Hollywood Studios come January 21st am I right guys.
Sorcerer Mickey is back out in front of Hollywood Studios. I guess P.L. Travers wouldn’t agree to be cast in foliage. Surprising since she seemed so agreeable.
As covered over the last few months, the bus from Hollywood Studios goes directly to the Magic Kingdom bus loop, bypassing the Transportation and Ticket Center.
That bus, in addition to the buses to Animal Kingdom and Epcot’s main entrance, are located further down to the left in the charter bus lot. If you want to get back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, it may be faster to take the Contemporary/Polynesian/Grand Floridian bus, get off at the Polynesian, and walk to the TTC. Or you could get off at the Contemporary and take the monorail there. Or take the Magic Kingdom bus and then take the ferry or monorail.
Sid Cahuenga’s, just inside the main entrance on the left, remains the major My Magic+ service center.
There are currently no “kiosks” here though, just cleverly themed iPads where guests can pull up their accounts on DisneyWorld.com. We’ll see how they take care of it when the Studios is FastPass+ only. Off-site guests require a scanner to scan their tickets, which these iPads don’t have.
More on the porch.
A handout lists the FastPass+ kiosk and service center locations:
It’s an incomplete list, unfortunately, missing Heritage House at Magic Kingdom and the kiosks we’ll see shortly outside of Muppet Vision, just to name a couple.
The last word is perhaps the key. Limited.
It’s 4:05pm on a highly recommended Thursday with an overall crowd level of “4.” Per the crowd calendar:
Hollywood Studios is highly recommended. While it’s later in the week, Magic Kingdom will be a much bigger draw with morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade drawing off-site and on-site visitors alike. Tomorrow is also recommended with evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot on Friday and Saturday’s morning Extra Magic Hour at the Studios proving more popular. Still, touring efficiently is more important than “picking the right day,” especially at Hollywood Studios. That means arriving prior to Park opening and taking care of Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning or with FASTPASS throughout the day. Toy Story Mania will hit 70+ minutes in the afternoon due to its limited capacity. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees decent afternoon waits, likely in the 40-60 minute range, with FASTPASSes that are harder to obtain. Plan to head there second or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.
On Saturday January 18th at 4:13pm, this is what wait times looked like. The crowd level jumped from a 4 to an 8 due to Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend with Hollywood Studios decidedly not recommended on this website. TouringPlans had it as a 3 out of 10 haha.
Also on the afternoon of the 18th. A 3 out of 10. On a holiday weekend. With a morning Extra Magic Hour. And two Fantasmic shows. And an extended close. I’m not an expert but it “feels crowded.”
This is the end of the standby line for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Straight 100 minutes at Tower of Terror.
Back to 1/16, Star Tours sits at 10 minutes. When we ride a bit later, they’ll be loading only two simulators and the back row in ours sits empty.
And the scene at the same time on 1/18 with Star Tours at 60 minutes. Star Tours is virtually never above 40 minutes, but MLK Weekend crowds are similar to Thanksgiving.
Two FastPass+ kiosks to the right of Muppet Vision’s entrance.
Please don’t use FP+ here.
My memory is not as good as it was in my youth and I couldn’t remember if the “For Rent” sign is new. FastPass+ related if it is, I’m sure.
But I thought this Chiquita banana thing was new too. But it’s not!
This show is so full of bullying I don’t know where the Habit Heroes folks are. Poor Fozzie.
Phineas and Ferb popularity continues to wane.
There are something like 9 people in line. They appear for another two hours.
This relatively new Joffrey’s stand sits in front of the Cars Meet and Greet. There are the same number of people in line for both things.
The menu is the same as the other locations. There’s another outside the Tower of Terror gift shop and another new one outside Pixar Place that we’ll run into shortly. With no Starbucks here yet, these stands are your best choice for a hot or iced coffee drink. It’s a shame they barely participate in the Dining Plan though.
I have not seen a Characterpalooza in the last 10 days or so. Earlier in the month, it was scheduled at 2:30pm and 3:30pm either here on the Streets of America or in front of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
Down this road here.
Or in this area outside the entrance to Indiana Jones. It’s more likely to be in the Streets of America at 2:30pm. Unfortunately, Palooza is not necessarily the pleasant, organized meet and greet it once was in the Animation Building. Instead, there are a lot more people and the characters try to move around, creating a hectic experience in most cases.
