Disneyworld Day 3: Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, The Void, Disney Springs
Hollywood Studios lived up to its reputation as “the half day park”. The problem is that the theming of “hey, we’re in Hollywood” just isn’t as interesting or as resonant as it used to be, certainly not compared to other parks or even Epcot. Which is I guess why they’re adding on Toy Story and Star Wars-themed lands.
Star Tours was good fun, as usual. We saw what must have been a fairly new video, since it had The Last Jedi footage and we landed in Galaxy’s Edge, the upcoming Star Wars land. This will be a fantastic introduction to Galaxy’s Edge but it doesn’t make much sense to guests right now, particularly the intro, which leaves you wondering why ‘Star Tours’ starts out on an enemy ship to begin with.
Some of Muppetvision 3D’s jokes are still good (“We’re doing a tribute to all the nations in the world, but mostly America”), but overall it needs updating. Since The Muppets are apparently getting rebooted, maybe this will happen sooner rather than later.
I never watched The Twilight Zone, so whenever I ride The Tower of Terror it always reminds me of Futurama’s loving parody, The Scary Door. Sadly, some of the kids we rode with declared it ‘boring’, presumably in comparison to the Guardians of the Galaxy version in Disneyland.
Star Wars Launch Bay is a bizarrely office-like structure full of movie models and character encounters. A stopgap solution until Galaxy’s Edge is built.
Walt Disney Presents is worth a wander through.
We caught the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show, a weird medley of dramatic scenes from all nine(!) Star Wars movies plus live actors. I was mostly impressed by the screen that remained bright even in full noon sunlight.
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular was entertaining.
Toy Story Mania, a shooting gallery game with 3D glasses and moving cars, was a blast and felt more fun than it conceptually should have been. I don’t know if it’s the action of pulling a string to fire a gun, or the atmosphere, or the 3D, or the moving cars, or everything put together, but it felt good. Not sure it justifies two hour wait times, but I guess there’s not much else to do in Hollywood Studios.
Lunch at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Great theming and our attendant wasn’t as bothersome as we’d feared.
Perhaps due to the new Avatar ‘Pandora’ land, I had the idea that Animal Kingdom was basically an animal-themed park without real animals. Of course in reality it’s more like a zoo and safari park, which is pretty neat. Like many other parts of Disneyworld, the African and Asian sections suffer from silly stereotypes that need to be updated.
Expedition Everest is one of the best story-themed rollercoasters I’ve been on, with some clever touring.Maharajah Jungle Trek is a pleasant animal-spotting stroll.
Bets on how long it’ll take them to turn Africa land into Wakanda? I expect an announcement within by 2020.
The Kilimanjaro Safari was lovely, especially since we managed to ride at dusk. Our driver talked about conservation and recycling, as you’d expect. Later, on exiting the ride, a kid saw me drinking from a water fountain. “Water!” he exclaimed to his parents. “We’ll just get a bottle,” they chided him.
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a walking VR experience by The VOID, wasn’t quite as mindblowing as I’d expected since we have a wireless HTC Vive plus the maximum play area set up. But for anyone else (i.e. everyone else), I’m sure it’d be sensational.
In terms of logistics, it’s a rocky experience that requires too many attendants and too many wristbands and QR codes that don’t work very well. The sequencing is also imperfect, as we were left waiting around in one area until (presumably) the players in front of us got their shit together and moved along. A lot of these things, including the cumbersome helmets and backpacks, will swiftly be fixed as the tech improves.
The story was… non-existent, and very much dependent on your cultural awareness of Star Wars. A real missed opportunity.
But overall, it was very promising and even I, a jaded VR veteran, enjoyed walking around and feeling as if I were really on moving platforms or near to hot fires. More on this later.
Disney Springs is the outdoor mall, perfected – for better and worse.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Dinner was good.
Perfect bus timing in morning, dreadful going from Hollywood Studios to Animal Kingdom. Disney needs to either speed up buses (unlikely); add ETA displays to make the wait more predictable (expensive); or just add shading in the waiting area (crazy they haven’t already done this).
I haven’t yet tired of guests – both adults and kids – naming movies, songs, characters of things they see in the park in amazement. “It’s real… all of it!”
Does anyone else find the “Exit Only” signs incredibly confusing? To me, they read as “You may exit the space you are currently in only thing this marked door.” Instead, Disney means that you can’t walk through the door – in which case, why not say “Do not enter”? This may be a UK/US thing, but it’s not as if I haven’t been to the US dozens of times before.
Finally, no-one knows how to fucking queue here. We keep on seeing large groups joining one or two members of their group waiting later in line. There are lots of people who straight up ignore existing informal lines for, say, entry bag search.
Not all of this Disney’s fault (although why the US opposes the One True Way of queuing – unified queue splitting at the end into different counters – is beyond me), it’s just inconsiderate guests. People talk about how Brits and Japanese like queuing – no, we don’t like it, it’s just that we know the difference between being polite and being an asshole.