Disney''s Hollywood Studios (formally Disney MGM Studios) can be found in the Walt Disney Resort, Orlando, Florida. It was originally opened in 1989. If you are staying at a Disney hotel then you can take a free direct shuttle bus to and from the Hollywood Studios. Parking is available at the front of the park and vehicles cost $17 per day (and free for guests staying at Disney hotels). Unsurprisingly entry prices to the park are quite pricey and start at $94 for a day ticket!
The Studios has one clear theme - cinema and television. It largely focuses on ''behind the scenes'' - think film sets, acting, props, stunts and special effects. The park is split into different areas which include Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Streets of America, Animation Courtyard, Pixar Place and Sunset Boulevard. The iconic centre point of Hollywood Studios is a giant blue sorcerer Mickey hat (that looks especially brilliant when lit up at night).
Some of my favourite rides and attractions include:
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (a spooky old hotel that takes you up 199 feet, then DROPS you back down at a stomach turning speed!)
- Toy Story Midway Mania (a VERY popular 4D interactive ride that I recommend you Fastpass early on. You wear 3D glasses, sit it carts and take part in a number of Toy Story themed carnival type mini-games)
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (you can''t miss the ride - there is a giant AT-AT outside and recreation of the Ewok Village! There are some interactive droids in the queue line, including C3PO and R2D2. Star Tours is a 3D simulator ride. You board a ''Starspeeder 1000'' and set out on an adventure. Each ride is different but similar in some parts and they all feature popular Star Wars characters. The ride also picks out ''a rebel'' spy and it could be you! A great ride for all ages and a ''must do'' in my opinion)
- Fantasmic! (a must do show for everybody. On most evenings and includes water, projectors, live actors, characters, fire, lasers and fireworks! A wonderful show that lives up to its name)
Other attractions I recommend include Honey I Shrunk The Kids: Movie Set Adventure, Muppetvision 3D, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage and Rock ''n'' Rollercoaster.
There''s more than 20 eating establishments, so plenty of choice. I highly recommend Hollywood & Vine (great value and great tasting buffet restaurant), Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre Restaurant (you dine in convertible cars in front of a cinema screen - great atmosphere) and 50''s Prime Time Cafe (quite small but nice atmosphere and I had a delicious dessert here!).
Hollywood Studios is a great day out and is probably one of my favourite Disney parks. Brilliant theme and atmosphere - plenty of photo opportunities. Also look out for characters and the daily Pixar parade! The attractions are fantastic and there''s something for everybody.
It is now 8 weeks since we set off from London Gatwick Airport on a trip of a lifetime to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was not only a fabulous holiday but something that we would have as a lasting memory that would help to remember my wife's mum who had died the previous Autumn.
The holiday itself cost in excess of £12,000 and included 14 day stay at Disney's Port Orleans (French Quarter) of the Riverside Resort, 14 day Disney Ultimate tickets to all their parks, 14 day passes to Universal Studios parks, car hire, a day's coach tour to The Kennedy Space Center and free Disney dining plan giving us 2 free meals and 2 free snacks each per day (plus flights on Virgin Atlantic and access to their V Lounge). Our Ultimate tickets provided unlimited access to all parks and free car parking and cost £265 for each adult and £235 for children - in our case 5 adults (me, my wife, her son and partner, daughter) and our 8 year old daughter. It was not a cheap holiday and there was a reason for this - it had to be something special that gave us the full Disney experience.
We left the UK on 6th August on a relatively warm Monday morning (26 degrees) arriving in Orlando to 34 degrees in the middle of a thunderstorm. Throughout our stay temperatures ranged between 34 and 39 degrees with an almost daily thunderstorm in mid/late afternoon, and felt like we were in a sauna throughout our 2 week vacation.
We visited Disney's Hollywood Studios in the latter part of our first week. It was originally known as Disney-MGM Studios and was opened in 1989 and rebranded in January 2008.
From our resort (as with all the other parks and resorts) Disney's Hollywood Studios was a matter of 10-15 minute drive and with our Ultimate passes avoided the daily parking fee for cars of $14. We could also have used Disney's free bus service linking all resorts to all parks and to Downtown Disney (their ultimate shopping and entertainment experience). Disney parking lots (car parks) are a real experience because of their immense size and although they run a shuttle service from the parking lot to the main entrance walking to the shuttle can be a relatively long walk. There is a pre-ride safety message followed by commentary as you speed as a very rapid 10mph to the main gates.
Entry to the park is by turnstile where you have to put your ticket into a machine (like the underground) and adults are then required to have a fingerprint scan before admission and is followed by bag search - so if you don't really need it, don't take it as some of the searches are a little too intense.
As you enter the park there are a range of shops on both sides and directly in front of you a massive sorcerer's apprentice hat as a representation of the one worn by Mickey Mouse. I remember one of the shops (on the left as you go in) because they were selling original photos, and prints for very high prices ($1000's) some of which were of movies / film stars and artists that our children haven't even heard of. There were also prints of Elvis Presley and movie posters that they were selling for $100's. There are also plenty of food and general shops where you can buy t-shirts etc.
We decided not to eat breakfast at our resort and decided instead to wait until we arrived at the park. We decided to eat at Fairfax Fare a café close to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and was a bit of a change having salads and hotdogs for breakfast - because we were 10 minutes too late! Still, it gave us the opportunity to view the Tower of Terror without having to consider going on it. The Tower of Terror is 13 stories high and our memories were of random doors opening down the side of the building and screams as the lift dropped - apart from the restrooms which were quite appropriately very close to the drop.
We walked in most of the shops in the area including Tailor to the Stars that had a life size model of The Terminator with bullet holes in clothing and part human/part terminator face and clothing from other film stars displayed around the building. There was also a shop selling lots of candies including really juicy apples (Granny Smiths) that were made in-store and was our first taste of frozen drinks in the USA which I have to admit were readily bought using our snack credits (normal price was around $3). The apples that were bought however although tasty were too big for the girls and ended up in the bin after less than half had been eaten.
Another ride close to The Tower of Terror is Rock N'Roll Roller Coaster (starring Aerosmith). This is one ride I had no intention of going on because I had seen a video of it a while ago on one of the documentary channels - so I knew how bad it was. For those that are interested in an intense ride this one is definitely for you.
Voyage of The Little Mermaid is a relatively short show (musical) which was really good and had several special effects and was both live and animated (in 3D). There were songs from the film and you could feel water droplets as if you were actually underwater.
Walt Disney: One Man's Dream is a walk through to view Walt Disney's office, drawings and his dream including his original design for EPCOT. It is interesting but for the younger visitors probably pretty boring.
Toy Story Mania is a great ride. The aim is to score as many points as possible by hitting targets using your cannons that you have to continually pull and shoot whilst the 2 seater back to back cars span. Targets were of varying scores and the images and sounds made this one of the best rides at this park. This is a ride for all ages - you'll love it. You will have to get Fast Track tickets for this ride - the earlier the better. In our case it was at least 3 hours from requesting the Fast Track ticket from the machine nearby the ride to the allocated hour slot we were given.
The Great Movie Ride is quite a popular attraction. There are some displays as you enter before queuing in front of a massive cinema screen where you watch trailers of films such as The Searchers (John Wayne) before getting in a "car" with a guide talking about the various films - including The Wizard of Oz, Aliens and Public Enemy (where you are caught in the crossfire between two rival gangs) and there are animatronics of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. This is entertaining, but again not really for younger visitors.
The Studio Backlot Tour again is a very popular attraction and we were queued for at least 30 minutes before we began the tour. It starts with a mock-up of a gunboat with various stunts - barrels set on fire remotely, what appears to be bullet sounds and bombs and fires - very entertaining! It is followed by a walkthrough of props used in films before being taken on a bus tour where you can see cars and motorbikes speeding up and down a track (and is part of a separate attraction Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show), Mickeys Tower, his plane, scale models of Aeroplanes used in Pearl Harbor and costume design / artwork before being taken on the star part of the ride. You are driven on set where a petrol tanker has slid off the road in Catastrophe Canyon during an earthquake and slides into electricity pylons setting it on fire and is followed by a flash flood that flows over the top of the set above you to dowse the flames. This is very hot and wet but great fun. On leaving the attraction you enter a shop selling items related to the attraction and a series of costumes etc from various movies. As you leave the shop you literally walk in to New York - yes they created a mock-up of New York's iconic Empire State Building.
On our way we spent a very brief 5 minutes or so in "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" which is basically a small play area with giant grass, ants etc with walk areas and slides for younger children.
As we walked in to New York we headed to Muppet Vision 3-D. Again this was fun but there is quite a long wait and you do stand around quite a long time watching tv screens as Kermit and the gang start moving from screen to screen before you enter the main theatre where you are met by Statler and Waldorf before mayhem on screen takes over as you are taken into the Muppet labs and meet Waldo C Graphic as he literally destroys the set and theatre. I'm not sure I've ever watched as the theatre that I'm in is destroyed around me but this was fun.
