The first thing we did when we finally navigated the performers and audience was to race over to Toy Story to get Fast Passes. The line for the ride was already 45 minutes and it was a little short of 10 am. Our return time on the Passes was 5:40. This is an example of why you have to have some kind of plan when you go to these parks, otherwise you end up standing in terrible lines or only doing really lame things.
Speaking of lame, or at best random, we hit something called The Great Movie Ride which seemed to be staffed by kids from Ohio who watched lots of "Glee" and were the stars of their high school plays. The ride took you through some famous movie sets, including Aliens, Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Of course there were some animatronics recreating scenes from the movies. They all looked dead-eyed and creepy. Here's Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) looking sweaty and shifty hiding from the alien:
|A tad unflattering, no? If Sigourney were Beyonce|
she'd get this animatronic removed from existence.
I guess that the sets and the robot actors were deemed to pedestrian, because there was an interactive element to the ride. Spoiler alert, our tour tram was involved in a 1930s style gangster shoot-out, during which our tram driver was forcibly ejected from the tram by a gun moll, who then hijacked the tram for several scenes. Then, the gun moll got greedy and tried to steal a big ruby from the Raider's set and got cursed, turned into a skeleton, and our original driver reappeared. I am not making any of this up and yes, it was just as strange as it sounds. The Girl loved it. I left thinking, "whaaaa?"
Next we went to Star Tours which was awesome. It is tied with Soarin' for my favorite park ride. It probably edges Soarin' because it doesn't involve a silly dropped "g" and an apostrophe. Star Tours is a 3D Star Wars themed ride that involved riding in a badly-driven space ship. Here's a picture just prior to the flight:
|Hipster 3D glasses|
After Star Tours we went to a show on Disney Animation that the Boy declared to be his favorite show of the entire visit. It was very educational, which apparently the Boy prefers to entertainment. We learned about the evolution of Disney cartoon characters from conception by the artist to final product on the screen. It was co-hosted by a live Disney artist and a dragon cartoon character named MuShu from "Mulan" who is inexplicably voiced by Eddie Murphy who, last time I checked, is not Chinese.
After the show, we got to see some Disney artists at work which is nowhere as interesting as it sounds, and I realize that it doesn't even sound that interesting.
|Watching the artists|
After we tore ourselves away from watching the artists, we got in line for the Disney Jr. show because the Baby is all about "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" and "Doc McStuffins." She loves Jake so much that she's naming her son Jake. Her two daughters will be named Lilly and Anna. Anna is the baby. Her husband will be named Leggin and she hasn't met him yet. Look, her plan worries me less than the Boy's plan which is to become either an astronaut or a bagger at the grocery store. I hope to goodness he comes up with a third option.
The show was really cute and the big kids were good sports about hanging with the preschoolers for the Baby's sake. She looooved it. Snow, bubbles, and paper gold coins fell from the sky; what more could a kid want? If you ever plan to go to this show, know that you will sit on the floor.
After the show we still had a little while before our 3:35 "dinner" at Hollywood & Vine, so we headed to the Shrunk Kids Movie Set which is supposed to be like the backyard in the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" movie. It ended up being a little play area, but it was really hot, so we didn't stay for too long. As an aside, when I worked in Birmingham one summer we had a paralegal who was a Christian fundamentalist of the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar variety. She had only seen one mainstream movie in her life and it was, "Honey I Shrunk the Kids." She thought the movie totally scandalous and had not seen another movie since. She also thought that everyone in New Jersey ate a lot of noodles. She was sheltered.
Getting back to the story, looking for some air conditioning, we went to the Muppets 3-D movie which the kids enjoyed, but I almost succumbed to my fatigue in the cool, dark theatre. Luckily, the Baby climbed on my lap and kept me awake by swatting at the 3-D images in front of her.
|My favorite Muppets are Beaker and|
The Swedish Chef, but I have tattoos of neither.
