We’ll stop by Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the morning of November 6, 2018 for a “first look” at this year’s holiday decorations and other happenings.
2018’s holiday program here officially gets underway on Thursday, November 8th, but the majority of the Christmas decorations went up overnight on the 5th. The nighttime projection and fireworks show that replaces the Star Wars Fireworks, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! debuted on November 6th along with a preview of the Sunset Seasons Greetings.
While not all of the holiday decorations are installed – most notably, Gertie is missing her Santa hat – I thought we’d take the opportunity to enjoy a festive walk around the Park to see how things are looking as we head towards the official opening of the Studios’ Flurry of Fun.
Mickey and his broomstick friends will greet you in front of bag check, adorned with red bows for the holidays and ornaments in their buckets. It’s a fun little photo-op.
As is tradition, a few of the pictures will be unnaturally wide, sometimes skewing the perspective a little bit.
But the 11-24mm lens is a unique take that “sees” a much wider area than your eyes would naturally be able to take in, sometimes to disastrous results.
One of my favorite parts of the Studios’ holiday decor is the juxtaposition of the many palm trees with the various wreaths, garlands, bows, and ornaments.
The palm tress that line Hollywood Boulevard add a laid back tropical vibe – almost like you’re actually vacationing amidst the stars in Hollywood. And when certain bloggers are present, you basically are.
I think the decorations punctuate that feeling, perhaps minus the whole blogger part.
The decorations just inside the entrance should look familiar as we head down the Boulevard:
Make sure to examine the window displays of the shops that line Hollywood Boulevard with special attention paid to the Celebrity Five and Ten on the right side of the street. You’ll enjoy these gals high-steppin’ all day and night.
This year, there’s an amusing amount of 50’s kitsch going on, here with some pink poodles with holiday collars and noses held high in the air. The setup here isn’t all that different from our visits to the first day of the Food and Wine Festival. We physically rope ourselves together so we know nobody can get away.
Coffee cup kayaking is actually going to be an Olympic sport in 2020 with the usual paddles switched out with oversized metal spoons. Also, all participants must wear pajamas. It looks like these guys are getting a head start in more ways than one.
There’s no shame here with the bells and candy cane umbrellas. I’m guessing that this is exactly how I’ll dress and act at this time next year if I’m ever able to get a FastPass+ for a Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride.
Back in September, Disney announced that Toy Story Land would see a holiday overlay and in October, they posted some more details:
It turns out that what you see mentioned here is just about the extent of what we’re going to get.
The overlay adds a bit of holiday fun. “Minimalist” is probably a nice way to put it as none of the holiday decorations are visible here as we enter the Land.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some fun holiday touches.
For one, Rex is sporting these adorable antlers and he and Jessie add some holiday banter to the conversation that they seem to have every 30 seconds or so.
The “oversized-popcorn-and-cranberry garland” is found here above Woody’s Lunch Box.
That means there are now two-and-a-half times more popcorn kernels (five) than there are registers (two) to take your order.
When I skimmed over the Parks Blog post, I saw a mention of an “oversized Hamm sugar cookie,” and since then, Erin and I have been looking forward to procuring one and happily prancing it around the Land.
As it turns out, the cookie is more of a large plastic decoration than anything, though he is awfully precious.
If you look behind him, you’ll see that a Green Army Man is helping to prop the cookie up.
Some alien head ornaments offer another photo opportunity.
Me after I finish editing the three pictures of the holiday decorations in toy story land
Feels good man pic.twitter.com/DYNZGXkleO
— josh (@easywdw) November 6, 2018
If you look around the corner, you’ll see a bonus ball.
The Toy Story characters are decked out for the holidays.
The candy cane in his holster seems like quite the political statement in an election year.
He’s also got a little mistletoe in his hat and has apparently raided Andy’s grandma’s closet for the Christmas tree vest.
Jessie is rocking a peppermint vest herself and probably has a pair of perfectly-wrapped socks in her back pocket that she’s going to try to slip you at some point.
Buzz is rocking the Santa hat on top of a helmet better than most.
One note here: As we’re aware, the Toy Story characters in Toy Story Land are already extremely popular, and the Christmas outfits are just going to exacerbate those waits. If you’re rope dropping Toy Story Land, I’d visit Woody and Jessie immediately after Slinky Dog Dash and then visit Buzz on the way out. Expect 30- to 60-minute waits for Woody and Jessie from 15 minutes after Park open through at least an hour before close. Buzz is typically between 25 and 40 minutes.
Proof that everybody is just a scarf away from a holiday spectacular, the Green Army Men are rocking their own Christmas gear.
