Thursday, April 8, 2010

Top Ten Can't Miss In The Mouse: Hollywood Studios

Our next stop in the Can't Miss series is Walt Disney World's third oldest park, Hollywood Studios. This park is interesting in that it has some of the absolute best attractions in The Mouse. And some of the worst. That is part of the reason why I felt it's even more important to create this list for DHS...to make sure if you have one day in the park on your trip (and especially if you've never been there before), that you don't waste your time.



A few items were left off the list that just missed. The Beauty & The Beast stage show is a quality performance that is very entertaining (even though they had to hack up the story big time in order to fit it in about a 15 minute slot). Mulch, Sweat & Shears could have made it - they are a blast during their live performances. Starring Rolls Cafe and The Writer's Stop are two quick eateries worth checking out that offer some very different options from the normal fare (in particular, the delicious but calorific Carrot Cake Cookie from Writer's - Lou Mongello did a video piece on this not long ago for the WDW Radio Show). Block Party Bash is also a decent parade that even shoots golf ball-sized nerf balls out into the crowd for you to keep - the kids love this.

There are also a few attractions that I'd say are worth seeing once if you've never seen them before and if you've already seen the Top Ten attractions: the finale of the American Idol Experience, The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, the Backlot Tour and the Lights, Cameras, Action! stunt show. But remember, these are long and time-consuming (at best) and at least a few of them have seen much, much better days (Indy, Backlot). Some shouldn't be in existence (Lights) and one already is seeing a big loss in popularity and will fade quickly once its TV show inspiration jumps the shark - if it hasn't already (Idol).

With that said, DHS does have some of the best offerings in WDW. Their high-end attractions are TRULY high-end. And without further ado, here are the Top Ten Can't Miss attractions in The Studios:

Tower of Terror



One of the greatest themed thrill rides of all time, anywhere. The randomized drop sequence from 13 stories up never, ever gets old or boring. The attention to detail is amazing from the beginning of the queue through the exit. If your stomach can handle a pure drop like this, it becomes almost euphoric.


Rock N Roller Coaster



One of the best coasters in Florida, and right there with Everest as the best coaster in Disney World. The slingshot take-off is awesome, as is the loop it directly leads into. The theming is indeed really great - great enough to make it a top-notch Imagineering attraction rather than just a roller coaster. If you're tall enough, and not deathly afraid of coasters, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by missing it.


Toy Story Mania



This attraction truly is a phenomenon. Even though it's been open for more than a year it's still arguably the most popular attraction in all of The Mouse. The race for it at park opening is like a stampede. I'm not sure its popularity will ever die out, and rightfully so - it is pure, unbridled fun, and just about anyone can play it. It also appeals to your competitive nature, which definitely adds to the whole thing. Awesome attraction.


Fantasmic!



This show blew my mind the first few times I saw it, and it's still a true spectacle. It deservedly sits with Illuminations and Wishes as the trio of awesome end-of-night spectaculars. The only problem is that it's been cut down to just a couple nights a week. So that means less opportunities to see something this good, and when it is running, the crowd situation is insane. When there's two shows, always go to the second one when possible. Trust me. But even with the hassle, it's worth it. It's that good.


Star Tours



I love Disney World and I love Star Wars, so it doesn't get much better than the two of them together! Yeah, it's showing its age, but a huge refurb is coming within the next 2 years and it's going to be incredible. Later this year, it's going down for about a year, so enjoy the classic version while its still around. Bad hairdos, video quality and all.


Muppetvision 3D



Like Star Tours, Muppetvision 3D is showing its age too. But it is also due for a refurb (not as extensive as Star Tours, but a cleanup to the movie and possibly to the pre-show video, as rumors have it). Even with the wear and tear, it's still a riot and still a classic MGM fixture. And the muppets are enjoying a big resurgence in popularity lately...and deservedly so.


Animation Academy



This is a hidden gem. We've raved about it before, and for good reason. You sit down at an actual drawing desk and sketch a classic Disney cartoon character, following the cues from a Disney CM artist. Not only is it fun, but it's FREE and you get to take your creation home with you. Even though the Magic of Animation attraction isn't what it used to be on the whole, this part of it all is still great fun.


Citizens Of Hollywood



Live entertainment is a huge reason why Disney World is Disney World, and how you get so totally sucked into the atmosphere. That's why they call these people "streetmosphere" characters - they bring the place to life. And it's hilarious. Ultra talented and witty, they add the little things into the day that bring the whole park to life, and to a whole different level of entertainment. Stop and enjoy.


Great Movie Ride



Yeah, it needs work and is showing its age. Yeah, some of the audio-animatronics are in desperate need of facelifts and other cosmetic surgery. But the GMR, like Star Tours and Muppets, exudes the spirit of old MGM Studios. A little TLC (and maybe some different movie scenes) and it will once again be a headliner. But even if they never change it, it's still worth the long, air-conditioned ride through the history of movies.


One Man's Dream



We've raved about this before too. One of my absolute favorite WDW attractions, this walk through Walt's life and accomplishments is fascinating. I believe it to be required viewing for everyone who enters Walt Disney World so they can have a true appreciation for the genius and inspiration that was behind it all.


Next up, the youngest of the four main WDW theme parks, the under-appreciated and stunningly beautiful Animal Kingdom.

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