Day 5 – Hollywood Studios
We are now half way through our vacation and by this day, we were fading. I was wishing I had scheduled our trip with a break half way through, but we trekked on. In my research and preparing my touring plan, I knew this would be a RD Park due to the tiered FP situation. I reviewed my plan the night before, catch bus at 8:00 to Hollywood Studios. RD Rockin’ Roller Coaster, FP for ToT, Great Movie Ride, FP for TSM, lunch at 50s Prime Time, FP for Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, 2:00 March of the First Order, One Man’s Dream, and then back to the hotel room to rest. We had tickets to the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party that night, so I knew we would want the rest and have time to check out the launch bay later in the day.
Looking at this back, it was a wonderful plan… What is the famous quote? The best-laid plans, right?
Thursday morning we started out moving a little slower than our normal pace. We checked the weather, rain predicted in the afternoon. I wasn’t worried because most of our afternoon was indoors and we could always have an earlier break in the hotel room and head back over for the dessert party early to catch whatever attractions we missed. Planning more ahead than yesterday, having learned that lesson the hard way, we tossed the flip flops in the day bag with the ponchos and headed out.
We arrived at the CSR bus stop 2 at 8:08 (just ten minutes behind my schedule)… Turns out this was the day of all days to arrive early. As we walked up there was no predicted time for the next bus to Hollywood Studios, meaning we had missed the next bus. However, my research had told me about 20 minutes between busses and about a 15 minute drive to HS would land us there before RD. As we waited we watched bus after bus come and go.. still nothing for HS. At 8:50, I told DH we should have called an Uber. It would have been worth the cost to make it to RD. We finally arrived at the park at 9:15. For those following a long, we sat at the CSR bus stop #2 for almost an hour. Rough..
Upon departing the bus, we realized this was the first time we had arrived at a park with lines to get through security and scan our magic bands. The lines moved quickly and we were in the park at 9:28, almost a half hour post RD. Without thinking much of it, we continued with our TP over to Rockin’ Roller Coaster. The wait time at 9:36… 75 minutes. TP had projected my arrival at 9:06 and a 23 minute wait. I optimized and it told me to get in the line... I stood in front of the stand by entrance and debated internally. DH didn’t care to ride this, but had agreed because it was one of my must-dos. My FP window for ToT was opening in 9 minutes and if I got in this line I would miss it all together, plus mess up the rest of our day’s plans. I quickly removed the ride from our TP and optimized again.
This was hard for me, as it was one of my must do rides. 1. I’d never ridden it before, but love roller coasters. 2. Aerosmith was a group from my childhood. If my Dad had been given the chance, he would have been an 80s groupie. I grew up with Kiss, AC/DC, Aerosmith and Metallica in the car. We all have songs and bands that shaped our lives… this was a ride I couldn’t miss. As we walked away from Rockin’ Roller coaster I was remorseful and had regrets, but also hoped that we would be able to pull a FP for later in the day. With that inkling in the back of my mind we headed back to ToT.
Upon arrival at the FP entrance, DH chickened out. Yep, my buff new husband with his macho veteran ego, pulled me aside and said he couldn’t come with me. I knew better than to push him, because in our house we do understanding, so I gave him a hug and told him I’d meet him on the street outside in a few minutes. We parted ways. Oddly, this was the first time since we had been married almost a week ago, that I was alone. It felt odd to be standing in line and not joking or talking about the Imagineering in the queue, but I knew pushing this ride would have dampened the whole day, which was already drowning.
This was my first time at ToT in WDW. We came once when I was eight, I remember walking up to the gate and looking in. The wait time was 45 minutes, and it took a lot of begging to get my family of 8 into that line. About 15 minutes into our wait, it broke down and we never made it back. I have ridden the former ToT in DCA three times total, all of them solo because my family also hates this ride. As we lined up, I got sat between two families in the back row. The daughter of one family was obviously terrified and refused to sit in her seat. She was clinging to her dad’s chest. Finally they got her belted in and the ride began. I was not expecting our elevator to move up a few floors and then move into another cage, so that caught me off guard. Soon, we were floating and screaming and hoping for a safe return to reality. We all made it… and we were all aware the little girl made it too.. she was having a full panic attack. Crying, breathing rapidly, and curled up in her seat. DH and I don’t have any kids, but I know I will never force my children to ride anything. I will not lie to them to get them on a ride, especially something that adults have declined. I felt bad for her and guilty that I didn’t say something before when they told her it was like the Haunted Mansion.
