While spending a couple hours in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Wednesday evening I thought I would get to do one or two things. I started off with my favorite activity, the Animation Academy and wound up doing that back to back and drawing two characters I’d never done before (Carl from Up and Grumpy).
Then I was going to ride the Great Movie Ride, which is another favorite of mine, but the wait was over 40 minutes. I went to ride Toy Story Midway Mania instead. When I came to the downstairs part of the queue I saw a line of leaders/coordinators against the wall on the side where you exit.
I knew something was going on, but I wasn’t quite sure what, so I asked the cast member after I was in the corral for my ride vehicle. She told me that there was a VIP and that he would be getting off the ride very shortly. She said it would be someone instantly recognizable, but was unable to indicate who he was. I figured I would get my camera ready, just in case it was someone I happened to know, and there came Tom Cruise. I snapped a few pictures before he got out of the vehicle (sorry they are kind of blurry, but it was quick).
The next set of riders got on and he was ushered to a separate backstage entrance. I’ve seen a few celebrities in the parks previous, but never with this many Disney CMs around them. Usually they just have a VIP guide with them or two depending on their party size. Granted I’ve never seen anyone with the celebrity status of Tom Cruise either. After a couple minutes, right before I was supposed to ride, I saw the heard of coordinators come back from the backstage area. Apparently Tom Cruise was going to ride again. I just happened to be in prime position with my camera and switched it to video as he rode by.
This wasn’t exactly how I was planning on my evening going, but it was still kind of fun. At least I got the high score of the hour on TSMM and got to do Animation Academy twice. I missed out on dinner, which forced me to have a dinner of ice cream (okay, just dinner for me maybe) with friends since it took more time waiting for the attraction since it was stopped twice to accommodate Tom Cruise. I think he owes me dinner. 😉
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So the other night on twitter I asked what people’s favorite song was from the Sound of Music when mine came up randomly in iTunes (Something Good, btw). One of my friends answered My Favorite Things. While struggling to come up with a topic for a blog post, I was reminded of this when I saw Do-Re-Mi-Fa trending on twitter and saw it as a sign. Inspiration has to come from somewhere, so why not twitter? I’ll take this opportunity to highlight some of my favorite things at Walt Disney World. Some are obvious choices as E Ticket attractions and others may not be as well known.
At the Magic Kingdom, and probably in all of Walt Disney World, my favorite ride is Pirates of the Caribbean. I guess I’ve been enamored with the idea of pirates in general since we did Peter Pan as our second grade play. Despite the fact that I always tend to get soaked from either the cannon fire or even the drop, this remains my fave. I love the smell of the queue, have a whole soundtrack of the theme song with various remixes (yes, this exists), and the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow certainly didn’t hurt or compromise the integrity or feel of the ride, in my opinion. Two other classic attractions round out my top three in MK: Haunted Mansion and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. I have been fortunate enough to take a walking tour of the Haunted Mansion and it was beyond incredible. The storytelling on this is probably the most complete of any attraction in the Magic Kingdom. TTAP is just a great ride that gives you an overview of Tomorrowland with narration. You can read more about my love of the Peoplemover here.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not my favorite of the four parks by a long stretch, however there are some things that I completely love about this park. The theming of Harambe and Anandapur are spectacular. I especially love the artwork and details in the Asia section of the park along the Maharajah Jungle Trek. It may also be because the tigers are my favorite animals to visit. As far as rides are concerned, I love the Kilimanjaro Safaris, especially towards the end of the day. I used to think that I’d see more animals first thing in the morning, but the last few times I have ridden in late afternoon I saw way more. My favorite show, possibly in all of WDW, is the Festival of the Lion King. It has great interactivity for the kids, lots of entertainment with singing, dancing, aerial acrobatics, and my absolute favorite part: TUMBLE MONKEYS!!! The quality of this production is always great and is fun for everyone.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is magnificent at night, possibly stealing the show from the other parks with the luster of old Hollywood and the luminescence of neon. While I’m not a huge fan of all of the rides, I do love to experience some of the lesser appreciated attractions. Probably my favorite activity at the Studios is the Animation Academy. I have done this dozens of times, and typically go twice each day I visit that park. You can see some of my attempts at drawing here. Another attraction that I enjoy and try to catch each time is Mulch, Sweat & Shears. If you haven’t seen these guys (and sometimes girls) perform, you are missing out on one of the best live acts in WDW. They cover great rock songs from the 60s through today. Usually found on New York Street, but sometimes by the Sorcerer’s Hat, Mulch is a great way to spend some time rocking out and dancing to some music you don’t often hear in the parks. Last, but certainly not least, is my favorite ride in DHS: the Great Movie Ride. It harkens back to the classic days of Hollywood with nods to some of the greatest films in cinematic history. For more in depth details on some more of my favorite things at the Studios, take a look at my blog post from a few weeks ago here.
Finally, this brings me to my favorite park (actually I go back and forth between MK and Epcot, but most of the time Epcot wins). I am completely fascinated with World Showcase at Epcot, partially because I love to travel, but haven’t outside of the US. This is like a magical journey that transports me to lands both near and far when I set foot in WS. My favorite film in Epcot is definitely Impressions de France. As several of my friends know, I love (j’adore) this attraction to the point where I have practically memorized the script and can recite it almost verbatim, including the parts in French. The scenery all around France is magnificent, the score is beautiful, using classical works from composers like Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saens and Claude Debussy just to name a few. I have even made a cd of the tracks used in the film. You can ask for a copy of track listing from the Cast Members as you exit through the gift shop. Since Test Track is out of commission, my favorite ride is Spaceship Earth. I know some fanboys take issue with Dame Judi Dench’s narration, but being a James Bond fan, I don’t mind. Plus, I don’t have recollection of the Cronkite or Irons versions. Taking the time to “thank the Phoenicians” has become a ritual part of every trip. My third favorite attraction in Epcot goes to the entire American Adventure pavilion. This includes the Fife & Drum Corps, shows like Candlelight Processional, Flower Power Concert Series, Eat to the Beat Concert Series, the Voices of Liberty and the American Adventure attraction itself. Americana is something that is near and dear to me and all of these elements combine to celebrate some of the best things about this great nation of ours.
What are some of your favorite attractions? Hope you enjoyed learning about some of mine.
I decided that I would do something a little different today on my trip to Hollywood Studios, so I ducked into The Magic of Disney’s Animation to visit my friend Mushu and the creative process.
While the film is definitely dated and offerings greatly reduced from what they once were, I always seem to laugh and enjoy the sneak peek at the upcoming release by Disney Animation.
Right now they are featuring “Tangled”, and the teaser gives a great glimpse of the film and the artwork that is on display outside is amazing.
But just around the corner is my favorite hidden gem of Hollywood Studios, and the real reason for my diversion, the Animation Academy.
This 22 minute lesson in drawing a character, usually chosen by the artist, is a great chance to try your hand at being an animator. The classes are usually pretty packed, so it is best to wait and enjoy a nice break when you get the chance!
Once you enter the room everyone sits at a station, and gets led through the creation of a character through easy to follow directions and encouraging words. Today Ryan let us vote on who we’d draw…and Minnie Mouse won!
While you may not leave with a perfect drawing, you definitely get a unique and free souvenir from your short time at the Animation Academy.
I don’t think I have a future in drawing, but it sure was a lot of fun!
What is your favorite Hidden Gem at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?