A new day, another sleepless night. Again, I am not sure if it was over stimulation, excitement, missing Mike (my husband), or a combination of all 3. I would have thought I would have slept longer and better because 14 hours in the parks kind of warrants that, but I digress.
I was up early and was able to chat online with my business partner, Tricia, who was also awake as her family was heading down later that morning. After chatting, I checked the weather and saw it was going to be even hotter and more humid than it was yesterday. In my head I decide it would be better to get an early start and then take a mid-day break back at the resort for lunch and swimming. I was able to make enough noise to wake everyone up and have the kids and me out for the bus to Hollywood Studios by 8am. Mom decided to stay back and we would meet her for lunch at the Resort when we got back. We arrived at Hollywood Studios 4o minutes later, which was great. As we approached the gates we saw huge topiaries in honor of Monster’s University- so we stopped to take a picture…
Once we got inside there was a mad dash for Toy Story Mania (the most popular Disney theme park attraction in any of their 5 resort-theme parks worldwide) Fast Passes. I could not and would not run. My feet were still achy for 14 hours in Epcot and knew they wouldn’t be sold out before 9am (remember, gates open at 8:45am, the rides and attractions however don’t open until 9am). We made it to the kiosks and got return times between 10:30 & 11:30. Not terrible. The line was HUGE to ride once the park officially opened at 9am (10 minutes) and cast members were already announcing there would be a delayed opening for Toy Story Mania because of a mechanical issue. Usually, we grab fast passes in the morning and then ride it as soon as we get there so we can ride it twice. The line that had formed to do just that- just stretching close to the attraction behind it, so we decided against that- especially since the line wasn’t going to be moving at 9am due to this mechanical problem.
Hint one: If you want to ride Toy Story Mania, go to Hollywood Studios in the morning and get your fast passes ASAP! Wait time for this ride can be upwards of 2 hours without a fast pass!
So, we tucked our fast passes away and decided to get on line for the Studio Backlot Tour (this line nearly met the Toy Story Mania line). The kids had never ridden this before and I don’t think I did since I was in college. The attraction opened up promptly at 9am and we were on our way! Once inside they were asking for volunteers, and no I did not raise my hand. Why? I was the sole adult with 3 kids and I didn’t think that was a great parenting choice. Plus, when I did this attraction in college my best friend’s sister volunteered and she was drenched with water- remember, this is the 1st thing we did today and I didn’t want to spend the rest of the morning feeling like that. So… we started in the Harbor Attack section (aka where volunteers get drenched with water) and the kids may have actually learned something. Here they showed you how editing helps put the storyline together. On our way to the tram through Catastrophe Canyon we passed by the rainbow colored chicken house from the Hannah Montana Movie and we were led into a prop house filled with all sorts of treasures from movies and television.
Hint two: Parents of young children- board the Studio Backlot Tram BEFORE your little ones. There is an explosion and it might terrify a little one being that close.
We rode through the backlot and passed by a few Herbie the Love Bugs, saw a plane that looked like a prop for the new Planes movie, the Earful Tower, and then into Catastrophe Canyon. Here you watch the special effects of a tanker explosion with the water gushing all around the tram. Very cool, and the kids thought this was really exciting! Once off the tram we were able to wander about displays including movie artifacts from Titanic, Superman, The Sound of Music, and Oz the Great and Powerful. This attraction was such a nice surprise for us- I had no idea the kids would be so interested and excited about learning so much about how movies and television shows are made. It really was a great way to start our day. It is also one of the attractions at the back of the park- so we could move our way forward throughout the morning.
Once we left the Backlot Tour, the line for Toy Story Mania was moving, finally. But, still too long to wait to ride it twice. We checked the wait times on the My Disney Experience Ap and decided to head to The Magic of Disney Animation, since we were on a learning kick. We first entered the animation building and headed to the Animation Gallery where Animation cells, props and awards are on display which was really neat to see in person. Then we watched a 10 minute film with Mushu and an animator about character development. Next we took an animation class!
Hint three: If you want to take an animation class and get a seat at a lighted desk instead of a lap board- get there well before the posted class start time.
These are HUGELY popular and fill up quickly! Each class you take there is a vote as to whom you learn to draw. So you can return to this attraction several times a day and learn to draw a new character each time. We learned how to draw Rapzunel- which really frustrated Mikey- the girls and I tried…
Once we were done it was finally time to ride Toy Story Mania! We had been trash talking each other all morning as to who would win this now ultra-competitive contest. Let’s just say…. Mommy still has some Toy Story Mania bragging rights!
