We return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios where Characterpalooza is taking place outside the entrance on the far right at 3:45pm.
It looks like we’ve got Max, Minnie, Evil Queen, and Aladdin meeting guests with virtually nobody in line.
Mulan and Dopey meeting closer to the tapstiles also on the far right. With the Park’s considerably smaller footprint with all of the Streets of America walled off, it might be worthwhile to head out here a couple minutes earlier than 4.5 hours before the last Fantasmic is scheduled if you’re into characters. Just try to “act casual” as the characters won’t appear if a bunch of people are waiting around, which is why I don’t discuss this event very often anymore.
On the regular rotation front, Donald and Daisy have moved to the right of Guest Relations just inside the entrance on the far left.
They sometimes meet on the porch and sometimes off to the right in the courtyard area if the line is getting backed up or they’re on their way backstage.
One change that may impact your day whether you want it to or not is the re-routing of the March of the First Order, which currently begins at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm.
You might remember that the March used to start and end to the left of Star Wars Launch Bay in Animation Courtyard.
The Stormtroopers would make a circle around the stage, passing by Great Movie Ride, and then continue up and onto the stage for a short show before making a straight shot back to where they started.
Now, the Stormtroopers start and end their March on Hollywood Boulevard to the right of where Donald and Daisy meet, which may or may not be better known as Sid Cahuenga’s One-Of-A-Kind. Above is one minute before the March is supposed to start and not a whole lot of people seem interested.
But that all changes as the music starts and the crowds roll in. I am standing in the designated area, but you can see how many people have already pushed past me angling for a better shot.
As far as I know, the Stormtroopers make just one brief stop on their route in front of the Starbucks. If you don’t have interest in following the procession up Hollywood Boulevard to the stage, you might find a spot there. You’ll also run into far fewer people if you instead wait for their return down Hollywood Boulevard.
Here we go.
It is still fun to see Captain Phasma and her friends mosey up the boulevard and perhaps even more fun to instead watch the show on someone else’s cell phone screen.
And it is much more of a spectacle than the Animation Courtyard affair.
If you’d like to see the stage show element, my suggestion is seeing the March from closer to the stage so you are not behind all of the people following it.
Here we are.
Unlike the previous iteration, where you could follow the stormtroopers up to the stage and sort of cut in front of all the people waiting, you can no longer do that as the path remains clear for their return march. Where that shouldergirl in the pink shorts is placed right in the middle of the shot is as far as you can go. Cast members will then part the seas for the return journey shortly after the stop.
I believe there is still a stage show element though they did not perform it during any of the three shows I saw.
This is the scene ten minutes before the 10am March this past Saturday. It is certainly not bananas, but there is far more interest in the March now, which is precisely what Disney wants.
So what have we learned…
- The March of the First Order begins and ends on Hollywood Boulevard to the right of Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind.
- A lot more people are interested in the show now.
- If you’d like to see the stop/stage show element, arrive 15 minutes before the March begins and have your toes on the tape that marks the path the Stormtroopers will take up to said stage. Nobody will be able to push past you/mar your view. The stormtroopers briefly stop outside Starbucks.
- For the easiest viewing experience, you’ll actually want to wait for the Stormtroopers to head back down Hollywood Boulevard as they exit. That’s about ten minutes after the March begins. 100+ people will follow the March to the stage, but few are interested in its return and you should have the sidewalk more or less to yourself.
- If you have no interest in the show, you may be inconvenienced slightly if you’re trying to get to or from Sunset/Hollywood Boulevards, but you should be on your way in just a couple of minutes regardless. If there are a lot of people waiting in front of the stage, walk behind it.
On the construction front, Writer’s Stop next to Sci-Fi Dine-In is now closed.
I’m not sure anybody that didn’t frequent at least a dozen Disney blogs had ever been inside.
The cult favorite Carrot Cake Cookie is still available at Sweet Spells on Sunset Boulevard, which is to the right of Starring Rolls on the same side.
A few pictures down what used to be the Streets of America:
Just about everything is flat with the exception of a couple buildings closer to the walls/Writer’s Stop.
Closer to Muppet Vision 3D.
The buildings closer to Mama Melrose on the other side of this wall still stand across from the Muppet Vision exit.
Down past Toy Story Mania, it’s just sky.
The courthouse still stands off to the right as some blogger trials are just finishing up.
Wide angle from a cloudy day on October 5th.
This is back in September looking at the same spot with Studio Catering Co. and Backlot Tour still standing tall, among other buildings. Note the placement of the artwork on the walls in the two shots and what’s visible immediately above.
Work continues on PizzeRizzo in front of its “Fall 2016” opening.
Disney initially tweeted out a September opening, but that has obviously passed us by.
I am hoping that the interior is as inspired as the exterior as the website is on record as stating that Toy Story Pizza Planet was the single biggest disappointment at Walt Disney World.
