Saturday, March 31, 2012

Disney World Day 4: Hollywood Studios = Terror & Delight!

Before I tell you about our day at Hollywood Studios, I HAVE to tell you about something I forgot in the post about our day in Animal Kingdom.  It was our magical dinner at Boma ~ Flavors of Africa! I only made reservations at three table service restaurants, and this was one of them.  They were all really wonderful (Raglan Road, La Hacienda del San Angel, and Boma), but this was probably our favorite.  It is located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  An all-you-can-eat African buffet, we couldn't believe our eyes when we saw its sheer length!  Because our reservation was flagged for a "special diet", the assistant chef appeared at our table and invited us to go on a tour of the buffet with him.  He explained each dish, and carefully told us what items were safe to eat (most of them), and which ones to avoid (very few). When we got to the dessert portion of the buffet (oh my!) he let us know that all but one were gluten free, but that he would rather us not eat off the dessert buffet.  Instead, he promised to bring us a personalized platter of desserts that were straight from the kitchen and not in any danger of cross-contamination from being on the buffet! We were in gluten free, culinary, customer service bliss!
OK ~ now onto day 4 at Hollywood Studios. We got Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania immediately upon entering the park, and then went to ride the Rock 'N Roller Coaster.  It was a very rainy day, and we were there when the park opened, so there was hardly a line at all for this ride.  I think the Rock 'N Roller Coaster may be my all-time favorite coaster ~ not that I'm very much of a connoisseur, but I have always enjoyed a thrilling roller coaster ride when I've had the chance.  Like giddy kids, we got off and ran back to get in the short line again, riding it twice in a row in less than thirty minutes!  Loved the theme of it being a stretch limo and backstage passes to an Aerosmith concert.  Loved the music, the darkness, the neon road signs, and concert spotlights, and the speeeeeeeeeed!  So much fun.
I waited with Kayla and Cooper while Robert and Kory rode the Tower of Terror, because I can really do without free falls, and thought I had "been there, done that" at Six Flags in my younger years.  Silly me.  This IS Disney World after all.  More on that later.

Next we rode the Great Movie Ride, which was a tour through classic movie sets with animatronic versions of Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Clint Eastwood, and James Cagney.  Just when we thought that was the extent of the ride, some actual humans entered the scene, and became involved in some live action.  It was a bit more intense than one of our kids bargained for, but everyone came out unscathed, and sans any gunshot wounds, thankfully.
Despite the wind and rain, we really enjoyed the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.  Full of car chases, motorcycle jumps, and even jet ski escapades, the secrets behind the stunts were revealed after each stunt performance.  I had no idea that the car going in reverse was made just for that purpose, with the interior of the car and steering wheel facing the rear window. Cameras were rolling during the stunts, and it was explained and demonstrated on a giant screen how all of that footage gets turned into the most exciting parts of action films.  Pretty interesting.  As you can see even Lightning McQueen and Mater made a special appearance to everyone's delight.  
This poor guy was involved in a fire fight, and eventually shot on the rooftop of a French antique store, falling to his untimely "death" on a gigantic mattress pad of some sort.
After lunch (I packed a picnic for this day), we headed over to watch a 30 minute version of the musical Beauty and the Beast.  I've already told you about my poor Disney-movie-deprived children, so you know now that they didn't really know the story before we sat down in the covered amphitheater ~ well, all except for Kory who saw it on stage two years ago with his Classical Conversations class.  I'm glad that the other two got a wonderful, albeit shortened version of the tale during this really wonderful performance.  Even Kory said it was amazing, and made him want to see the full length performance again.

Right next door to the Beauty and the Beast stage stood the Tower of Terror.  You know, the ride I skipped earlier in the day, because I don't really love free falls. (You can hear the screams coming from the Tower from near and far all day long.) Throughout the day, Robert kept talking about how well done the props and story line were for that particular ride ~ a Twilight Zone theme.  Well, I watched a fair amount of Twilight Zone growing up, so I began to get interested in seeing it all for myself ~ even if it meant enduring a free fall.
Oh, it was so worth it!  The theme is that of touring an old haunted Hollywood hotel, and entering the Twilight Zone once inside the hotel's elevator and reaching about the fifth floor of the thirteen story building.  The special effects were simply incredible (IF you could keep your eyes open to see them, that is), and the free fall was not a singular fall, but rather a series of faster-than-free-fall drops at very unexpected times after the initial "snapping" of the elevator cord at floor thirteen.  Wow. I don't know if it gets any more "thrilling" than that!?!  (The seat belt is an absolute necessity on this one!) We also learned that Disney programs the ride with random drop sequences, so you really can't know exactly what to expect if you ride multiple times.  Robert appreciated it even more the second time around, as he could keep his eyes open, and refrain from grabbing the leg of the guy sitting next to him.  (True story.)  So glad I took the plunge, literally. ☺
Toy Story Midway Mania is the pure delight part of this post!  We rode it once first thing in the morning and once in the afternoon via a Fast Pass. I think many people agree that it is one of the most fun and entertaining rides in all of Disney World. A series of virtual midway games, it allows you to compete for high scores in a 3-D shooting gallery of many variations as you ride and twirl around in your car/booth.  I'm so glad we rode it twice, because my score greatly improved the second time around.  ☺ Difficult to explain how wonderful this ride is with words or the few photos I got while we waited to get on, but trust me ~ you wouldn't want to miss it!  If you don't want to wait in line for an hour or two though, then riding it or getting a Fast Pass first thing in the morning is the ONLY way to go! Fortunately, we got to do both!

We had to get this umbrella photo, because it just really never stopped raining ALL DAY.  (There are definitely pros and cons to rain at Disney!) We left in the late afternoon, after our Fast Pass time for Toy Story and after taking in the museum and movie about Walt Disney himself.  What an amazing man he was.

Disney World was not something I had ever really desired to do with my kids, since we live in a part of the country that is so rich with history, landscape, and adventure, but now I'm really thankful we got to experience it.  It was a really wonderful way to bring our sabbatical to an end,  full of laughter and new experiences, and we have our wonderful church family near and far to thank.  It was their sacrificial giving  ~ financially and otherwise ~ that enabled this extended time of rest and refreshment for us.  We will never forget it, and will forever be blessed by it.  Feeling extremely grateful tonight.

1 comment:

plant. eat. create. said...

I just love this post. The great movie ride...rockin roller coaster...the tower of terror...Robert grabbing the stranger's leg next to him. Love it all!