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Visiting Disney World: Our Experience at Hollywood Studios

This week our family is vacationing in Florida, more specifically  Disney World. We spent today at Hollywood Studios and I mean it when I say that today was the most fun I have had with my kids…ever.

We arrived when the park opened and we didn’t leave until it closed and I think we managed to hit almost every attraction the park had to offer in the time in between. Here’s a list of what we saw and my advice and commentary which may or may not be helpful to anyone planning a trip in the near future:

  • Toy Story Mania Ride – This was the first stop of the day. We were warned by a native Floridian that this ride fills up fast and attracts even longer than normal lines so once inside the park we headed straight there. If you have a kid that loves the Toy Story movies, video games, or both, this ride is going to blow their minds. It’s 3-D and interactive. Riders are given a gun to shoot at targets a la old-style fair games.  All the characters from the movies make an appearance and the decorations you pass as you wait in line are so interesting your kids will forget they are waiting and not riding.
  • Muppet Vision 3-D – They call this experience 3-D, but it seems like it should be awarded more dimensions. This may have been my favorite attraction at the park. In this one, you’ll put on a pair of 3-D glasses and watch a show starring the cast of the muppets, only your eyes won’t stay facing forward. Some of the characters make their way out of the movie and into the theater with you. There’s squirting water, there are bubbles, cannons fly… This one is a must.
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – If your kid likes cars, the Pixar movie or otherwise, you’ll want to make time for this one. My son isn’t really invested in either so he got a little restless during this one. It is interesting from an adult perspective as it gives you insight into how action scenes involving vehicles are made. There is some (pretend) gun fighting and (pretend) death by gunshot, so if that’s the kind of thing you try not to expose your child to, you may want to skip this one. The kids in the audience did perk up when Lightening McQueen made a brief appearance.
  • Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage – I was surprised by how great this was. The dancing and singing was well done and brightly colored and fun to watch. At around 20 minutes long, the abbreviated plot is a perfect length an easy to follow for little ones and if you get there early enough you can sit really close to the action which was a plus for those of us who love princesses.
  • Disney Junior Live On Stage – I have a 2- and a 5-year-old. My 5-year-old has mostly outgrown the programming on Disney Junior, but my 2-year-old is still very much in love with it. I was worried my older child would be a little bored, but those fears proved unnecessary as they both loved this one. In less than half an hour you get to watch skits from the most popular shows on the channel right now, including Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Little Einsteins, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. There are bubbles, confetti, clapping, and dancing. Both children loved the chance to see Mickey Mouse among others.
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid – The best thing about this show was the opening number of “Under the Sea.” It was acted out with glowing puppets in a pitch black room and it really felt like the characters were floating in mid-air.
  • Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun – What would a trip to Disney be without a parade? After lunch (which we enjoyed at Mama Melrose’s and I mean it when I say enjoyed) we picked a place to watch all the characters from the Disney/Pixar films dance and sing their way through the park. This was a favorite moment for my children who are diehard Toy Story fans.
  • Fantasmic! – Second to the Muppet show, Fantasmic was my favorite. It is a laser light, water and pyrotechnic show featuring most of the Disney characters and a mash-up of music from all the films. It happens just after dark on select nights in Hollywood Studios and if you decide to see this one, which you should, get there early. It was probably the most packed attraction we attended all day. If you have a child that scares easily you may want to remind them that what they are about to see is pretend. I forgot how scary some of the scenes from Fantasia, which are a part of the show, can be for young children. Other than a little required reassurance, this was the perfect ending to our first day at Disney.
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