Disney Hollywood Studios (MGM)
"Disney Hollywood Studios" is Disney World's new name for MGM Studio, starting January 2008. It's the same park you know any love -- it's just getting something of a facelift or sorts.
Hollywood Studios evolved from two things. One, Disney had bought out MGM, and it was a great idea for a Disney World theme park. Next...well, Disney wasn't about to let Universal Studios go unchallenged! Then, with Disney and Pixar collaborating, MGM had a name change to become Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios is rather a departure from the previous two (at the time) Disney World theme parks. Hollywood Studio, at that time named MGM Studio, was the third park to open, on May 1, 1989. It also had less of an overall theme than the two previous parks, Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. If you think about it, "movies" covers an awful lot of ground!
However, Disney Hollywood Studios has matured since those early days and seems more put together these days, if you know what I mean. That's a good thing!
One thing that this park has that the others don't is a show like Fantasmic (didn't I say that Hollywood Studios is a departure from the other parks?) I'm not sure how to describe it, as it's a combination music, fireworks, laser lights and parade, all in one. And it's held in an amphitheater -- also different from the other parks. (More about Fantasmic later.)
Tickets for Hollywood Studios are the same as any other the other theme parks (and I really recommend that you add the Disney Park Hopper option to your pass).
Come on, let's take a look at the former MGM Studio theme park.
I'll start off with the last, first. Fantasmic is held at night, not long before the park closes. There is always one show, and on some special nights there are two shows.
Fantasmic is performed on stage, in an amphitheater. And unlike the other Disney shows, this has a somewhat dark theme to it. In fact, you probably don't want to bring very young children to this show! It's about a dream that Mickey Mouse has, which turns into a nightmare from which he must escape. In the course of the show there is music, laser lights (kinda cool), fireworks and a water parade.
Fantasmic is held at the very end of the park -- i.e., it's a long walk. Uphill (although a pretty gentle slope). You get to sit on some fairly uncomfortable benches, and they are uncomfortable for this reason -- you should get to the amphitheater at least 30 minutes before the show to grab a spot. Of course, once the show starts, you'll forget all that!
The Fantasmic show is neat, and I do recommend it. There are vendors right outside the amphitheater that sell things to eat and drink, and you can bring the munchies into the theater.
Warning to parents of pre-teens -- there are vendors selling all kinds of cool lighted souvenirs before the show, and I'll bet your youngster will ask for one. You may want to put that into your budget. (Oh, and I saw quite a few "young at heart" grown-ups buy some for themselves, too!)
One final note: There are some Disney Hollywood Studio "dinner and a show" packages that include Fantasmic. Basically, you can make a reservation for dinner, and also get VIP seating for the Fantasmic show. And the VIP seating means that you don't have to arrive way before the show to get a great seat! Naturally there is an extra cost, above and beyond your dinner, for the VIP seating. If this tickles your fancy, make your reservation well ahead of time, or you might end up having your dinner at 3:30 PM (yes, that's what they offered me for last-minute seating options)!
Disney Hollywood Studios "Must See" Attractions
There are a lot of neat things to see and do at Hollywood Studio. But rides top the list, followed closely by shows. Plan on spending at least some time in line, or waiting for a show to begin (it's recommended you get to it early for a decent seat). So what are the you-gotta-see-this attractions? Don't miss the following:
Naturally, there are a ton more attractions like Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Muppet Vision 3-D and the Great Movie Ride. Oh, and walking through the different lots is a blast. Word of warning -- get a map of the park and carry it with you -- it's awfully easy to get lost in the New York lot!
Tummy Growling? Places to Eat
Aside from snacks, I was surprised at how few restaurants there really were in MGM. Then again, I had visited EPCOT the day before and that place is food central! At any rate, here's what to look for in Hollywood Studios when your tummy starts sending you "feed me!" messages :
While most of the entertainment is in the form of rides or shows, you might want to also consider the following :
If you want to meet and greet some characters, pick up a park guide and check for times, places and who will be there. I had a tough time tracking down Mickey, the Sorcerer's Apprentice himself, when I was there last.
Here's something that's changing -- the Disney Stars and Cars Parade will have its last performance on March 9, 2008. Then a new parade, Block Party Bash! will start up on March 14, 2008.
If you want specific dates and times, check out the parade and fireworks schedule for the parks.
You want to enjoy your vacation to Disney Hollywood Studios day, so here are a couple of tips.
The Florida sun is strong, so bring a long-sleeve shirt (yes, even in Summer) or slather on the sunscreen. A sunburn is not a fun way to spend your Florida Disney vacation! Remember to bring a rain poncho in the summer too -- it's very likely you'll run into showers.
Drink lots of fluids -- when you get thirsty, you're already a bit dehydrated.
Do you want the best prices on Disney MGM tickets and resorts? The best piece of advice (aside from shopping around) is to make Walt Disney World reservations and get tickets as far in advance as possible.
You can also check out the Hollywood Studios park hours -- Hollywood Studios doesn't close at the same time each day.
Have a Great Disney Vacation!
Dinner and a Show
There's an option for a dinner and show combination; the Brown Derby for dinner and then Fantasmic! for the show.
As with all Disney dining, make your reservations well in advance. The last time I tried just a few days ahead of time, my only option for "dinner" was at 3:30 in the afternoon. (I passed on that.)
Save Money at Disney!
You can save bundles of cash on your next Disney World vacation! (And saving money is good, right?) Check out the Ultimate Savings Guide!
Great Disney Vacations Copyright 2006