Oh boy, after looking at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom, it’s time to visit Hollywood Studios for the excitement that is incremental price increases on hamburgers. Spoiler: I don’t think there is a single new item at the Studios.
But a lack of new arrivals doth not mean Disney doth not take away, this time closing American Idol Experience permanently at the end of last month. Idol always seemed to be met with a lot of hate from the haters (typical), though I enjoyed the three or four shows I saw over the years.
This long, vacant building is expected to be the semi-permanent home of the Frozen Sing-Along, though it’s difficult to see that show commanding audiences large enough to sustain an extended engagement.
For now, the Sing-Along continues to play inside the Premier Theater on the Streets of America, which is difficult to find if you don’t know where it is. If you can find Mama Melrose, the Cars Meet and Greet, or Phineas and Ferb, you’ll be in the right vicinity.
Here at 4:40pm they are still distributing tickets for the 4:55pm show.
There’s a whopping ten shows daily, which is far too many for such low crowds. That means there is really no rush to get over here to pick up return tickets in September, just like there was no hurry in July.
The Sing-Along is now a Tier 2 FastPass+ option. FastPass+ users enter the theater before return ticket holders, which is a distinct advantage.
Looking over priority, my advice is to select the Sing-Along as a 4th or 5th FastPass+ option or collect a return ticket when it’s convenient. Every show should be available as a FastPass+ option at the in-Park kiosks later in the day. If you have no interest in Tower of Terror or Star Tours then you may want to book FastPass+ in advance, but most people will have higher priorities that will save more time. The first show of the day is either 9:25am or 10:25am and either would be low on crowds. Most people will be taking care of other character or attraction priorities. FastPass+ users usually number fewer than 200 and the theater sits over 1,000, so there is plenty of room.
I wholeheartedly enjoyed the Sing-Along, which is an opinion I was not expecting to hold. The banter in between songs is a lot of fun. Note that Anna/Elsa do not play a major role in the show, but Anna appears early and both characters close it out with a powerful number.
Just kidding about the lack of walls. It wouldn’t be a domestic Disney theme park if something wasn’t being built slower than the line at Gringott’s moved in July. This time it’s the Osborne Lights, which are returning despite mindless rumors to the contrary earlier in the year.
Despite being “scheduled” at 4:45pm and 5:30pm, there was no Characterpalooza to speak of. The casual meet and greet has moved closer to Lights, Motors, Action with Sing-Along ticket distribution taking over its usual spot.
While the Sing-Along will likely continue for the foreseeable future, it’s unlikely that Oaken’s Funland will continue in its current form past September. That means no more ice skating, though Oaken’s Trading Post store should continue operating for the sake of selling merchandise.
In related return ticket news, the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow continues distributing tickets for future shows in between Toy Story Mania and One Man’s Dream. It’s 5pm and they are distributing tickets to return in ten minutes.
Like Idol, Jack Sparrow is on the receiving end of a lot of hate. With the return tickets reducing the wait to about five minutes and the 12-minute duration of the show, I think it’s worth your time, even if you don’t love it. It’s not like there’s much else to do here. But on the other hand, if you’re low on time, Sparrow is a pretty easy cut.
Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope continue meeting inside the Animation building along with Mr. Incredible/Frozone and Sorcerer Mickey.
Minnie actually meets in this unmarked room to the left of Ralph and to the right of Mickey.
Because there is “literally” no signage, waits are nonexistent. It’s expected that Minnie will vacate this area and move back out to the Sorcerer’s Hat shortly, which is unfortunate, because this is a great backdrop. And it’s air-conditioned. There had been some chatter about Minnie going FastPass+ only, along with Winnie the Pooh at Epcot and Donald/Daisy at Animal Kingdom, and that story is absolutely true. But somebody somewhere thought better of it. If there’s one inalienable theme park right, it’s the right to wait in line, as odd as that might sound. Take that away and you’ve got a problem on your hands, as Disney learned when they tried to turn people away from Soarin’ last month.