A reminder that Gonzo’s Royal Flush restrooms next door have already opened.
I’ve been sitting on a Mama Melrose review that I’ll post alongside the Rizzo review. The website has long maintained that Mama is worth a stop for the pizzas, which were historically much better tasting and much more substantial than Pizza Planet’s frozen pies. We’ll see.
The Doctor Strange preview has begun in One Man’s Dream.
Dr. Strange is apparently a surgeon with magical powers. That’s what I got out of it.
One of the last bastions of frozen Disney pizzas remains Catalina Eddie’s as part of Sunset Ranch Market.
The sign is new.
You might remember that turkey legs are no longer available at the Park in what was a surprising move. Tourists love turkey legs. Toluca Turkey Legs is now known as Sunshine Day Cafe, an outlet that has not yet opened as far as I know. It’s “seasonal,” which may mean we’re waiting for Thanksgiving Week.
Given the sunny name, I was somewhat amused to see that it would be serving Fairfax Fare’s old hot dog menu in the not-foot-long size. I was expecting something largely quinoa-based.
Speaking of Fairfax, they have done away with the 1-pound promise on the baked potatoes:
Disney has added coleslaw as a side option and no longer offers the previous southwest salad with the potatoes, which is kind of disappointing. That southwest salad has moved over to Restaurantosaurus at Animal Kingdom.
The website reviewed both potatoes back in August as part of this post. I’m not sure that I would single either out, but unique options are always welcome.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is available at a variety of Sunset Ranch Market outlets in 16-ounce cans for $9. It’s an excellent pale ale, if not a bit too citrus-y for me.
I, perhaps more than anyone else, find it hilarious that Catalina Eddie’s serves pizzas but does not carry marinara sauce. Instead, their breadsticks are served with a side of Ken’s Caesar.
I was “literally” standing in line waiting to order a cupcake when I saw Disney’s official photographer lining up for this terrible shot. You would think this would be ripe for actually taking one out of the case and holding it up in front of the wait time board for Tower of Terror or something. But once you see a Nikon come out of the bag you have to lower expectations.
Disney’s version of the Halloween Carrot Cake Cupcake is a light, airy take on the popular blend of spices.
What I look most forward to when it comes to carrot cake, other than what else is on the menu, is the sweet cream cheese frosting.
This doesn’t benefit from that rush of sugar, but the light whipped orange cream frosting is a nice change of pace from what is typically a denser topping.
Overall, I think the Star Wars cupcakes are more substantial, but the Halloween version makes some sense if you are adding on dessert and like carrot cake.
Crowd flow and wait times continue being a bit strange with Disney limiting the number of vehicles in operation at attractions like Great Movie Ride earlier and later in the day. This is before 10:30am and the extended queue outside the building is more than half full, resulting in actual waits in the 25-30 minute range.
On the other hand, it’s past noon in this picture and you could almost walk into the pre-show area at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, indicating actual waits under 15 minutes.
The capacity increase at Toy Story of course continues helping things along over there.
A look at wait times from yesterday, October 16th:
Wait times are pretty rough here with the 8am morning Extra Magic Hour and relatively short operating hours. One issue that plagues us during the fall, in addition to the Mickey’s Party schedule closing Magic Kingdom at 7pm four nights per week, is squeezing in more people than we’ve historically seen into operating hours that are about 20% shorter than the same time last month.
In potentially bigger news, Disney announced the arrival of a new fireworks/projection show on the Great Movie Ride facade, which will replace the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular beginning November 14th and looking to continue through December 31st.
With Disney pushing all-things-Star-Wars, particularly with Rogue One opening in December, and most people already having booked their fall/early winter trips, I thought this was a surprising move. Obviously the removal of the Osborne Lights is a major bummer, but Galactic Spectacular was popular and I’m sure a lot of people were looking forward to seeing something that showed no indication that it would be put on hold. This new version of the show was announced literally one month before it will debut. With Disney’s inclination to add on more after-hours, upcharge events, I’m surprised that we’re not seeing an event at the Studios similar to Star Wars Weekends. $79/person for the Galactic Spectacular, additional meet and greets, a cupcake, and a parade would be up a lot of people’s alleys, whether they want to admit it or not.
But local visitors and those that have seen the newer version of the space spectacular will have something holiday related to look forward to and some number of people obviously have no affinity for Star Wars and would prefer to see Mickey and the gang along with a more holiday-oriented soundtrack.
Santa is also on his way to the Studios, appearing at the Once Upon A Time shop on Sunset Boulevard from November 14th through December 24th. Santa Goofy will then take his place from December 25th through the 31st. That’s the last store on the right as you head towards Tower of Terror.
We’ll check out what’s going on at the other theme parks and get back into the business of crowd calendars.