The Devil Went Down to Florida: Disney/ MGM

This is how sick I am. I found this internet radio station dedicated to the Disney parks. It literally plays all the background music at the parks. I cannot explain to you in words how fucking in love with this station I am! I cried tears of joy — no shit– when they played the monorail spiel. “Por favor, yo tangence alejandro de las puertas.” TEARS. OF. JOY.

It’s been many posts since I did the first in my series exploring the magic of Walt Disney World. (You can read it HERE.) But I felt like it was time to do Part 2. I’ve just been feeling the longing for the Mouse’s shores lately.

Normally I do Animal Kingdom (AK) first. The park has grown bigger in recent years, with more things to do. Usually though, I combine that park day with Disney/ MGM Studios, since those are the two I would likely spend the least amount of time visiting. That doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I LOVE THEM. But I just don’t dig every inch of those two parks. I just hit the big points and keep running.

But they’re still magic to me.

I have a special place in my heart for Disney/MGM (MGM, for short). Actually, I’m told it’s called Disney’s Hollywood Studios now. Forget that. I’m a purist! It’ll always be Disney/ MGM to me. Most people don’t know that it actually is a movie studio, not just a park. It’s an animation studio. In fact, while I was living there, they were producing Lilo and Stitch. Which is kinda cool if you ask me. The rest of the park is a reflection of both the studio theme and the new Hollywood name. Half of the park is covered in film sets and stunt shows. There’s even a reduced scale model of an At-AK Walker and a relica of a section of the Forest Moon of Endor in the Star Wars area. The other half represents a glamorous image of the Hollywood of old, the one that supposedly existed in the 1920’s. The theme works very well, and in fact it’s the only park of the four which presents a united theme.

The first thing you’ll notice when you get in is The Sorcerer’s Hat. A giant model of the magic hat Mickey wore in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Unlike the other Parks’ central draws, the hat doesn’t serve any function. No shows or restaurants. Just a pin trading store. It’s still kind of cool to look at though.

As you walk down the main street, you’re met with dozens of gift stores, similar to the Magic Kingdom’s (MK) Main Street. Taking that first left, you will find two of Disney’s biggest attractions. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is one of the biggies for most people. It’s really only people like me who are afraid of heights who avoid it. That being said, I would recommend going on it with your friends, even if you’re scared. The set design alone is worth the wait. The haunted hotel theme comes off like a more mature version of the Haunted Mansion in the MK. It’s nowhere near as ostentatious, and there isn’t an inch of the attraction that doesn’t feel authentic. At the end of the line, there is an exit for anyone who can’t, or doesn’t want to get on. Should you choose to go through with it, you will be asked to board an “elevator”. Once strapped into your seats, the elevator starts moving… but not in the direction you might expect. The doors close and the elevator reverses horizontally, then links onto a track and goes on a short, somewhat hallucinogenic trip through the upper level of the hotel. At the end, the elevator locks back into place and the outer window opens, displaying the entire park for a scant second before dropping you. At some point in the drop, the elevator stops, rises, and drops again. And again. And again. There are multiple drop sequences, almost ensuring a different experience every time you ride.

When you get out of the Tower of Terror, start running. Right on the other side of the street is my favorite ride in all the parks, Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster. It also has the longest wait in the Studios. But it’s worth it. Like many of Disney’s attractions, the Coaster is not content to be just another ride with an unrelated theme. Rather, you’re an Aerosmith fan granted the chance to see the band do some recording. They then invite you to meet them at the concert backstage. The coaster itself is a “super-stretch limo” which will take you to the concert across town, while blaring Aerosmith full blast, of course. Try to breathe normally as the magnetic propulsion system fires you down the line. At 60 miles an hour, it’s one of the fastest rides in the park, and since it’s a dark ride (re: lights out), the loop de loops don’t bother me. I try to ride the Aerosmith coaster at least twice before I leave, so I usually grab a fast pass for later as soon as I get to the parks. Knowing how to properly schedule fast passes is a big plus in the parks.

There’s a few more worth-while sights to see, but if I went to AK first, I’m long since ready for lunch about that time. Which is cool, because the Studios has some of the coolest themed restaurants in WDW. There’s the 50’s Prime TIme Cafe, which is designed like a house from the Donna Reed Show, pure 1950’s Americana. The waitress will be dressed as a 50s housewife, and she will insist that you call her Mom. Sure, it’s a little goofy… and even psychotic at times, but it’s a lot of fun. Except when Mom makes you eat your veggies before you can get dessert. I’m not kidding.

My favorite lunchtimes restaurant is The Scifi Dine-In Theater, which is set up like a (again) 1950’s drive thru movie theater. The tables are shaped like old 59 Chevy Belairs, so you can put your arm around your Honey while you groove… sorry, caught up in the moment. The waitresses will roller skate up to your “window” to take your orders. And while you wait, you can watch old cartoons, cartoons and trailers to a lot of really bad black and white scifi movies with names like The Day the Giant Martian Ants Reigned Terror on Mugambo. Or something. I usually get a bacon burger and the cheesecake, which comes drizzled with caramel, popcorn and M&Ms. I know how sounds, but it’s awesome.

Two seconds walk from the SciFi is both the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Star Tours. The Stunt Spectacular is exactly what it sounds like: a stunt show. But for first timers, it’s kind of cool, because you get to see some classic Indy scenes recreated. And if you’re really lucky, you may get called up to participate. So far I haven’t.

I always do Star Tours, but there’s really only two reasons to go on it.

