Posts Tagged ‘tower of terror’

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on July 9, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This July we’re celebrating Walt Disney World here on the SATURDAY SIX. While we looked at Animal Kingdom last week, today we’re going to turn our gaze over to the park which many insiders agree was created solely as a preemptive strike against the upcoming Universal Studios Florida, the one and only Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (photo by Brian Carey)

Right now Hollywood Studios is in the middle of a transition stage, as two mammoth properties in Star Wars and Pixar’s Toy Story have begun their major expansion inside the park. However, Hollywood Studios still contains some of the most unique dining experiences in any Disney park, amazing streetmosphere, several of WDW’s most thrilling attractions, and two of the best nighttime spectaculars in Florida. In short, we love Hollywood Studios. But what do we love most about this park? Well, sit back, grab a carrot cake cookie , and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – The Citizens of Hollywood

The dedication plaque for Hollywood Studios (originally known as Disney-MGM Studios) includes a line from former Disney CEO Michael Eisner that reads: “We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was – and always will be.” The dedication also refers to the park channeling classic Hollywood as a state of mind, rather than trying to pinpoint a specific time and place. Nowhere is this more evident than the incredible Citizens of Hollywood who roam the thoroughfare of the park. Completely committed to their particular character, the Citizens of Hollywood are an improvisational comedy troupe who have a lot of fun with guests and every interaction is unique. You’ll find policemen writing tickets, aspiring starlets auditioning for their big role, maintenance crews stumbling around a job, and much more. The Citizens, along with the evocative theming of both Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, combine to wonderfully recreate the Tinseltown none of us ever knew but always imagined. Quality streetsmosphere such as the Dapper Dans at the Magic Kingdom or The Citizens in Hollywood Studios separate Disney from all their competitors, as no one else can even approach this high level of show.

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Citizen of Hollywood, Evie Starlight. (photo by Brian Carey)

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Ben Appetit and Dara Vamp. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

by on May 10, 2016

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photo by Mike Sperduto

Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort share a number of the same attractions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world,” and many others. But if you think that these attractions are the same on both coasts, you would be mistaken. One of the many things I love about Disney is that they never do the same thing twice; and while the attractions that can be found on both coasts may share the same names and themes, they do have differences too. Hey, who doesn’t like variety, right? But you have to wonder, which resort has the best version of a popular attraction? Which Disney Park has the bragging rights? I’m about to find out in today’s showdown of Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror!

What is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a freefall drop ride housed in an Old Hollywood hotel and themed after the classic, psychologically thrilling television series, The Twilight Zone. The story is that on October 31, 1939, five guests of the Hollywood Tower Hotel were aboard the hotel’s elevator when lightning struck the building and sent them directly to the Twilight Zone. The attraction itself takes guests through the cobwebbed hotel, where something is clearly not right, and then aboard a maintenance service elevator to reach their rooms; but, along the way, they end up traveling to The Twilight Zone where their elevator drops over and over!

Tokyo DisneySea - Tower of Terror

Tokyo DisneySea – Tower of Terror

History

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror first opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios, in 1994 and was an instant success with guests. It even sparked a TV film in 1997 starring Steve Guttenberg and Kristen Dunst. In 2004, another Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened at Disney’s California Adventure and featured a different exterior look, as well as a few modifications. In 2007, yet another Tower of Terror opened at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. Tokyo DisneySea also has their own Tower of Terror, but it doesn’t carry the television series theme but its own unique story.

While there are several Tower of Terrors around the world, I’m zeroing in on the versions available here in the states to see which coasts boasts the best. I will be comparing the towers based on different categories, and the version with the most category wins will be our winner! Ready? Let’s do this.

