After spending some time looking at Christmas decorations and happenings in Magic Kingdom, we’ll stop by Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see what it has to offer this time of year.
One of the new additions is the Santa Claus Meet and Greet on Sunset Boulevard. He’s located inside Once Upon A Time, which is the last shop on the right as you approach Tower of Terror.
Disney is employing a pager system – a cast member in front of the building will sign you in and offer said pager along with an approximate time of when it’s going to go off. We were told to come back to the Sunset Boulevard area about ten minutes before the 2-hour return time so the signal could reach the pager. It would supposedly only reach the Sunset Boulevard area. But our pager did go off about an hour later in front of Muppet Vision 3D, so it’s possible that the reach is further than stipulated.
Santa officially meets intermittently from 10am through regular Park close, though he usually arrives at 9:45am per My Disney Experience. I’m not sure there is a huge rush to get here since you’ll be able to meet him so long as you pick up a pager – probably not later than two hours to close to be on the safe side. If you were planning on seeing Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage and/or having lunch or dinner at Sunset Ranch Market, then that might be convenient so you don’t have to walk all the way back down the street from a less convenient location. Upon returning, the wait to meet Santa was just about five minutes.
It’s otherwise a classy setup with PhotoPass in tow for pictures. They are always happy to take photos with your own camera/phone/iPad/what have you. The pager system, while not as convenient as a text message perhaps, makes this an easy meet and Santa is incredibly personable. A real treat.
In related character news, Chip and Dale are meeting in knit caps and scarves across from Sci-Fi Dine-In.
That’s basically to the right of the Mickey/Minnie Meet and Greet. Their usual meet times are 9:30am – 12:20pm and 1:30pm – 4pm with short waits in the early morning though afternoon waits shouldn’t often eclipse 25 minutes.
The Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! show is the other big addition this year, replacing the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular show through December 30th. Reviews on this one are mixed at best – if you are expecting a fireworks heavy show then you will be disappointed as there is not a lot of pyro involved until the very end, and even then. Realistically, you’re probably going to want to show up 30 to 45 minutes early, which may be too long given the quality of what you’ll see. And from there, the shoulder kid/tall blogger problem is a real thing and can cause some last minute frustration.
Most non-holiday weeks, you’ll see Jingle BAM scheduled at 6:45pm and Fantasmic scheduled at 7pm, which isn’t going to be enough time to see both in most scenarios. While I preferred the Star Wars show to Fantasmic, I think most people that have to choose between one or the other will enjoy Fantasmic more. Of course, if you have already seen Fantasmic or will have another opportunity to see it, then you may favor the seasonal offering.
Because the show is so dependent on the projections, you may want to see this one from as close to the theater as possible, which should also reduce the likelihood that I’m going to stand in front of your kids at the last second.
Sunshine Day Cafe, which is the re-purposed turkey leg stand on Sunset Boulevard, is open and serving a holiday-esque menu.
We’ll see if we ever get our promised macaroni and cheese hot dog.
Oh yeah, Bud Light.
Cupcake photography is serious business for serious people only.
I’m not sure any part of this picture is in focus.
Anyway, this is the $5.59 Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Peppermint Buttercream Icing. I thought it was on the bland side compared to most of the other cupcakes at this price point, but on the other hand, it also doesn’t overwhelm with peppermint oil or another artificial flavor. Decidedly average overall.
I thought the little paper bag that the $4.99 Stollen Bites – Traditional German Fruit Cake Bites Dipped in Butter and Sprinkled with Sugar arrived in was pretty precious.
Six pieces, each good for two or three bites, arrive with each order. The fruit bread is like a pretty dense, crumbly cake that’s sweetened up by the candied fruit and raisins, in addition to the dusting of sugar and what I’m assuming is a pretty light spritz of butter to help it stick. Overall, I’m not sure that there’s a tremendous amount of value here for the money, but I appreciated how festive it made me feel as I approached the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. I would order them again.
While there isn’t really anything overtly Disney about them, Sunshine Day Cafe will sell you a Giant Gingerbread Men Kit for $14.99. It comes with two sizable cookies and all of the icing, gumdrops, and chocolate candies that one would need to put two festive creations together.
Anaheim Produce, which is also part of Sunset Ranch Market and located to the right of Sunshine Day Cafe on the same road leading to Tower of Terror, had a pretty redonkulous sounding drink.
A big thanks to the website’s hand model, Tom Corless. This $9.75 Candy Cane Kah-Lada – Kahlua and Bacardi Superior Rum Blended with Coconut, Pineapple, and a Hint of Peppermint. In addition to being a sort of off-putting color, we all agreed that this was virtually impossible to drink. Not necessarily because it tasted “bad,” but it was a pretty thick consistency that had a mix of flavors – pineapple and peppermint – that you don’t often see together. But it was just so cold and so thick and so alien that we were nursing this thing for a good 30 minutes. But if you’re looking to stretch a drink out, this is as good as it gets.
I am not usually a horn tooter, but under duress I would admit that the website is known for a couple of things, the preeminent example of which is above.
And I am more than a little delighted to report to you that not only has Pretzel Garden SURVIVED THE STREETS OF AMERICA DESTRUCTION LIKE NOTHING ELSE HAS, but it’s back and better than ever as the re-purposed Pretzel Palooza.
That means the return of the Cream Cheese Pretzel as well. You’ll find this in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster courtyard on the right hand side near the attraction entrance.
Osborne Lights who, again?
And let’s not forget holiday cups.
The Park is otherwise particularly festive this time of year, at least as much as it can be with highs that are still hitting 80 degrees with the sun beating down.
The addition of the overhead garlands, which you don’t see over at Magic Kingdom due to the height of the Festival of Fantasy floats, is a nice touch.
A few more pictures around town:
I think we’ll move back to Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.