As we left the theatre we headed for the nearest shop where we were in search of the illusive Kermit ears that Sue's son had been after since we arrived in Disney World, but alas even here right next to the Muppet theatre there was very little Muppet merchandise on sale.
There was also a temporary tattoo stand near the theatre where my youngest daughter had a wipe on Dumbo version that had disappeared by the time we went home and our older daughter had a pretty Hennah one costing $15.
Before proceeding any further we had a meal at Pizza Planet which was paid for using our Disney dining plan but a full meal can be purchased for around $15. The pizzas did have a different texture to ours but certainly tasty. The building also has a play area and a number of amusements including basketball rings and pinball machines among the range on offer which are all token operated.
Our final ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios was Star Tours - the Ultimate Stars Wars thrill ride. I absolutely loved this ride. Basically it is a simulator which is designed like a small transport vessel with seats for about 12, and it is said that you will never have the same journey if you revisited the ride. On our particular trip C3PO is the pilot who is recruited to the rebel alliance whilst on board the Death Star and as he tries to take you with him on his escape Darth Vader tries to fraught him with his Jedi powers. After jumping to light speed the ship slowed into orbit of Tatooine where you go round a track as if driving a pod car in a race (like in Star Wars 1). There is no words to describe this to any Star Wars lovers - it was heaven!
Close to Star Tours is Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular which we were interested in watching but with about an hour wait we decided it was time to head for the exit.
As we walked back towards the giant sorcerers hat there was a group singing songs from High School Musical onstage and drove off on the back of a float.
We left the park as we had begun - by looking in the shops. T-shirts as with all the other Disney parks and resorts ranged between $20-$30 with each having its own range of speciality products in addition to general Disney merchandise. We didn't buy much at the park however because we had bought a lot at The Magic Kingdom and from other parks earlier in our stay.
Disney's Hollywood Studios is a great place to visit with something for everyone and unlike most parks includes a number of thrill seeker rides which in general were more common with Universal Studios.
If you are fortunate enough to go to Orlando, this park has to be near the top of your list of places to go and would highly recommend it to anyone. As with all Disney parks my only critism is the quality of the water - which is disgusting.
Disneys Hollywood Studios was formally Disney-MGM studios, the name may have changed but the park remains the same. It is themed around the heyday of movie filming in the 1930s and it is a pleasure just to walk around and admire the attention to detail in the shops and buildings that line all the avenues. I love the art deco type feel and the stylish charm. The park opening is a pretend movie-making session and then the park opens to the cries of Lights, Cameras,Action!
After walking down the main boulevard you will come across a huge Sorcerers Hat with Mickey ears and you will be in the plaza that host singing and dancing shows throughout the day. These are colourful and energetic so make a note of the times if you wish to see them.
There are lots of dining and shopping opportunities around the park so you should find something to suit. As with all Disney parks the prices are a little high but there are gift opportunities that you may not find elsewhere.
This park has possibly the best thrill rides that Disney has to offer and white-knuckle fans will not be disappointed. These rides do make the park feel more "grown-up" than the Magic kingdom and I think the whole park appeals more to teenagers because of this.
Tower of Terror can be seen long before you even arrive at the park. The 13 story hotel, which has seen better days, provides a thrilling drop-ride experience. The drop sequence is randomised to about 5 different settings so you can never be quite sure what ride awaits you as the elevator doors open and you suddenly have a fantastic, if brief, view across the park. Hold on to your hats, bags and little ones and enjoy being scared! This is probably my favourite ride in the whole of Orlando and I am now well-prepared for any of the sequences that are thrown at me but sunglasses are a good idea (as long as they are secured by a strap) as the light is blinding when the doors open.
Rock'n'Roller Coaster allows you to join Aerosmith on a stretch-limo ride with a difference. The astonishing acceleration will take your breath away before you are flung into a wild inverted roller coaster with music blaring in your ears and neon lights flashing at you. Smile for your photo as your limo starts and then hold on tight and scream until you reach the red carpet.
Star Tours takes you on a simulator ride across the galaxy with a newly trained pilot. May the force be with you, you will need it.
After the thrill rides the park has several more unusual offerings that are worth a visit.
The Backlot Tour takes you on an informative journey around the making of film. There is a section on special effects, if you are brave and don't mind water you can volunteer to assist. You then pass through the props departments before heading on a tour of the backlot where you can witness the special effect tanker explosion which is quite impressive. This tour is quite long so you will need to plan the timings carefully if you are planning to see one of the shows.
The Toy Story mania shooting ride is one of the newest attractions and has proved very popular and has a great queuing area based around toys from your childhood and a talking Mr Potato Head. The ride requires you to wear 3D glasses whilst shooting at a range of targets. The queue moves very slowly but the ride is good fun. When we were there we found that the fast-pass tickets ran out very quickly so it is worth getting those tickets early, especially if you have young children who will love the ride.
The Great Movie Ride takes you on a journey where your host will make or break the experience. We have had fantastic hosts who engage you in the story and act brilliantly in the ensuing adventure and we have had ones that are so poor it is embarrassing. However the ride gives lots of opportunity to think about your favourite films and leads to great conversations afterwards.
There are plenty of attractions for youngsters too, Voyage of Little Mermaid is great but don't sit too close to the front or little ones can find it hard to see and Muppet 3D is great fun with good 3D effects.
The two major daytime shows are both popular and you will need to arrive early to ensure a good seat:
Indiana Jones has been running for many years now but it is still great fun to watch. There is lots of talking about stunt work before the final climax involving explosions and fire and great excitement.
Lights,Motors,Action is a truly impressive stunt car display. There are lots of tricks and noise and non-stop action. Give yourselves plenty of time to arrive as the walk to the seating takes several minutes and as it only runs a couple of times a day you may not get a seat if you leave it too late. At one point in the show there is a man on fire so young children should be warned that it is all for show or they may become upset.
Last year the parade was changed to Block Party Bash. This was a complete disappointment. Unless you happen to be standing in the right position you get to see very little as it is a moving show that stops every now and again to give a performance but hurries past everybody else. We were not in a fortunate place so there was nothing but complaints around us and younger children were very disappointed. You need to study the map carefully and plant yourself at the actual stops or you will just waste your time. This is such a shame as the previous parade "Stars and their Cars" was wonderfully inventive and colourful and we certainly really missed it on our last visit.
In the evening Hollywood Studios puts on Fantasmic. This laser and firework show is stunning and is usually full. The gates open about an hour before the show and you will need to get a seat and then stay put. Take some food in with you and make sure you have some warm clothes if the evening is chill as you may well get covered with water spray. We don't usually bother with this on a day when we are visiting the park, instead we tend to go and see it on a day when we have been busy elsewhere (we have a Disney ticket for the full duration of our saty), we dress warmly and make sure we take something comfy to sit on and arrive early for a great view. This show is probably quite scary for little children as good battles evil in Mickeys dream but the effects are brilliant. Leaving the park after the show is a slow business so hold on tight to your family as everybody is moving in the same direction and it is easy to get split up but you will have had a memorable day.
Overall I like Hollywood Studios as there is a lot of variety of things to do and the atmosphere is relaxed and it is not as full of stressed parents and children as magic Kingdom. It is a park that requires careful planning as a lot of the attractions are very long and it can be difficult to fit everything in. It has the Fastpass system that allows you to use virtual queuing so that does help a little. Enjoy the magic and make the most of being a star!
Recently rebranded as Hollywood studios - this is the movie themed portion of the Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida. At its epicentre is a huge wizards hat (think Mickey Mouse in Fantasia) and the park is surrounding this. At certain times of the day a High School musical show runs from the centre, which is awesome to watch.
Its quite a big theme park, with a lot of cool rides and shows in it, so it
does get quite busy. The guidebooks tell you to turn left when you go into the park to avoid the foot traffic. Personally, I would advise against
this. The main two rides are to the right of the entrance (rock and
rollercoaster and tower of terror) and I would advise that you head to them first to try and avoid the queues or to get fastpass tickets (fastpass
tickets can be claimed by putting your own park ticket into a machine
outside the ride - you get a fastpass to return to the ride between
allotted times with minimal queuing times).
Once you've done that though - the park is your oyster! There's a star wars ride, a toy story ride, a backlot tour, honey I shrunk the kids experience, a beauty and the beast show (a must watch!), an american idol experience (brill) and tons more.
Even though food is America is renowned for being cheap - this doesn't
apply in the parks (think £10 for McDonalds style burger, fries and a
drink). But there are lots of eateries around and lots of places to stay
hydrated in the Florida heat. Toilets are everywhere too - and they are
really clean! Disney caters for everyone - the parks have amazing disabled access and on the rides you can get headsets that will translate from english into a variety of other languages!