Also in the Animation Building, Planes artwork has taken over:
It’s sort of depressing when you realize Dane Cook probably made more money voicing some character in Planes 2 than most of us will make in an entire lifetime. But hey, at least we aren’t the guy that played Darth Vader in the original trilogy!
Either beginning at 4:30pm or 5pm, the “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party continues to take place in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat.
The “Icemen of the North (Mulch, Sweat, and Sheers)” play on stage intermittently throughout.
The Dance Parties are otherwise a fun way to interact with the characters without the usual waits.
That’s about it outside of the menus. The Studios was “not recommended.” With the lowest crowds of the year, wait times remained relatively minimal. This is a 30-minute wait for Tower of Terror at 5:25pm. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was posted at a paltry 20. Actual waits are likely shorter, particularly at Tower, though it depends a bit on capacity.
Oh. Expected to open in February 2015, this is the location of the Studios’ Starbucks, aptly named “The Trolley Car Cafe.”
Onto menus, you’ll find this stand just inside the entrance on the right.
It won’t be long until every single item has a logo or trademark next to it. Milk™ by Fonterra Cooperative Group.
On the backside of Keystone Clothiers on Hollywood Boulevard is Peevy’s Polar Pipeline.
It’s only open in heavy crowds.
Even more so than the other Parks, the Studios’ various quick services operate on an abbreviated schedule most days.
If you’re visiting in the off-season, your choice of quick services may be more limited than you expect. I can’t remember the last time I saw Studio Catering Co. completely closed. ABC Commissary and Sunset Ranch Market reliably operate through Park close and Pizza Planet and Backlot Express are at least open for lunch every day.
Min & Bill’s otherwise operates with this menu with slightly higher beverage pricing:
But it wouldn’t surprise me to see another update shortly. This is the Studios’ version of Golden Oak Outpost and its constantly rotating menu.
For a while, Min & Bill’s served various bread cones, with fillings that were unfortunately kept at temperatures unsafe for human consumption.
Now moving kind of clockwise around, we happen upon Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction on Echo Lake, which was actually closed when I visited at 4:26pm, despite the sign saying it was open until 4:30pm!!! Oh, the humanity.
It might sound like it’s “the same old, same old,” but everything tastes better when it’s served from a dinosaur.
Oasis Canteen to the right of the entrance to Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
While we’ve got some dazney math going on with the $8.19 funnel cake, one can assume the extra cost is due to the chocolate syrup.
Backlot Express is the first major quick service we happen upon, situated in between Indiana Jones and Star Tours:
No real changes to speak of here.
I suppose it would be too much to ask for a few sauce options at more locations. The buffalo nuggets here have a bit of a kick to them.
While the Southwest Chicken Salad is one of the worst I’ve had on property with very little dressing or chicken. You may have better luck.
The Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad is more like four or five side salads in one bowl since there is no protein to speak of. There is a lot of chewing involved for not a whole lot of payoff, though it is crisp and light.
Cheese is the prominent flavor in the vegetable sandwich, which is an above average vegetarian option and more filling than the cantaloupe salad.
Covered outdoor seating is plentiful and some tables closer to Star Tours have a view of Jedi Training Academy. Indoor, air-conditioned seating is ample when it isn’t busy and limited during busier times. Drinks are refillable, which is another bonus.
ABC Commissary is located behind what used to be American Idol Experience on Commissary Lane. The easiest way to get to it is to take a left after passing the Sorcerer’s Hat:
Things have improved at the Commissary in recent memory.
The Asian Salad is actually pretty good and it’s nice to have the option to order it vegetarian or with chicken or salmon.
The Couscous is my favorite and one of the more unique options at the Studios.
Writer’s Stop is hidden away to the left of Sci-Fi. Looks like the cult favorite Carrot Cake Cookies are a thing of the past.
The Olaf souvenir cups are prevalent all over now – ordering one here with a Goofy’s Glacier might be the best value.
Most other places is the usual slush or Diet Coke.
Toy Story Pizza Planet is one of the biggest disappointments at Walt Disney World. You’d think a full service pizzeria like in the movie would be a no-brainer, rather than this quick service nonsense:
I don’t mind Disney pizza as much as some.
