Today was our day to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios. This park held some promise for us as it contains some bigger, faster rides while hopefully still having something to entertain our non-rider. I'd been looking forward to a chance to try the new Star Tours attraction, as I was a big fan of the original one, and I'd promised everybody that the new Little Mermaid ride was supposed to be pretty good (If you keep up with Disney World, you already know where I've screwed up here, but I'll leave it until later.).
We started the day off at Toy Story, where it became obvious that my days of being able to beat my children at these kinds of games are rapidly coming to an end. I've long ago ceded any bragging rights to video game superiority to my son, but now my girls are starting to catch up to me, and worse yet, Lori is right there as well. Four of us finished between 150,000 and 153,000 points and I have my suspicions that youngest probably could have finished in that range, but she's figured out an easy way to make sure she stays in my good books. Quick side note...You can get fastpasses for Toy Story in Florida, unlike the one in California, but they disappear fast so get them first thing. This morning they were out of fastpasses for the day by 11am.
Next we went to check out the new Star Tours. The structure of this ride is still the same, but the new film that they use is great. The premise is that C3P0 has to pilot the ship to escape Darth Vader who is after a rebel spy that you have on board. The spy is picked randomly from the riders, although it seems that it's never anyone who has their 3D glasses on already, so if you want to be the rebel spy, don't put your glasses on until right as the ride starts. After that it's the same concept as the original Star Tours, only with much better film quality and special effects. Your place visited and the characters in your storyline are picked randomly as well, giving you 54 different possible ride experiences. We've knocked two of them off. I leave the rest to you.
So are you wondering what the screw up I referred to at the beginning is? After Star Tours I marched my family over to see the new and exciting Little Mermaid ride. What this proved to my family is that I don't know how to read a pamphlet. Little Mermaid The Ride opened last month in California, and will open in 2013 at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. The "Little Mermaid" that I headed to was "live musical theatre". Says so right on the page. My kids do very well in keeping it to themselves when they wonder if Dad is losing it.
The far corner of the park has Aerosmith's Rock N Roller Coaster and the Hollywood Tower of Terror. The Aerosmith coaster is fantastic, and they need to build a version of this in the California parks immediately. The line is long, and the pre-ride is corny (Aerosmith gets their manager to give you all back stage passes and put you in a super-speed limo so you can get to the show on time.) but it's a super fun ride that's a perfect cross between Space Mountain and California Screamin'. The Tower of Terror looks the same as the California version, but it's much more elaborate. Your cart actually moves down a hallway in this one, and you feel much more involved in the ride. Considering the Florida version was built first, I have no idea why the California tower would be a lesser ride, but I suspect it may have something to do with load times as the Florida Tower of Terror moves at about 1/2 the speed of the California one.
We spent the rest of the day doing whatever rides interested us (although nobody would let me do the American Idol auditions) and re-riding our favorites. We didn't stay for Fantasmic as we started the day early and we've never been huge fans of the show, but by all accounts it is a huge attraction for Hollywood Studios. I'd have to say this has been my favorite park so far, but to maintain that title they're going to have to find a way to let parents cheat and beat their kids at Toy Story.