Disney Hollywood Studios
When Michael Eisner dedicated Disney Hollywood Studios or as it was known at that time, Disney-MGM Studios, he declared "Welcome to the Hollywood that never was and always will be." Over the years, the park has morphed away from the working studio idea to a theme park full of the best attractions Walt Disney World has to offer.
The Studios (as it was called at one time) no longer creates movies which is a shame. It was fun to watch the animators work. However, the rides here are as good as it gets anywhere.
Disney Hollywood Studios Video
Hollywood Boulevard/Echo Lake- The Introduction
Welcome to Hollywood, or an unreasonable facsimile thereof. This is the main entrance area of MGM Studios. There are lots of shops here to slow your progress into the park or to get that last dollar out of your wallet as you leave. During the day, "movie stars" appear and are "filmed" making their big debut.
|Photo by Samantha Decker|
Echo Lake, the small pool of water at the end of Hollywood Boulevard is the home of some of the biggest attractions Disney World has to offer, including the newest and most hip.
- The Great Movie Ride - ride through scenes of timeless, classic movies in this 22-minute tour of movie history.
- American Idol Experience - See if you have what it takes to be the next American Idol.
- Sounds Dangerous - A wacky show about how audio tracks are created. Starring Drew Carey.
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - A live show full of thrilling stunts based on the Indiana Jones movie series.
- Star Tours - Take a ride to Endor on Star Tours, an inter-galactic journey you won't soon forget.
This is a great way to start and end any day at a theme park.
Streets of America - See how movies are made
|Photo by Samantha Decker|
The Streets of America at Disney Hollywood Studios is the area where you learn how movies are made. The Backlot tour takes you into Castrophe Canyon where you can see how large scale stunts are created it also takes you to the backlot storage area of The MGM Studios.
- Muppet-Vision 3-D - A hilarious 3-D experience starring Kermit and friends. Even the old guys from the balcony get in the act.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure - A playground modeled after the movie. This is for guests under 4 foot tall.
- Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show - See how car chases are filmed. It's a blockbuster show that's full of big time action.
- Studio Backlot Tour - A 35 minute tram tour of movie-making magic.
You too can be part of the movies.
Animation Courtyard - The making of Cartoons
There is some good stuff and some really boring stuff in Animation Courtyard. This is where animated features use to be made, but now, alas, there is only a walk-through area with videos that talk about the process. You can see the a short portion of one of Disney's latest features.
- Walt Disney: One Man's Dream - A walking tour of images and items from Uncle Walt's life. A history buffs dream.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid - A live, musical presentation of scenes taken from the movie.
The tribute to Uncle Walt is amazing.
Disney Hollywood Studios
Pixar Place - Pixar and Disney... Match made in heaven
A few years ago, Pixar and Disney teamed up on a couple a little film called Toy Story. It wasn't very successful (yeah, right). It only became one of the biggest blockbusters ever. Now Disney and Pixar have done it again. They've teamed up on a Toy Story ride at Disney Hollywood Studios called Toy Story Midway Mania. It's quickly become the longest line at MGM Studios, and that's saying something.
- Toy Story Mania! - Join the Toy Story gang in a mid-way style arcade adventure.
More Pixar and Disney collaborations are coming soon.
Sunset Boulevard is the blockbuster area of Disney Hollywood Studios. There's only 3 attractions and one show down this not so sleepy lane, but they are the parks biggest, loudest, and busiest. The first attraction on Sunset Boulevard is Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage. Then come the biggies, The Hollywood Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. WOW. It doesn't get any better than this.
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith
- Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage - A live production taken from the Broadway musical.
- The Twlight Zone Tower of Terror - Journey into a world, a world of time and space, a world where the bottom drops out, over and over.
- Rock 'n' Roller Coaster - Starring Aerosmith - Join Aerosmith on the most hair-raising limo ride you'll ever take.
Also on Sunset Boulevard is Fantasmic, which is the closing show for the park complete with fireworks and dancing water. This is a must see show. Check it out.
Dining in Disney Hollywood Studios can be problematic. There are some good and some not so good restaurants here.
- Hollywood Brown Derby - the original home to the Cobb Salad right off Hollywood Boulevard
- Toy Story Pizza Planet - Based on the pizza arcade in the movie Toy Story
- Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano - grab some Italian food just like on Rodeo Dr.
- 50's Prime Time Cafe - Enjoy some of Mom's cookin' in a kitchen from the 50's
- Sci Fi Dine In - Watch scary Sci Fi movies while you eat.
- ABC Commissary - Dine with a great air conditioner.
- Studio Catering Company - Quick service in the back of the Studios.
- Starring Rolls Cafe - Quick but tasty breakfast or lunch
The daily entertainment schedule at Disney Hollywood Studios is as good as it gets. Here's a list of the daily (or sometimes several times a week) activities at MGM Studios -
- Pixar Pals Countown to Fun - the afternoon parade is based on Pixar. All the Pixar characters from Woody and Buzz to WALL-E parade through the park on colorful floats.
- Fantasmic (shown on selected days) - Fantasmic is a spectacular voyage into the dark world of Disney villains as they battle Sorcerer Mickey. It's a must see extravaganza for all ages.
|Photo by Express Monorail|
See the hours the park is open and when Fantasmic and the Hollywood Block Party are showing.
Disney puts on Special Events all year, and the event that dominates the Studios in May and June is Star Wars Weekends. In May and June on Fridays through Sundays, everyone dresses up in their Star Wars Costumes and has a big party.
Hurray for Hollywood
MGM Studios was on the drawing board for several years before Universal Studios announced they were going to build a theme park in Orlando. This get Disney moving and the new movie park was born.
Having a plan for touring the park is the only way to go. If you want to have a Perfect day at the Studios, you need to know how to avoid the crowds. At Touringplans.com, they provide several touring plans to help you navigate your way around the park with the least hassle. They also have an app for your phone that will show you the wait times on all the rides. Check it out today.
What secrets lurk behind the curtain? Do you know? How deep is the lagoon at Fantasmic!? These (at least one of these) and other secrets of Walt Disney World are revealed on Dad's secrets page. Check it out.
Dad's Bottom Line
A lot of people over the years have complained that the Disney Studios or Disney-MGM Studios, or Disney Hollywood Studios, or whatever, was a work that was thrown together to compete with Universal and that the park needed more attractions. I think Disney finally got the word. With the openings of American Idol and Toy Story Mania, Disney Hollywood Studios has become a complete and "fabulous darling" vacation experience.