Category Archives: Hollywood Studios

New Star Wars Guided Tour

Can’t wait for Star Wars Land to open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disneyland? You are not alone. There are thousands of us Force sensitive types waiting to travel to a galaxy far, far away. Disney knows this and is doing its best to keep that excitement alive. One of the ways Disney is doing that is by offering a New Star Wars Guided Tour.

In 2012 Disney purchased Lucas Films for about four billion dollars. That includes Star Wars. Since then Disney has been cashing in releasing two movies (The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and announcing plans to bring Star Wars to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Of course it is going to take years to build those lands (there is still no official opening date) and this new Star Wars Guided tour is one way Disney is keeping the excitement alive (and helping recoup some of that four billion dollars.) Continue reading New Star Wars Guided Tour

Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios Closing?

Is Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios Closing?

The fact that Disney has announced a nearly year long refurbishment has many people asking, ” Is Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios Closing?” While at first the idea seems crazy (Pizza Planet is very popular!) there are some very good reasons to consider it.

First is the fact that it will be closed from January to November. That suggests more than just updating and giving everything a fresh coat of paint. It suggests a complete overhaul. It suggests that the building that houses Pizza Planet today is going to house something totally different come November.

Second is location. Like the real estate agents tell you it is all about location. Pizza Planet is located right next to the Star Tours -The Adventure Continues. That location seems prime to be the center point of the new Star Wars Land and a Toy Story themed Pizza Planet would create a disturbance in the Force.

Speaking of locations Star Wars is not the only new land coming to Hollywood Studios. Toy Story is getting its own land. But where will it go? Disney is in the process of adding a third track to Toy Story Midway Mania which is probably the most popular ride at Hollywood Studios. So the logical place to place Toy Story Land is near the already existing attraction. That attraction, as you can see from the map below, is half-way across the park.

Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios Closing
As you can see Pizza Planet suffers from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So maybe Pizza Planet is not closing for good. Maybe it is just moving to a new home. We can hope!

 

Three Reasons You Will Love Disney Memory Maker

Memory Maker? Do you even know what it is? If not you could be missing out on something that will keep memories of  your Walt Disney vacation alive for a lifetime.

Sounds good right? Of course it does. But like somethings (okay almost everything at Walt Disney World) it comes with a price.

There is some good news though! In an almost never seen or heard of move Walt Disney World actually lowered the price of the Memory Maker package. Yes, they lowered a price. Plus they have added an option to purchase it for only one day! Continue reading Three Reasons You Will Love Disney Memory Maker

Star Wars Land Coming To Disney

That disturbance in the force last weekend was not the Death Star destroying a planet. It was Star Wars fans rejoicing over a major announcement at the annual D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Star Wars Land is coming to Disney!

Star Wars Land Coming To Disney

There had been speculation for years that Disney was going to add a Star Wars land somewhere. The rumor mill jumped into high gear when Disney bought Lucasfilm. Bob Iger (chairman and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company) added to it earlier this year by saying there would be an increased Star Wars presence in the parks.

Many fans were pulling for a Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios in Orlando. This made good sense because the Studios already had the annual Star Wars Weekends in May and early June. And with the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter just down the road at Universal Studios Orlando many people were waiting for Disney to answer Universal’s challenge.

Star Wars land coming to Disney

But there were also rumors that Tomorrowland at Disneyland in California might be the new Star Wars land. There was little to actually suggest this but reality has never had a big impact on rumors and wishes.

It turns out that both coasts are about to experience the power of the Force. Hollywood Studios will be getting a Star Wars Land. Disneyland will also be getting a Star Wars land but the location is not yet clear.

What To Expect From Star Wars land

As you might imagine there were a lot of teasers about what the new Star Wars land would look like but not a lot of details. Here is what we were told…

The new land (presumably at both parks) will be 14 acres and according to Iger, “Our largest single themed land expansion ever.” To get an idea of the scope of this project old Fantasyland was 10 acres and the expansion made it 21 acres.

Star Wars Land coming to Disney

The Star Wars land will not be set on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s homeworld. Nor will it be set on any other planet we are familiar with. Instead it will be on a new, as of yet unannounced planet, from the upcoming Star Wars trilogy. This planet has been described as remote port on the edge of wild space.

There will be two major attractions in the new land. One will give guests an opportunity to pilot the famed Millennium Falcon on a secret mission. The other will put guests in the middle of an battle. This battle will not be from the previous trilogies but will be from the upcoming Force Awakens.

Being Disney there will also be merchandising and food options. These locations will be heavily themed and feature creatures both old and new from the Star Wars universe.

One thing was conspicuously absent from the announcement. There was no opening date announced. We will have to wait for that but Disney has announced some teases until the new land opens.

