Disney Hollywood, Orlando Florida

Along the main street of Disney Hollywood

Disney Hollywood is my favorite among all Disney parks in Florida. After some research, i found out that the park opened in May 1, 1989 as Disney-MGM Studios. Apparently, Disney partnered with the very famous MGM studios at that time to build on the park's movie theme. After much dispute with the MGM owner, the 20-year contract was not renewed in 2005. This was when Disney decided to rename the park Disney Hollywood. This is quite interesting for me to know since it was still called Disney MGM the last time we visited in 1999.  I got a little bit confused when i looked at the website before our trip and did not find MGM anymore. You may read the whole story here.
my cousin Nelly and me on our 2nd visit

Anyway, whether you call it Disney MGM or Hollywood, it didn't really matter. The park is still wonderful and the theme is the same.

Disney Hollywood was a lot smaller compared to the other Disney parks but i enjoyed it the most. We even went back for another day to finish all the shows and rides that we missed on our first visit.

As you enter the park, you are greeted with really nice-looking shops and restaurants that look like an old movie set. The end of the street has Mickey's wizard hat instead of the traditional cinderella or tinkerbell's castle as seen in the other Disney parks.

There are also impromptu movie actors that go around doing comedy stunts that involve audience participation all throughout the day.  
Our first stop was Disney Junior where they had all the Disney Junior characters. They also had a Playhouse Disney show together with Handy Manny, Little Einstien, and Jack and the Neverland Pirates. Troy and Dawn loved it.

informal seating
Handy Manny
Little Einstein
Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Mickey's Clubhouse
There were other shows that were even more spectacular such as the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  The green laser lights which made us feel that we were under the see made the show even more fascinating.  There were also bubbles at one point of the show so you will literally get a little wet.
laser lights
If you're not a fan of The Little Mermaid, then you may also try and catch Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, i was not able to see this show since we were busy lining up for the Tower of Terror.

My parents brought Troy and Dawn to watch this show and said it was pretty good too. Their only complain was that it was a little hot since the show was being done in an outdoor theater. If you wish to catch this show, i suggest scheduling it towards the evening when the sun is already about to set. Based on the pictures and videos, it does look very elaborate. I'll be sure to catch this next time - maybe when Dawn is a little bigger.

Now for our little Troy, it couldn't get better than seeing Lightning Mcqueen and Mater LIVE! He was so giddy with excitement when he saw a photo opportunity with them. After that, we got the chance to watch Mqueen do a high-speed car chase scene during the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Car Show.

I was able to take a quick video but the quality was not so good. So here's a video i found taken by Orlando Attractions Magazine.
The car show was really good. On top of the stunts by Mcqueen, they will also show you how they do high-speed car chases in the movies.

If you like this sort of action, you also should not miss the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show. You will learn a thing or two about doing action stunts.

One of the show that is very popular all throughout the park is the American Idol Experience. The set up is a mini version of the actual show and the mechanics are pretty much the same. You can actually audition and go through the elimination process all in one day. There will be multiple shows throughout the day where the audience can cast their votes and the candidates get eliminated one by one. There is a finale at 7pm where the sole winner gets to audition in the actual Americann Idol in Orlando, Florida. It was a great experience even for us, watchers/voters. You will get a good feel of how it probably is watching the actual American Idol show.
The judges
American idol finalists
Now let’s move on to the rides. Aside from the roller coaster and the Tower of Terror, most of them are pretty much kid-friendly. The blockbuster ride when we were there was the Toy Story Mania. It is very similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride in other Disneyland/Magic Kingdom parks.  The only difference is that instead of shooting at mechanical objects, you get to shoot at multiple 3D moving screens.  You will earn points during the ride so it’s fun go as a group and see who gets the highest score.
Tower of Terror (photo from http://themeparks.about.com/)
If you’re fond of big drops and going in haunted houses, then you must not miss the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. 

Ride background: In 1939, during a gloomy Halloween night, 5 unlucky souls were riding down the Hotel's maintenance service elevator when a violent storm struck the building… and they were never seen again.

You will be riding a huge elevator that seats about 20 passengers.  You will then tour the haunted hotel and witness holographic images of the hotel ghosts. Upon reaching the 13th floor, the elevator door will open and you will drop 13 stories down. You will then be pulled you back up and drop you a second time. I think there was a third or maybe a fourth drop but I wasn't keeping count anymore.  

Personally, the drop was not the scary part for me (honest!) – it was the anticipation of the drop and the haunted tour of the hotel.  The ride is also available in other Disneyland parks but not all Tower of Terror rides have the Twilight Zone theme. So don’t miss this when you’re in Florida. It’s still an exciting ride even if you’ve gone through it before.

If you still have the energy, then you should cap your visit with one final show - Fantasmic! Here is a brief description of the show taken from the official Disney website.

A spectacular, 25-minute nightime fireworks and water show performed select nights starring Mickey Mouse and a bevy of delightful Disney Characters and features classic Disney music and songs, laser lights and amazing hydrotechnic effects.  Fantasmic! takes you into the colorful imagination of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in this nighttime musical special effects extravaganza! Join Mickey as he invokes the characters and spirit of such favorite Disney classics as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Aladdin, Pinocchio, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Dumbo, Tarzan, and more. But when the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs gathers such classic villains as Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Scar, Frollo, Jafar and a larger-than-life Maleficent to turn Mickey's dreams into a nightmare, leave it to Mickey and the power of imagination to save the day.

I have seen the show several years ago when it was still Disney MGM Studios. I really cannot remember it much anymore and am also not sure how different it is now.  We were not able to watch during our last visit. As mentioned earlier, the deciding factor here is really if 'you still have the energy' - and with two kids in tow, we really didn't. My cousin said it's a wonderful show and was saying we shouldn't have skipped it. We'll be sure to watch it next time.

We had a wonderful time with the family at the Disney Hollywood theme park. This is one Disney park that you should not miss when you find yourselves in Orlando. You may visit the official website here for more details.

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