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22 April 2013

Hollywood Studios

This was the first Disney park we visited during our holidays, out plan was to take it easy and not rush as we knew we'd come back to this park the next week as we had dinner tickets for the Fantasmic! evening show.We arrived at 10am late by park going standards, the guide books will tell you to be there at least 30minutes before opening which this day was 8.30 but we weren't in a rush and choose not to have a plan for the day.
Planning wise I referred to Touring Plans site here and had downloaded their app, Disney has free wifi in their parks but the signal can be flaky. The Touring Plans site go hand in hand with the guide books I bought and can be use to form a timed guide to the parks which can save you waiting time, and really who likes to wait?

TIP: When you've parked take a picture of where your car is, most of the time sections are named after Disney characters.
TIP: Connect to Disney wifi and download their app. I find it useful to have different apps downloaded in case there's a problem with any and play on them before hand so you know how they work.
TIP: When entering any park go to guest services and pick up a park map and time schedule for the shows, parades and events, you will need these. You can also get first time, birthday, celebrate and every other occasion badges to wear around the park.
TIP: Download Instragram if you don't already have it, as it's brilliant to use to send pictures home, if you lose your camera or in case your camera runs out of battery(quite a few of my blog photos are Instagram due to this). Like wise grab a Disney camera man and get him to click away, he'll give you a photopass you can hand to any other Disney camera man which will store all your photos for you to view online and buy if you want. This is great as a backup if you lose or break your camera and if you ask them they'll take the same picture if your own camera
The park centers around main street which looks like Hollywood boulevard in 1930s, the street scapes and set designs are wonderful but I barely got time to look as I was dragged along by my children to the massive Mickey magic hat from Fantasia. The hat makes a brilliant photo opp and good meeting spot if you split from your group which as there was 10 of us was quite likely. Once off from main street everything sprawls out hiding around corners and behind sets. 
We started with the Indiana Jones stunt show and it didn't disappoint. A full on show with massive moving set pieces, it pans out as a movie set with the actors showing you how each stunt is performed. They have 3 set pieces from the first Indy film,the boulder roll,the village kidnapping and the plane exploding.  It was a bit loud for Lucas at times, but the live action and explosions had us all rapt. 
An amazing show and a great start to the day.
Then we wandered over to the Star Tours/Jedi Training section to try and get my Nephews booked in but at 11.30 all slots for Jedi training were already taken. The Star Tours ride next door had a 40 minute wait so we used our fastpass. This is a extra you can get on your tickets which allows you to book a time to come back, when you come back at your allotted time you get to queue jump. With Star Tours booked we wandered off for dinner of huge huge pizza, dressing covered salad and fries, which we got from Pizza Planet(like the Toy Story van) we probably only needed half of what we ordered ass potion sizes are bigger than the UK.

After lunch we went to see The Muppets in 3D, okay I pushed for this one as I love The Muppets. You were ushered into a pre show room with the characters doing a sketch on the TVs overhead, these gave the kids a chance to cool down, this area is full of cool boxes which Maisie had great fun reading what props were in them. The show is set in a grand theatre just like the TV show and even had Statler and Waldorf  in attendance. We loved this show, and loved the effects and 3D parts were a little loud and scary for my 4 year old but we all came out laughing.
Then it was our time for Star Tours, this is a 3D simulator ride based on the pod ride in Phantom Menace, the ride takes you through different stories each time so I think you'd have to ride it a lot to get the same one. At this point I'd like to say my Mother In Law was spoken to quite rudely by a cast member as she'd put her fastpass away and it was needed again, there was no need and it spoiled the magic of the place which had been great till then.
We continued to the ride which you have to pass lots of robot and alien characters to get to, and boarded the shuttle. My kids were both scared at the beginning, but it was a great ride, I heard them whoop, weeee and cry a little during the action shots which made my brain hurt and tummy lurch in places. However when we exited they both said they wanted another go.
Even better they asked if we can watch Star Wars soon too, ah the force is strong. Buying Star wars toys for Lucas may have also helped.

TIP: Get a first time badge from guest services, cast members will know it's your first visit and hopefully not expect you to know everything.
TIP: Do not expect every cast member to be full of Disney Magic, they are people doing a job and no one can be great everyday, not even in Disney.They are also mega safety jobsworths, so expect to be told off a few times for standing in the wrong place or sitting on the wrong things.
We decided it was time for an ice cream if only to sooth Granddads nerves, as I think motion sickness got to him on Star Tours. 
As you can see the kids were eager to point out all the things they saw along the way.
After ice creams we got to watch the Pixlar Parade Countdown to Fun which featured floats and casts from Toy Story, Bugs Life, Incredibles, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc and Up.
The music was bouncing and the characters were great dancing along giving high fives to the children, if was lovely to watch them so engrossed.
I was impressed by Mr.Fredrickson's dancing skills. 
 We were done for the day but what a great first day it was.

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