  1. You’ve never done it before, in which case the dated ride (it’s over twenty years old and you feel it) will seem new and exciting. An actual licensed Star Wars ride!
  2. You’re a big Star Wars fan. And as a result, you can’t pass up the opportunity to see the very detailed replicas of Star Wars sets or to ride shotgun with R2D2 in Space.

Other than that, you might want to check out the Tatooine Cantina gift shop and the land-speeder that you can take pictures on,ย  then skip it. Star Tours is the only holdover from Disneyland stationed in the Studios.

Next, I close out with The Muppet 3-D Show, which is another of the staple 3-D shows I mentioned that each park has. However unlike the other 3-D shows, like It’s Tough to be a Bug, the Muppet show adds an actor in addition to the blend of anima-tronics, props and 3-D effects. Not only is it one of the funniest of the shows, but as someone who grew up in the 80s, seeing the Muppets invokes a lot of nostalgia. And at the very least, after a long summer day, you’ll appreciate getting to sit down in an air conditioned theater for a few minutes.

By that time, I usually hit the Aerosmith ride one last time and head in for the night. But for a newbie, there’s plenty more to do. I haven’t even covered to the Stunt car show. Or the Chronicles of Narnia walking tour. Or the Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid musical shows. And the Animation Studio tour. Yeah, there’s a lot. Skip the Great Movie Ride, though. It sucks.

Oh… and I just about forgot. At the end of the night, 3 of the 4 parks have fireworks shows (AK is the only one without), each with a very different flavor and appeal. And while my favorite is Illuminations, many people would argue that Fantazmic is the most… fantastic. Fantazmic isn’t just fireworks. It employs dozens of actors and characters, as Mickey Mouse takes a tour through Disney’s film history. Everyone from the Lion King’s Scar to Pocahontas appears as Mickey fights to regain control of his dreams from Cinderella’s Maleficent. Yeah, it sounds cheesy, but like most of Disney’s attractions, if you’re willing to see with open eyes, you’ll feel the same magic your children do. And you won’t want to leave when it’s over.

That’s it for this installment. I hope I haven’t bored you. Sooner or later I’ll get around to my review of the next park, my favorite, EPCOT.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. You make it sound like a lot of fun;) I’m so glad you’re going back, I think you’ll be much happier there.

    Reply

  2. I think I would be happier just about anywhere else, but it really is my favorite place on Earth. (My fav place on Mars is Mkjkjdkljklsdjljdaaaaah, and my favorite place in the Galaxy is Uranus.)

    As for the rest of it, I’ll reserve judgment. Hopefully I can get a good job and it’ll all work out.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Becky on June 12, 2008 at 11:24 am

    You sound like a kid in a candy store. I’ve never been to Disney World or Disneyland but I am a HUGE fan of Disney so I definitely see the appeal. I just don’t think I would like to fight the crowds to see everything. The Donna Reed Show-themed restaurant does sound fun however. As anti-feminist as it sounds, I always wanted to be one of the 1950s housewives with their giant skirts, high high heels and perfectly manicured everything, waiting for their husbands to arrive home from work with a pot roast ready. Oh well, I will just have to settle for cooking in my heels for myself! Great post

    Reply

  4. The crowds won’t bother you if you go with loved ones. It also depends greatly on when you go.

    The Prime Time Cafe was interesting. “Mom” was kind of stern though.

    Feminisms definitions could use some revision. The act of being a housewife who dotes on her husband isn’t negative. It’s the expectation that a woman should be subservient to a man that demeans women. Nothing wrong with your desires. And maybe you’ll meet a guy who can make those things happen for you.

    Reply

  5. That came out wrong. I meant that in order to be a housewife, you’d need a guy who made enough money to support the family.

    Sorry.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Ad Astra on June 12, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    This is sooooo hilarious ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried to listen to the stream while reading this, but I just couldn’t take it. I tried, sorry.

    But I loved this, because this is EXACTLY what I did! I went to MGM (Yes, I’m with you on that, purist) for the first time, completing my full tour of all 4 parks (after 9 years, a little late, but whatever).

    “Not only is it one of the funniest of the shows, but as someone who grew up in the 80s, seeing the Muppets invokes a lot of nostalgia.” It so totally did. I was born in ’89, but I grew up watching the muppet reruns, and had a collection of their tapes. Don’t even get me started on muppet treasure island… I STILL remember seeing that in the theaters! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I can’t wait till you move down over here. We should DEFINITELY go to Disney together and meet up. If that’s okay with you. Because we’re nerds. Different breed of nerds, but hey, we can understand that about each other.

    Reply

  7. Actually they did have a muppet show on Disney during the early part of the decade. It was pretty funny. Never say Treasure Island though. I grew up on those crazy Muppet Movies that were big in the 80s. The last I saw was Muppets Take Manhattan. I can still sing the lyrics to Somebody’s Getting Married.

    You want to hang out with an old man? That’s cool, as long as you can keep up with me. I’m very spry.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Ad Astra on June 12, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Ahahahahaha ๐Ÿ˜€

    It’s the magic in the air, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I got it. I’m an Aries after all *flips hair* But yeah, I think that would be cool.

    Oh man… Muppets Take Manhattan. It’s alright…. I definitely have “The Muppet Movie” known my heart. I’ve probably watched that over 30 times. I love when Gonzo holds onto all those balloons and then he flitters up into the skyyyy. How cool.

    Alright, so when are you moving down to the Kissimmee area?

    Reply

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