We head into Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the morning of September 29th, 2017.
The closer you get to the Studios’ entrance, the more likely it is that your central nervous system will fail, as mine has here. Luckily, AdSense offers hazard pay. Otherwise I would have gone broke years ago.
And an IV drip later, we’re good to go.
At Hollywood Studios.
Seeing the Park through just about any focal length makes me feel a little queesy, so we might as well take the opportunity to go a little wider than feels natural.
As I’ve mentioned before, some of the best character interactions with the Star Wars characters occur away from the front of the “Star Wars: A Galaxy, Far, Far Away” show stage.
The show currently begins at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm, and 5:30pm.
And around ten minutes before the show is set to begin, you’ll see some of the participating characters march by Voyage of the Little Mermaid and towards One Man’s Dream/Walt Disney Presents.
They don’t stop or anything, but it’s your best opportunity to get close to characters like Rey, Darth Maul, and Boba Fett.
Then during the show, you can watch the characters as they enter and depart the stage up the walkway on this side just behind the stage. Of course, you probably want to see the show front-and-center first.
Construction walls remain the name of the game at the Studios.
Disney has done a nice job of consolidating the old One Man’s Dream exhibit into what is now called Walt Disney Presents.
The majority of the models and artwork are still present.
You’ll also find a full model of Toy Story Land and a piece of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model.
We’ll take a look at the rest of the exhibit in a separate post as it’s about 90 pictures.
“Soundstage 4” next to Walt Disney Presents has been almost completely demolished.
This should otherwise mark the main walkway into Toy Story Land with the Slinky Dog Coaster track barely visible over the top of the blue wall straight ahead.
Testing on Slinky Dog has already begun with the land expected to open “Summer 2018.”
Hopefully that means May-ish.
Otherwise, the top of Galaxy’s Edge is visible over the walls in what is still Pixar Place.
And next to the Muppet Vision 3D exit.
But the latest aerial photos, available here, offer the best vantage point to see the current progress. Things seem to be moving along faster than you’d expect.
Grand Avenue’s opening has rearranged the walls and walkways in that area. I review everything on the menu at the new BaseLine Tap House in this post.
Like the defunct Streets of America, there isn’t a whole lot to see or do on the Ave, but you can look in the windows.
If you time it correctly, the bottom of the tuxedo in the display will naturally blend in with your fisherman’s shirt.
More Star Wars construction is visible down here.
The walkway towards Muppet Vision and PizzeRizzo is still nice and wide.
I assume this will be the finished product with a big “STOP” sign trying to turn people back towards the safety of Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction. You know things are bad when the thing with “extinction” in the title is your safety net.
Miss Piggy giving new meaning to Cookes of Dublin’s Hog in a Box.
Sorry Miss Piggy.
Muppet Vision 3D with its Grand Avenue signage.
Nothing of substance has changed at PizzeRizzo, which continues to close at 4pm.
12:30pm, which you would think is peak lunch time:
And I suppose that it is.
They do keep the doors open after 4pm. If you’re planning on bringing your food from home or are otherwise looking for the quietest seating area possible, this is it after-hours. And even during hours, there are few people upstairs.
You can pull up my PizzeRizzo review, which includes thoughts and pictures of every item on the menu, here.
Interestingly, Catalina Eddie’s over at Sunset Ranch Market near Tower of Terror is also closed, which means no reheated pizza is available at the Park after 4pm. On the plus side, if you bring a Digiorno from home, set it down on Sunset Boulevard, and come back in 2-2.5 hours, it should be ready. Just make sure you let it cool for a couple of minutes or you risk burning the roof of your mouth. The website can’t afford another lawsuit.
Otherwise, the Muppet Store is still open.
As is the Hanukkah shop.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is never going away. Invest now.
And with precious nutcrackers like this, maybe it shouldn’t.
It’s a lot of stuff.
Me before I read the comments on a post versus after.
The current Buy More…More More promotion.
You can pull up my latest Mama Melrose Fantasmic Dining Package thoughts in this post from earlier in the summer.
Disney has a new Fantasmic “Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience” that you’ll see advertised at the register at each of the quick service outlets. Dave over at yourfirstvisit.net has a very good review of what it offers here.
The value seems like a bit of a stretch to me, considering the viewing area is the exact same as the regular Fantasmic Dining Package and seating is still first come, first served. But the price does include tax and there is no tip involved. You can pull up the current Fantasmic Dining Package prices at Mama Melrose, Hollywood & Vine, and Brown Derby here. With tax and 18% tip, the current cost of the Dining Package for breakfast at Hollywood & Vine would be $48.55/adult and $29.88/child. At Mama Melrose for lunch or dinner, the price with tax and 18% tip is $55.94/adult and $22.41/kids. The Dining Package and the Dessert Experience are two very different offerings – the Dining Package is a full meal with non-alcoholic beverage, while the Dessert Experience includes a watered down alcoholic drink and a large dessert/snack platter. But personally, I think I would prefer to pay a little more for the meal and enjoy myself in air-conditioning.
