Thursday, June 16, 2016

Disney World 2016: Hollywood Studios

This was the third park day of our trip, and we didn't really have a huge list of things we wanted to do at Hollywood Studios.  The park is in the midst of a bunch of changes, a lot of things are shut down, and we saw a lot of stuff on our last trip.   After a late night at the Jungle Book show at Animal Kingdom, we wanted to sleep in!  And our girls actually slept in, which hardly ever happens.  So we had a quiet morning, a nice lunch, and then we made our way to Hollywood Studios for the late afternoon/evening.

Touring Plans Predicted Crowd Levels:  7 out of 10
Touring Plans Actual Crowd Levels: 5 out of 10

8:30 am--  Wake up!  Considering that the girls default wake up time is 6:30 am, no matter what time zone or what time they went to bed the night before, this was amazing!  And much needed for all of us.

9:30 am--   Daniel and the girls headed down to the pool for one last swim at the Kidani pool.  I packed up all of our stuff and got ready to move to a new resort--Coronado Springs.  Saying goodbye to Animal Kingdom Lodge was sad, as I really loved it.  But it is also fun to move to a different place and see more of the resorts on Disney property.

11:00 am--  We checked out of Animal Kingdom Lodge, and had a couple of hours to kill before our lunch reservation.  We decided to go over to Coronado Springs for a quick peek around and to see if our room was ready early by any chance.  Getting from a resort to a resort at Disney is not easy!  You first have to take a bus to a theme park, then get off and transfer to a resort bus.  So we took the bus to Animal Kingdom, got off and transferred to the Coronado Springs bus.  It was about a 45 minute process to wait for the buses and travel from place to place.

12:00 pm--  We took a quick peek around El Centro, the main lobby area at Coronado Springs.  Our room was not quite ready yet, so we didn't stay long.  We had a 1:00 lunch reservation at the Beaches n Cream restaurant at the Beach Club resort.  Again, we can't take a bus from a resort to another resort.  Instead, we had to take a bus to Hollywood Studios, and then take a boat to Beach Club!

1:00 pm-- We made it to our reservation at Beaches n Cream just in time.  What a fun little place this is!  And it is really little--something you don't see at most Disney restaurants.  I bet the whole place held about 30-40 people.  It was decorated like a vintage soda shop, and the place is famous mostly for its ice cream and desserts.  Advanced reservations are highly recommended as it just doesn't seat many people.
  After our yummy lunch of cheeseburgers and fries, it was time for ice cream!  Beaches n Cream is famous for it's Kitchen Sink dessert.  It includes a bunch of ice cream (five kinds), topped with every topping that they have, plus an entire can of whipped cream on top.  It is insane, and it costs $29.95!  Whenever someone orders the Kitchen Sink, special lights come on and they make a big deal about it.  Very fun, but not really worth it for us.  We did get to witness other people ordering it though!

We went with smaller, simpler ice cream choices  The girls each had a Mickey Mouse sundae that came with their kids meals, and Daniel and I shared a strawberry shortcake. 

After lunch, we thought we would take a bus from Beach Club resort to Hollywood Studios.  We walked to the bus stop, only to discover that the only way to get to Hollywood Studios is via the boat (that we came on).  I was annoyed that I didn't research this a little bit more, and the result was a little extra walking for us.  No big deal, but now I know...boat only from Beach Club to Hollywood Studios!

We arrived at Hollywood Studios at about 2:40.  It was crazy hot!  Temps in the upper nineties with feels like temps over 100 and ridiculous humidity.  At this point in the trip, Audrey wanted to stop at every Photo Pass photographer and get her picture taken, mostly because she liked to have her Magicband scanned after the photos.  Isla still was not warming up to the pictures though.

 2:55 pm-- We got into the park, and the sun/heat bouncing off the black asphalt was almost unbearable.  Our immediate thought was:  we have to get out of the sun NOW!  So we walked over to the Indiana Jones show, thinking we could sit down and cool off in the shade for a few minutes.  It felt like everyone else in the park had the same idea.  The show started at 3:00, so we were not early, but I knew it was a big theater and could fit a ton of people.  We walked into the line only to find that it was stopped.  3:00 came and went and everyone was still standing there.  We figured something must have gone wrong, and I was considering leaving, but just then, the line started moving.  When we got to the front, we found out that someone in the audience of the previous show had passed out, so they had to get that person taken care of before the next group could come in.  We found a seat and watched the show.
It was still really hot.  The air was just not moving in the theater, and the girls were sitting on our laps so they could see ,which only added to the heat.  Not my favorite Disney experience.  Plus I had forgotten how intense the show could be, and our scaredy cat girls weren't too sure about it.

3:40 pm--Once the show was out, we were right across the street from the Olaf meet n greet, which just started a couple of months ago.  I assumed the lines would be crazy, but it was only a 5 minute wait!  We actually ended up waiting closer to 10 minutes, but still that is nothing for a character meet n greet at Disney! 
 Have I mentioned that it was really hot?  We felt the heat this day more than any other day, and we were all ready for a cold drink.  Daniel found a Starbucks, and I found a place that was selling slushes, so we sat down to cool off.  Again.