Till Then…

The good news is Disney is not going to wait to start introducing new Star Wars themed content.  There are changes coming to some existing attractions and some  new attractions and events coming. They are expected to begin arriving before the end of the year.

Star Tours will be getting some new variations. Not only will new scenes be introduced but new characters as well. With the randomness that is already built into Star Tours this just adds more options to the mix.

The Jedi Academy is also scheduled for some updating. There will be a new design as well as new characters and story lines.

There are two completely new elements that will be introduced. They are Launch Bay and Season of the Force.

Launch Bay will evidently be a new location. There will be character meet and greets and opportunities to interact with designers and directors. How and when this interaction will take place is still to be revealed. There will also be props, artwork and opportunities to experience some of the best Star Wars video games.

Season of the Force is a new event. It will debut on both coasts but each coast will have at least one unique experience. At Disneyland Space Mountain will become Hyperspace Mountain. At Hollywood Studios there will be a new fireworks show set to the famous Star Wars Soundtrack by John Williams.

Both coasts will share character interactions, special merchandise and food. This will no doubt be similar to Star Wars Weekends.

But What Does This Mean For Star Wars Weekends?

Nothing was specifically mentioned about Star Wars Weekends but Season of the Force would seem to replace the popular event. If so it will greatly expand the opportunity for guests to experience Star Wars and that is a good thing! Guess we just have to wait and see how it all plays out!

 

 

 

Something Besides Burgers at Disney

Something Besides Burgers at Disney

Headed off to a Disney vacation but afraid of burger burn out? After all that is the only option theme parks really offer. Right? And they will be overpriced too. Right? Well Grumpy cannot disagree about the overpriced but there is no need to suffer from burger burn out. There is something besides burgers at Disney.

In fact you do not have to pay to have a fancy sit down dinner or hit one of the character buffets to escape the bun. There are plenty of options from sushi (yes Grumpy really said sushi) to bbq ribs that will not set you back a fortune. In fact most of them are one quick service dining credit.

Top Quick Service Options By Park

So where do you find these options? First let’s take a look at Grumpy’s top choice for each park (and one honorable mention.)

Magic Kingdom

Columbia Harbor House: In the Magic Kingdom and looking beyond Pecos Bill’s or Cosmic Ray’s? Give Columbia Harbor House a try. Located in Liberty Square you have probably seen it a million times and never paid attention. But you are passing up some good food! The menu centers around seafood and includes tuna, battered fish and shrimp. Have non-seafood people in your party? There are also chicken nuggets on the menu. The theme in the Columbia Harbor house is also worth a look.

Something Besides Burgers at Disney

Epcot

La Cantina de San Angel: Located in the World Showcase’s Mexico pavilion La Cantina de San Angel is an excellent escape from burgers.  La Cantina de San Angel offers excellent Mexican selections like Tacos de Barbacoa. These shredded beef tacos are a Grumpy favorite. The only drawback to La Cantina is the seating is very limited and is outdoor. Note: Don’t confuse La Cantina de San Angel with La Hacienda de San Angel. La Hacienda is in the pyramid and is table service (much higher prices.)

Hollywood Studios

Fairfax Fare:  If you head down Sunset Boulevard towards the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and smell something good cooking it might be Fairfax Fare. This is another one of those places that is easy to overlook. Most people head to ABC Commissary or the Studio Catering Company. They are missing out on some good barbeque. Fairfax Fare offers chicken and spareribs. As with La Cantina de San Miguel one of the big drawbacks here is outdoor only seating.

Animal Kingdom

Flame Tree Barbecue: A real favorite for visitors to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Flame Tree is found on Discovery Island and offers ribs, chicken and pork sandwiches. The seating area is large but spread out and outdoors. But there is some bad news…Flame Tree is currently closed for refurbishment but some of their offerings are available at kiosks like Beastly Kiosk (also on Discovery Island) and Trilo-bite in Dinoland.

Honorable Mention

Be Our Guest: Be Our Guest is one of the hottest meals in the Magic Kingdom. And by hottest Grumpy means it is hard to get into not that the food everywhere else is cold. In fact it is so popular it is the only quick service (as of publication date) that offers Advanced Dining Reservations.

So why is it honorable mention? For one because you probably will not be able to get in there and it doesn’t really matter what they offer or how good it is if you cannot get in. Secondly, it is only Quick Service for breakfast and lunch. At dinner it becomes Table Service.

Be Our Guest is located in the new Beast’s Castle. It is impressive from the outside and inside. The menu has a French flair to it and includes Croque Monsieur (Grilled Sandwich of Carved Ham and Gruyere Cheese and Bechamel) with Pommes Frites, carved Turkey Sandwich Carved and carved prime chuck roast beef sandwich.

