March 28th, 2008


Hollywood, but MGM wouldn't

[info]bethje = green

On Thursday (which, at this point, was three weeks ago), we visited Disney's Hollywood Studios, which you probably know better as Disney-MGM Studios. Our guide on the studio backlot tour mentioned the name change, but didn't explain why MGM had dropped out of the venture. A big argument between Mickey and Leo, perhaps? Anyway, this park isn't very big, yet we still didn't manage to see all of the attractions. We did manage to hit the two big ones, though.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster: Unlike the other roller coasters at Walt Disney World, this one is pretty much in line with more modern thrill rides, with the sudden drops and loops and all that. The scariest part is actually the very beginning. Like Great Adventure's Batman and Robin: The Chiller, it goes right from a standstill to a
fast pace, with no initial climb like most coasters have. See that? I was really expenting Nathan to say, "the scariest part was at the beginning, when you see a little movie with Aerosmith in it." He gets mad props for both surprising me and taking the high road. The name made me think of the line about "the rock-and-roller-coaster ocean" in XTC's song "All You Pretty Girls," which is probably a good thing, as that song is better than any of the Aerosmith stuff that they were actually playing during both the wait and the ride itself. There were also some posters of other musicians in the waiting area, and I kind of wish I'd been able to take a picture of them, because it was such a bizarre combination: Miley Cyrus, SheDaisy, and Queen. This was one of my favorite rides of the day. I also think it's interesting how Aerosmith has become a family band. I wonder if they're more of an oldies act, too.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: This was actually better than I thought it would be. I was really just expecting one long drop, but it actually goes up and down several times, with the doors occasionally opening to weird images. I found it interesting that the gift shop sells Harry Potter and Goosebumps books. I was really surprised by the up part, not so much the down. Getting pulled out of my seat was neat, because I really didn't expect it. And even though the ride had nothing to do with it aside from the Twilight Zone connection, I kept thinking of the episode with Wally Cox in it. 

And some other things we saw that I feel are worth mentioning:

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage: The whole movie condensed into a half hour, and performed by live actors in very bright costumes but with audio from the movie. I believe there was also a stage version of The Little Mermaid, but we didn't see it. :(

The Great Movie Ride: Even though MGM is apparently no longer part of the park, The Wizard of Oz was one of the movies featured on this ride. I really enjoyed this one too. I should stop saying that, because I enjoyed every ride. I was surprised that Nathan didn't start screeching during the Wizard of Oz part. Okay, I lie. I know him never to screech over things.

Studio Backlot Tour: This was mostly a tram ride through props and sets, including a canyon. There was also part where they used some effects to create a scene of a PT boat being attacked, during which they mentioned the movie Pearl Harbor, something I don't think anyone else has talked about in the past six years. On the tram ride, the guide mentioned Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake as alumni of the New Mickey Mouse Club, but not Britney Spears. She did mention Lindsay Lohan, but in a somewhat negative manner. There was a banged-up Herbie in the boneyard, and the guide said something like,
"By the looks of it, Lindsay was the last one driving." Wow, she said that? I'm surprised. I must have been preoccupied with rain dripping on my arm, looking at the ship from Flight of the Navigator, or grumbling over that upcoming Wall-E movie. And I remember when some MSN article said that Lindsay was the young Disney star most likely to have a lasting career. There was a wait, while we were on the tram-thing. I think the guide was going to try to get us to go into something, but she wasn't able, so we went around the outside of something else, some mountains and rapids looking thing. To fill the wait time, she was telling us about some upcoming movies and about the fireworks shows.

Also visited: MuppetVision 3-D, Star Tours (I really zoned out on that one), Sounds Dangerous (starring Drew Carey) (I thought the Drew Carey thing was going to be better than it was, but I liked the concept. Also, we had some time to waste before dinner, and it was raining). We missed both of the stunt shows, the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream walking tour, and Fantasmic. :(

For lunch, bethje and I had chicken nuggets (which were really good, and so was the honey mustard) and pizza, respectively. It was the same pizza that I'd had at Animal Kingdom the previous day, but that was all right. Our dinner was at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, a themed restaurant that had tables shaped like cars facing a movie screen that played old previews, commercials, short cartoons, and other stuff that they showed at drive-ins, including some bits about what they used to think would be the technology of the future. I thought it was really cool, and I had seen two of the Mars-themed cartoons before (one was a Disney vartoon where a scientist is theorizing about the possibility of life on Mars while his secretary is beiing kidnapped by martians. The other was a Tex Avery cartoon called "The Cat That Hated People.") and the concession stand cartoon was the same one you can see in Grease.  My dinner was shrimp penne pasta, which was really good, although I didn't eat all of the tomatoes. I had a grilled chicken sandwich. And we also got a spinach dip appetizer that I really liked.

After dinner, we headed over to Downtown Disney, so we could redeem our voucher for Planet Hollywood (I'll be damned if they can claim unearned revenue on my part. Or get away with not giving me a free keychain that I don't want in the first place. It was raining very hard at this point, and it turned out that Planet Hollywood was over on the other side of Pleasure Island. We bought some plastic ponchos ($7 each rrr!), but even they only helped somewhat. At least there were a lot of neat stores to check out on the way there, though. At the restaurant, we ordered a milkshake, a smoothie, and some garlic breadsticks. I have to wonder why cheaper restaurants often shy away from serving bread as a side. It's not like it's that expensive or difficult to make, is it?

By the way, I remember reading about some study on the human memory in which several people were convinced that they'd seen Bugs Bunny at Disney World (or possibly Disneyland). And, well, it turns out that I did. At Planet Hollywood, they played a music video of a song from Space Jam; and sure enough, there was Bugs. Yes, I know that the study was referring to someone in a Bugs costume, but I still found the appearance amusing. 

Planet Hollywood is stupid.

The bus back to our hotel was completely packed. So this guy who was sitting next to a woman (probably his wife) got up and made me take his seat. I'd been standing up and holding onto a rail. Anyway, he got up and told me to take it, and I was all, "no no, that's really nice of you, but it's okay," and he said, "no no. It would have bothered me all night, if I hadn't." So I grudgingly took his seat and sat down between his lady comrade and some guy who was in the same kind of rain poncho as me. And I noticed that that guy was with a lady who was standing up. So why me? Either (a) it was because I was holding a bunch of bags, (b) he mistook my fat belly for pregnant belly, (c) he was showing the lady with him how chivalrous he is, or (d) he's just that way. I will never know.

Well, since we didn't visit either of the water parks (but we got soaked anyway, ha ha!  :p), that's all of them. We still had part of another day to spend at Disney World, though, so the next entry (the next trip-related entry, that is, not necessarily the next entry I post) will feature a return to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and my annoyance about the transportation back home.