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SATURDAY SIX: Looking at ways Disney can introduce MARVEL characters into the theme parks

by on April 2, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Ways Disney Can Introduce MARVEL Characters into the Theme Parks. Yes, April Fool’s Day was yesterday, but believe it or not the this-can’t-possibly-be-real news stories started earlier last week when word started getting out that Disney was considering a Guardians of the Galaxy overlay to the Hollywood Tower of Terror attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. You may be thinking, “No way! That’s insane!” but on the latest episode of the Disney Dish podcast, Jim Hill and Len Testa lay out exactly why Bob Chapek (chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) at least wanted to explore this very idea.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Hotel. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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Bellhop Groot. (photo by Matt Cleary and Mike Sperduto)

Public reaction to the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay was – to put it politely – overwhelmingly negative. In fact, because of the virulent reaction there is almost no chance this overlay makes it to Florida, but never say never when it comes to the Tower of Terror in Disney’s California Adventure. We here at the SATURDAY SIX headquarters were at first taken aback by this idea, in part because the Tower of Terror took first place in our poll on The Greatest Attractions at Walt Disney World. But then we got to thinking. What if Disney did try to think “outside the box” when it came to introducing Marvel characters in the theme parks? More importantly, how could they do it in the cheapest way possible? We think we have some ideas. As luck would have it, six ideas. So sit back, put down your copy of the Spider-Man Clone Saga, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – Howard the Duck takes over Stitch’s Great Escape

Remember how we mentioned that Tower of Terror came in first in our expert’s list of Best WDW Attractions? Well, guess which attraction took first place in our poll on Worst WDW Attractions? You guessed it: Stitch’s Great Escape. What do you get to overlay one of the all time worst reviewed theme park attractions? Why one of the all time worst reviewed comic book movies. Please welcome Howard the Duck. To put into scale how poorly received Howard the Duck’s movie was, consider that the recent Batman V Superman film took a beating by the critics, scoring a miserable 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Howard the Duck sits at 14% fresh.

We have to hurry on this one though. Howard the Duck had a cameo in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movie. When the Guardians team up with the Avengers in the Infinity War (which is expected in either part 1 in May 2018 or part 2 in May 2019), he may be considered part of the Avengers extended family. If that happens, he could become off limits to the Orlando parks thanks to Universal’s contract with Marvel.

SATSIX_howardtheduck

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Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses: Hollywood Studios

by on December 21, 2015

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Photo courtesy DisneyTouristBlog.com

Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, it’s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that I’ve experienced a few things that some parks don’t do as well as others. Of course, there’s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, I’m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses beginning with a park that has expansions in the works: Hollywood Studios.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios first opened in 1989 and is all about the magic of the movies. If you’re up to date on your Disney news, you know that Hollywood Studios has had quite a year! Several attractions have closed for good while several new other offerings have made their debut. I’m talking about Star Wars Launch Bay, Path of the Jedi, and Club Disney here. The biggest Hollywood Studios news of the year, however, is that the park is gaining a much anticipated Star Wars Land and a Toy Story Land!

Now lets get to the Hollywood Studios strengths and weaknesses, shall we?

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! August 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 31, 2015

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. As you can see, thanks to a landslide vote, the Outlet Report is continuing despite it’s negative impact on my mental health (more on that later). However, no matter how crazy the Vineland Ave outlets make me, nothing can take away from the incredible month we had in the theme park world. The D23 Expo came with the announcements of Star Wars land, Toy Story Land, and more details on the incredible World of Avatar coming to Animal Kingdom. You can read both of my articles about the D23 news including one written BEFORE the convention and one written AFTER. Not to be outdone, Universal announced that it would be building a Fast & Furious attraction while getting rid of Disaster and Beetlejuice. Fast & Furious has actually quietly become one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood history. Furious 7 has made over $1.5Billion dollars this year and to put that in perspective Frozen made “just” $1.27Billion. What a great time to be a theme park fan.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first item is actually one of my favorite things that I have ever bought inside a Disney park and it was at Star Wars Weekends two years ago. This Star Wars Bowling Set was originally $21.95, marked down to $12.99. The bowling balls are the Death Star and a thermal detonator, how great is that?

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Luke Skywalker could bullseye womp rats in his T-16 but can he hit a 7-10 split?!

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If we have to get a thousand bad Star Wars items just to get one great one, I guess I can live with it.

