Day 4 started out with a morning in Hollywood Studios. Fearing a re-imagineering of the Great Movie Ride, it was a high priority for this trip. “Lasts” have become a common theme for our recent trips, but thankfully “firsts” have started to fill in some of those gaps.
We also saw Voyage of the Little Mermaid and ate lunch at Backlot Express. Voyage of the Little Mermaid was not as fun for our 2 year old as I thought it would be thanks to the mist during the show. I can’t blame him, I don’t enjoy being soaked in a theater unless it’s 90 degrees outside.
Rizzo’s soft opened during our trip
Our first day in the parks was one I worked hard to prepare for. On paper it was just a morning in Epcot with a lunch at Garden Grill. In practice it was the shining glory of a chipmunk toddler.
Since the Garden Rooms at the Boardwalk are not located near the Innkeepers Club Lounge I went up and brought breakfast for all of us back on a tray. After finishing that we walked to Epcot. We arrived 40 minutes after park opening and did the Seas, Turtle Talk, Imagination, checked out the DVC Lounge, and Fastpassed Living with the Land in 2 hours.
Waiting for Turtle Talk with Crush
Our lunch at Garden Grill might be the most magical memory we’ve made in the parks, rivaling baby Goofy meeting Minnie and Pluto. Our little chipmunk had fantastic interactions with the characters and all the staff went above and beyond in making our meal great.
After years upon years of stressful last days we finally got smart and did not buy park tickets for our check-out day. That meant that day 7 would be our last day in the parks and we had a long list of things we wanted to do again or missed the chance to do earlier.
We started the day in Hollywood Studios with a Fastpass for Great Movie Ride, which had skipped earlier in the trip.
Great Movie Ride
Then we all took turns experiencing our favorite attraction – Tower of Terror.
Dreams do come true. Day 3 in Hollywood Studios brought us back to our favorite ride, the Tower of Terror. I haven’t ridden it since March 2014, which is far too long. But I’m jumping ahead…
This morning was the most on time we’ve been in years. In 17 minutes we drove from the Grand Floridian to Hollywood Studios, parked, unloaded the car and were on a tram. First stop was Toy Story Midway Mania with a Fastpass. We were through the ride quickly and stopped to see Star Wars Launch Bay.
Star Wars Launch Bay
Star Wars Launch Bay
Star Wars has taken over the Animation building, with a making of video in the theater, meet and greets for Chewbacca and Darth Vader, props and costumes from Episode VII, Disney Infiniti stations, mock Cantina, and of course merchandise shop.
January 3, 2016 marks the last day the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will run in Hollywood Studios. [Since I originally wrote this, Disney extended the run to January 6. Park hours at Hollywood Studios have also been regularly extended to help accommodate the large crowds that have come to bid the Lights adieu.] The Osborne Lights are hands down my favorite part of Christmas season at Walt Disney World, and they will be sorely missed. In honor of the Lights, I’m going to share my memories from the few short years we marveled at them. These photos aren’t award winning, but they all take me back to wonder filled moments.
This was the first time we experience the Osborne Lights. I knew what they were and that it was a great fortune the beginning of our trip overlapped with the last days they ran for the season. Little can prepare you for the actual experience of standing among millions of Dancing Lights.
2015 marks the last year the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights illuminates Hollywood Studios. When the Merry and Bright Dessert Party was announced, we knew this would be a convenient and leisurely way to enjoy the Osborne Lights. This is my review of the Merry and Bright Dessert Party with photos and comments.
View from our table mid-way back, right side
The Merry and Bright Dessert Party runs from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, and you can check-in as early as 6 pm. (Party times are 8:30-10:00 December 25-30.) Check in early if you want more selection of seats.
View from similar area on the left side
The dessert party takes place at the end of Streets of America near Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show entrance. Tables for 4 encircle the Peace on Earth globe with angels overhead.
Visiting Walt Disney World in Florida is usually an adventure dealing with weather. Whether it’s 95 degrees and humid, raining buckets, or cold enough to frost the windows, you may search out indoor activities. I prefer indoor character meet and greets not just for the character experience itself, but also for the more comfortable queue.
Ponchos are not good meet and greet fashion! Avoid this with indoor meet and greets
This list of character meet and greets is accurate as of May 5, 2016. Characters and locations change often, so always check your Times Guide or My Disney Experience app and Park Map once inside the park. Extreme weather can also move some outdoor meet and greets inside, but these won’t be published. This list excludes any meets that happen as part of a character dining experience.
- Town Square Theater on Main Street – Mickey, Tinker Bell – Fastpass Available
- Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland – Anna and Elsa, Cinderella and Rapunzel – Fastpass Available
- Ariel’s Grotto in Fantasyland – Ariel – Fastpass Available
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus – Goofy, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck
- Character Spot in Future World – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy – Fastpass Available
- Character Spot in Future World – Baymax
- Character Spot in Future World – Joy & Sadness
- United Kingdom – Pooh and Tigger
- Red Carpet Dreams on Commissary Lane – Sorcerer Mickey, Minnie
- Celebrity Spotlight – Olaf
- Pixar Place – Wood and Buzz Lightyear
- Star Wars Launch Bay – Chewbacca, Kylo Ren
- Adventurers Outpost – Mickey and Minnie – Fastpass Available
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch – Rafiki
Indoor meet and greets are just a fraction of all of the meets available in the parks. Some characters, like Russell and Dug from Up, only meet in one outdoor location so you may not be able to avoid them completely. Character meals, especially if you have a Disney Dining Plan, are another great way to meet multiple characters from the air conditioned comfort of your dining table.
A reliable source, with ties to Walt Disney Imagineering and other major theme park design groups in central Florida, has hinted that Disney will be bringing the well-received Cars Land from the Disneyland Resort to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
This would not be surprising, since a major figurehead at Walt Disney Imagineering has recently relocated to central Florida.
There’s no doubt that something is coming to the Studios in the near future – likely even before Avatar arrives in Animal Kingdom (if ever) – but will it really be Cars Land? And if so, will it just be Radiator Springs Racers, or the entire land? We hope they bring the whole shebang out east – the Studios deserves something major. And based on the response from the west coast guests, Cars Land is a showstopper.
There’s also no doubt the next new thing in the Studios will replace Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show – which rarely plays to a full house – and probably even all or most of the Backlot Tour, which has been a sub-par attraction since they tore down all of the actual backlot components years ago.
We at Mouse Unlimited are extremely excited to hear that Disney is finally going to give some love and attention to our beloved Studios, which has been ignored for many years. And if they actually bring Avatar to Animal Kingdom, the two “baby” parks will definitely get serious booster shots that they so desperately need!
Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World can now check out the scale model of the new Fantasyland.
So far, it’s only been seen in photos, or by people attending a few special events. But now, it’s being installed at One Man’s Dream – the walk-thru attraction at the Studios which showcases Walt’s life, the history of the Disney company, and “blue sky” attractions.
Mouse Unlimited will be sure to add One Man’s Dream to it’s clients touring plans!
Disney has announced that the replacement for “Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!” will open earlier than expected.
The new show, called “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” will open on March 4 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This new multi-platform brand, Disney Junior, will offer a lively new show. Fans of “Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!” will thrill to this new production which brings back three audience favorites, including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins.
It will also introduce scenes from “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” based on Disney Junior’s newest series airing in February 2011. Jake, the main character, beads his young pirate pals in fun adventures. Stories from the show will come to life in the parks with colorful puppet versions of some of the most popular Disney Junior characters, with bright visuals, whimsical scenery and interactive moments.