I don’t know if it’s obvious, but Disney lifestyle bloggers are really desperate for new things to report on. So today we take a look at new bread at Studio Catering Co.
I am not a $5 cupcake person, but this cupcake adorned with a sorcerer hat makes me pretty close to a $5 cupcake person.
Back to the issue at hand. This is the old bread on the Turkey Club.
The filling is the same – Turkey, Bacon, Swiss, Roasted Red Pepper, Arugula, and Multi-Grain Bread – $10.19.
It remains sort of a sad sandwich for the money – a couple slices of thin, cheap deli turkey sit in between the ciabatta-less bread. The thinner bread has more of a crunch to it, but it’s less bread and thus, less filling than the previous version. I really like the Spicy Buffalo Chicken here though.
Coleslaw, apple slices, or french fries are your side options here. Order the entree without a side to save $2. Because the fries are full of calories, I consider them to be worth the money. The apple slices – not so much.
The coleslaw on the left with the regular fountain beverage on the right. Disney coleslaw is a basic, sweet slaw. And it’s a tiny little cup of it for the money. Best skipped I think.
Lisa ordered the $6.69 Greek Salad – Romaine, Tomato, Cucumber, Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese, and Greek Dressing Tossed to Order.
It’s the standard Disney size, cheaper than most because it doesn’t come with protein. I’m surprised they don’t have the option to add chicken or something. It’s otherwise good for what it is – perhaps heavy-handed on the cucumber and light on the feta. But it’s certainly one of the cheaper, healthier entrees you’ll find.
Around the corner on the Backlot Tour side sits High Octane Refreshments. They recently switched out Kona Longboard Lager for Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale.
Bottle/can “craft” beer is also available.
We’ve discussed all of these, with the exception of the Einstok, in the past, so I won’t bore you with the details again. The Cigar City Jai Alai is your best choice, somewhat locally brewed in Tampa. I’m not sure whether they distribute much further north than Georgia and it’s an excellent IPA. The Einstoks, straight out of Akureyri, Iceland, are real neat and rarer than anything else here outside of the Jai Alai. If you’re going to drop $7 – $9 for a beer, it might as well be one of those two.
In related food news, Toluca Turkey Legs now serves pork shanks.
It is rarely open and when it isn’t, Fairfax Fare a bit further down serves turkey legs, but not the shanks.
Further down, Anaheim Produce has new beer too.
Min & Bill’s also serves up a new menu. Those bread cones turned out to be short-lived. In a further effort to turn Walt Disney World into one big bar, they serve boozy lemonades and craft beer. Both Cigar City options are excellent. If you like a metallic aftertaste, Sunset Ale is good too.
Circling back to Star Tours at 4:45pm, the posted wait has doubled to 20 minutes.
But there’s nobody in line.
Okay, there are three people in line.
And nine people exiting the previous ride.
Great Movie Ride continues to be a higher FastPass+ priority than Star Tours, perhaps due to capacity, perhaps due to popularity. The fact remains that Star Tours is an easier attraction to ride with lower peak waits and waits that build slower than Great Movie Ride, even if it “feels like” Star Tours should be more popular.
That said, there’s nobody at Great Movie Ride today either.
The Joffrey’s on the Animation Courtyard side of Pixar Place blends in with the brick a little too well, perhaps.
Cross your eyes and stare for ten seconds. Maybe you’ll see it.
You may remember when The Legend of Jack Sparrow opened, back in November 2012. Lines were consistently 30 to 60 minutes because of the name recognition, large mural on the side of the building, and the fact that people love to get in long lines.
Most people who waited that long felt like they wasted their time, resulting in low satisfaction ratings and a stack of complaints higher than the Tower of Terror. Now, instead of waiting in line, guests pick up a “Crew Card” to the next available show. Here at 5:35pm, the next available show was actually 6:45pm, but someone returned a few tickets and the cast member handed two to me.
Bench seating is provided. You’re supposed to return five minutes before the start of the show, but there’s no rush.
I think the 10-minute effects show is kind of neat.
I won’t rehash the whole thing, but there’s a rundown in this post.
There’s no rush to grab a return ticket. Most people will want to pick one up sometime in the afternoon, perhaps around the time you’re planning to ride Toy Story Mania with a FP+. Expect the return time to be about an hour in the future. On busier days, the return time could be three to four hours in the future with no shows available after 5pm. It’s worth the five-minute wait. You probably won’t love it, but there are so few new things that it isn’t a waste of time better spent elsewhere.