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What I Wish I Knew Before My Visit to California Adventure

by on August 27, 2015

Carthay Circle Restaurant

Carthay Circle Restaurant

I recently went to the Disneyland Resort for the very first time. As a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World since childhood, I was beyond excited to experience a Disney Park as a first time guest, particularly Disney’s California Adventure as it is a totally unique park and would be a great sampling of the Golden State for this California Newbie! But even before I even passed through the turnstiles, I did my homework on Disney’s California Adventure so that I could avoid some of the rookie mistakes and maximize my time in the park. Even so, there were definitely some things that I either didn’t expect or wish I would’ve known to help my day run more smoothly. So glean from my first hand experience fellow Disneyland Resort Rookies and discover what I wish I knew before my visit to California Adventure.

Have a Wardrobe Strategy for Grizzly River Run – If you’re looking to experience Grizzly River Run, the park’s incredible raft ride at Grizzly Peak, I would strongly suggest wearing clothes that dry quickly or picking up a poncho at Rushin’ River Outfitters. There are lockers available for free near the huge bear statue, but only if you pick up your stuff within 2 hours.

Disney’s California Adventure Park Could Be a One Day Park – Some may disagree with me on this, but hear me out! While I loved my day at Disney’s California Adventure, and can’t wait to go back, I felt like I was able to accomplish the best of the park in a single day with proper planning while I needed two days at the Disneyland Park. For example, during my visit in July and with the help of FASTPASSES, I was able to ride almost all of the park’s most popular attractions, do a little shopping and dining, and squeezed in a showing of World of Color in one day. If you only have a short time to check out the Disneyland Resort, I would suggest setting aside two for the Disneyland Park and one for California Adventure.

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Attractions at Walt Disney World According to Our All-Star Panel

by on February 28, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Attractions at Walt Disney World. Hot off the heels of our All Star Panel getting together and voting for the Six Best Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort, it was only natural to take a look across the street and get to the bottom, once and for all, of what the six best attractions at Walt Disney World were. But this is The World after all. The Vacation Kingdom. The most popular theme park resort on Earth. So naturally we had to go big. We contacted 25 experts for Universal? Well we’re getting 50 for Disney! And after negotiations that took so long that Disney could have taken down two Sorcerer’s Hats in the same time, we finally heard back from some of the most well known names in the Disney Universe. An all star, blue ribbon panel made up of members from some of the best Disney podcasts (Disney Hipsters, WDW Today, Radio Harambe, and the Mighty Men of Mouse), the most amazing Disney photographers (including Tom Bricker, Morgan Crutchfield, Brandon Glover, and Dirk Wallen), the greatest Disney bloggers/authors (Epcot Explorer, Sam Gennaway, FoxxFur, and Jim Hill), the nicest Disney fans we know (Scarlett Litton, Daisy Lauren, and Drunk At Disney), the meanest Disney fans we know (Tom Corless and Josh Humphrey), legitimate members of the Theme Park Media Elite (Orlando Sentinel’s Dewayne Bevil, Attraction Magazine‘s Banks Lee and Matt Roseboom), and the only guy in the entire world who admits to liking Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Matt Hochberg).

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SATURDAY SIX staff tabulating votes.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maureen Deal of Autism at the Parks? Here. Gary Bruckner, creator of the Frost Bitten Rum Cider at the Dolphin’s Todd English bluezoo? Here. Fan Favorite Disney Twitter accounts? How about Mearn, Mark Diba, and Adam Roth. Not to mention both Jenn and Tim Tracker! They’re ALL HERE, and many more.

The Criteria: Each of the 50 experts voted on what they consider to be the six best attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort. These attractions could be any ride, show, nighttime spectacular, or parade currently in Walt Disney World (including the water parks.) Anything that was holiday exclusive – such as the Boo to You! parade, Happy HalloWishes, or the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – were not eligible. Each attraction listed would be awarded ONE point, except for the attraction that the voter ranked in his #1 spot – that received TWO points. The votes were then sent to a top secret location in Florida and counted no less than 22 times. (We’ve had some problems in the past. We can’t apologize enough, Mr. Gore.) The results are in, and we now proudly present….

The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to the SIX BEST ATTRACTIONS at Walt Disney World.

