Disney's Hollywood Studios Overview
Opened May 1, 1989, the Disney-MGM Studios is a creative, year round, theme park devoted to bringing the magic of television, radio, movies and Broadway plays to the masses in an interesting to view, educational and fun environment. From the Pan-Pacific Auditorioum replica main gate to the 1930's style Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards to the New York Street backlot, Disney's Hollywood Studios is centered around the movie making process, bringing it all to life as only Disney can. The name of the park has changed from the Disney-MGM Studios to Disney's Hollywood Studios but the focus of the park is still celebrating Hollywood. The central park icon is a giant Sorcerer's Hat that is from the film Fantasia and was erected in 2001, replacing The Earful Tower as the icon.
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Disney's Hollywood Studios was an idea created in by corporate environment to take Walt's dream of a Disney park devoted to showcasing the great wonders of film making. The idea for the park was loosely based on the tram tours of the earlier part of the century that dominated the movie studio lots in Hollywood, California. Due to costs, the idea for the park was moved from California to Florida, where the Disney Company had more land and it was cheaper to build. Largely, the Disney's Hollywood Studios was a race against rival Universal Studios, whose theme park in California was quite successful. Universal announced plans to create a second theme park in Florida, near the already existant Walt Disney World area. A race ensued and the Studios were opened nearly two years earlier than Universal.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD: At Disney's Hollywood Studios, guests enter the turnstiles onto the main street, Hollywood Boulevard, where reality blends into fantasy -- neon and chrome, art deco and modern architecture dominate the scenery. To enhance the old-time atmosphere, Citizens of Hollywood (formerly known as Streetmosphere) characters like 1930s detectives, starlets and gossip columnists, populate the streets, interacting with the crowds they draw. Colorful shops and restaurants reinforce the feeling of yesteryear -- the Hollywood Brown Derby, for example, faithfully recalls the landmark meeting place of the stars, right down to its signature Cobb salad and grapefruit cake.
As you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, immediately in front of you you'll see the park icon, a gigantic Sorcerer Mickey Hat, originally built to mark WDW's 100 Years of Magic Celebration. Behind that is a replica of Mann's Chinese Theater, which houses one of the park's hallmark attractions, The Great Movie Ride. This slow-moving tram ride showcases some of the most memorable moments ever captured on the silver screen. In front of the Chinese Theater, you'll see where numerous celebrities, including Robin Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley have left their handprints in cement.
ECHO LAKE: The first left you encounter off Hollywood Boulevard takes you past Echo Lake, distinguished by the towering Dinosaur Gertie who serves up snacks and desserts. You pass by a pair of eateries -- Hollywood & Vine, home of a character breakfast and lunch featuring the Little Einsteins and JoJo and Goliath, and the '50s Prime Time Cafe, where the servers treat you like family -- right down to scolding you for putting your elbows on the table! As you follow around the lake, you encounter the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, a live show with death-defying stunts. Nearby, Star Tours takes you on an amazing journey to the Moon of Endor, featuring some of the familiar Star Wars characters. On the other side of the lake is Sounds Dangerous, a showcase for special sound effects featuring funnyman Drew Carey. Next door is the ABC-TV Theater, which now houses Disney's version of American Idol, the popular television talent show. In between these two attractions is the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, which features sculptures of famous television legends, as well as the second-largest Emmy statue in the world (14 1/2 feet from its base).
SUNSET BOULEVARD: As you make the first right off Hollywood Boulevard, you come upon Sunset Boulevard, with its specialized shops that feature gifts themed to classic films and Disney characters, especially the Disney Villains spotlighted in the night-time show Fantasmic! In fact, the entrance to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, home to Fantasmic!, is just a little further down Sunset on the right. Light dining and snacks can be found at the outdoor Sunset Ranch Market on the left. Looming menacingly at the end of Sunset Boulevard, is the Hollywood Tower Hotel, which dares guests to enter The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Adjacent to the Tower of Terror is the Studios' hot thrill ride, the indoor Rock'n'Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Across the street from this coaster, is the Theater of the Stars, which houses Beauty and the Beast -- Live on Stage, a lovely musical stage show based on the hit Disney movie.
PIXAR PLACE: Behind the Chinese Theater is the former Mickey Avenue, now dubbed Pixar Place, home to the park's newest attraction, Toy Story Mania, open to the public May 31, 2008.
