Disney Magic This Week-Live from Walt Disney World

By Cassie

Here we are with several hundred other people outside of Hollywood Studios. It is a beautiful, but also very warm morning. The forecasted high for today is 94. The sun is beating down on us as we wait outside the entry touch points. The lines behind each double touch point station are all the way beyond the ticket sales and into the kiosk sales area. It looks like we won’t be gaining entry early today. The Cast Members are holding their line, passing time with those guests at the very front of the lines. It looks like they are all in place, just waiting to hear the music that signifies the official opening of the park for the day. We see a few families permitted in that have early breakfast reservation times and they move very slowly down the street, each of them taking time to have a photo taken of their party alone on the street. They are moving so slowly, aren’t they hungry? I am.

Finally we hear the music and Cast Members begin checking people in. It is normal opening time by the way. I was not able to collect FastPass+’s to go along with my plan for the day so I need to move quickly to “Toy Story Midway Mania” if I want to ride it today, and I do! Walking down the main thoroughfare I see several people break out in a run. CM’s lining the street ask people not to run and assure them that the attractions will be here all day, no need to run. I walk and am actually thanked by a CM for doing that. When I arrive at TSMM I see a posted wait time of 15 minutes and walk right in. There is no waiting at all as we move through the queue. We are boarded onto a ride vehicle as soon as we get to the bottom of the stairs. I am riding alone today and choose the right side cannon. I like this one because I feel like it has some advantages over the left side. “It’s a ride, it’s a game, it’s a game, and it’s a ride!”Is what you hear Mr. Potato Head exclaim in the queue.

Use the first screen with the characters to practice a few shots, but don’t get worn out here because it doesn’t count toward your score. Aim high and low. Spinning in a backwards circle we are set up in front of each new screen having target practice with a variety of targets and “weapons”. We shoot darts at balloons, balls at ceramic plates, rings tossed over aliens or spaceships, very much having the feel of carnival games, and gunshots in a ghost town. At the end you will be told your final score, your accuracy in hitting targets and what you would “win” as a stuffed animal if you were playing at a carnival. You find out who has the highest score in the vehicle, highest score that hour, day and even month. I love this ride/game. It brings out a healthy competition by members of my family. Toy Story characters are some of my top favorite so getting to see them in this attraction is a lot of fun. Upon exiting I see a great deal more people in the street who are discussing whether to ride now, with a wait time of 50 minutes, or do it later. There are not enough FastPass+’s for everyone who wants to ride this very popular attraction. There is always standby for those of us who must do this attraction.

I make my way out of Pixar Place to see what else is open. We should be able to ride the “Studio Backlot Tour”, according to the schedule, but it is having a delayed opening right now for some reason. Around the corner I see a family with young children headed to the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure to have some fun before anyone else arrives. The kids are happy to get out of the stroller and have some real child-friendly fun here. Continuing on I come to the Streets of America where there is no one else. I take some photos and people slowly start coming in. I was hoping to take in an early show at “Lights, Motors, Action! ® Extreme Stunt Show” and check the Times Guide, only to find out it is only showing two times today, at 1:20PM and 4:30PM. I will have to try and come back around for this attraction.

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I spend some more time exploring the Streets of America showing street scenes of New York City and San Francisco. The cosmopolitan hotel in the art deco period looks right off the streets of New York City. The details to these sets are amazing. I have included several photos from these streets for you to enjoy. On the street reminiscent of San Francisco I come across the “China Bowl Restaurant” that looks very much like a favorite Chinese restaurant from that town and I wish I could open the door, perhaps hear a little bell ring to let the proprietor know someone is there to be served, go in and get a table. I gaze in at the various items in the window, the chopsticks and other items classic to this type of restaurant. It makes me remember I did not eat breakfast yet. I turn the corner and see the Sci Fi Dine In, which is not open in the morning, but I stop to glance at the menu and take a few pictures. The menu shows that Sci Fi has joined in on the “souvenir glass” bandwagon.

