Monday, January 18, 2010
Trip report: WDW & The Half Marathon, Pt. 4
Although the race was only a day before, there was no rest or relaxation for the weary—Stacy had planned a full day at the Disney Hollywood Studios. I’d never been to this area before and it had a number of attractions that I was anxious to ride. Of course, being a huge movie and Hollywood buff, the building façades were of great interest to me, and it was fun to try to figure out their real-life Hollywood inspirations.
First attraction of the day (on an empty stomach no less) was Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith.
The premise: you have entered a recording studio where Aerosmith is just finishing up a session. As they are being ushered off to a concert by their manager (portrayed by Illeana Douglas, one of my quirky faves from the movies), Aerosmith promises transportation to us "fans" in a very long stretch limo.
Note the hidden Mickey in the recording studio:
And here is that limo:
I don’t know all the technical specs, but this thing jets off at what seems to be about a thousand times more speed than DCA’s California Screamin’. It takes you on a dark thrill ride through Hollywood and the freeways in a crazy-ass journey of loops and all kinds of other stomach-lurching turns. And it was a blast. Had to do it twice. Sorry folks, but the camera stayed in the bag for this one. I just wanted to enjoy the ride (which I did!) and didn’t want to have to worry about the camera flying out of the vehicle.
Next up: Tower of Terror! I have been wanting to ride the WDW version for ages as I have heard that it is somewhat different from Anaheim’s version.
What I preferred about this version: loved the long line queue, sweeping pathways, landscaping...it really made it seem more like a true Hollywood Hotel that you would have found in the Golden Age. The Anaheim version just seems to be wedged into a small space in the corner of DCA, and doesn’t have the advantage of the exterior space that Orlando does.
I also loved that the vehicle doesn’t just take you up and down the elevator shaft; it also propels you forward into some other unexplored areas that Anaheim does not have. Much better for increasing the anticipation of the drops!
Since Dough had never done the Animation Academy at DCA, we tried our hands at its East Coast counterpart. Gotta’ love looking at all the memorabilia on the shelves!
For Bibliodonis; have fun checking out all the books (although I am guessing you already have!):
On display were maquettes for “The Princess and The Frog.” Great to see some of my fave characters in 3D!
The three of us had fun drawing Winnie The Pooh—except for the little brat who was screaming bloody murder because she wanted to draw Minnie Mouse. This would have been the time for the mother to usher said brat out of the auditorium so that others could enjoy...but no, they sat there through the entire session. Whatever happened to Dr. Spock?
As you can tell by our attire, the temperatures had not really risen much!
Plenty going on here, including photo ops with your fave characters from “Up,” do-it-yourself computer animation, and even a chance to record your voice to match up with a Disney animated character. 2 thumbs up for family fun here!
Next up was another long-anticipated attraction for me: The Great Movie Ride. The thought of a dark ride that takes you through classic movies was sooooo up my alley! The exterior of this attraction is a scarily-accurate façade taken directly from Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
The courtyard contains footprints of some of Hollywood’s best—just like the real Grauman’s!
I thought this one was fairly creative!
The line queue allows you to watch trailers for the movies featured on the attraction. Slight downfall: the film is definitely too short for the wait here. One could get sick of watching the same trailers during one ride, let alone if a guest decided to return.
The attraction itself was a lot of fun. As I had read, some of the displays/animatronics don’t function anymore, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the ride immensely. Not sure if it’s result of licensing, but some of the animatronics were spot-on, others looked like their faces were basically off-the-shelf. What the animatronics lacked in facial resemblance was made-up by the settings—they were incredible recreations of the original movie sets.
Some of the scenes could be a little frightening for the young ones:
Could this elephant for Tarzan be a creative re-use of the Jungle Cruise African Bull Elephant?
The mood of this scene from “Casablanca” was perfection.
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that I went bonkers during the “Wizard of Oz” portion of the attraction—to see my favorite movie in the flesh was fan-friggin-tastic. The animatronic for the witch was out of this world—no skimping on this one! It was as if Margaret Hamilton had come back from the dead.
I can only assume it was a licensing issue that caused Judy Garland to be so off the mark; yet, the other characters looked very much like their 1939 counterparts:
On that note...I think I’ll take a pause for this particular day...don’t want to overload you in one post!
See more vintage and current Walt Disney World photos at my website.