The Weekender: Hollywood Studios

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By Katie Padgett

When people think of Disney World, they automatically picture Cinderella’s castle, Main Street U.S.A. and Space Mountain. While all of these are trademark, the action of Hollywood Studios is often overlooked and underestimated.

Located less than an hour from campus, Disney World in Orlando is a go-to location for a weekend away from the stress of college papers and tests. What better place to relax and forget about all your worries, than in the place where dreams come true?

Disney World in Orlando has four main parks; Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. There are also several Disney resorts and spas, a waterpark – Blizzard Beach, Disney’s Board Walk, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney Springs, which was recently re-furbished and formerly known as Downtown Disney.

While there is always something to do no matter what branch of Disney you choose, last weekend I decided that Hollywood Studios was the place to be.

This was only my second time at Hollywood Studios, and while it isn’t my number one park (there’s just something about Magic Kingdom) I was very impressed and will definitely be going back.

Upon my entrance into the park, while walking along Hollywood Boulevard I stumbled into a squad of Stormtroopers. I was quickly informed that a show called “March of the First Order” was about to begin. This show occurs every hour, on the hour and is a huge attraction for Star Wars fans. This show is definitely a must-see at some point during your visit to Hollywood Studios.

After enjoying the show, I headed over to Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. Star Tours is a 3D, motion-simulated space flight that takes you around popular destinations from Star Wars. I’m not usually a fan of simulators, but Star Tours did a fantastic job of making you feel like you were truly in a Star Wars movie soaring through space and sea. The wait for Star Tours can get pretty lengthy. I would recommend getting a FastPass if you can, or getting in line during an off time when the crowds are eating meals.

Nearby, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show was about to begin. This is a show filled with stunts and special effects to give you a glimpse into movie-making. This is about a twenty-minute show that is rather entertaining, while giving you a break from standing and the sun.

My favorite ride in Hollywood Studios – Toy Story Mania. After boarding your spinning two-seater, you’re transported to several different 4D screens where you blast moving targets for points to compete against your partner. This ride was interactive, moved smoothly and seemed never-ending, it was well worth the wait even when it does attract a crowd.

On my way to dinner, I stopped and listened to a comedy street show. Street shows happen quite often in Hollywood studios and are worth the listen. These shows are full of talent, humor and excellent costumes and makeup.

Dinner was at the Sci-Fi Dine In-Theater Restaurant where you are seated in your own vehicle in front of a projection of sci-fi movie clips. You can enjoy all-American cuisine – burgers, wings and shakes – in this 50’s dinner and a show setting. The fried pickles, Build-Your-Own-Burger and Oreo Cookie shakes are mouthwatering.

After dinner I headed over to the Great Movie Ride for a relaxing twenty-minute ride through some of Hollywood’s most famous films. It was an informative glimpse into the past.

Of course, I had to ride the iconic Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. On this roller coaster thrill ride you race through freeways of Los Angeles in a limo blaring the music of Aerosmith. This ride is dark, loud and features some large drops. If you enjoy space Mountain, you will love Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Unfortunately, the wait time for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was a bit too long for me at this point in the night. I have yet to ride the Tower of Terror but have heard it’s a must-do at Hollywood Studios. This is a scary, dark thrill ride with big drops designed to feel like you are aboard a haunted elevator. I have also heard that the view of the park from the top is even more spectacular at night.

My last stop before leaving the park was to Sweet Spells, a shop full of candy, drinks and a glass counter stocked with freshly baked cookies, cake pops, pastries, chocolate covered strawberries, and any other delicious, chocolate-y, Mickey-shaped treat you can dream up.

On my way out of Disney, I stopped by the Polynesian to sit on the beach and watch the Magic Kingdom firework show, “Wishes” which was the ideal ending to another magical day spent at Walt Disney World.

When you plan to visit Disney World, consider stopping by Hollywood Studios for a bit and having a humorous conversation with a Stormtrooper, seeing a show or two, jamming out with Aerosmith, dropping several stories on the Tower of Terror or enjoying a 50’s inspired milk shake.

You can purchase discounted Disney tickets in the Business Office located in the Raulerson Building. Magic Kingdom tickets are $95, and tickets to EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are $67. Be sure to have your student ID with you.

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