Under three's go free in Disney parks - but there isn't a lot for them to
do in this park really. My daughter found herself waiting around for a lot
of the day but theres a lot of street entertainment going on so she was
never bored. Plus she got to meet some of her favourite characters which
made up for it. But if Magic Kingdom is for the kids - MGM is definitely
for the adults.
Disney passes aren't cheap (over £200 for a week pass) but if your heading to Orlando then they are a must have purchase to factor in with the cost of your holiday! And if your paying for the ticket - then definitely go to MGM!!!!
This park was originally opened in 1989 as Disney's MGM studios. In 2008 it had a name change and is now known as Disney's Hollywood Studios. The park is based on the movies, and is designed to give guests an insight into what its like behind the scenes.
As you enter the park the first thing you will notice is the huge Sorcerer Mickey hat. The park was the focal point for the 100 years of Magic Celebration that began in 2001 to celebrate the 100th Birthday of Walt Disney. When the celebration ended the hat remained and is a focal point of the park.
The park is divided into a few sections -
HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD - The Main walkway of the park. This is where a lot of the action takes place. It's a great place to sit and relax as so many random characters just appear out of nowhere and start chatting to the public. Have your camera ready! There is one restaurant - the signature brown derby restaurant and one ride - the great movie ride. The great movie ride is fun and suitable for everyone as you basically sit in a tram and move around movie sets - there is one possibly jumpy part as you go through a set from Alien.
ECHO LAKE - Just off Hollywood boulevard is a nice lake which has a few restaurants and fast food places around. Nice place to sit and enjoy an ice cream or a drink. In this area you also have the Indiana Jones stunt show - if you like the films you'll love this show! It shows you how they created some of the actual scenes from the films! It also has the American Idol attraction where guests can audition and sing infront of an audience! - Or if like me you can sing you can just watch!
SUNSET BOULEVARD has my 2 favourite attractions in the Park. The first one is Aerosmith's Rock n Rollercoaster. This is a rollercoaster in the dark with lots of aerosmith music playing. The other attraction in the section is the Tower of Terror - with a twilight zone theme and great build up and preshow this ride is not for the faint hearted. Its an elevator that randomly drops 13 stories! It will also fire you up, bounce you a little bit etc. As the sequence is random you will never know what to expect!
PIXAR PLACE is the newest section of the park (used to be called something else but I cant remember what) and is home to the newest ride in Disney World - Toy Story Mania. I think this is one of the best rides in Orlando! It's a 3D adventure - you board your ride vehical and put on the 3D glasses. You go through a series of Carnival games based on shooting targets. It really is great fun!
ANIMATION COURTYARD has the animation studio. This is quite an underated attraction but worth it just for a break from the heat! There is a small show and then a bunch of things to walk through and look at.
STREETS OF AMERICA is home to the backlot tour - a ride through where they film shows and movies, through a working costume department and they show you loads of props and some special effects. This is a fun ride - one of my favourite but it gets a large queue.
The Disney Hollywood studios is a great day for all of the family - I usually visit this twice in a holiday if I can as I enjoy the fun atmosphere the park has and the attractions are so different to what we get in the UK. Its also a park where you can take your time walking around and enjoying the things going on.
Disney Hollywood studios was the 3rd park built by Disney. It opened in May 1989 but was named as Disney MGM Studios. This was changed recently to its current name as the deal with MGM had finished. When Epcot was built there were plans to put a Studios land in Future World. The idea was so popular that they decided to make a whole park.
The parks icons are the The Sorcerer's Hat in the main hub of the park and the Earful Tower. A water tower like all movie studios. But interestingly the Water tower is fake.
I like this park as it falls in line with how Disney made his name in films. The park was made to be a theme park and working studios. Now days the studios is defunct.
The Park has a fun and glamours atmosphere that all with love. The park has many great rides and shows.
Hollywood Tower Of Terror. A 13 story free fall lift elevator. But to make the ride scarier the way the lift falls is now random.
Rock N Roller Coaster with Aerosmith. A Dark roller coaster ride that has a fast launch system. Not one for the faint hearted.
The Great movie ride - A ride through time with many props and stages of famous movies. This is a great ride housed in a copy of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
The shows at this park are amazing too.
Indiana Jones stunt spectacular - This is an action packed show with stunts from the first movie. Be careful as they call up the audience.
Light, Motors, Action - A fast passed stunt show that is preformed in cars and bike. This is a Must see show and my favours show in the whole of Disney World. Your mouth will be open all the way.
When night falls be sure no to miss out on Fantasmic. A show that involves lights, Water, Fireworks and Mickey Mouse.
This is a fun park that all the family will love. So much to do and loads of characters to see. The park is great value like most parks at around $50 a ticket.
In relation to the other Disney Parks MGM Studios is a bit different. It is themed - as it sounds - around the movies.
The most imposing site in the Park is the giant Mickey Mouse's sorcerer's apprentice hat from Fantasia and it is around here that you will get to meet and greet the characters. When we were there it was mobbed but if you are prepared to wait in a line then you will get your chance to catch that special photo and autograph. We concentrated on Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck and were delighted to get both. The usual cheery Disney staff are great and will not let people queue jump or push their way in.
Also in front of the hat is where the High School Musical Parade takes place. This is a must if your children like the films. Whilst one of my daughters was slightly disappointed that it was not the real Zac Ephron singing and dancing, it in no way spoiled her overall enjoyment. The cast sing songs from the movie and their dancing is spectacular considering the heat! There is even a bit when they will select people from the audience to take part and if you are lucky enough to be chosen then you will really enjoy this!
All around this park there are characters wandering about. Not the usual ones you get in other parks, these are from movie eras gone by and they are really interactive. At one point my daughter got herself an 'agent' who says 'she's gonna be in movies'!
There are some great rides in this park if you like the thrill rides but also some which cater for the, ahem, fan of the slighlty more sedate ride shall we say? (I include myself in this bracket!)
For thrill seekers there is the Hollywood Tower of Terror. This is a huge ride which works like a broken lift - dropping you from floor 13 to the ground and then bouncing back up and repeating. Not to everyone's taste but if you are left holding the bags whilst someone in your party rides, I recommend you watch the faces of the people as they come off the ride - some of them are elated and some of them head straight for the bathroom! Also for thrill seekers is the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. Out of all the rides in all the parks in Florida, this was the one that my thrill seeking husband and daughter enjoyed the most. They tried to explain to me the adrenaline rush they experienced as it shot from 0 - 60 in about 3 seconds!! Aerosmith music is piped into the ears as you ride in the stretch limo on the way to a concert and it really added to their enjoyment. We bought one of the pictures available after you exit the ride - it was not cheap - I think it was around $20, but for the expression on both of their faces it was money very well spent!
Also in this park is the excellent Star Tours ride. After some persuasion I went on this with the family and have to say that I loved it! The area for queueing has loads of Star Wars memorabilia and then when you ride the ride itself it is fantastic. You are in charge of a ship trying to rid the Universe of the Empire ship and the effects are spectacular. If you time it right and it is something your children (or you!) would enjoy there are Jedi Knight training sessions held just outside the ride.
Also in MGM is the Muppets 3D ride. This is fab!! The usual queues don't seem too bad as you enter an ante room where there are films and clips of Gonzo and Fozzy bear which will really keep you entertained as you wait the 10 mintues or so for the internal doors to open. Once you go in it is a 3D experience with all the main characters from the Muppets along with a charcter from the Mupoet Vision 3D studio. The adventures they have are simply classic!!
If you like Toy Story I would thoroughly recommend you take a ride on Toy Story Mania. It is a bit like the Buzz Lightyear Ride in Magic Kingdom in that you are shooting at things as you pass, however it is based more around the different games you would get in a fairground. Much fun was had in trying to get the top score in the family - although the chances of that being me with a competitive husband and daughters were nil!!
One of my very favourite things in the whole park was the Beauty and The Beast stage show. This is held in an outdoor theatere and is a condensed version of the film. All the main characters including Lumiere and Chip are there and it is also signed for the deaf. Sometimes I was a bit distracted watching the two people who were doing the signs as the expressions on their faces were priceless!!!
There are of course many shops in this Park, however the movie theme continued here as well. We mananged to find some things in this park that we had not seen in any of the others and it is definitely worth a wander around.
The ony thing which I found to be disappointing was the Prince Caspian Ride. (Please make sure you go and visit him before you enter the ride as he is in a seperate area where he is happy to take the time to pose for photographs and sign autographs and after you have seen him they take you to the front of the queue for the ride.) Once in the actual ride itself though, there is not much happening. You initially enter a room where they show some scenes from the movie and I was thinking - 'yeah great this is going to be fab!' - however thats pretty much it! The next part is just an exhibition of items from the movies, and whilst I would have been happy to wander around my family were not!
