Get ready to feel nostalgic, this park is a trip to the bright lights of 1950’s Hollywood… who doesn’t love a bit of all-American retro*?
A Twenty-Something’s Must-Do’s at: HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
- Tower of Terror
During one of Florida’s famous 10 minute, torrential rain showers, Jon and I took full advantage of this ride. As mothers scooped up their broods and ran for shelter, the two hour queue quickly changed to ten minutes – definitely worth sacrificing my fake eyelashes to the rain for! We plummeted the 13 stories of this ride five times. Consecutively. Seriously, we were like little kids; as soon as we got off, we sprinted back to the front of the queue – it’s just that fun! Even if you do have to wait, the incredible amount of detail that has gone into the ‘creepy hotel foyer’ queuing area will keep you pretty entertained.
- Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster
Most of the rollercoasters in Disneyworld focus on the experience as a whole; the magic of the ride, the story behind it etc… plus they make everything as ‘kid-friendly’ as possible, leaving very few ‘hardcore’ thrill seeker rides. Until this one. By far the single best roller coaster in the whole of Disneyworld (in my opinion) and probably the only one that’s speed and twists could rival the big boys at Universal Studios. What’s not to love about a ride that goes 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds set to an Aerosmith soundtrack?? Be prepared for a long wait for this one, even with a fast pass (usually behind hoardes of High School kids on their 4th go of the day) – but don’t fret… in a queue this jam-packed, the wait will give you the opportunity to play some serious people watching games. In this case I witnessed one of Disney’s enigmas: “grown-ups who take it too far”. This particular 20-something boy took the back story of being ‘late for an Aerosmith concert’ literally by announcing to his group of friends, without a hint of a joke in his voice, “man… I hope we get to the concert in time guys”. I’m all for getting wrapped up in the magic… but serious role-play? That’s just a step too far.
- Toy Story Mania
Whichever Disney Imagineer thought up this one is an absolute genius! Travel back to the days of childhood arcade competitions with your friends… then imagine them all at once, a real one-on-one, winner-takes-all battle… in 4D! Of course, it helps that I beat my boyfriend**, so the whole experience wasn’t ruined by my horribly competitive nature.
- American Idol Experience
This is as close to the real thing you’re ever going to get – and something I was desperate to audition for. Of course I bottled it at the last minute; too scared to compete against the 16 year old drama students on spring break with only Jon cheering me on. This is a great place to get out of the heat, relax and listen to some talented singers… but let’s face it; it’s even more fun to watch the judges tear particularly bad or arrogant entrants apart after their song. I was shocked at how honest (and harsh), the judges are – don’t expect to get humoured here… it’s refreshing to see some of the cockier children get a taste of reality. Yes, I know their only ‘children’ and I sound like a bitch, but you really get swept up in the experience when it comes to voting for your favourite act at the end. Each time I found myself voting for the underdog; the kid on holiday with their family with only three guaranteed votes, competing against the drama student with their whole class in their corner. Everyone loves a Rocky Balboa moment!
- The Shows
Well, it wouldn’t be the bright lights of Hollywood if you didn’t get some sort of on-stage entertainment and Hollywood Studios certainly doesn’t disappoint. With four live shows to choose from as well as street entertainment on every corner there is definitely something for everyone.
1) Voyage of the Little Mermaid:
An on-stage version of one of Disney’s classics, it might be shortened but it certainly hasn’t sacrificed any of the best songs from the movie. Held in an auditorium it’s a great place to go if you want a little sit down in the shade (god… did I wake up on the middle-aged side of the bed today?) If you’ve already treated yourself to a couple of sangrias, follow the lead of the kids around you and have a good sing-along to “under the sea” – after all, you knew the words to this before they were even born!
2) Beauty and the Beast Musical:
Another on-stage rendition of one of my Disney favourites. This one is held outdoors, so I suggest going to a morning viewing when the sun isn’t directly above you and the auditorium doesn’t turn into the sweatiest place on earth. Nobody wants ‘Be Our Guest” sang by an oversized Lumiere ruined by groans of “I’m so HOT” and wafting park maps.
3) Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular:
I’ve never actually seen Raiders of the Lost Ark (I know, I know – shock horror right? Who do I think I am!?) But, unlike the other shows, having seen the film certainly isn’t pre-requisite. Indiana Jones fans and live action lovers alike can enjoy the amazing stunts in this one – plus if you’re lucky you might just get pulled up from the audience to take part!
4) Lights, Motors, Action:
Fast cars? Fire? Toss me a leather jacket and call me a teenage rebel – this was something I was DESPERATE to see… who wouldn’t? Unfortunately the show times are really awkward for this one and each time we ended up missing it. I’ve heard great things though, so I suggest you all go and report back!
5) Street Entertainment:
Just wandering around the shops in Hollywood Studios is an experience in itself. You won’t find better all-American, retro 50’s sweet shops if you travelled back in time. Just make sure you don’t stand drooling at the windows for too long – the street entertainers will have you chatting for ages, never once breaking character. Come across the ‘shop owner’ and you might just find yourself travelling home with a bin bag full of fudge, or a giant Mickey rice crispy cake!
- The Sci-Fi Café
If you’re after a memorable dining experience you have to come here! I love anything retro so this was right up my street, not only do you get to watch old 1950’s movie clips and have a laugh at the old, cringe worthy horrors, but you get to sit in little retro cars as though your in a drive-in. Look up and you’ll notice you’re dining under twinkling stars for a real authentic experience. Being completely honest… the food is shit; the meat was terrible quality and there was hardly anything to choose from – but it’s sound because you can’t see what you’re eating anyway. Plus, the Oreo milkshake more than makes up for it – if you’re going to treat yourself this is the ultimate in indulgence! Just make sure you don’t save this one for when you’re really hungry!
If you’re sick of queuing in the heat, the Streets of America are great to wander round and get some pretty cool photos… but an even better place to relax with a couple of Sangrias. WARNING: after a couple of Sangrias, be very, VERY careful that you, under no circumstances, get swept up in a crowd and end up in the ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground’. Is it NOT a ride. It is a playground – for toddlers. Please don’t make the same mistake I did – you will either look like the creepy child snatcher or just a bit special – plus you’ll get soaked by some sort of giant hosepipe as you leave.
No Disney park would be complete without an epic finale: and Hollywood Studios is no exception. Lasers, fireworks, and water animation set to some of the best Disney movie music, Fantasmic combines the best bits of your favourite Disney movies with the sparkles and glitter we have come to expect from the Disneyworld parks.
Or so I’ve heard. There is SO much to do in Disneyworld that it’s literally impossible to fit it all in – so Fantasmic was always sacrificed for drunken dinner shows, extra magic hours at other parks, jumping in pools etc. It’s meant to be incredible though and definitely something I won’t be missing when I return…
*Evidently a lot of people I’ve asked don’t like ‘a bit of American Retro’. But what do they know?
**Twice. By a landslide! That day I taught him the real meaning of humiliation… I actually almost felt bad for him***.
***I’m lying, I didn’t.