ANIMATION COURTYARD: To the right of Pixar Place is the Animation Courtyard. Here you'll find the not-to-be-missed Walt Disney: One Man's Dream exhibit, as well as the popular Voyage of the Little Mermaid, delighting young and old. Another major attraction in real-life film making is The Magic of Disney Animation, a tour allowing guests to get an insider's view of animators. Across the Courtyard, children can see their favorite characters like the Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, Mickey and Pooh in the Playhouse Disney Live! show.
STREETS OF AMERICA: To the left of the Chinese Theater is Commissary Lane, featuring several dining options, including the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant.At the end of Commissary Lane turn right onto the Streets of America, which create the illusion of New York City, San Francisco and other cities using forced perspective techniques. The Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, inspired by a popular show in Disneyland Paris, debuted in this area in May 2005. With stunt cars and motorcycles, and even some daring jet skis, this show, in a specially constructed amphitheater that holds 5,000, gives an adrenaline rush to the once-quiet backlot area. To the right of the Stunt Show, you'll find the entrance to the Studio Backlot Tour, a 25-minute tram tour that allows theme park guests to peek in at shooting on state-of-the-art soundstages and sprawling backlot sets. Near the entrance, you'll see the new Luigi's Garage, which houses Cars characters Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater.
Kids can spend some time the size of ants winding their way through giant blades of grass in the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure. Nearby, the Muppets star in Muppet*Vision 3D, which combines Jim Henson's puppets and special effects with Disney's famous Audio-Animatronics. Finally, spot your favorite Toy Story characters at the nearby Al's Toy Barn.
- Looking for a great photo spot? Try a photo in front of the Sorcerer Mickey topiary with the Hollywood Studios arch in the background
- You can drop off your cell phone (with charger) at Guest Relations and they will charge your phone for you
- On rainy days, the Citizens of Hollywood will appear in the photos/gift shop area of Tower of Terror
- Indoor and air conditioned character meet locations include Pixar Place, Magic of Disney Animation and Prince Narnia
- If you are going to Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage and don't want to sit on the floor, there is a bench at the rear of the theater
- Near the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular you will find a well near the entrance. If you pull on the rope above the well, you'll hear someone talking down in the well.
- At the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area, climb the stairs between the garden hose and the slide coming out of a roll of film. There is a dog's nose. Put your hand in the nostrils. The dog sniffs you!
- At the 50's Prime Time Cafe, have your party wear hats and sunglasses into the restaurant and put your elbows on the table for a lot of good natured fun.
- The Singing in the Rain umbrella is in the Streets of America section, facing the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show area. It's a great photo opportunity when you stand under the umbrella, it triggers 'rain' that falls down over the umbrella.
- Be sure to stop and enjoy the Citizens of Hollywood ("Streetmosphere"), where throughout the day on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, characters will come out and put on shows and interact with the guests. They are a wonderful treat. Check out the "Funniest Citizen in Hollywood", usually on Sunset Boulevard around 5pm or so, for a very funny show!
- Tucked away near the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost are props from the "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" film including the tank from the movie.
- Stop by the Star Tours area at night to hear the Ewok Village (above the FASTPASS machines) where the Ewoks will sing, just like in the movie.
•The restrooms at the Brown Derby aren't on the park map and tend to be emptier than the average restroom. The restrooms near Lights, Motors, Action are generally empty when there isn't a show going on.
- On less crowded days, Studio Catering Company has been closed for operation.
- Upon entering Tower of Terror library, move to the opposite end of the room to be first ones to leave after preshow.
•You cannot enter the character area anymore from the Animation Gallery store; instead use the attraction entrance.
- In the Osborne Lights is a black cat that was mistakenly given to Disney from the Halloween stash but Disney kept it.
- When viewing the Osborne Lights, be sure to look at all the details, especially in windows and balconies.
- The selection process of kids at Jedi Training Academy has changed. Recruits are selected right after a show ends from a queue of guests lined up.
- After Lights Motors Action! Extreme Stunt Show, you can meet some of the drivers by the left handside of the show area. The drivers come out after about 10 minutes after the show ends, near the Surf Shop area of the set.
- If you're on Sunset Boulevard during the Block Party Bash parade, you can exit Hollywood Studios by going down a special path behind Carthay Theater shop.
