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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Disney's Hollywood Studios--Our Favorite Walt Disney World Park?

After 8 trips to Walt Disney World, we have developed a few, shall we say, preferences.  We know our favorite attractions, our favorite restaurants, our favorite resorts, etc.  Although, we leave room to try new attractions, restaurants, and even resorts each time we return.  One thing has stayed the same, though, and that is our favorite park.  Well, actually, there is this sort of two way tie and each trip one of those two parks slips ahead in the race.  The parks that tie for our top spot are EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The park that has slipped into first place, by a hair on Pluto’s head, is Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

It’s not that we don’t like Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom, it’s just that we like the other parks better.  I joked to the husband that we could probably spend our entire vacation in the EPCOT/Hollywood Studios corridor and be just fine.  The only thing is that it would be pricey, as Deluxe Disney Hotels line that corridor.  Ah, to dream!

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to give you the top 10 reasons Disney’s Hollywood Studios is our favorite Disney park and do it without putting down the other parks in the comparison.  Here it goes:

10.       We are more relaxed there than at any other park.  Maybe it is the size or the layout, but we do not feel the need to rush from attraction to attraction.  With a Fastpass or 2 in hand, along with the Times Guide listing of show times, we can leisurely make our way through the park for a day and see and do almost everything in the park.  If we take it even more slowly, we might miss something and have to return.  Yes!  While we could probably have this type of pace at other parks, for whatever reason, we don’t. 

One of our favorite things to do at Hollywood Studios is to find a table at Studio Catering Company that is near the entrance/exit to the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure Playground.  We all take in a meal and/or a drink and the boy goes off to play.  We can see the entrance/exit and know he is just steps away, but we all get some freedom.  There’s a bathroom nearby, great people watching, and shade.  We have spent many moments doing just this and have been the better for it and it attributes to our more relaxed pace.

9.         Fewer lines.  The only lines we find ourselves in at Hollywood Studios are for Toy Story Mania and Star Tours.  All the other attractions (note—we’re not yet ready for Rock N’ Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror) that we take in either have short lines or a quick line that goes into a show.  And, again, a couple of Fastpasses and you can avoid lines for Star Tours and Toy Story Mania, too. 

8.         We don’t feel like we are missing anything when we are at Hollywood Studios.  The show times are so well planned, that you can reasonably take in several during a day—with a bit of planning that is—and, still get in the mid-afternoon parade and Fantasmic, if you are so inclined.  No tough choices.

7.         Shorter park hours.  I know this sounds counterintuitive—longer hours means getting to do more—but at Hollywood Studios, you don’t need longer hours to do more, you can do lots during the shorter park hours.  Also, the shorter hours means we have a shorter touring day and make it back to our resort or to another park/resort for a meal and reasonable bed time. 

6.         The shows.   Hollywood Studios is filled with quality, entertaining, family appropriate shows that would spark anyone’s interest.  Lights, Motors, Action, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Beauty and the Beast, and Playhouse Disney Live all have their own “theaters” in which to have multiple performances daily with specific times.  Then there are the “move one audience out and another in” venues with Muppets 3D, Magic of Disney Animation, and The Little Mermaid.  Even the Backlot Tour and Great Movie Ride have a bit of “show” as a part of the attraction.  The husband reminded me of the quality of the “traveling shows.”  You know the ones that suddenly appear—such as High School Musical or Disney Channel Rocks or Mulch, Sweat, and Tears.  Pixar’s Countdown to Fun Parade might even fit in the traveling show category.

5.         The ease, convenience, and proximity to EPCOT.  You can be “in the movies” all day and then take a boat to China.  Literally!  We take advantage of Hollywood Studios’ proximity to EPCOT by taking the boat launch just outside the entrance/exit to Hollywood Studios to make our way to EPCOT’s International Gateway—the back door to EPCOT.  Spread out before us is EPCOT’s World Showcase and all it has to offer, especially restaurants.  There’s nothing like ending a day of park touring with a great meal at EPCOT, a boat ride across World Showcase Lagoon, and trip through Spaceship Earth.  We just can’t leave EPCOT without riding Spaceship Earth.  Of course, this Hollywood Studios/EPCOT combination touring day is only possible with tickets or passes that allow you to visit multiple parks in one day.

4.         Snow and the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  Having been in the midst of the World during the holiday season, how can one not mention the feeling that the sights and sounds of the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights elicit on the Streets of American at Hollywood Studios—click here to read more.  There’s nothing that will transport me into the holiday spirit faster.  And, it’s fun!  If you have a chance to visit when the lights are on display, don’t miss it.

3.         The characters.  And, while I could be talking about Disney guests here, I’m actually referring to Disney characters.  We met 28 different Disney characters in one day at Hollywood Studios on one of our trips—click here to read more.  Not only are the Disney characters plentiful, they are usually a combination of classic—such as Mickey, Pluto, and the gang, and unique—such as characters from UP or Monster’s, Inc. or Playhouse Disney—characters you may not find other places.  For us, this is a treat.

2.         The audience participation.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios uses the motto—“where you can be in the movies” and this is true. . . for many guests, and for us when we visit.  The husband has been IN the Backlot Tour—click here to read more, and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular—click here to read more.  The boy was in Jedi Training Academyclick here to read more, and the “make a movie” portion of the meet, greet, and play with Phineas and Ferb—click here to read more.  I have been plucked out of the audience to dance in High School Musical—click here to read more.  Do you see the pattern?  Not only are we enjoying a great theme park, service, theming, etc., but we also get to make a personal connection with Hollywood Studios by being “IN”cluded in many of the park activities.  Yeah, yeah, it could just be us, but obviously there are other guests that have these experiences when we aren’t there!  Bottom line here, it makes us feel special.

1.         And, the number one reason Disney’s Hollywood Studios is our odds on favorite theme park at Walt Disney World is Toy Story Mania!  (Click here to read more about why this ride is our favorite.)  This ride boarders on being addictive.  It is fun, entertaining, thrilling, interactive, and involves a bit of skill.  We are usually among the throng of hundreds---dare I say thousands—that flock to Toy Story Mania at rope drop for a first ride and set of Fastpasses.  We have figured out that we can ride Toy Story Mania at least 3 times on any day we visit the park.  Our strategy goes something like this:  the husband goes in the lead pack to get a set of Fastpasses, while the boy and I make our way in the middle of the throng and meet the husband after he has the Fastpasses and get in the Stand-by queue.  This is the only line in which you can see Mr. Potato Head, so it is worth it to use the Stand-by queue early in the morning—as the waits are 20 minutes or less at this point in the day.  We also check to see when w can get our next Fastpass and it is usually sometime between 9:45 and 10:00 am.  Perfect!  As that is when we will be done riding for the first time.  We grab another set of Fastpasses, and return later in the afternoon to use both sets.  3 rides, 1 time waiting in the stand-by line.  Works for us!

There you have it.  The Williams’ Family top 10 reasons why Disney Hollywood Studios is our favorite park, well, at least for right now.  We reserve the right to change our minds at any time.

What’s your favorite Disney park?

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