# 6 – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (12 points)

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (photo by Tom Bricker)

Laurel Stewart (TouringPlans Disney Cruise Queen) – Opening Date – 1980: Big Thunder has it all – story, visual puns, theming, great effects… a bluegrass soundtrack. It’s not as great a coaster from a technical standpoint as Expedition Everest (Yeti aside, which it turns out, was a mechanical overreach on Disney’s part) or Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. And it’s not a thrill ride by any means – there are more intense coasters all over Orlando. But this one is Disney at its best. It anchors Frontierland in a way that I don’t think Disney has come close to in years with the exception of Everest in Animal Kingdom’s Asia, which I think is its successor (and my would-have-been number one pick except that the ride is way too short). Because it opened in 1980, I never had to worry about the height requirement and was able to ride it from the start. Which I did, because I LOVE ROLLER COASTERS. On the other hand, my younger brother may have been tricked onto it when I told him it was “just a train ride, like the one at Main Street.” Suffice it to say, I have plenty of nostalgia for Big Thunder and love it just as much today as 35 years ago. And if you don’t take my word for it, take it from the French. Big Thunder Mountain is by far the most popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. And the French are never wrong. Just ask Jerry Lewis.

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Memory Maker Now Captures On-Ride Video of Tower of Terror

by on August 13, 2014

Tower of Terror

©Disney

Have you ever ridden an attraction and wished that you could see your videotaped reaction of the experience? Well, now that’s a possibility at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

You see, for the first time ever at a Walt Disney World attraction, guests who have purchased the Memory Maker photo package will be able to view and share their on-ride video from this thrilling attraction. The MyMagic+ technology has made it possible for guests who have both a MagicBand and an active Memory Maker photo package to receive an edited video of their experience on the attraction in their My Disney Experience accounts within 24 hours of riding it. This video can be seen and shared by any family or friend who you are linked to through your My Disney Experience account.

Keep in mind that you must have purchased the Memory Maker package for the video to show up in your My Disney Experience account. While having a MagicBand is essential in the video being uploaded automatically (thanks to the RFID technology found inside the MagicBand), guests who simply have a MagicBand but have no Memory Maker packaged linked to their accounts will not have the on-ride video uploaded to My Disney Experience.

Disney also released a sample on-ride video.

I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg and additional on-ride videos will be coming down the pipeline in the near future.

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More Adventures with Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+: DHS & DAK Edition

by on March 22, 2014

Welcome back to the continuing saga of Walt Disney World’s recent roll-out of Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+ privileges to the general public. As explained in our last episode, all WDW annual passholders should now be able to make up to 7 days of FastPass+ reservations within the next 30 days through the My Disney Experience website and apps. Last time, we looked at how I set up my first week of FastPass+ selections, and saw how my first intinerary turned out at Epcot (TLDR: not perfect, but pretty good).

For this followup, follow me to Walt Disney World two least-popular parks for examples of how advance FastPass+ may (or may not) work to your advantage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios FastPass+

Much like my day at Epcot, I arrived at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios parking lot a little after 1:00 p.m.

Advance FastPass+

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Southern California’s Top Five Dark Ride Illusions

by on September 17, 2013

Images copyright Disney

Recently, Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure was unexpectedly upgraded with digital projection mapping effects that bring the opening scene’s Mara statue to life in a dynamic new way. The “plussing” of the attraction was somewhat controversial online due to the replacement of the original accompanying audio track (which was never voiced by James Earl Jones, contrary to urban legend), but the Internet buzz shouldn’t overshadow how welcome it is that Imagineering is still improving an eighteen year old E-Ticket.

That brings up the importance of the special effect, or “illusion,” in the art of the dark ride. (For the purposes of this post, “dark ride” refers to attractions where guests travel in a vehicle through a series of largely indoor environments that feature scenery and visual effects.) Dark rides predate Disneyland but were perfected by the Mouse; while a few competitors can now go toe-to-toe with Disney’s attractions in the awe-inspiring technology department, the Anaheim resort still houses the world’s greatest collection of ride-through theatrical illusions, featuring some “wow” moments that still draw gasps generations after their invention.

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