Upon departing the ride, I met up with my other half and felt whole again. Turns out, he felt guilty about the Aerosmith ride, and having me ride ToT alone, so he picked up a few pins at a nearby store. A Stormtrooper one for his bag and a Winnie the Pooh one for his Mom. Having been to DL/DCA/WDW close to ten times, I have never purchased a pin. DH had selected a cute Minnie pin with white polka dots and a blue bow. He had also selected a large Pascal. I am a huge Tangled fan, the movie came out during a very dark period of my life and I watched it daily for over a year. They were the perfect gifts.
We wandered back to the main area of HS and picked up some treats for breakfast. How do you say no to the iconic carrot cake cookie and coffee? Next we got in line for the Great Movie Ride, the posted wait time was 35 minutes. TP said I would wait 23, so we finished our breakfast in the queue. DH loved this ride, I enjoyed the queue with the props better. It just needs updating, I was unfamiliar with most of the movies we rode through. DH was torn, it wasn’t as good as he expected either.
Next we made our way to TSM, we both felt it was difficult to find this area of the park and ended up asking for directions. It is just oddly placed with a narrow entrance. Upon arriving, we found out that the ride was only taking FPs and had over an hour wait as they only had one track running. The CM offered to give us FPs for later in the day and we accepted. Our touring plan was rapidly falling even more and more by the way-side. On our way back, we noticed One Man’s Dream and stepped inside. We started reading the notes on the wall and exploring the exhibits, but by the end we were both bored and decided to head into the theater. We watched an extended preview for Cars 3 and decided it was on our list to see when it is released.
Our lunch reservation was for 11:35, it was now close to 11. We decided to wander in that direction and see if we could get an early seating. On our way, we popped into a few stores and looked around. We didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without but ended up almost on time for lunch. I was expecting this restaurant to be hilarious… it seemed like we picked the wrong day/time/meal... as there really wasn’t much happening. DH ordered the meatloaf and a soda, I ordered the salmon and a milkshake. We shared the milkshake and people watched as we waiting for our food. Our waitress scolded me for using my phone at the table, but honestly? I was bored and my touring plan needed some resuscitation. DH said the meatloaf was the best he’d ever tasted! Guess I should have asked for their recipe. Since he finished his meal and almost licked the plate clean, our waitress recognized him and gave him a clean plate club sticker. I enjoyed my salmon and ate all of my veggies, but left the rice. It was unseasoned white rice, and I didn’t have enough sauce to dredge it in. Our waitress complimented me on my healthy choices and took our plates. DH ordered dessert and ate the whole thing while I was using the restroom. I was full and declined dessert, so the waitress also brought DH a milkshake for the road. As we gathered our belongings and headed for the exit, we realized it was raining and had been raining for a while. We donned our ponchos and traded our shoes for flip flops, we had FPs for the Indiana Jones show, which was very close to where we already were.
We got in line and had nice seats near the front, but high enough we had a great view. Due to the rain, parts of the show had to be cancelled for the safety of the stunt people. However, the parts we did see were fantastic. DH and I discussed this on our way out, although we love the ride in DL, a show has pretty cool potential too. After the show, we headed over to line up for the March of the First Order. Although the rain had substantially let up, and I chose to replace my tennis shoes but maintain my poncho. The march was cancelled. We knew if we left, we wouldn’t have another opportunity to see this show, so we wandered over to TSM and used our FP.
We love this ride at DCA and since they are twins, we love this one too. We had fun competing and playing around. DH had the best score in our car and was proud of himself. At this point we had extra time, so we decided to wander into the Star Wars launch bay. We caught the movie and wandered through part of the exhibits, then decided to move out and wait in line for the next March of the First Order.