You can get a milkshake in a classic milk shake glass that reads “Sci Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant” in their logo style. The glass and milk shake together costs $9.99. You can also choose a special non-alcoholic beverage in an Ariel or Cars 2 cup with a glowing Ariel or Lightning McQueen clip on light for $6.99. Or you may want a Coca-Cola® or Sprite® served in a souvenir glass with a glow cube for $6.49. I see that each entrée is paired with a specific beer or wine to complement it. There are several Craft Beers on the menu with ABV’s ranging from 5.1% to 9%. There are additional draft beers and bottled beers, specialty cocktails, white and red wines and both red and white organic Sangria’s to choose from. The sample car outside reminds me of the many family photos we have taken here on previous trips to Hollywood Studios. This is a fun place to eat, and get out of the summer heat! They are open for lunch and dinner and reservations are highly recommended.

Across the street the audition area for “The American Idol Experience” is looking very lonely. It looks like there is a shortage of guests today wanting to share their talents in this competitive challenge. My family has really enjoyed this attraction and will miss it when it closes in January. Moving on along this street toward the Sorcerer’s Hat end we pass the “ABC Commissary Restaurant”. There is a Seafood Platter on the menu that sounds pretty good. I am really in the mood to eat lunch, and it is way too early for that. The menu here has gone through several changes, which I appreciate. The photo menu outside the restaurant shows us tasty-looking entrees of Seafood Platter, 1/3 lb. Fresh Angus Cheeseburger crowned with Fried Shrimp, Couscous Quinoa & Arugula Salad with Salmon, Chicken Club sandwich, Asian Salad with Chicken, and 1/3 lb. Fresh Angus Bacon Cheeseburger. I also like the “billboards” down this alley promoting some of the great shows like “Once Upon A Time”. There is a large seating area inside and even the outside tables are in the shade much of the day providing plenty of seating. Rounding the corner I see a long line of people waiting to meet up with Goofy here.

The Main Stage is empty right now but there are several opportunities in this area to meet and greet Characters and I see some backdrops for family photos featuring the Hollywood Studios logo or the “Show your Summer Side” at Disney banner. I take it in but I am moving quickly to a spot I know will be open this early, the “Starring Rolls” bakery next to “Hollywood Brown Derby”. Starring Rolls is busy this morning and there are several parties under the umbrella tables and inside. The first things you see upon entering the very small venue is a display of Danish and turnovers. Then there is a drink cooler with water, juices, vitamin waters, chocolate and regular milk. Just beyond this are several muffins, bagels, and croissants. All it took for me to want it was seeing it, a Chocolate Croissant. I grabbed an orange juice and headed for the register. Make sure you check your register receipts at the quick service locations because they are currently offering a 20% discount on merchandise in the largest stores in each park, during certain hours. That is a very good discount. Outside I took a photo of my breakfast for you to see what it looked like.

I have had chocolate Croissants other places on Disney property, but this one was better than any of them. It was just the right texture and just the right amount of chocolate and powdered sugar in each bite. As I enjoyed this I studied the Times Guide to decide on the order I would follow the rest of the day. After I finished numbering them on my Guide I headed to “Voyage of the Little Mermaid”. To my surprise I saw a long line of people entering in the FastPass+ line. There was no one in the standby line and I made my way quickly through the queue. I could not help but overhear a man say to his wife that they should not have spent a FastPass+ on this attraction (he was right, at this time of day anyway). They regretted not getting a Toy Story Midway Mania FP+ instead. (Part of knowing that you need to ride or get a FP+ for it comes from being here previously during the early morning hours, or reading a lot of our blog posts.) “Voyage of the Little Mermaid” is a show, part film, part live actors and puppeteers. It is a quick retelling of the story of the Little Mermaid. Guests are asked twice, very clearly, not to use flash photography which someone in the theater did not heed. I was surprised at how many flashing bright lights there are in the show itself. I have not been to the show for a few years and I enjoyed it, apart from all the flashing lights. The young woman playing Ariel performed well.

