I think the park that surprised me the most was Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And it didn’t necessarily surprise me in an “I like this!” kind of way, it just was surprising. Neither a good nor bad surprise.
The biggest surprise was how similar it felt to Disney California Adventure in Anaheim. (Yes, I know, DCA is the newer park. But I’ve known it much longer than DHS.) The entry gates in DHS are the same as the new DCA entry gates. The Tower of Terror is each park’s biggest E-ticket. DHS has a Carthay Theatre. DCA is getting a (bigger and more central) Carthay Theatre. And the feel of the parks are much the same. (It makes sense, in a way, as they are both focused on California. I just didn’t expect it.)
The best part about DHS is the huge variety of shows. From Fantasmic! to Beauty and the Beast to the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, there are TONS of shows.
The rides are enjoyable too, but the shows are what sets Hollywood Studios apart. This is appropriate, as it’s about HOLLYWOOD. You know, where people make movies? Yeah, that aspect of the park was no disappointment and very well done.
Specific thoughts on the shows:
- Fantasmic! has its own amphitheater. With bleachers. YOU GET TO SIT DOWN IN TIERED SEATING TO WATCH THE SHOW. I cannot emphasize this enough, because it was the ONLY thing about the DHS version that beats the DLR version. The seating is awesome. The show itself – for the sections which aren’t exactly the same as the original in Disneyland – is a baby version. (Granted, it costs somewhere around half as much. It shows) There are more projections on the water screens instead of live actors. No pirate ship. A puny steamboat instead of the Mark Twain. Plus, where we have the new and improved Murphy (aka Maleficent-the-dragon), they have our old Bucky (aka Maleficent-the-dragon).
- Beauty and the Beast was fun to see. The chorus was lip-synching, though, while the leads were singing (over microphones). Still, the acting was fun, the dancing was great, and the tech effects were wonderful.
- The Indy Jones Stunt show was cut short when we saw it due to rainy conditions. The rain itself had stopped, but the set was still too wet for about half the stunts. What we saw was great fun, though.
- The Little Mermaid show was really short. (And the gal we saw playing Ariel was missing a few of the high notes.) The tech effects were great, but that’s about all I can say as a reason to stand in line for this show. If you can manage to walk right on (as we did), that’s perfect.
- The Lights, Motors, Action! stunt show was great. Tons of fun, and worth waiting for. (Plus it had Lightning McQueen! Ka-chow!)
Specific thoughts on the rides:
- Tower of Terror in DHS is one of two rides I will say is unconditionally better than the California version. (Snow White in MKP is the other.) This Tower of Terror was the original, and is more entertaining than the DCA one. However, they also had the room to make it whatever they wanted. In DCA they did a smaller version because they had less space. Also, the DCA version follows the same drop pattern every time. (My guy has it memorized.) The DHS version is RANDOM. So much fun. I loved this ride so much.
- Toy Story Midway Mania is the same ride as the DCA one. The queue is fun, and full of big-size classic games, as if you’re toy-sized. But it imagines you’re in Andy’s Room, while the DCA version puts you on the Midway (as the name of the ride suggests). I like them both, they just give you different backgrounds.
- The Great Movie Ride was okay. Based on reviews I’d heard prior to going to Florida, I expected to love it. But it was just okay. I suspect a lot of it has to do with your guide.
- The Studio Backlot Tour is essentially a cookie-cutter copy of the one at Universal Studios, but with different sets. (No Jaws. But the same basic idea.) Fun, but not something I need to go on regularly.
Specific thoughts on the food:
- The Sci-Fi Drive-In Diner was amusing. The food was okay, and the atmosphere was fun.
- The 50’s Primetime Cafe was one of my favorite places to eat. The food quality was good basic home cooking, but the show! The atmosphere in the place was awesome. Our waitress was “Mom Maryanne,” and she treated us like kids. If someone (always an adult, that I saw) didn’t finish their dinner, she threatened to “airplane” another bite (or three) in their mouth. When the food she brought out was hot, she cautioned us to “use our blowers”. The whole thing felt Disney. It was an amazing, and highly recommended experience.