My family loves to make the very most out of every trip we take to Disney World. If we could visit every week we would. Unfortunately our trips are relegated to a handful of week long trips throughout the year. Last week we hit up the parks during our Spring Break week. This was our first trip to the parks since Disney began their extensive construction on the new Toy Story and Star Wars Lands. We didn’t really know what to expect, but were hoping for the best.
Our youngest child had been sick on the day we were supposed to visit Hollywood Studios so we had to move that day to a day further in the week. This meant that we would be losing all of our pre-planned Fast Passes. Whitney was able to speak with concierge and they hooked us up with 12 anytime-anyride fast passes for that day. We had also jumped on the My Disney Experience app and were able to grab an extra fast pass for the Great Movie Ride. We arrived 30 minutes prior to rope drop, and all signs were pointing to a very magical day.
We were among the first to ride Toy Story Midway Mania that morning. When we exited the ride we realized that the line had already reached 40 minutes. We were glad that we had arrived in time for rope drop. Next we used our fast pass for The Great Movie Ride which was great because the wait time was already at 20 minutes. Since we had our any time fast passes we decided to knock out the Little Mermaid and Disney Junior shows while we were in the area. At this point we were having a great time and the day was going great!
Once the Disney Junior show was finished the kids began to ask about lunch. We decided that it would be a good idea to take a break and began heading towards the Back Lot Express (this is one of our favorites since free soft drink refills are included with your drink purchase). We noticed that the crowds were getting much heavier, but chalked that up to the mass of people exiting the Disney Junior show. As we made our way through the park we realized just how crowded it was. This was about 11:00 AM and the crowd was nearly unbearable. We noticed that many of the paths that we have used over the years to get from one side of the park to the other were completely closed off with no alternative routes. This meant that in a few cases we had to back track which was quite inconvenient. In many places especially in the area near the Muppets show and Star Tours the crowd was shoulder to shoulder and I had to stare at the persons feet in front of me to avoid touching their ankles with the stroller I was pushing as we inched forward little by little.
We finally made it to Back Lot Express where we had a very enjoyable lunch of Hamburgers and fries. We had made it over to the restaurant before noon and didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes to order. We were also able to find a table open which was nice. Once lunch was finished we rode Star Tours with one of our Fast Passes (we used two and Whitney got a rider swap which means we were left with 10 fast passes). We battled the crowd to find a restroom after star tours. The guys in the group were able to get in and out of the restroom within 10 minutes while the ladies had to wait 15 minutes just to get into the restroom and were finished after about 20 minutes. This was a bit frustrating, but we decided to push on. Once more we battled the congested crowd and made our way towards the Hollywood tower of terror. Whitney used a fast pass and grabbed a rider swap for me. This was much later in the day. The standby line was 130 minutes. We were able to both ride in about 45 minutes. At this point the kids had pretty much done what they wanted to do and we were basically making them wait for us to ride so we decided that it was no longer worth it to stay. We left at 3pm and had 9 fast passes left. Our son had wanted to see the Indiana Jones show, but each time we arrived early for the showtime and the next show was already full. We might have stayed a bit longer to try to catch this show and also Beauty and The Beast, but we were no longer willing to fight the crowds.
The construction of course seems to be the main culprit of our problems. It seemed like Disney had allowed the normal capacity crowd in even though what seemed to be about 1/3rd of the park was closed to construction. Hollywood Studios is already a small park so when you take away space it just instantly bogs down everything. It would have been nice if they could have at the very least made space for additional walk ways to alleviate some of the congestion. They must be utilizing every inch of space for the new lands behind those construction walls. We have decided that we won’t be attending Hollywood studios with children until after construction is finished. This won’t be until 2019-2020.
Once the construction is finally finished however the growing pains will all have been worth it. Disney is planning on expanding on the success of Toy Story’s Midway Mania, which happens to be my family’s favorite HWS ride, with an entire land themed to Toy Story. There will be two new rides including a family coaster, and an Alien Swirling Saucers ride. Apparently the saucers ride is inspired by the claw machine scene in the film, and will feature a claw that looms overhead.
Lets be honest the new Star Wars Land will be the main draw here. We expect this land to be as heavily themed an immersive as the Harry Potter world in Universal Studios. Theme park goers will be able to experience familiar scenes, but Disney has also said that the Land will feature all new stories that we have never seen in the movies. A new video was released over the weekend at Star Wars Celebration Orlando. The video detailed some of what we can expect. It was incredibly vague when it comes to what we can expect in the way of attractions, but we did see what appeared to be an attraction giving ride goers the controls of the Millennium Falcon gunner position. We then saw what appeared to be a Virtual Reality experience.
Perhaps the biggest bit of news to come out of this weekend is that Disney is currently working on “Real Lightsabers” to be featured in guest attractions. They have already patented the tech which would require the guest or actor to hold a “retroreflective object” which would capture beaming light from across the room giving the object a realistic look. We may see some very life like lightsaber battles in the park and may even get to participate in them. There will also be plenty of merchandise and even food themed after the movies. This should be pretty amazing!