4:30--  Thanks to Kenny the Pirate's Character Locator (worth the $6 subscription price if meeting characters is important to you), I knew about Characterpalooza and somewhat secret and surprise character meet n greet that sometimes takes place at Hollywood Studios.  For whatever reason, Disney likes to keep it a secret.  You never know who might show up or how many characters there will be, or if anyone will even come out at all.  But I knew that it was possibly about time for it to happen, if it was going to happen.  So I went to the spot recommended on the app (again, I would suggest subscribing to keep up to date on the details, as the location frequently changes).  A few other people were sitting around the area and trying to act like they weren't waiting for something.  I read that if a bunch of people are sitting and waiting, sometimes the characters won't even come out.  A few minutes after the scheduled time, a door opened and characters came out!  We didn't have a lot of characters, but Aladdin, Jasmine, Pocahontas and The Evil Queen (from Snow White) came out to sign autographs and take pictures. 

First we met Aladdin and Jasmine.  This was one of the longest lines we waited in on our last trip, so I was glad we got to skip the line for them this trip!

Next, we walked over to The Evil Queen.  She is a character that you can't really meet anywhere else!  Her facial expressions were awesome.

And then we went to meet Pocahontas.  We had just met her the night before, but I think these pictures are cuter than the other ones.  The girls were happy to meet her again!

The whole Characterpalooza experience was about 10 minutes.  I don't think there is anywhere else at Disney where you can meet that many characters in 10 minutes time!  This was definitely a highlight of the trip for our character-loving family!

5:00 pm-- Time to use our Toy Story Midway Mania fastpass!  I think this is my favorite ride in all of Disney World.  I don't like roller coasters or thrill rides much, but this one is just fun for everyone.  It is a 3D carnival ride, where you are taken around in a little car and have to shoot things along the way.  It doesn't sound all that exciting, but it is so fun!  It is a ride that our kids enjoy, and we truly enjoy it too!

Isla and I were in the same car and these were our scores at the end.  Can you guess whose is whose?

5:20 pm-- The girls wanted to meet more characters after the ride and watch the Disney Jr. show.  We walked over to animation courtyard, where the Disney Jr. show is held, and found that all the Disney Jr. characters had super short lines.  So we jumped in and met Sofia, Doc and Jake in no time at all.

5:38 pm-- Our girls don't really watch Disney Jr. much at all anymore, and I didn't think they would want to see the show.  But as soon as they remembered it was there, they wanted to see it!  Daniel and I groaned, as you have to sit criss cross applesauce on the floor (often with a child on your lap) for 30 minutes, but the kids won on this one.  The show started at 5:40 and we walked in at two minutes til show time.  I recommend not getting here too early for this one, especially if you are going to a show later in the day like us, when it is not so busy.  Everyone sits on the floor, but the floor slopes downward with a stage up higher.  If you sit here too close to the front, you can't see.  The back is the best seat in the house.  (Also don't Fastpass this, as the Fastpass is the front seating area, not a good view at all).  The show itself is cute, especially if you have a Disney Jr fan, and stuff comes down from the ceiling several times, which always is exciting for the kids.

6:10 pm--  We went straight from the Disney Jr show to the theater for the Frozen Sing a Long.  We had a Fastpass for this show, which started at 6:30.  The Frozen Sing a Long is so much better than it sounds!  It can even be enjoyable if you are not a fan of Frozen!  Two narrators re-tell the story of the movie and the songs are played karoake style so everyone can sing along.  But the narrators are funny!  They have a couple of great jokes that will make you laugh and a very comedic presence.  Just watching them is worth the stop, plus it is nice and cool in the air conditioning.  The last time we saw this show, it was a temporary show in a temporary theater.  The show now has a permanent home, and it was much nicer.  Daniel was especially impressed with the huge LED screen on stage, which Anna is standing in front of in this picture.
 Isla, being one of the only standing Frozen fans in our house, loved it all.  I was trying so hard to get a picture of her smiling face the whole time, but this was as close as I could get.
 It snows at the end with Elsa coming out to sing the Let it Go finale.

7:00 pm-- We walked down Sunset Boulevard to find some food for dinner.  As we were eating, I saw people lining up and then being let in to the Fantasmic theater.  Already!  The show didn't start until 9:00.  I started to feel nervous that we weren't going to have a seat, but that was silly, because there are plenty of seats! 

7:45 pm-- We found our seat for the Fantasmic show, which starts at 9:00.  I think this was earlier than necessary.  I would guess you could there at 8:20/8:30 and still find a decent spot most nights.  THey don't really let you pick a seat anyway, we were directed by cast members on where to sit.  It was hot waiting for the show to start, but there are concessions and bathrooms in the theater area, so we could walk around and get drinks/snacks while we waited.

9:00 pm-- Fantasmic started!  Daniel and I saw this show without the girls back in 2012, but we wanted them to see it this time.  Fantasmic is a cool show that uses characters, lights, water, video projection, fireworks and other special effects to create a unique show.  It's pretty intense, as it features many Disney villains, and I was hoping the girls could handle it.  They did good, and we all enjoyed it!

Here is a scene towards the end, when the big dragon appears and sets the whole lake on fire.

Then Mickey saves the day and uses his water fountains to make the fire go out.

The show ends with Mickey triumphing over the bad guys with fireworks!  It was hard to get a good picture with my phone.  But it's cool.

Isla was in awe.
And that bring us to the end of another busy day at Disney. 

Up next-- Our visit to Disney Springs and a Coronado Springs Resort review!


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