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Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Daddy’s Day Report

A small collection of movie props at Great Moments with Mr. Disney.

I wanted to go to Magic Kingdom yesterday to see the Tiki birds (who, I’m told, have evicted the previous management (Techcrunch anyone?)), strangely enough, I still haven’t managed to find time to see the revised show yet, but Indigo has been watching Roller Coaster POV videos on Youtube again and wants to ride Rock-n-Roller coaster. Guess who wins this argument?

It was nice to see the car back out in front of Sci-Fi Diner, but they already need to replace the cool Disney emblem. Um, btw, why isn’t that for sale somewhere in the park?

Daddy, the old softy, and kiddo show up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the usual good timing, right as they’re parking the last row of Magic or whatever that section is that’s closest to the gate. This is actually a good thing. You know, fill up the parking lot sections closest to the park entrance first. I have to wonder if this is a change that new park VP Dan Cockerell affected somehow, or just a random change someone in the parking lot team decided to try.

A new flat screen TV has replaced the charming, but hard to see, retro set.

It’s a good thing for everyone, except for me. I have a parking lot fast pass, aka AAA Diamond Pass AKA best thing evar!(tm), that this morning allows me to park 6 whole rows closer to the front of the parking lot. Which is fine, at DHS I prefer to walk, skip the noisy tram, and sneak in through the side bag inspection point which is almost always faster than taking the tram and hoping they have a bunch of security lines open.

Parking lot cast members were keeping guests out of the roadway so cars heading to the Diamond lot or Disabled parking could pass through. Which was working fine. But just as I pull up to turn right, a tram pulls up and everyone rushes across both lanes to board the tram. I flash my pass and then have to wait for the lanes to clear again. An opening appears and a cast member gestures wide with his arms to hold back the guests so I can pass, but one guest, looking at her cell phone, just walks right in front of my car, oblivious until the cast member yells at her. I stop, she stops and we briefly stare at each other until she backs up a step or two so I can pass.

This highlights one of the big flaws of every Disney World theme park parking lot. In order to board the tram, you have to cross lanes of traffic, sometimes standing right in the middle of them waiting. I don’t see how Disney has escaped this long without serious injury or death because of this. I’m sure any urban planner with a wide open meadow where a parking lot was going to be built, could figure out how to separate pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic. Yes, it would require reconfiguring the lots and probably laying some additional asphalt so no parking spots are lost, but it would be tons safer.

Anyway, just a pet peeve and I’m glad I didn’t become a statistic and part of Disney Parking Lot lore yesterday.

The rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios was functioning much as we had left it a month ago only with off season crowds blissfully shortening the queues for most attractions.

The new Cars 2 segment in Lights Motors Action only served to remind all 5,000 in the audience how lame blatant in-park movie promotions can be. The design of the bad guy car was cute, but where was the action? Also, how did they end the segment again? Off-stage somewhere without even a video payoff? Oy. In the end the segment was as forgettable as the movie and won’t do anything to bolster the box office.

Lunch at Backlot Express was a disappointment too. The new Turkey and Cheese sandwich lacked any flavor. The red pepper has been reduced to little thin strips instead of nice big chunks and the bread, while nutty, lacked any other interesting flavor. Even the turkey and cheese was typical store bought bland. A big disappointing change from what had been one of my favorite sandwiches on property. I believe I even had to pay a little extra for the privilege of this disappointment. Don’t even get me started on $6.50 Yuengling. That’s the price of a whole six pack at Publix. Needless to say I skipped that license to steal deal too.

I didn’t try the upgraded burger that food services is trying to foist on unsuspecting counter service customers, but I did see someone scarf down two of them in one sitting. Very impressive as those things are big. A regular cheeseburger meal is available to order, but it doesn’t show up on the menu. I’m sure Disney is hoping guests will order the $10 monster instead of cheaper cheeseburger because they don’t see it listed. This sort of manipulation makes me sick, but makes the MBAs in charge of increasing profits happy. I still think they have that equation backwards, increase the happy and the profits will come. But that’s crazy talk, right?

The highlight of the day was the Carrot Cake Cookie. This thing is not quite a cookie and definitely not a cake. It’s more like two pieces of flat muffin with the creamy frosting on the inside. It’s a bit sticky to handle, but the taste is everything you’d want. Good for breakfast, snack, or dessert, I’ll be returning for another one of these soon.

Good marks to the park for a full complement of functioning show effects on Rock-n-Roller coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours. Star Tours, however, was loading 3 and 4 theaters near simultaneously, which made for a very crowded exit queue and store. If they spaced those out better, more people would be able to take the time to browse instead of feeling crushed by too many bodies just trying to get off the ride.

Hollywood Studios has also begun to introduce some more contemporary characters to their street performers. I can’t say any of the performances I saw were very well attended. But a few of the older skits didn’t appear to be faring that well either. Perhaps it was the tremendous heat and humidity. You know, DHS has a giant air-conditioned theater that sits unused most of the time. I’d love for Disney to use some of that talent to put on some sort of show in there. They obviously have the talent on hand and there’s been at least one or two good movies since Hunchback of Notre Dame. While you’re at it, ship off a couple of them to the Diamond Horseshoe at the Magic Kingdom and revive that particular institution as well. But, you know, that’s crazy talk.

Finally, I keep hoping they’ll announce an update to Fantasmic! and give us a reason to stick around after 3pm, which is about how long it takes to ride all the attractions and catch a show or two. Even a new parade (not a terrible rehash like the current one) would help. But with none of that on the horizon, we left for home a little more sunburned with our urge to ride Rock-n-Roller coaster satisfied for another week or two.

Thanks for reading this update. Let me know what you think of the new format.

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