Food wise this park is not too bad - the usual sort of fayre. The most popular thing seemed to be the roasted tureky legs which we saw loads of people wandering around with although it looked a bit too messy to try and walk and eat!!
Overall this Park is great, it does not in my opinion beat Magic Kingdom however that is because I am a fan of the Disney Princesses!
This is a great park for 3 reasons:
1. It's easier to navigate than somewhere like the Magic Kingdom
2. It's got some big, scary rides if you like them that way
3. It's great for film buffs.
My favourite ride in this park is, without a doubt, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster with Aerosmith. It's fantastic! It's an indoor attraction, in the dark which means you can't see what's coming (!) and the idea behind it is that you're going to an Aerosmith concert in a "super-super stretch limo". When you first go in, you see the band on a big screen rehearsing in a studio. They look up and go "Oh, we've got all these people coming, we're gonna need that super stretch limo!" then you go through into the actual ride.
You can't hear the music until you're sitting in your seat; each headrest has its own individual speaker and you get bombarded with Aerosmith songs which accompany you on your ride. It goes from 0-60mph in something like 3 seconds. It just feels as though it takes off like a rocket, it's such a rush! You spin around for a couple of minutes trying to sing along (which is difficult!) and then you're screeching to a halt. Everyone gets off looking more than a bit windswept and it's really funny. Then you go out and see the photo they take of you in the ride (which you can buy should you wish). We loved this ride; we got off, ran round and went straight back on.
Another popular ride here is the Hollywood Tower of Terror and I hated it. It's meant to be a lift that drops to the bottom of the building so it takes you up and then just drops you all the way down. It did nothing for me whatsoever other than make me feel extremely sick. But most people I know love it and go on it again and again.
Another good ride here is the Great Movie Ride. You sit in a big car and take a trip through the movies of the past years right back to the golden age of Hollywood. There are actors in here acting out various scenes from famous movies.
There are some really good shows in this park such as Beauty and the Beast live and Fantasmic. Fantasmic is a night time show of lasers, fireworks and the age old good v evil story, with the Sorcerer Mickey Mouse as the main character. It's hard to explain exactly how this show works but it's AMAZING. You must see it if you go to this park. Everyone raves about it.
One very nice feature of this theme park is the Animation Courtyard. Here you will see Disney Animators sitting and drawing various characters. For a unique gift or souvenir, you can have them draw you any character you like, from any Disney film you like. I don't know how much this is but I imagine it depends on how big the picture is, how detailed etc. It's probably worth it though for a unique picture of your favourite Disney character drawn by an actual Disney Animator.
All in all, this is a great park and like most things Disney, caters for pretty much everyone.
I am a total theme park junkie and MGM Studios is without a doubt my favourite theme park! This is the Disney park for those who like the scarier rides and who love the classic films such as The Wizard of Oz, Twister, Casablanca, Star Wars and Indiana Jones
Now renamed Disney Hollywood Studios, a name which probably gives a better indication of what this park is all about - Disney films!!
The park is centred round Mickey's famous sorcerer's hat and has 6 themed areas.
The main entrance takes you into Hollywood Boulevard where you will find the streets lined with shops selling Disney merchandise. Photographers and entertainers can be found around here. The Great Movie Ride is located at the end of the street. This is a must for all movie fans. You go on a cart which moves through the classic films such as The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca.
We'll head round the park in the most popular way, to the right. Here you will find Sunset Boulevard which all movie buffs will recognise from the land of cinema, Hollywood. First stop for most will be The Tower of Terror Twilight Zone, an abandoned hotel thrill ride that drops riders down a broken elevator. You go up and down a few times, to different levels each time. This is one of those rides where you feel you left your stomach on the ground. If you don't like this feeling, this one is definitely not for you - personally I love that feeling! Your photo gets taken on the first drop, with hilarious results!
After this ride move on to the Rock 'N' Rollercoaster, a rollercoaster where you board a pink stretch limo to attend an Aerosmith concert. You are launched from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, making this the 2nd fastest ride at Disney. Your photo is taken at take-off and if you have long hair, be prepared to see it as a stream behind in your head in the pictures!! The ride takes you through pitch black with neon signs providing your only light. While on the ride you listen to Aerosmith's greatest hits. The ride is fast but not too scary and I would definitely recommend this one!!
Beauty and the Beast Live Stage Show is also in this area of the park and is a fantastic show featuring many of the songs from the film. Seating 1500 people and lasting about 30 minutes, make sure to schedule this one into your itinerary. Show times can be found outside the attraction or at the front of the park.
** Pixar Place **
The next area of the park if we continue in an anti-clockwise direction. Here you can find Toy Story Midway Mania a 3d attraction which only opened May 31st last year. As I visited the park just before this I'm afraid I can't review this attraction but based on Disnney's other 3D rides I bet this one is a great stop for all the family and I will definitely be going here on my next visist!
There are a number of walk throughs here where you can explore the life of Walt Disney and another where you can see the props used in the Narnia film Price Caspian. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is another stage show featuring songs from the film and is another must see for all of the family!
**Streets of America**
Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3D is another 3D experience featuring all your favourite characters from the Muppets such as Kermit and Miss Piggy - a must for all Muppets fans.
The Studio Backlot Tour is one of the highlights of this park. Here you see how film effects are created including fire and water effects. I love this tour and have done it every time I have visited the park as it is so interesting.
For the little kids here you can find the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground with over sized toys, great for the little ones.
Here we find Star Tours a motion simulator ride set in the Star Wars Universe. If you do suffer from motion sickness , avoid this ride as people I have ridden with have felt rather ill after this one! It's a good ride however if you do enjoy motion simulators even if you aren't a Star Wars fan.
The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is a live action performance where you see how the stunts are done in movies and is a fantastic show!! Audience members are selected for participation in the show so make sure to sit near the front if you want to take part, but you must be over 18. The show is based on the first Indiana Jones film and guys will love this!! Make sure to turn up really early for this one as it fills up very quickly! When you leave the ride you will find a shop filled with Indy merchandise.
The American Idol Experience opened in February 2008 so again is another attraction I have not participated in. It is an interactive stage where guests can audition and sing live in front of the audience. If you are really good you may also get the opportunity to bypass the line for a real AI audition.
Fantasmic is an amazing experience and one certainly not to be missed. You cannot fail to be astounded by this performance! It is a night time fireworks and show which includes showing film clips on walls of water - you will be amazed!! It focuses on Mickey having a dream where he is attacked by Disney's classic villains such as Ka from Jungle Book, Captain Hook from Peter Pan, the Queen from Snow White and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. At the end of the performance all your favourite Disney characters appear on a boat which goes round the whole set.
The show lasts 22 minutes but you will need to queue up at least an hour before the performance begins to get in. Schedule changes mean that this performance is now only going to be shown a few times a week instead of everyday. Find out what day it will be performing and make sure you visit on these days. I'm not sure why they are changing as this is always full. I think the AI auditions may be taking place here.
As with all the other Disney Parks there is a lot of merchandise for sale and a variety of food and drink venues. It can be a little expensive but you will be spending all day here so probably will spend a bit. However, if you choose to eat your food from a stand rather than in a restaurant you will save quite a lot of money.
The toilets and the rest of the park are always very clean and there is very little crime in the parks.
No trip to Florida would be complete if you don't visit the Disney parks and this is the best of the bunch with the classis Magic Kingdom coming in a close second. With shows, thrill rides and tours there is something for everyone here!!
Now renamed as Disney Hollywood Studios, this is my favourite park, and is the park which allows you to go behind the scenes of how Disney is made.
135 acres in sizes, this park is host to the fantastic show Fantasia, held at night and is a battle between the good and evil of Disney, as must see!
The twilight tower of terror is a thrilling ride and is a brilliant ride for thrillseekers attending Disney, and is one that will throw you a few surprises. A brilliant ride.
right next door to it, is one of my favourite rollercoasters in the world, Aerosmtihs rocking rollercoaster, pitch black entrance and no where you can see track, you are unsure where you are going and at a blistering speed you will absolutely love the adrenaline you get off this ride.
Walt Disney one mans dream takes you on how Disney was started and is extremely interested. Many different things about all sorts of films, and stuntshows and animations are all so brilliant.
Tickets can be picked up through Disney and vary in price according to when you go, however look out for special offers on tickets which tend to come up all the time.
Can be tied together with, The Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom as well as the water parks they are all brilliant.
This park is now called Hollywood Studios, due to Disney not wanting to pay the rights to the name any longer than the contracted period. I think the new name actually suits it better but its quite hard getting used it calling it something different, anyway on with the review.