They add a lot of energy to Toy Story Land, an area in the Park that is arguably lacking in theming. It would be fun to see a few more characters added here – imagine if Hamm, Mr. Pricklepants, and Rex were strolling around the area taking pictures with guests. It will never happen, but it would make Toy Story Land so much more fun and exciting.
There’s a whole lot of seasonal junk available around Hollywood Studios and the website has had the joy of sampling almost all of it. I’ll post reviews and menus in a separate post, but it’s worth noting that Woody’s Lunch Box has added a $3.29 “Cinammon Cran-Apple Tart” in place of the raspberry variety.
And it’s actually pretty good, particularly for the money, topped here with some crunchy, sugary snowflakes, a toasted marshmallow acorn, and some pink chocolate-y pearls.
Just about all of the other desserts we’re going to see are going to cost between five and eight dollars.
The crumbly crust does an admirable job of holding in the spiced-apple-pie filling with a little bit of cinnamon along with the sweet and slightly-tart cranberry sauce. The fact that it’s sort of like a Pop Tart is a good excuse to order one of these up early in the morning, too.
I’d actually recommend doing just that – we enjoyed ours around 9:45am – or consider adding one to an order later in the day. Quite tasty and a great value.
While I’m not sure how long they’ll be available – the original Alien Popcorn Buckets sold out on opening day and were never restocked – these precious little guys dressed in a Santa suit and hat are available from the Studios’ various popcorn merchants in front of the Chinese Theater for $25 each. The construction is kind of shoddy and they’re a huge pain to carry around and you probably won’t actually use it in the ways you told yourself that you would that helped you rationalize the purchase of a $25 popcorn bucket, but they are awfully cute. Book a flight for tomorrow if you want one, though.
On the attraction front, you’ll hear sleigh bells ringing as Slinky traverses the Dash & Dodge Mega Coaster Kit. If you hold your ear up close to this picture, you can almost here it.
Alien Swirling Saucers has added a couple of techno holiday tunes to its soundtrack as well.
While Toy Story Land’s overlay isn’t going to smack the face off your Mr. Potato Head, there are a couple of fun touches and a few photo opportunities.
And Woody’s ventriloquist act continues its superb, unprecedented run, particularly when he’s offering a holiday greeting.
We’ll be keying in on Sunset Boulevard much more once darkness falls and the Sunset Seasons Greetings projection and laser show starts, in addition to the food reviews, where approximately 47 different kinds of panna cotta are offered at Sunset Ranch Market.
Santa returns to the Carthay Circle store at the end of Sunset Boulevard on the right side just before you arrive at the entrance to Beauty and the Beast.
Santa operates on a pager system most of the day, where you’ll pick one up outside the entrance to his North Pole outpost and it will buzz when it’s your turn. Upon returning, you should wait about ten minutes for your turn. The buzzers work around Sunset Boulevard, so you might pick one up before lunch at Sunset Ranch Market or while you’re enjoying the nighttime elements. I’m not sure I would trust them in the Tower of Terror boiler room or on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster though. He meets intermittently throughout the day, officially from:
- 9:30am – 10:30am
- 11:40am – 12:40pm
- 1:35pm – 2:45pm
- 3:30pm – 4:30pm
- 5:40pm – 6:30pm
- 7:25pm – 8:15pm
Santa meets in a really beautiful room with the red carpet and Christmas trees. It’s worth seeking out, particularly if you’re planning on spending some time enjoying Sunset Boulevard as you don’t need to wait in line. Arrive between 9:20am and 10am and you should also be able to meet him without needing to return with a pager, due to a short wait earlier in the morning.
Echo Lake is another area decked out for the holidays.
And we should see even more touches added for the official Flurry of Fun debut on the 8th:
Even the umbrellas over the picnic tables outside Min & Bill’s get in on the action with the Christmas tree theme and gold star topper.
Heading to the eventual entrance to Galaxy’s Edge on Grand Avenue, you’ll find a few decorations as the lamp posts are wrapped.
Chip and Dale meet close to the construction wall in hats and scarves, intermittently from 9:30am – 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 4pm. Santa Goofy meets closer to Tatooine Traders intermittently from 1pm to 3:30pm and 4:45pm to 6:10pm.
Overall, Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers quite a bit of holiday cheer during the day and we haven’t even really touched upon the many nighttime activities or numerous, mediocre seasonal desserts. With fun decorations, characters dressed up in their holiday finest, and the festive overall atmosphere of the Park, there’s no better time to visit the Studios. Granted, that’s not saying much.
We’ll see where our holiday travels take us next.