It is overpriced Digiorno quality, sure, but I’m not sure any quick service food is exactly stellar.
The Antipasto Salad in a light Italian Vinaigrette is a potentially healthier option, though the salami and pepperoni probably don’t help.
Pretzel Garden on the Streets of America.
In something that almost never happens, the Magic Hat is actually 75 cents cheaper than it was prior to the August adjustment.
#9 is usually a favorite of people that “don’t like beer.” You may need one prior to the kids running around Honey I Shrunk the Kids whether you like the flavor or not.
Outside the Premier Theater and Cars Meet and Greet is another of the Joffrey’s stands:
The lack of snack credits is a bummer.
Herbie’s drive-in is located outside Lights, Motors, Action.
A few options for bringing into the show.
You may have noticed most of the locations that sell frozen drinks now have the option to add a shot of alcohol. I’d stick to the Coca Cola as the lemonades are pretty tart.
The Frozen cart outside Premier Theater, perfectly themed with frozen treats heh heh heh 🙁
Studio Catering Co:
While it’s not saying much, this is my favorite Studios’ quick service. I won’t regurgitate a review of every item now, but you can read about each here: https://www.easywdw.com/dining/9940/ should you have interest.
High Octane Refreshments right next door is your best spot for a beer or cocktail:
Disney is working with Cigar City to bring more beer on draft, but the cans of Jai Alai will do for now. For more of a punch, Victory Golden Monkey is an excellent 9.5% ABV tripel, which is about twice as much alcohol as a can of Bud Light.
Outside Backlot Tour is the Studios’ version of the Cool Ship, Cool Set Productions.
$4 for carrots.
Across from Toy Story Mania.
The middle black and white souvenir cup featuring “new classic” Mickey is neat and also available in a larger popcorn bucket.
Another Joffrey’s, this time outside Pixar Place across from One Man’s Dream, with the same menu as the other location.
A variety of carts around the Sorcerer’s Hat:
Starring Rolls on Hollywood/Sunset Boulevards:
It usually closes between 2pm and 4pm…which means it’s closed now. Menu.
Yes I’ve been at this for over four years and this is the best I can for Sweet Spells on Sunset Boulevard.
Taking menu pictures is one of the more awkward things I do in what is otherwise a very awkward existence. There is really no reason to be going around taking pictures of which kiosks sell nuts and which sell popcorn. And nobody really cares if the hamburger went up 60 cents and the chicken nuggets remained the same price, despite what the nice couple I ran into while exiting Magic Kingdom said. As I was taking this picture, one cast member whispered to the other, “It’s that guy.”
Without looking up I bolted out of there so fast while turning the ISO up on the camera to snap this one on the run.
Anaheim Produce had just closed at 5pm. Menu.
The Frozen Golden Margarita here is actually one of my favorite frozen drinks on property. Most of the time, you get a cast member with surprisingly snappy wrists pouring a half ounce of what may or may not actually be Jack Daniels underneath a non-alcoholic slushie before begrudgingly setting it down in front of you while demanding $72. Anaheim Produce goes the extra mile by not only offering to salt the rim of the cup, but also carefully placing a lime on the edge. Classy service for a radioactive-looking cocktail.
Several quick services make up Sunset Ranch Market, one of them being the oft-closed Toluca Turkey Company. When they aren’t open, turkey legs are simply served a few steps closer to Tower of Terror at Fairfax Fare.
Rosie’s Fallout Shelter.
They actually do a hamburger better than most other places for whatever reason and load you up on fries more often than not.
Should Catalina Eddie’s close early (rare), pizza is available next door.
Much like Cosmic Ray’s, though the more expensive ribs are available all day.
Another good salad here, though there isn’t a ton of protein/heft.
And closest to Tower of Terror, ice cream.
Another Joffrey’s with the same menu outside Tower of Terror:
And finally, KRNR The Rock Station in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Coutyard:
It’s almost too much magic for one post. Next up is merchandise and Magic Kingdom.