Hollywood Studios is the smallest of all the disney parks, and contains the Sorcerers Hat as its icon. The three main rides are The twilight Zone tower of terror, rock and roller coaster and the new toy story mania. The former two have taken a back seat kind of to the toy story mania, so i would advise getting to toy story first and getting a fast pass as the run out really quickly. The main shows in the park are the lights camera action stunt show, which is a car action show and shows you how they record all the high speed chases in the movies, i believe that later this year/earlier next year they are making it more "disney" by having the character from Cars in it. Fatasmic is the night evening lighrts and water show. The special effect in this are fantastic and this is a show not to be missed, but you will need to be there at least 90 mins in advance to get a good seat, or book the fantasmic dining package which gives you acces to the VIP seating area, this is only applicable with 3 of the sit down restaurants.
As this is a relatively small park you are able to do it in about 3/4 of a day, so you can have bit of a lie in and do something in the afternoon.
For british visitors there are a number of options availbale to you for buying tickets, the best value for money option is the 14 day ultimate ticket which gives you unlimited access for 14 days into all of the disney parks including the water parks and disny quest (large in door amusement area) loacted at down town disney!prices start for this ticket from about £244
Apologies once again for the review length - I do get overexcited. This review will probably be of most use to anyone planning a visit.*
Well, after reviewing three of the Disney theme parks in Florida, it's time to move onto number four... Disney Hollywood Studios (the new name for Disney MGM). I'm not sure why I left this one until last as it's one of my favourites. Ah, who am I trying to kid? They're all my favourites!
** Overview **
Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly known as Disney MGM) opened in Florida in 1989. It is devoted to the world of film and television and has a lot more live entertainment and theatre productions that the other Disney parks. This park appears to be somewhat smaller than the other parks and can easily be covered in one day.
**How to get there**
Disney Guides explain that the way to get there is take Exit 64B off I-4. Continue for half a mile to reach the parking area then take a tram to the park entrance. If staying at a Disney hotel you can reach the park by bus or boat depending upon where you are staying.
Opening hours vary according to the time of year. Current opening hours can be found at
I have chosen not to quote prices, simply because there are many different ticket types available to buy.
** The Park **
Disney Hollywood Studios is slightly different to the other theme park in that it's not built around a central hub, making it slightly more difficult to travel around it in any sort of logical manner. Luckily for our family we're not logical people and we travelled in a most illogical fashion in order to try to squeeze in as many attractions as possible with as little queuing time as possible - a little bit dizzying and certainly not easy on the feet but it worked for us!
The entire premise of Hollywood Studios, as you can probably guess by the name, is that it is inspired by film and television, making it a huge draw to many people, although it does mean that in some cases you may not recognise the film or programme that the ride is based on. Not that this really matters as the rides are so well done that you will probably enjoy them anyway.
On entering Disney Hollywood Studios, the first area you come to is Hollywood Boulevard which is set in the era of the 1930's. Mostly in this area are shops and services. This is where you will find wheelchair and pushchair rentals, Lost and Found, storage lockers, First Aid, ATMs and a baby care centre. Also on the way in, don't forget to pick up a park map and events schedule, in order to find out what time parades and shows are held and where and when character Meet 'n' Greets take place.
At the end of Hollywood Boulevard is a large replica of the hat that Mickey Mouse wore in Fantasia. It's absolutely huge and you'll be able to see it from all over the park, making it a good point to help keep yourself orientated.
Turning left at the end of Hollywood Boulevard you will find Sunset Boulevard. We made a beeline here as it is home to two of the park' top rides that acquire long queues ... quickly! (Please note that as from 2008 a new ride Toy Story Mania has opened and I have heard it reported that this could be the place to head first). In order to beat the crowds we dashed down Sunset Boulevard at a fast pace, ignoring the shops on the way in order to reach The Hollywood Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith Rock 'n' Rollercoaster. It was still early and queues hadn't yet built up. We acquired a Fastpass ticket for the Tower of Terror, in the expectation that by the time we had been on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster it would be time to ride. As it turned out we were so early that there was no queue at all, and we were able to ride it three times in a row. I would definitely recommend the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster to anyone who likes a fast ride; the initial take-off is enough to wake you up early on a morning, followed by a fast loop-the-loop rise in the dark surrounded by flashing lights and signs. (Height restriction 48")
The Hollywood Tower of Terror (height restriction 40") is situated right next to the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster which is unusual in a Disney park as they normally separate the more popular rides in order to spread out the crowds. This is a ride where the queuing is an experience in itself. The whole premise behind the ride is that you're touring a hotel with a spooky past and you hear details of an elevator full of people who just disappeared. Eventually after passing through a number of hotel rooms you enter the elevator. You go up, and out, I think - it was very disorientating, before going right to the top of the ride. The doors open momentarily to give a mouth-dropping view of the park before you drop... quickly! Apparently, the lift is moved up and down randomly and even the operators don't even know how many floors it will fall. I love scary rides and roller-coasters of all kinds but I have to admit I was a bit spooked by this one. Usually on rides of this kind you can feel the air brakes beneath you but I couldn't feel anything and I wasn't entirely convinced that it would stop in time! With very wobbly legs, we rejoined my husband, who very cannily avoids rides of this nature and concentrates on topping up his tan instead!
**Sorcerer's Hat Area**
Happy in the knowledge that we had two of the most major rides under our belt before the day was very old we headed back along Sunset Boulevard to the giant hat. A number of characters were gathered here; it's a very good place for filling up an autograph book, but they were quite commonly found characters and my daughter had already met them, so we crossed the plaza to The Great Movie Ride. This is located in a replica of Mann's Chinese Theatre and begins with a huge queuing area. We were lucky that the queues were still relatively short and giant film screens show film clips the whole time, so you are entertained while you wait. The doors opened and we were allowed into the main attraction, where we sat in huge ride vehicles manned by a tour guide as we rode through scenes from some of Hollywood's most famous films, including Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, Alien and Casablanca. The guide gave interesting facts and information and the ride has a fantastic twist that really makes the ride memorable. I won't give it away here though as it would completely spoil the surprise!
From the Great Movie Ride we wandered, somewhat aimlessly into the Studio Backlot area where the children played briefly in the Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set, a giant adventure playground where everything is hugely oversized so that you feel as if you have been shrunk. It was an interesting area but our children were far too keen to get on more rides so we didn't stay here long and moved instead to the Studio Backlot tour. Visitors to Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris will be familiar with this ride, but as ever, the Americans do it bigger and better. The ride begins with a walking tour where guests are shown how special effects are created for films, before boarding trams and travelling though a large working wardrobe unit, camera and props departments. Film buffs will be able to see how many props from their favourite films they can see. The finale to the ride is a visit to Catastrophe Canyon, a chance to experience film special effects first hand! There's no actual height restriction for this ride, although children could be a little scared. Oh and you might get a tiny bit wet!
With excellent timing (or pure good luck!) we completed the Backlot tour just as crowds were entering the Lights, Motors, Action show. We visited during Disney Theme Parks' 50th Anniversary Celebrations and to commemorate the occasion Disney had built a ride or attraction at Florida from each of the parks around the world and this was the attraction from Paris, where it is called Moteurs...Action! This was my husband's favourite part of the day and he revelled in watching various stunt drivers complete feats of danger. In my view it was a little bit boring, especially having already seen it at Paris, but if you're a car or motorbike fan, or a fan of action films it may well suit. It's a nice sit down though!
After leaving the show - and holding tightly on to the children as the crowds departing are enormous! - we arrived on the Streets of America.
** Streets of America **
Once we arrived here we were waylaid for a while by the fact that the Power Rangers were signing autographs and my daughter the avid collector (and at the time Power Ranger fan) wanted their autographs. It took ages, not least because they were in five different areas, with five separate queues, plus every few minutes a siren would blast and they would all run off to a car and disappear. Finally, we realised the way to do it was for myself, my husband and our eleven year old to each queue in line, then my daughter would run with the autograph book to whoever was nearest the front of the queue - much quicker! Other than Power Rangers there wasn't a lot in this area apart from shops and restaurants, although Buzz Lightyear and Woody were sigining autographs outside Al's Toy Barn.
** Echo Lake **
After a quick lunch at Pizza Planet (as a big Toy Story fan I couldn't resist!) it was back on the trail of rides and attractions. Situated close to Pizza Planet is Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3D, a clever theatre presentation, again with a cleverly disguised queuing area. We donned 3D glasses and in a theatre much like that on The Muppet Show, complete with Statler and Waldorf heckling from the balcony, we enjoyed a very amusing show, filled with special effects. Queues should be quite reasonable here as a lot of people can enter at the same time and shows run continuously.
Opposite the Muppets we then proceeded to one of the only rides at Disney I haven't enjoyed. The name of the ride is Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey and other than to say we had to wear headphones and it was in the dark I can't remember a thing about it. If you're visiting here and are short on time just don't bother, it's not worth it!
One ride that is worth while, especially for Star Wars fans is Star Tours (another ride which can also be found in Disneyland Paris). Visitors enter a flight simulator where they are supposed to be going on a journey with a rookie pilot. Obviously it all goes wrong and visitors are taken on a fast paced, turbulent flight through space. This ride has a 40" height restriction and visitors with back or neck problems (or pregnant ladies) shouldn't ride, but really it's not that scary and even my coaster-phobic husband will quite happily ride it.