The March was wonderful, DH and I got lots of pictures and he was all smiles. I really enjoy the storm troopers but don’t identify with either the light or the dark. DH has a bro-mance with Kylo, so he was disappointed to see Captain Phasma, but still really enjoyed himself. I checked the availability for FPs and there was a TSM and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. DH decided he didn’t want to ride RR after all, so again I had to decide between my must-do alone or something we both enjoy. I picked up the TSM. At this point we were burnt out, but it was pushing 4:00 p.m., knowing the bus took over an hour this morning… I was reluctant to leave. This was a mistake. We needed the break…
Instead we wandered over to Muppet Vision and enjoyed that show. We found a few gifts for our Fairy Godmailer boxes and picked up a few souvenirs to bring home. The rain had mostly subsided, so we removed the ponchos and DH put his sneakers back on. We headed back over to the Launch Bay. DH took photos of literally everything. We waited in line for BB8 and Kylo.
Both were fun to meet, next we headed to the gift shop. DH could have spent a lifetime and a million dollars in this store. He built phone cases and looked at the figurines and paintings. Having been on our feet all day and this being the middle of our trip, I was exhausted and fidgeting from my feet aching. We headed over to TSM and used our last FP. Again it was fun, I did unexpectedly terrible on this ride. After we picked out a bench and sat down to rest, we checked in with our families and enjoyed the people watching.
After about an hour, I talked DH into walking into the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. This was one of the only shows we saw all week, it was fun… but made us both feel like we wished we had a little person to share in that experience with.
Next we wandered over to the launch bay and checked in for the party. They gave us lanyards with special passes and explained that it would be another hour before they started letting guests into the Launch Bay. We wandered back towards the front of the park and exchanged our fuel rod.
*I need to pause to say: if you travel for work or vacation regularly, fuel rods are the best. I exchange them in airports, recharge them for the car, and there are stations in each Disney Park and some of the resorts (including CSR).
We shopped around more and headed back to the dessert party. Once inside, they had three food stations, a drink station, and a bar. The first food station was an ice-cream station with all sorts of sweet and savory toppings as well as brownies. The second food station was set up buffet style with a large selection. There was pita bread with hummus and a black bean dip (both were excellent, especially they black bean dip with Sriracha yum!), next there were cheese and olive skewers, and watermelon skewers. The end of the table was filled with a variety of dessert options: cupcakes, brownies, rice crispies, pudding, etc. The final food station was freeze dried Nutella mouse. It was wonderful (I may have eaten two of these). Beverages… when the doors opened and we filed in there were servers with trays of signature mixed drinks. We enjoyed two passion fruit cocktails and DH ordered another signature drink from the bar. The non-alcoholic drink station included water and lemonade fountains as well as another signature moctail. Also there was an ice bucket with traditional canned coke products.
We enjoyed our sweet and savory options as well as a few drinks. There was still plenty of time left, so we found a place to sit and watch the Jawas trade. I was fascinated with this. It was hilarious to see the things they wanted. On this day it was bubbles and fidget spinners. At one point one of the Jawas was doing fidget spinners in each hand. It was hilarious.
Then it was time for the fireworks. We briskly walked… and by that I mean DH walked and I jogged to our private viewing area, right in front of the Great Movie Ride. This fireworks show is absolutely the best I’ve ever seen. I got chills and had a few tears. It was absolutely amazing. My favorite part was when all the lights and sounds stopped and Darth Vader’s breathing began. The projection of him on the Great Movie Ride and coordinating lights, sounds, fire, and fireworks took my breath away. DH and I were both screaming and wishing my Dad was here to share in this joy. DH’s favorite part was, of course, Kylo Ren. After the fireworks, we made our way to the CSR bus stop… we were on the third bus to CSR post fireworks. I didn’t realize how long the wait would be, and again told DH we should have called an Uber.
Although this was our longest day at the park, more than 12 consecutive hours, and we were exhausted. We both loved Hollywood Studios and the Star Wars Fireworks was the highlight. If you are questioning the value of the Dessert Package… its middle of the road… but the preferred viewing for this made it worth it in our minds. No question. If/when we return, we will absolutely do this again.