It’s also worth noting that the FastPass+ reserved viewing area is located right next to the Dining Package viewing area, so viewing is similar. And while Fantasmic is a Tier 1 FP+, there are so many experiences distributed that FP+ for the show is available into the afternoon and evening every night as people change plans and cancel their FP+. So you can pretty easily book another Tier 1 FP+ in advance and then refresh to pick up a Fantasmic FP+ later in the afternoon or evening, negating any “need” for a Dining/Dessert Package. The 40 bucks you’d pay for the “VIP Experience” would go a long way towards a couple cocktails of your choice and a much wider selection of desserts and snacks.
But I will give the Package a shot myself in a couple of weeks when temperatures cool down a little more. Here is the Dessert Experience advertised on the electronic menu board at PizzeRizzo down on the left.
Otherwise, what was once known as Muppets Courtyard is just about how you left it.
You just can’t walk over there where the wall is at the moment.
I would expect that this area is going to be widened as much as possible.
Consider, for a moment, how unpleasant the current rope drop rush is from the end of Hollywood Boulevard just to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Toy Story Mania.
Now imagine twenty times more people racing from that same starting area all the way back to the old Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show area. Hopefully I will have retired by the time that becomes reality.
The refurbishment of Echo Lake continues:
With the boat that houses Min & Bill’s finding itself underwater most of the time, it makes sense that a refurbishment would be required here and there. In my 72.6 years of covering the Parks, I can’t remember ever seeing Echo Lake drained like this.
We’re only about six weeks away from the holiday season at Disney World.
While it’s unlikely that anything will make up for the loss of the Osborne Lights, Disney is at least expanding holiday offerings in the space still available. That includes new projections on Sunset Boulevard and new decorations around Echo Lake, including the addition of a Christmas Tree that will apparently sit in the water. Hence, the drainage that we’re currently seeing.
That just about sums up the current state of construction.
Disney has gotten around to theming these projection towers in the Center Stage area after a couple of years.
The beige one might be doing better than the blue.
There doesn’t look to be any external signs of construction at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Nor do we have any official guidance on when the new attraction will open.
But there is considerable progress inside, at least as far as dismantling the previous ride is concerned.
Speaking of rides, it’s pretty easy to keep up with the four still standing. Here at 12:45pm, we see a 20-minute wait at Star Tours. Here’s waits over the last couple of weeks:
They look nominal for the most part, though capacity reductions occasionally push waits up to 40+ minutes in the afternoon. We also see a pretty steady increase in waits as overall crowds increase heading into October.
20 minutes at Tower of Terror at 1:48pm. A look over September waits:
Again, nominal for the most part, though unintended capacity problems and the hurricane are affecting things.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was posted at 60 minutes at 1:50pm.
But the standby line barely stretched outside, indicating a wait that should be closer to 25 minutes, if that. It depends on the number of FastPass+ returners. September:
Waits are considerably shorter than the summer, when we saw 120+ minutes posted virtually every day. The day’s average wait exceeds 60 minutes on just one day after the hurricane.
Toy Story Mania with a 50-minute wait at 1:28pm on this Friday in late September. The rest of the month:
You might remember that I recommend using your Tier 1 FastPass+ at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster rather than Toy Story Mania with the thrill ride’s wait times virtually always being higher than the 4D shooter. FastPass+ availability is also more plentiful for Toy Story. That remains true, though the difference in overall averages is only four minutes in September.
The Yellow Car from Cars 3 continues meeting to nonexistent waits back in Pixar Place.
Sunset Boulevard at 2pm on the dot. Feels crowded.
Nobody in the extended queue at Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which is rare during the heart of the afternoon.
There was so little interest in the Disney Jr. characters that Jake ran into the Mermaid pre-show looking for mermaids. All he found was me.
Pluto was rummaging around the strollers looking for snacks before a family walked over.
Doc McStuffins has eight or so people in line.
Posted waits for the Launch Bay characters.
You won’t see the Jawas anymore.
Three people waiting for BB-8.
$850 for a signed photo of Felicity Jones.
Still less than the $9,000 you’ll pay for one of these statues.
In food news, Hollywood & Vine is now the Minnie-hosted character meal for lunch and dinner. The Disney Jr. characters only appear at breakfast. I have a review of the Halloween lunch/dinner here.
It’s actually not bad!
The current Brown Derby menu, which has changed for the fall. Those items in the rectangle at the bottom are the best you can do for the money at lunch.
On my last visit, I got the $74 American Kobe Beef Filet with the $20 Georges Bank Sea Scallops in the back. #yolo
Sweet Spells case.
The Mickey popcorn bucket has migrated over to the Studios.
Goofy is celebrating a birthday.
Other treats available at Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks.
No telling what you’re in for with this coffee drink. Even the price may vary.
The Studios’ Starbucks is offering a new mug, which now features the aliens from Toy Story.
Anaheim Produce on Sunset Boulevard is offering a $10.50 Sangria Slushy as its “seasonal colada.”
Fairfax Fare and its Latin-inspired menu continues to fizzle.
The El Pastor Pulled Pork Sandwich is actually pretty good. I have a full review of the menu here.
On the merchandise front.
Fantasmic has a couple of shirts.
I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a Made with Magic item.
The light-up mitt might be more future-proof.
Halloween out in force:
As is Toy Story:
One of these days I’ll post the 50,000 pictures of merchandise that I’ve taken over the last couple of months.
That’s what’s going on at the Studios. I’ll see about doing a rope drop and talking strategy next week. I think this week we’ll return for an early morning in Pandora and perhaps make it over to Magic Kingdom.