Now it was 11:30am when we left Toy Story Mania and time to head back to the resort for lunch and some pool time! Before we left the park we picked up fast passes for Tower of Terror because the return times for Rockin’Rollercoaster were well before we wanted to get back to the park. Time wise, this worked better for us. We were back by 12:30 and met Mom in our room. The 4 of us changed into bathing suits & cover-ups and headed down to Art of Animation’s Landscapes of Flavor Food Court. Now, this is a bit more upscale than I would expect anywhere else. Mom and I both got Caprese Sandwiches (tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and balsamic drizzle on Ciabatta bread), the girls each got a pizza, and Mikey got chicken fingers and fries. So much for changing it up a bit. 😉
Once we were done we spent an hour in the Big Blue Pool in the Finding Nemo section. The other two pools in the resort are considerably smaller, and this one seemed to be the closest to our suite. One really cool feature about his pool is the under water audio. When you immerse yourself in the pool you will hear a soundtrack of water themed songs that my kids were already accustomed to because we own the CD, “Finding Nemo Ocean Favorites”. In fact, it is a Summertime favorite in our backyard! You will hear songs like “Sea Cruise”, “Fish School”, “Gone Fishin'”, and “Catch a Wave”. It is an adorable soundtrack and we enjoyed playing “Name That Tune” as we swam. After an hour, we then headed back to the room to wash up and head back to Hollywood Studios.
Once back inside the Studios, around 3pm, we took our picture on Hollywood Boulevard as tradition. The girls and I headed straight for Tower or Terror with our Fast Passes and picked up Fast Passes for Rockin’ Rollercoaster for later that night. Timing perfection! We met Mom and Mikey (after they went to meet Lightening McQueen & Mater, plus Phineas and Ferb) over in Animation Courtyard where she went with Katie and Mikey to meet Ralph & Vanellope (from Wreck it Ralph fame) back inside The Magic of Disney Animation. Jacqueline really wanted to meet Princess Sofia (of Disney Junior fame, and yes- this is my 13 year old. For those who say taking kids to Disney when they are toddlers are wasting their time and money- her first trip was 14 months old and none of the Disney magic is EVER lost on her. She always wants to meet and greet with any and all of the Disney princesses! She LOVES the experience and I will indulge that desire for hers as long as she wants it.) and I went with her. We met back in the courtyard and headed over to our dinner reservation at the Sci Fi Dine In.
We LOVE the Sci Fi and go just about every time we visit Hollywood Studios. They have the BEST burgers and milkshakes! Inside a drive in is recreated (indoors) where they play older Sci Fi movie clips (which also include space themed Tom and Jerry cartoons as well) while you eat inside a convertible car! We were so stuffed from our burgers and shakes we had no room left for their amazing deserts, so we headed out after lingering a bit to avoid a down pour outside.
Hint four: Just about every table service restaurant in Hollywood Studios is heavily themed and difficult to get a reservation for. To avoid disappointment I strongly suggest making a reservation before your arrival. The Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose, and Hollywood and Vine also offer priority seating for Fantasmic! on the nights it is preformed- again, you will need to make a special reservation for this and will have to ask for the dinner package that includes tickets for the special seating area when you make the reservation.
After dinner we scooted over to the Great Movie Ride inside the full-scale reproduction of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (and very close to the Sci Fi- which was easy to manage in the drizzle). Another family favorite, and again, Mikey started to panic a bit- but he settled down pretty quickly while we watched the movie as we waited to board the attraction. We boarded our tram and traveled through Casablanca, Fantasia, Mary Poppins, Raiders of the Lost Ark , Singin’ in the Rain, Tarzan the Ape Man, Alien (a bit intense, but the kids weren’t bothered at all by it), and finally The Wizard of Oz.
Next it was time for our Rockin’ Rollercoaster Fast Passes and the rain had stopped- so Mom and Mikey did some shopping in the Star Tours (Star Wars themed ride) gift shop. Mikey LOVES Star Wars- but (as you can tell) not so much the rides. He did hit Nana up for his own light saber and R2D2 ears though! Next time we will try for the Jedi Training Academy (I felt guilty not having Daddy there for that) which is a 20 minutes “training” by a Jedi Master for those wanting to become a real Jedi. The girls and I had a blast on Rockin’ Rollercoaster and now that they actually are old enough to know and like Aerosmith’s music (they danced to and sang along with Walk This Way the entire queue leading to the ride) it takes on a whole new tone.
We met Nana and Mikey in time for the first showing of Fantasmic!. We were able to sit, which is key, and call Daddy- this is his absolute favorite (so we taped the entire show for him too!) and we were all missing him. After the show, we boarded our bus back to the resort. Once back at the resort we grabbed desserts at Landscapes of Flavor and headed back to our suite to pack up and get some sleep- tomorrow was check out day at Art of Animation and check in to Wilderness Lodge after we hit Animal Kingdom park!