Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously Disney-MGM Studios) is home to two of the biggest thrill rides in the World, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Being a more daring person, I figured those two rides would be the only highlights for me in this park. But with every Disney trip we take, I am finding more and more to like about Hollywood Studios.
The Tower of Terror rises ominously above the trees as you enter the park, and may be tempted to run right to it (or away from it!) But first let yourself be distracted by Hollywood Boulevard. The colors, style and nostalgia of the Art Deco architecture is entrancing, although your eye may still be drawn to the massive Sorcerer Mickey Hat in front of you. Turning right onto Sunset Boulevard, you’ll find the Theatre of the Stars which shows the Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. A little farther on your right is the entrance to Fantasmic! Be sure to check schedules for Fantasmic! shows, they change with the seasons and this is one nighttime light/water/fireworks show you’ll not want to miss. Get there early too, at least an hour before show time. But shadowing over all of this is the Tower of Terror. Wait times can be long, but that just gives you the time to absorb the incredible Disney detail from the courtyard to the basement. But the most unique feature is the randomly programmed drop sequences which equal a different ride experience every time. Finally tucked back in the corner is the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, an Aerosmith themed ride involving a 0 – 60mph take off in a limousine styled coaster. This dark indoor ride has you barreling down a looping, twisting “highway” while listening to some REALLY loud music. It does take a minute for the ears to recover after this one!
If you continue to loop around counter-clockwise, you’ll come to the Animation Courtyard and Pixar Place. On your right is the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream exhibit, a moving history of Walt’s life and the creation of everything Disney and Disney owned from early Mickey Mouse films to current ABC television shows. Continuing down Pixar Place you’ll come to Toy Story Mania. This may be the one ride you run to for fast passes as soon as the park opens. Still fairly new, (opened in Spring 2008) there is no better way to describe this ride other than the absolute most fun you can have at Hollywood Studios without any fear factor!
Walking back toward the Sorcerer hat, you’ll pass the replica of Mann’s Chinese Theater which houses The Great Movie Ride. Check out the entryway in front of the theatre for the handprints of numerous celebrities. From here you can wander down Commissary Lane and onto the Streets of America. On your right is the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, where giant toys and foliage make you feel as small as a bug, and behind that is the Studio Backlot Tour.
Way in the back corner of the park is the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Unless you have been on an actual movie set, you’ve probably never seen anything like this. Stuntmen, stunt cars, motorcycles, chases, explosions, fire, you name it, they’ve got it and it’s really cool! If the movie action and stunts appeal to you, be sure not to miss the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular that is located near the front of the park.
Some other notable attractions are the Muppet*Vision 3D show (everyone loves the muppets, right?) and Star Tours, an awesome spaceship journey to the Moon of Endor (a must for any Star Wars fan of any age). And not being a big American Idol fan, I must say I was pretty impressed with the professionalism and talent that we saw at the American Idol show at the ABC-TV Theater.
While we have not been to many of the restaurants in HS, we all enjoy the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant for a good table service meal (and milkshakes!) If you’re looking for a quick snack, the Starring Rolls Café has excellent sandwiches and desserts big enough to share (if you want to…)
And finally, if you are in the World during the winter holidays, Hollywood Studios is home to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. This amazing display belonged to one Arkansas family and was purchased by Disney in 1995. Watch the video below and keep in mind that all the lights used on the buildings are thousands of your standard 100 bulb strands and over 32 miles of extension cords!