Once outside again, it was almost time for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show, a half hour stunt show in which visitors also get to discover secrets of how stunts are performed. Audience members can be chosen to take part in this show. Wave your arms like a lunatic if you want to get picked!
**Animation Courtyard **
Upon leaving the show (again, hold onto your children tightly!), we headed back behind the Sorcerer's Hat to catch up on some of the rides we missed earlier in the day. This area is currently home to the new Toy Story ride but when we visited it was the home of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and guests actually got to take part along with the person in the hot seat. If I had been in the hot seat that day I would have done pretty badly, but in my defence a lot of the questions had an American slant (lots of questions about presidents, states and baseball teams). It was a lot of fun though and very amusing when they did Phone a Friend, which was actually Phone a Stranger with a phone ringing randomly somewhere in the park!
Further up the street was Disney's One Mans Dream, an exhibition of Walt Disney memorabilia followed by a film about his life, which the adults in our party enjoyed, but the children found fairly dull. Next door was another stage show, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, an enchanting little production featuring all the songs from the film, plus live performers, puppets and a large number of bubbles. Myself and my daughter loved it; my husband and eleven year old son weren't so enamoured! The final attraction we visited on that street was the Magic of Disney Animation, a short guide to how Disney Animation works, which is a lot less boring than it sounds. At the end of the show is the opportunity to work with a Disney animator to draw your own cartoon, although queues were fairly long for this so we didn't wait. Also in this building are a number of computer generated animation activities to try, including one that tells you which Disney character you would be based on your answers to several questions. I, unsurprisingly given my love of reading, was Belle from Beauty and the Beast and much more astonishingly my husband was apparently Buzz Lightyear. Not sure how they worked that one out!
A final attraction in that area was Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage. My children refused to visit here so I can't comment upon it, but we're returning in August with our littlest son, who will be 19 months. I imagine I'll be able to update this review with the details then!
** Evening Entertainment **
At the end of the day we visited the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage show, which isn't strictly end of day entertainment as it runs shows all day, but we left it until last because of it's location. I loved it, as did my daughter, but I do like Beauty and the Beast anyway. Again, the boys weren't too thrilled!
The big event at the end of the day at Hollywood Studios is the Fantasmic show, which is probably the best finale event at any of the Disney parks. This is a huge production that takes place partly on water and partly upon an island in the water. It involves Mickey Mouse having a number of dreams and nightmares and includes water effects, music, fireworks and a whole host of Disney villains. I thoroughly recommend seeing it. It's a fantastic show but unfortunately you do need to queue early and the show can be cancelled if it's too windy. Supposedly you can book dinner at one of three Hollywood Studios restaurants and if you ask for the Fantasmic Package you get tickets for a separate area of the theatre and you don't have to queue for nearly as long as the "ordinary" guests. We're definitely going to try this next time. The whole family loved this show and the only disappointing thing about it was the popcorn. Salted, yuk!
At the end of the day, take your time leaving the park. Most guests leave as Fantasmic finishes so the streets are very crowded. Sit for a while and follow the crowds out. If you try to battle through them you'll only end up sitting in traffic anyway!
**What else is there to do?**
If all that's not enough for you, you can also collect character autographs. Make sure to pick up a guide from the entrance to find out where the characters will be. Some characters, like Mickey, or Buzz and Woody, can always be found in the same place. Others might be more random, for example, it's pure luck who turns up at the magic hat. Autograph books are for sale almost everywhere, although characters will sign any paper. Thicker pens are better for characters in costume to be able to handle.
Disney Hollywood Studios does have a parade, although it was rained off when we visited. I think the parade here has recently been changed and is now called Block Party Bash. There is also a High School Musical themed attraction which is held several times a day. Again, times will be noted on the park guide.
** Eating and Drinking **
This park is home to some of the more interesting restaurants, including the 50s Prime Time Café, designed to look like a typical 50's home, where your severs are supposedly your Mom, brother or sister, food is old-style and you might not get dessert if you don't eat all your mashed potatoes! Or if you don't fancy that, how about the Sci-Fi Dine in theatre where you eat in mock cars, supposedly at the Drive in! Depending upon time of year, some restaurants may need to be booked in advance.
Information on places to eat and a guide to prices ($, $$ or $$$) is available from the park guides found at the park entrances.
It's supposedly not permitted, but it is possible to take in your own food which works out even cheaper. Also remember to take empty water bottles an d fill up at the many water fountains around the parks.
**Hints and Tips **
Arrive early to beat the queues.
Consider taking a photo of where you are parked on your digital camera or mobile phone then simply delete it at the ned of the day ...once you've found your car of course!
Use FASTPASS where possible. This is a brilliant idea. Feed your park tickets into a machine near a Fastpass ride and receive a ticket with a stated time to come back. Come back at that time and get on the ride with a much smaller wait. You are only supposed to get one fastpass at a time but can usually get another one a couple of hours later, or when the first one has been used. Fastpasses run out early on the most popular rides so don't wait too long.
To avoid the queues, eat earlier or later than normal lunchtimes, then you can ride while others eat and eat while others ride!
It can get really hot. Don't forget sun tan lotion. One tip we were given is to wet a towel and wear it around your neck. It sounds horrid but it's really refreshing. There are lots of water fountains to keep it nice and cold.
It can be a long day in the theme parks. If you're staying nearby consider going back to your hotel mid-day for a rest or a swim. We didn't do this on our last trip, but as we're returning with a toddler I think we definitely will!
If it's your birthday while you're there, take your passport and show it at customer services for special park perks.
We visited Orlando in August of last year and all I can say is I'm so glad our hotel ran shuttle buses to Disney as it would be quite confusing to get to driving yourself, although it doesn't take long, about 10 minutes from International Drive.
I cannot really comment on the prices as I purchased my tickets online before I left home, but I can recommend the place where I got them:
It cost £163 for the Disney 14 Day Ultimate Ticket which gives unlimited access to:
* Magic Kingdom Park
* Disney-MGM Studios
* Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
* Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park
* Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
* Downtown Disney Pleasure Island
* Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex
* DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park
With this ticket you can visit these places as many times as you want within the 14 days. Please note they finger scan you on first use and every use thereafter so you cannot transfer these tickets on to anyone else if you don't need them before the time runs out.
Anyway on to the park!
When we arrived at the Disney Travel Centre, we jumped on the easy to find Monorail to MGM Studios, which is free - Everything in Disney is well marked out, so you will not get lost.
On arrival it is better to already have tickets as the queues are quite long for buying them. Once set you have to go through security, which is not much, just a couple of friendly guys who look in your bag to make sure you don't have anything you shouldn't.
When you enter the park the first thing you will notice is the trademark Disney Hat - You know the one Mickey wore in Fantasia (see picture below for the one am I referring to).
There are various gift shops and loads of places to eat throughout the park, each of them having priority seating for wheelchair users. Of course there are various information booths throughout the park incase you need help with anything and all the staff members are very friendly. There are toilets everywhere as well and these are clearly marked out on your parkmap. There are even loads of pay phones, I guess incase you need a taxi or something to come and get you, or maybe you just want to phone home and rub it in that you're on holiday and they're not lol.
As in all American themeparks there are few smoking areas, which are also marked on your parkmap, but these can sometimes be hard to find, we had to ask for directions a couple of times.
There are also 3 or 4 different character meeting areas where the kids can queue up to meet their heros and have their pictures taken with them. Disney like to take ppictures themselves because then you will have to pay for them, although I'm sure you could sneak your own pictures in then decline theirs :)
The good thing is you can take bags and things onto the rides with you in this park (yes even the upside down rollercoaster), so don't worry about renting lockers unless you really require one.
I would advise going round the park backwards (anticlockwise) as everyone else goes clockwise so you can get onto some of the rides without queuing too much.
Okay onto the rides, please note I will only point out the rides/exhibits we actually went on ourselves, there were not many though as most of them were aimed at kids, well it is Disney afterall:
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - This is an awesome stunt show, which lasts about 30 minutes with various showtimes throughout the day, check your parkmap for details. This is one of the best shows in the park, full of action, flying through the air, explosions, etc. This is great for both kids and adults, but be warned it gets very warm sitting watching this so bring some water to drink so you don't dehydrate.
Startours - This is a fun ride/flight simulator. The outside of this place is fantastic looking with a replica of the Ewok village and one of them huge robot things (the name escapes me, see photo below). As you wait in the queue there are a lot of exhibits and things to look at and keep you occupied, so you don't really notice how long you're waiting. The staff in this section are even dressed up like starwars shipmates and really look the part. This is a cinema like ride in which you wear 3D glasses and move about in your seat a lot. I hate Starwars myself but seemed to love this ride for some reason - perfect for all you Starwars fanatics - kids will love this too, although there is a height restriction of 102cm. There is a Starwars shop attached to the end of this ride and it is crammed full of anything to do with Starwars that you could ever imagine. The cool thing is that you can buy fullscale replicas of all the weapons used in the films, they are even made from the same metals, but be warned they are really really expensive - you can buy miniture ones on the other hand though for around $60.