There is time to visit the “Magic of Disney Animation” area before our next show. I went straight to the Drawing Class, “Animation Academy”, and entered the waiting area that guaranteed I would be in the next class. Inside guests were watching the sketching on the screens and guessed which character was being drawn as a way to pass the time. The doors opened right on time and we were ushered into the darkened drawing room. Guests are asked to choose a row and move all the way down to the last available stool in their row. It is very important that guests do move all the way down, not leaving any spaces so everyone who wants to draw will have a table to use. If you just want to visit the class, but not draw, you can do that to by sitting on the benches behind the art tables. So you pull your stool over, take a seat and put your drawing paper on the pegs that line up with the holes in the paper.

There is a sharpened Ticonderoga pencil, sans eraser, on your desk. You will be learning to draw a Disney character using this paper, pencil and the Mickey drawing/light table. Almost every class the Disney Character Artist teaching the class will “start with a circle”. The artists really make it very easy to draw a character that really looks like who you want to draw. They reference familiar items in explaining the shape of features of the character. You must draw lightly at first, then you can darken in your lines later after you see how the parts go together and to choose the lines you want to darken in. My family is a huge fan of this drawing class as we all like to draw. It is fun to attend several classes as they don’t repeat the same character anytime during the day, and each artist brings their own personality into the class. When the 20-minute class is over you get to take your drawing with you, a free souvenir, but please leave the pencils behind for the next class.

In the halls outside of Animation Academy you will see wall collections of the hand-drawn artwork that has gone into some of Disney’s most famous movies. There are signs that discuss the different stages the drawings go through in the process of bringing an animated film together. This then brings you into the “Art of Disney” store. Here you will see several paintings/reproductions for sale, drawings and figurines for sale, books that teach how to draw even more Disney characters, collectible items, and sometimes there is an artist in his area that will draw a specific character for you.

It is time to go see the “Indiana Jones ™ Epic Stunt Spectacular”! The FP+ line is moving steadily into the center section of the theater. Standby guests are in a queue to the right of the entrance and it is surrounded by lush tropical plants and they have misters on to cool everyone off. We are let into the theater fairly soon after FP+ has moved into place. I was able to secure a space far down on the right, but that is as good as I could get. There are still a lot of people filing in and filling up the far left side as one of the hosts asks for volunteers. This is one of the Disney attractions that have audience participation. Hollywood Studios has the highest number of audience participation attractions like this one, Backlot Tour, The American Idol Experience, and the Jedi Training Academy. It only makes sense to have guests in front of the “camera” or on “stage” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, right? The Indiana Jones attraction takes us into sets, director’s discussions with actors, stunt men/women, and makes use of some of the best “Indie” movie scenes. Volunteers become actors in the Cairo set. We are introduced to many elements of action films and it is a very good show you don’t want to miss. My family enjoyed the emcee Ali when he was at the American Idol Experience, but he is just as good over here. I was surprised outside at how very large this attraction is when you add in both of the show’s gift shops, one on either side of the entrances, the themed gag out front that say “Don’t Pull the rope!” (Go ahead, pull it!), the snack card directly across from the entrance where you can grab a snack or drink to enjoy inside, and the Oasis Canteen quick-service location. The gift shops have Indiana Jones style hats, t-shirts, wooden guns or pistols, whips, books, play swords and other items for adventurers of all ages.

It is time to head over to “Beauty and the Beast-Live”. We pass by the “Cinema Storage” building that is closed for a long refurbishment, which many believe the long refurb is for the purpose of turning it into a Starbuck’s. It will be a great location here on this busy corner. People are entering the Theater of the Stars when I get there, and again FP+ holders have the center section, in front of the sound boards, the section closest to the stage. The pre-show that used to be here is one of the live performances that have been eliminated. This “Beauty and the Beast” live show is top-notch live musical theater. The story, the costumes, the singing and dancing are performed so well. It is a delightful way to spend 30 minutes here at Hollywood Studios. Come enjoy this high energy production of a favorite tale of the beautiful girl, the beast, and the narcissistic Gaston. People of all ages were expressing their delight in this show making it a very family-friendly attraction.

I hope that you have enjoyed visiting some of the shows of Hollywood Studios with me today. When you are making your plans for your visit to Walt Disney World I hope that you will enjoy some of them yourself.



About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.