At this point we were all starving, so we went over to Hollywood & Vine to wait for our reservation and to meet up with Robin, Mark, and their girls, with whom we were eating. The restaurant ended up running behind which was bad because we really hadn't eaten any lunch and everyone was fading fast. But, in a way it was lucky because we ended up eating closer to time that could be considered dinner and not a mid-afternoon snack. It was a buffet and good in a I-eat-for-fuel kind of way. It got the job done.
The whole reason we got the dinner is that it was in a package with special tickets to "Fantasmic" a show that Amanda at Dixie Delights said was amazing. It's apparently really hard to get into the show if you don't get the special tickets from the dining package. It was the only thing I'd really planned in advance for the entire trip, hence part of the reason we had to skip getting back rubs from Obama.
We were planning to head over to Toy Story after dinner to use our Fast Passes. Robin and Mark had gotten Fast Passes, as well, but theirs were for about 6:30 and our waiter had warned us that we had to get over to Fantasmic by 6:00, because after 6:30 they let the general public (or riff-raff) into the special section for the meal/show ticket holders, a consequence that sounded bad and potentially stressful. So, we cooked up a plan to go over to Toy Story together at 5:40 when our Fast Passes allowed us to go and to plead our case to the poor cast member working the door and hope that Robin, Mark, and their girls would be allowed in with us. Robin got designated to advocate because I suck at such things and would end up getting us all tossed out of the park and banned for life. Robin successfully lobbied for their admittance and we were all allowed in.
The Toy Story ride was similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride at The Magic Kingdom, in that there were two "guns" in your car and the cars spun around and you shot at targets like an old-fashioned carnival game. Robin was rewarded for getting her family into the ride by having to sit between her older daughter and the Girl and being unable to actually play the game since she had no gun. Way to take one for the team, Robin!
|Outside Toy Story|
After Toy Story, we headed towards Fantasmic. There was some brief discussion of the Girl and the K going on The Tower of Terror, which is one of the big drop rides at Hollywood Studios. Ultimately, we decided that it would be cutting it too close and that we should head over to the show. We got some really good seats and were getting excited about the Fantasmic experience that we were about to have when it started to rain. A lot. We were prepared as you can be for the rain, so we pulled out the rain gear and hunkered down to see if the show would go on. You can bet that I was sitting there hoping that I hadn't missed out on my chance to lobby for my Blogger Laureate post only to have Fantasmic cancelled.
Robin, Mark, and their girls decided that watching the show in the rain was not going to be much fun, so they left right during the heaviest part of the downpour. Our neighbors and good friend, Ed and Emily and their son, H who is the Baby's best buddy had also gotten tickets to the show and they showed up right as Robin, Mark and the girls were leaving. The Baby and H entertained the crowd by dancing to some head banger music that was playing over the P.A. until the Baby realized they were being watched and hid:
|It was raining. No joke.|
Luckily, the rain tapered off and mostly stopped within the first few minutes of the show, so we watched virtually the whole thing wet, but without rain.
|Wet, but happy.|
The show was visually really cool. The action all took place on a stage that is an island and there are fountains spraying water and the water fans out in a way that it creates a screen and video from the movies was projected on the water screen. There was also a very exciting part of the show when the water is set fire by a dragon. The fire was so hot that you could actually feel it in the audience.
|This is not quite the way it really looked, but pretty close.|
The story was one of those Disney compilations held together with a slender thread of a plot. There is some kind of battle between the imaginations of good and evil, but for some reason there's a whole interlude lifted from "Pocahontas" that has nothing to do with any of that plot. Of course, the plot is beside the point. We all agreed that it was a fantastic show and the Boy and the Baby did just fine with the fire and the fireworks, even though they were loud and the show was a mite scary. The Girl loved it, as she loved every single last thing that we did at Disney.
So, that about wraps up our Disney vacation. I'm looking forward to getting back to our regular schedule and for the children to get back to school. Nothing like a family trip to make you feel like you need a vacation!