Muppet Vision 3D - Join Kermit, Miss Piggy and friends on their tour of the muppet labs. This is fun for little kids (or big kids who love the muppets) with some of the usual muppet singing. This is an extremely well done and thoughtout ride and lasts around 25 minutes. There is no height restriction for this ride and it is not at all scarey.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Play It - This is just like the TV show, but with audience participation. Unfortunately this was closed when we visited so we didn't get to win anything :( Check your parkmap for opening times as shows run throughout the day (when it's open that is).
Rock 'n' Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith - This is one of the best rides in the park. You queue in an indoor area, which is quite nice as you get out of the heat for a while. Once in there is a video on a huge screen with Aerosmith talking to your and their manager. They tell you a few things and then you are asked to jump on board. Once through there is a wee bit more waiting, but it is so worth it. This is an in the dark rollercoaster with loads of neckbreaking twists and turns and shocks along the way and yes yes yes it even goes upside down. A strange thing about this ride is that even though it goes upside down you are allowed to take bags and things on with you, you just store them under your seat and hold them in place with your legs, I was worried at this, but nothing fell out on us. I totally recommend buying your photo at the end of this ride, there are various different sizes and prices and they are so awesome looking, you won't believe your eyes. The height restriction for this ride is 122cm. Not for small kids, pregnant women, people with heart problems or scaredy cats.
Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror - This is the other best ride in the park, even though it's not a rollercoaster (don't read this paragraph if you don't want to spoil it for yourself). This is a huge hotel and you can ride both sides in the lifts. Upon entering you walk through an old creepy hotel with loads of fantastic exhibits, the staff here are dressed up like they are ready for a halloween party and glare at you to try and scare you (but end up making you laugh). Once inside your chosen lift you start out on a little tour of the twilight zone while being told a creepy story, there are dark moments which might scare kids and brilliant special effects and optical iilusions. Then all of a sudden you don't know where you are, it is pitch black and the voices and music stops, then in an instant the doors open and you are at the very top of the building in the small lift overlooking the whole park, just as your starting to feel safe the doors close again and you are dropped a heartwrenching 13 floors at an amazing speed, seriously you actually lift off your seat with only a seatbelt to hold you in, you then bounce up and down a few more times until you come to a peaceful stop. You can actually hear people screaming in this ride from all over the park. There is a height restriction of 102cm. Not for pregnant women, people with heart problems, or scaredy cats, especially if feared of heights.
This brings us to the end of the rides, there are many more rides and attractions in the park itself, but most of them were for young children and we were too big to go on them.
Always remember to check your parkmap for the parade route, this is marked out by a red dotted line, because once it starts there is no escaping and you will be asked to move along if you are in the way, I know this because we were told to move when taking pictures of the Starwars Ride, although they let us finish what we were doing first. Parade time is a great time to get on any ride you wish as there are no queues at all because everyone is watching the parade.
It was very hot and clammy and there are loads of kids running around and mum and das with strollers, who will not move out of your way so be warned and watch your toes, they will run you down lol.
The queues in this park don't seem to be as bad as any other Disney park, so fast passes are not really required, unless you want to go get something to eat then come back at your appointed time.
We went here in the early morning at like 9am, I would recommened going in the afternoon if you are wating to see the nightly fireworks, because I assure you it is way to warm to stay all day and night, plus there is really not enough rides to warrant a whole day visit. We never got to see the fireworks because of this, we were so hot and tired we just had to get back to our hotel for some relaxation.
Have a huge breakfast before you arrive, it will keep you full throughout the day and you'll spend less on the expensive food. Wear comfy shoes as there is a lot of walking and a bit of queuing, which is very tiring in the heat.
Rent a buggy if you have small kids, there are numerous buggy areas to leave them when using the rides. Don't let staff take your pictures, as you have to pay for them later if you want them and they are not cheap.
Bring plently of water in a cooler bag because you will drink loads and will not want to keep forking out your hard earned holiday cash. Do not fill water bottles from the drinking fountains, this water tasted quite salty/full of flouride.
Do not buy the water assisted mist spraying fans, they cost $12.50 or 2 for $18. Go to Walgreens before you go and pick up one for $1.99. The ones in Walgreens are better as well because they come in different shapes and sizes, like footballs, basketballs, etc.
Have fun whenever you are going :)
Well this review is focusing on more of my time in Florida, ive been away for a while in Australia, so you will hear some reviews about that in the near future, however I felt I should finish off my whole America experience. This review is on my time at the famous Disney attraction "Disney's Hollywood Studios", which is also known as MGM Studios.
Disney's MGM studios were officially opened in 1989, and spans approximately 135 acres in size. It has become one of the main tourist attractions Disney has to offer, attracting millions of people all year round. The parks concept came from the original idea of Epcot, the developers wanted something different to what Epcot was already offering, and thus they decided on a movie epic concept that would attract a wider range of fans.
Tickets and Prices:
Now the prices of tickets vary from how many attractions you plan on visiting and the duration of your stay. My advice is that if you are staying for longer than 4 days you should purchase a 7 day theme park pass, this allows you access into all the Disney attractions for that period of time. For instance purchasing a 7 day pass would set you back $219 for ages 10 and over and $182 for under 10's. However, if you were to simply purchase a single day ticket it would set you back $71 for adults.
My Tip: If your staying for a week, purchase the week pass, its not only the cheapest option, but it allows you to explore all the Disney parks, and allows you to go back to the park as many times during that week. Always purchase the tickets before hand, it saves you hours of waiting at the front, and gives you more time in the park. You can book your tickets either through the Disney website, or through travel agents who plan your holidays for you.
How to get there:
There are several methods of getting to MGM studios, most common methods include a rental car and public busses. With regards to rental cars, Disney is located towards the Southwest of Orlando, off interstate 4. However, there are plenty of road signs that help assisting you get there. Once there, there is a fee for parking your car there, we paid around $15, which included a valet service.
If you're not up for taking a car, a bus service is also available from almost everywhere, Disney has its own tour buses that will pick guests up from specific areas, however its best to contact your operator or booking merchant to find out were these stops are.
This was my second trip to the MGM studios, once when I was a kid and now, and it never seems to disappoint, theirs more action, more things to see and do, and a great fun filled day out.
The park is split into five different sections, like most theme parks, each section has different things to see and do, and caters for both the young and the old. What's great about this park is that there is no specific order one must go in, you could start at the back and work your way forward and so on. Each area of the park blends in with the next and at times it's hard to notice that you're in a totally new section. This section of my review will focus on each area; however I won't go on too much about all the rides, just the main ones I think people will enjoy going too.
As soon as you enter the park, Hollywood Boulevard is the first area that you enter, it's packed with tons of things to see and do. This area is so welcoming and just magnifies the experience your about to have in the park. We were greeted by jazz players, playing on the side of the streets and several stands selling merchandise such as maps, hats, t-shirts and so on. My tip would be if it's your first time, spend some money buying a map, it costs around $3.00, but it's well worth it. Some of the major attractions located in this area include the great movie ride, and the ATAS hall of fame. You will also see a construction site, which is currently building the new American Idol attraction, too bad it's not open until 2009.
The Great Movie ride: This ride is perhaps the main feature of this specific section, and its one I urge you all to go on. It's a ride that takes you across all the famous movies Hollywood has created throughout the years. What's fascinating about this ride is that the queue line is just as exciting as the actual ride, its gets you ready for what's to come. Whilst waiting, you make your way through the queue, were you first get to watch a trailer of varies movies from the past and present. The queue also has several movie props located around, such as props from the Indiana Jones movies, to the merry go round in Mary Poppins. Once you've made your way to the end of the line, you reach a 1930's style Hollywood stage, flashing in red bright lights. You are then told to sit on the seats, which will take you through the different areas of the attraction.
The ride focuses on many movies from past and present such as the famous lamp post Featured in singing in the rain, and when it actually starts to rain you really get a sense that you are in the film. Perhaps the best part of the ride is when the alien from the Aliens movie comes out and just before it attacks you, a character portraying Ripley comes out to save us.
A fantastic ride, which really offers everything, calmness, excitement, fun and thrills.
Moving on from Hollywood Boulevard we now get to The BACKLOT. This was by far my favourite section of the park, because it had the amazing Indiana Jones live action sequence. Other rides include, the star wars tours, Muppets 3D and Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular:
The Indiana Jones attraction is by far the best thing the park has to offer, and im not just saying that because im a huge fan of the films. It's not a ride as such, but rather a live action performance that shows some of the most famous scenes from all three of the films. This is the most popular ride in the park, so my advice would be to get there early, as we waited well over an hour just to get into the theatre. Once you've made your way through the queue, you're seated in a big platform, with a gigantic stage in front of you.
