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Seven Reasons Why Disney's Hollywood Studios is Underrated
Disney's Hollywood Studios is, to most, the ugly duckling of Walt Disney World. It's often dubbed a half-day park and is sometimes skipped altogether. Many Disney World experts focus less on this park than the remaining three main parks, and many Disney World newbies don't give this place a chance to really see the diamond in the ruff. Let's be honest, no Disney park is bad, but when compared to Magic Kingdom, DHS can be cast off as underwhelming. I'm here to say that is blasphemous and here's why:
The general theme for Disney's Hollywood Studios is Old Hollywood and behind the scenes production. This is actually quite lost on lots of youngsters visiting for the first time. It won't be lost on the adults, though, and I think that is who enjoys this park the most. (Don't worry- there is still plenty for the little ones to enjoy.) The focus here isn't magic and enchantment. It's on how that magic and enchantment is made. It's interesting and a change of pace from fairy dust.
Here's a quick tip: Enjoy the themes and characters and pay attention to the scenery and how it all fits together. Seeing a random street performer talking up the guy next to you will most definitely put a smile on your face. Have a chat, get an autograph, take a photo with them. They're incredibly witty and will likely spit out adult innuendos that will fly over tot's heads but will have you holding your side. They're much more interactive than any other character experiences in any other parks.
Toy Story Mania
Toy Story Mania is one of the most popular rides in the entire resort, and is usually where everyone heads to immediately upon entering. I agree it's the best ride there for kids. It's also much different than your typical Disney World attraction in that it's not a thrill ride and it's not a laid back experience. It's extremely interactive and competitive. Get a FastPass+ because this wait will be long.
The queue for this attraction is photo-worthy to say the least. You're transported into a toy-sized world with all of your favorite Toy Story characters. For the few who haven't seen Toy Story (yes, they exist,) there are nostalgia inducing toys like Mr. Potato Head, a Viewfinder, Etch-a-Sketch, and dominoes. Oh, and they're life size.
This park has several attractions that have a shorter wait and longer ride time due to the nature of the ride. This means more time off of your feet and more time in the air conditioning. My personal favorite is The Great Movie Ride. It's corny at parts, but the movie scenes are spot on and entertaining. It's definitely a nostalgic ride since it hasn't been updated in a while, but if there is a Wizard of Oz scene, you've won me over.
Another fun one is the Studio Backlot Tour. It's more exhilarating than the relaxing boat ride of the Great Movie Ride, but it's fun to see special effects. It's a slow/thrill hybrid that is thoroughly enjoyable. The interaction of the cast members on these rides add an enormous amount of fun.
This attraction is hidden in a corner and was lost on me for many trips before I discovered it. It is a don't miss for all ages. It's a very short class led by a Disney animator that teaches you how to draw a character. It's easy to follow, fun, and a free souvenir. Anyone can do it, and everyone's masterpiece turns out different, but they all definitely look like the familiar character you're attempting to draw.
My two favorite attractions in this park are the Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, both located in the Sunset Boulevard area. They're more reminiscent of traditional thrill rides but with that stellar every-tiny-detail-counts Disney edge. What more could you ask for, really, in a ride? You come off both of these either completely exhilarated or incredibly sick, which is prime gold-medal-winning requirements for me, personally.
The scenery always makes me happy, as well. My favorite photo spot in the park is in the middle of Sunset Boulevard with the palm trees framing you and the Tower of Terror in the background. You can also check out the stage show Beauty and the Beast. It's pretty out-dated but stands the test of time because the costumes are larger than life, completely eye-poppingly bright, and still incredibly beautiful.
Most importantly, though, Sunset Boulevard is also home to...
If there is only one reason to visit this park, this is it. Fantasmic! is dubbed as a nighttime spectacular, and rightfully so. It is a water show complete with fireworks, a fire-breathing dragon, and Mickey himself that compacts a ton of Disney stories into 30 minutes. The perfectly timed music (that I still can't get out of my head five months later) and perfectly lit boats is a feast for the senses. The amphitheater is enormous and getting out after the show is a nightmare, but it's completely worth it.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
This is specific to the Holidays, but the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is magical. It takes synchronization to a whole new level and there is amazing lighted structures everywhere you turn. It really is a sight to be seen, and I won't share too many photos or videos because it takes away from the beautiful astonishment one has when seeing it for the first time. This is a top reason why early December is marked as one of the best times to visit.
For more Disney World and travel fun, the author shares photos and adventures on her joint blog, thebrownandtheblonde.
Share below your thoughts on these attractions and whether you've visited this underrated park!
© 2014 Magen Morris