SOMETHING BESIDES BURGERS AT DISNEY

 

Soarin and Toy Story To Get Expansions

Soarin and Toy Story To Get Expansions

Disney just announced that both Soarin and Toy Story Midway Mania are being expanded. Soarin’ is one of the top attractions at Epcot. Toy Story Midway Mania is not only the most popular attraction at Hollywood Studios it is one of the most popular in all of Walt Disney World.Soarin and Toy Story To Get Expansions

Soarin’ will be getting another theater as well as some updates to its screen and projection systems. It has long been rumored that Soarin’ was being converted to a digital format. It has also been rumored that a new movie, perhaps one made just for Walt Disney World, would be introduced. Only time will tell if either or both of these rumors are true.

Rumors of an expansion for Toy Story Mania first became popular when the Studio Backlot Tour was closed. There was a lot of speculation that the show building for the Studio Backlot Tour would be converted to a third track for Toy Story. While Grumpy cannot confirm that the Studio Backlot Tour Building is where the expansion will be it has been confirmed that there will be adding more track to Toy Story. This should be a third track that will increase capacity by 1/3.

This expansion of capacity, even more than the one for Soarin’, should prove a huge help to crowd flow at Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Midway Mania is, in truth, the only ride at the Studios that is friendly to younger children. It was so popular that before Fastpass + was introduced the paper Fastpasses were over gone by 10 am. With the new Fastpass + system they are still among the hardest to get anywhere in Walt Disney World.

The bad news is that the expected completion date for the two expansions is not until late 2016. Till then it will be hard to get Fastpasses and long standy-by lines.

You can read the official release here.

 

Star Wars Weekend 2015

Every years legions of fans (and some Stormtroopers) make the jump into hyper space and land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends. Star Wars Weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) start on May 15th and wrap up on June 14th.

Special Character Meet and Greets

What would Walt Disney World be without a chance to meet your favorite character? Mickey, Minnie and friends will be dressed as their favorite Star Wars character, of course. But there will also be chances to meet characters from the franchise. Expect to see Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Jawas and many more. Continue reading Star Wars Weekend 2015

Hollywood Studios Gertie The Dinosaur

Hollywood Studios Gertie The Dinosaur

If you have been to Hollywood Studios you have no doubt noticed the big dinosaur. She is in Echo lake just chilling . If you an ice cream fan you know exactly where she. This dinosaur is home to Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction.

Hollywood Studios Gertie The DinosaurBut the dinosaur, named Gertie as you might have guessed from the ice cream shop, seems a little out of place in Hollywood Studios. In fact Grumpy finally broke down and did a little research to find out exactly what this dinosaur is doing at Hollywood Studios. Turns out there is a good reason!

What Is This Dinosaur

Getie looks very cartoonish. In fact she looks neglected and in need of a good coat of paint, preferably in some more vibrant colors. But when you understand her history and the history of Disney’s Hollywood Studios you will find she is perfect.

Gertie is a tribute to one of the original cartoon superstars, named Gertie of course. She was created to prove that animation really worked. When she was created, in 1914, people were skeptical about animation and moving pictures in general. So Winsor McCay created Gertie. You can see the original Gertie short below. Keep in mind this was in the era of silent films and before “talkies.”

So that explains who Gertie is but why is she at Hollywood Studios? When Hollywood Studios was Disney’s MGM Studios the park was dedicated to more than just fun rides and shows. It was a place to learn about how movies were made. It was also a place to pay tribute to the great movies of the past, which is why Gertie is perfect just where she is.

As for the paint job, well she is consistent with the era of movies she represents. Nothing too fancy.

Is Gertie headed for extinction?

Rumors abound that Hollywood Studios is going to be getting a major expansion soon. Bog Iger, the big cheese over all Walt Disney companies and subsidiaries, has all but confirmed that Star Wars is coming to Hollywood Studios. A Carsland or Pixarland may also be coming.

While more is certainly better in this case the question is where will this expansion go? As much as Grumpy would love to say they will increase the size of the park it is highly unlikely that Disney will expand the park that much. In fact they may not expand it all.

That means somethings will have to go away. The Backlot Studio Tour and the American Idol Experience are already gone. Rumors say that The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Lights, Motor Action! are soon to follow. And unfortunately for Gertie, rumors are circulating that Echo Lake and Gertie are on their way out too.

But rumors are just rumors we can still hope that Hollywood Studios Gertie the dinosaur gets a reprieve and escapes extinction.

Want to learn more about Gertie? Click here for an excellent article.

What Is Going On At Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is a good theme park. It has the potential to be a great theme park. Disney may even be in the process of making it into a great park but the way they are doing it is making more than one person grumpy.

Why Hollywood Studios Isn’t A Great Park Today

There are several thing that are holding Hollywood Studios back.  The first is the attractions. It is not that Hollywood Studios does not have great attractions and shows. It has some of the best at Walt Disney World but it does not have enough.  In fact it is less than 20 attractions. Continue reading What Is Going On At Hollywood Studios