- After Block Party Bash's second stop, follow it to Star Tours for a "bonus" performance (and lots of nerf balls).
- When waiting in line in the Tower of Terror boiler room, listen for the great sound effects Imagineers included.
- Take advantage of a great shortcut path behind the restrooms at Star Tours to avoid crowds near Jedi Training Academy/Star Tours.
- Want to beat the crowd out of Beauty and the Beast? Leave when Beast is human and Belle is in gold dress dancing.
- Need to beat the crowd out of Fantasmic? When you see Steamboat Willie come out, head out and you will beat the rush.
- The hardest Hidden Mickey to find is in the Great Movie Ride load area near a hut and tree in middle of the mural.
- Peevy's Polar Pipeline offers some mighty cold drinks and props from the Rocketeer film, including a jetpack!
- If you're looking to have you or your child's face painted, try the location on Streets of America for shorter lines.
- Looking for some great wallpaper for your cell phone? Go to the Animation Gallery shop and take photos of the art!
- Before committing to single rider line at Rock 'n Roller Coaster, look to see if the end of the line is inside the building, which means a short wait.
- Looking for a quiet place to sit and take a break? Try the Writer's Stop on Streets of America
- Looking to see Luxo Jr in action? Ask a Cast Member at Toy Story Midway Mania if Luxo has been out to ensure you aren't waiting for nothing.
- If you need some REALLY cold air conditioning, spend some time in the Animation Gallery store or Tatooine Traders.
- Want to eat at 50's Prime Time Cafe but don't have a reservation? Go to Tune In Lounge and order off full menu from 50's Prime Time Cafe.
- Best restaurants for last minute reservations: Hollywood Brown Derby and Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano
- Looking for a frozen margarita? Go to the outdoor stand adjacent to Studio Catering Co. that used to sell ice cream
- Looking for a quiet place to rest? Try the comfy chairs and couches found inside the Brown Derby, near the restrooms. Weather permitting, the chairs and covered tables on the shore of Echo Lake near 50's Prime Time Cafe can be peaceful.
- My favorite spot to watch Block Party Bash is between Keystone Clothiers and Mickeys of Hollywood.
- There is a great frozen lemonade available on Sunset Boulevard at Anaheim Produce.
- If you want to volunteer at the Backlot Tour, ask a Cast Member as you first get in line at the entrance.
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Lights Motors Action! Extreme Stunt Show don't use Fastpass anymore so don't factor them in your FP strategy.
- Save attractions like One Mans Dream, amd Muppetvision for late afternoon when it I'd hot and crowded.
- If you are at park opening and want to ride the Tower of Terror first, walk on left side of Sunset Boulevard to get best position to be first in line.
- If you want breakfast at Hollywood Studios, try Starring Rolls or Fairfax Fare.
- If you find a long line at Backlot Express, it's probably long from a stunt show exit so come back in 10-20 minutes.
- On Rock 'n Roller Coaster, during inversions pick your feet off the ground and tuck your knees to add to the inversion sensation
- Don't mind splitting up from your group? Single rider line at Rock 'n Roller coaster can provide very short waits.
- If there are two showings of Fantasmic!, always opt for the second showing as it will be MUCH easier to get a seat!
- Vegetarians looking for a quick meal? Try the veggie wrap at Starring Rolls or veggie sandwich at Backlot Express
- To see the finale show of the American Idol Experience, give yourself at least 40 minutes before show time.
- If you want to make a fun picture on Rock 'n Roller Coaster, do it right as you launch b/c that is when your photo is taken.
- The best seats at Fantasmic! are a little off center to the right or left and about 2/3 of the way up from the front.
- Ridden Star Tours a lot? Next time watch just the video screen to the right of the main screen for a different film!
- Look for the Green Army Man during Block Party Bash parade who spins himself wildly inside the Monsters Inc float
- Want to see the cowboy hijacking on the Great Movie Ride? Just ask the Cast Member when you get to the loading area for the cowboy scene!
- Before you drop on Tower of Terror, place a penny on your lap and watch the penny float in the air as you plummet!
- If the posted wait time at Tower of Terror is 13 minutes, that really means there is no wait!
- If the end of the line at Toy Story Midway Mania is inside the building, the wait is likely no more than 40 minutes.