The opening sequence takes place during the first film, were Jones is in the Peruvian temple. He manages to make his way through the dangerous spikes, and fire balls, and all of a sudden the huge gigantic ball comes out of now where, exactly like the first film. The live action show also shows the fight scenes in the Nazi airstrip during the second film, and the fight sequence, also from the second film.
The live show is simply amazing, it really gives you a feeling of how the film was made, and some of the stunts they took part in during the filming. It's got explosions, which again really make this seem so real, the stuntman even looks like Jones. Add in a little bit of humour and you have one great show, Andrew Lloyd eat your heart out.
I would also recommend the Muppets 3D show, its fun and something that the younger ones will enjoy.
Mickey Avenue is the next section of the park; this is more of a child zone, in the sense that it caters more for them, no fast rides, but just simple laid back calmness. I liked this area, although no fast rides, it simply gives you a chance to catch your breath back. Mickey Avenue has many small rides, but the major one you should try checking out is the Studio Backlot Tour. Again whilst waiting for the ride to start, you can see many props from famous movies such as Pearl Harbour, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Rock. Once at the front, your places inside a tram, this takes you around the lot, to different film settings from various movies. The first stop is outside the boneyard, which holds a great collection of cars and planes used in films such as Back to the Future and Star Wars. Once past this area, we visit a movie set, which is currently filming a high action sequence; this area is called Catastrophe Canyon. What looks like an ordinary film set soon turns into an explosive action sequence with explosions, surges or water and an earthquake.
Animation courtyard takes you through a tour of active production studios. This area is one for the younger kids, with cartoon characters, a number of themed playgrounds. As you can see only a little paragraph about this section, that's because I went straight past, didn't even stop.
Sunset Boulevard is the last stop in this theme park, and it defiantly finishes with a bang. The main attraction in this themed area is the Tower of Terror. You can notice the ride from a huge distance away, the famous iconic hotel tower, with its sandy pinkish exterior. When you first enter the park, its perhaps the one major attraction that stands out throughout the entire park, your so anxious to go their first, but you can hold till the climax, because you not it's the one your looking forward to the most. Like many other rides, you start off with a pre-show that sets you up for what's about to happen. Once you enter the lift and sit on your seat, you will get an elevator assistant telling you the story about the hotel and the mystery behind what happened here. It takes you to the 113th floor, where the ride suddenly moves inside, towards door 113, its there the ride stops momentarily, before thrusting you back into the elevator and bang, it drops. Ill be honest, I was so shook up by this ride, I actually had to sit down for a few minutes to catch my breath, but it was so worth it, a ride I would recommend to everyone, although don't eat anything before going on board.
Like most themed parks, there is a wide range of food choices, there are plenty of café's were you can sit down and relax, or there are many fast food areas, serving anything from burgers, chips, pizzas and so on. Disney do allow you to bring in your own food, I would recommend brining in your own water and drinks as they can be very expensive inside the park. One of my favourite dining areas has to be the Sci- fi dine in theatre.
Overall this park is brilliant, it's got something for everyone, from the very young to the very old. It really gives you the Hollywood felling that most of us see in these big budget blockbusters. There are plenty of rides so you're never disappointed, and the staff are very friendly, making your trip more pleasant.
On my trip to Florida we had a day to spend at the MGM Studios which is part of Walt Disney World. However it is worth noting that as from the 1st of January this year (2008), the studios changed their name to Hollywood studios. Anyway I thought I would share my views on this park as it really is excellent and a great place for all the family to go.
Just a quick note on this but most UK customers will pre purchase their tickets to all the parks before going to Florida and this really is the best way to do it. On an average cost of £200 per adult, a 3 week ultimate ticket as they are called, will allow you access to all the Disney themed parks which include the Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon as well as giving free entry to some of the clubs in Downtown Disney. Not bad at all but if you are just planning on paying when you get there that is possible and you'd be looking at a cost of about £40 per adult for just one day and just the Hollywood Studios so you can really see how much better it is to buy all in one go before leaving the UK!
Also guests should note that on entry to the park all bags get checked too so be prepared for this - especially if carrying a huge bag - get it unzipped ready as it does make it quicker to get in!
Where is it:
The park is located in the Walt Disney World Resort area and if staying in a Disney hotel you can use the free shuttle buses to get back and forth between the parks. If you are driving in just follow the signs for it and there is ample parking space available at the park. Parking is free for Disney guests but is at an approximate cost of $12 per day for non Disney guests. The good thing is that you only pay once, so if going to Hollywood studios and then moving to Animal Kingdom later on in the day, just show your parking receipt to the toll booth and you don't pay again.
What is in the park?
The main theme around this park is the movies (hence the name really!) and a lot of the attractions are based on films. This park is geared towards the family type attractions with a few thrill ones thrown in for good measure. Along with the rides, there is also shows and tours and of course the usual parades with Disney characters.
The park has many attractions and there is too many to go into detail about every single one of them but I will give some extra details on a few of the main ones that are the most sought after by guests. This will give you a good idea of what to expect in the park!
Twilight zone tower of terror - this attraction is not for the faint hearted! The riders enter in the building that is designed like an old hotel. You then enter a lift to take a tour around the old building and riders are sent up to the 13th floor where then they will plummet faster than gravity! Up and down you go until being brought back to the ground. But the twist now with this ride is that each time you ride it will vary on how many drops it takes!
Studio backlot tour - This is a mild attraction that all the family can go on. The tour takes in the sets of certain films and other behind the scenes areas. However there are a few surprises along the way!
Movie set adventure - This is not a ride but a giant play area where you can immerse yourself in the set of 'Honey I shrunk the kids'. This is primarily aimed at young children but to be honest it is great fun for everyone!
Lights, motors, action! Stunt show - this attraction is a audience show where cars and motorbikes show off a range off stunts in a large outdoor arena. Lots of insight into how certain stunts are performed and is great for all the family to watch.
The above are just some of the main attractions but below is the full list of things to see and do at the studios.
ATAS hall of fame plaza
Sounds dangerous with Drew Carey
The American Film institute showcase
The great movie ride
The magic of Disney animation
Indiana Jones - Epic stunt spectacular
Playhouse Disney - live on stage
Voyage of the little mermaid
Star wars - Jedi training academy
Rock and rollercoaster starring Aerosmith
Star tours - the ultimate star wars thrill ride
As you can see from the list above there are lots of different attractions and something to suit everyone.
Food and drink:
Around the park there are lots of places to get something to eat and drink and it is relatively in expensive. There are places to sit and enjoy your food at various locations inside and out along with restaurants or snack bars.
Shops and gifts:
Around the park there are various places to buy souvenirs and the majority of them are based at the end of rides and attractions to encourage people to spend money! However there are also various little stalls around the park too where you can buy smaller gifts.
What makes it so good?
Well from the moment you walk in you can feel the excitement building up inside you as everywhere you look you can tell it's a Disney park. From the tiny little things to the big things there is something to see everywhere you go in the park. You cannot fail to see the huge blue Mickey mouse hat in the centre of the park and a personal favourite of mine was the mop brushes on the lawn area from the movie ' Beauty and the Beast'. The attractions are fun, exciting and some tummy turning meaning everyone is happy. The shows are well done and the parades are all great too!
When you first arrive at the park make your way to the more popular attractions first.
Make the most of the fastpass that is free and included in your entrance ticket. Simply go to an attraction that has it and slot your card in - it will give you a time to come back where you can get in the shorter queue.
Try to eat a little bit earlier or later than the average lunchtime - then when everyone else is eating the ride queues will be shorter.
A great card you should get is the gift card. It is designed so that it can be loaded with as much or little money as you want and can be used in all shops in all the Disney parks - don't confuse this with Disney dollars though as them things are accepted hardly anywhere!! The gift card is an ideal way to be able to buy food and drink in the parks without having to carry loads of cash as if lost or stolen you can claim a new one with the receipt that you are given when first buying it. They can see from the receipt number how much has already been spent and then cancel the card from being able to be used and will just issue you with a new one with the amount you had left put back on.
Try to arrive early into the parks to take advantage of when it is quiet and if there is a parade on that you don't want to see then this is also a good time to get on rides.
If you are driving to the parks you only need to pay once per day so make sure if you are moving to another park that you keep the receipt from the first park as then you can show them at the main gate and you will not have to pay again. Parking is at a cost of $12 per day.
I think this park is good for families as there is something for everyone - the attractions are mild enough for young visitors but, fun enough to keep adults entertained. The park is laid out brilliantly with lots to look at and is also very colourful. No trip to Orlando would be complete without a trip to this park.