50 minute wait for Toy Story Mania at 6:01pm is about as short as it gets.
The scene on 1/18 with a 105-minute posted wait at 4:18pm.
Brown Derby Lounge is advertised on the Times Guide and outside the restaurant as operating from 12pm through Park close, but is closed due to the cold weather. I feel like people would be willing to sit outside in the 60-degree afternoon sun, but perhaps the cold affects food temperature or something. Anyway, don’t expect it to be open if it’s raining or under 60 degrees.
Posted waits at 6:10pm haven’t been updated in at least an hour.
With the 7pm close here in the off-season, there’s just one Fantasmic scheduled at 7pm.
The Standby and FastPass+ entrances to Fantasmic are located next to each other on Sunset Bouelevard on the right, just before arriving at Tower of Terror.
It’s a hike up to Hollywood Hills Amphitheater.
Stroller parking is further up.
Fantasmic is currently a Tier 1 FastPass+ selection, along with Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage. Guests may only select one of those attractions. There is currently no reserved seating section for FP+ users and FastPass+ is only beneficial if the show has been closed to standby guests due to a filling theater. A FP+ guarantees admission into the show, but your seat will be identical as standby as long as they’re still seating standby guests. Most people will want to take advantage of FP+ at Toy Story Mania or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. If seating is closed to standby, your seats will likely be pretty lousy anyway. As always, seeing the second show is always preferable because they’re far less crowded and you won’t have to deal with two large sections closed off for Dining Package users.
FP+ users continue walking up a separate walkway.
But they end up in the same general seating area.
I like the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees users seats in the middle sections of the theater.
The Package is available at Mama Melrose ($35 – $39 or one table service credit), Hollywood & Vine ($31 – $40 or one table service credit), and Brown Derby ($52 – $60 or two table service credits) for a set price depending on season. The cost is the same as on the Disney Dining Plan and includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Ordinarily, the Dining Plan doesn’t include the appetizer. You can choose anything on the menu, save for dessert, which may be a trio of items at Mama Melrose. It can be a good value out of pocket if you plan to order the more expensive items.
The area in the back can be reserved for private parties for $$$$$.
Concession stand food is available in back:
This is one of the worst pictures I’ve ever taken, but it’s sort of readable. Remember that most Studios quick services close before the rest of the Park, including Pizza Planet and Studio Catering Co. Sunset Ranch Market on Sunset Boulevard remains open, but lines are typically long because that and ABC Commissary are often the only quick services operating. You can bring any food you like into the theater.
With only one show, the website suggests arriving at least 45 minutes early. Here on a “non-crowded” day with “cold temperatures,” we’re able to cut it a little closer with our 6:20pm arrival. By the time we made it up to the theater and were seated, it was 6:30pm. With the middle section reserved, Disney usually fills the two sections to the left of the reserved seating first.
Then they seat the two sections to the right closest to the center. Then they fill the far left section and far right sections.
There is no standing room – just more bench seating in the back.
A particularly obnoxious pre-show begins 30 minutes prior to Fantasmic. They will yell at you about trivia and generally not let you refresh Twitter in peace. This is just before the show started and you can see that there’s still seating on the end. People continued to stream in throughout the first few minutes of the show. I like to sit about half way up as close to the center as possible. This affords the best view of the water without the chance of getting splashed.. Even the seats on the far ends have a good vantage point though.
Fantasmic relies, perhaps too heavily, on scenes projected onto water.
It was a neat effect in 1998.
The show does not make any sense, but I think it’s entertaining and it’s an excuse to get many of the more popular characters from the 1990s in front of guests. When it’s busier, I don’t think it’s worth a 60+ minute wait. The 30 minutes we waited was about my max. I’ve seen the show two or three times in my life is all.
As you look up toward the exit/entrance, exiting all the way down on the far left is easiest and less congested.
Ideally, you’d let just about everyone exit in front of you, but in practice that can be difficult because others in your row may want to exit and you’re just standing there at the end not moving. Being seated further to the top, particularly in the far section closest to the recommended exit, makes it easiest to get out of there.
Depending on crowds, the far left exit can put you out on Sunset Boulevard or right at the main entrance/exit.
We’ll see how the Studios handles the removal of legacy FASTPASS later this week.