An early morning arrival at Hollywood Studios was our fourth rope drop in four days. We packed up at Pop Century and loaded up the car shortly after 8:00 AM for the quick drive around the corner to the park. No one questioned my request to pack all of suitcases to vacate the hotel room when it was only Thursday. It sure is easy to pull a surprise on this bunch!
||Toy Story Midway Mania
||Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Mom only)
||Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (FP+)
||Star Tours (FP+)
||Star Tours … again
||Star Tours … and again!
||lunch – 50’s Primetime Cafe
||Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away center stage show
||Toy Story Midway Mania (FP+)
||Star Wars Launch Bay
||Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (FP+)
||check into Wilderness Lodge
||dinner – Contempo Cafe
At rope drop, we walked straight to Toy Story Midway Mania. We also had a FastPass later in the day so we could ride twice with short lines. Jasper was my morning buddy so I rode with him first. In order to avoid any bickering, we assign “morning buddy” and “afternoon buddy” to the boys on Disney park days. Jasper was my morning buddy so we sat together on every ride in the morning while Gavin was Daddy’s “morning buddy.” In the afternoon, the boys switch buddies. Jasper doesn’t rack up a high score in Midway Mania, but he sure is fun to play with!
While lines were still relatively short, we strolled down Sunset Boulevard where I hopped in the single rider line for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Jeff and the boys would sit this one out and passed the time by eating a reportedly unmemorable snack at the Starring Rolls Cafe. Over the years, my Disney trip companions always want to sit this ride out and I’d actually only been on the coaster once before many years ago with my sister. Back in the day, before FastPasses, Disney gave front-of-the-line passes for one attraction on your birthday and on this particular year, I convinced my sister to go on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. It was the first and last time she rode! On this trip, I was thrilled to finally ride again with a short early morning wait in the single rider line. Overall, it’s a fun ride, starting off with a bang, but peters off rather quickly. I was so glad that I was able to ride it again after so many years, but don’t think I’ll make an effort to ride single again unless my boys show interest in the future.
I met up with the boys again and, with our FastPass window open, we entered the Hollywood Tower Hotel for our first-ever ride on the Tower of Terror. For the same reason I’d only been on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster once, I had NEVER been on the Tower of Terror! This needed to be rectified! The boys squeezed our arms tight and did NOT enjoy the elevator drops, but Jeff and I loved it and can’t wait to go again!
We don’t watch the princess shows at Hollywood Studios, so we were done with Sunset Boulevard and walked all the way across to Star Tours for our next FastPass. The stand-by line was still rather short after our first journey through space, so we rode an additional two times. I always enjoyed the old standard trip to Endor but it sure is fun to experience different scenes on every ride now which makes multiple, back-to-back rides more fun!
It was soon time for our early lunch reservation at the nearby 50’s Primetime Cafe. We typically don’t make dining reservations as table service restaurants slow down our fast-paced park touring style, but we would have plenty of extra time at this “half day park” today and could easily fit a leisurely lunch into the touring plan. The 50’s Primetime Cafe is the table service restaurant I visited most as a kid so I was excited to continue the tradition with my boys. They weren’t completely sold on the role playing despite my preparation, but we had a great meal and our server was fantastic! As always, we had such a great time dining with all of our “cousins.” Jeff and I both ordered grilled salmon (I pretty much always get salmon if it’s on the menu!). I sampled one of Jasper’s chicken nuggets and must say they’re by far the best nuggets on property! The portions weren’t overwhelming so we actually had room for dessert and split a delicious Dad’s Brownie Sundae.
After lunch, we were ready to sit and digest a bit so Muppet*Vision 3D was the perfect place to rest. What can I say about this show? I absolutely love it! The Muppets can do no wrong. It’s always a good time, especially the pre-show!
We made our way back to the central hub, stopping for a showing of the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show. This show is just a series of movie clips with most of the main characters from series appearing on stage throughout. Afterward, we walked behind the Chinese Theater again to use our FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania. After lunch, we switch to afternoon buddies so I rode with Gavin this time and we had a great time trying to beat our high scores!
The day was warming up so it was an ideal time to duck into the Star Wars Launch Bay to cool off in the air conditioning for a while and view movie models and artifacts. As usual, the boys weren’t interested in meeting characters, but I convinced them to trade with Jawas at the Cantina. They offered several glow sticks that we had in the backpack for after sunset and the Jawas LOVED them, playfully holding them up to their mouths to make smiley faces to show their appreciation. The boys received droid torsos in the trade.
After using our third reserved FastPass at Midway Mania, we were free to make additional reservations one at a time so the fourth was made just as planned for the Great Movie Ride. Both of these attractions are tier 1 so only one can be reserved as one of the original three. I knew there would still be plenty of Great Movie Ride FastPasses available if I had to wait to reserve until the afternoon and, sure enough, we were able to get a FastPass for a window opening at 2:20, less than an hour from the time the reservation was made. The Great Movie Ride is dated and in need of a refresh, but is a Hollywood Studios classic that is a must-see on every trip.
Afterward we booked it over to the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, arriving several minutes late and only allowed in because we had a FastPass. We found a seat on the far side of the crowded stadium but that was not a drawback for Jeff when the host was recruiting volunteers. This is one of the boys’ favorite attractions in all of Disney World so seeing Daddy take part in the action made it even more special!
By now it was late in the afternoon. We’d completed all of the attractions we set out to enjoy that day and spent a little time moseying around Hollywood Boulevard taking photos and watching yet another Storm Trooper march led by Captain Phasma.
I began dropping hints to the boys that our day was done and, hmm, I wonder where we should go next. The day wasn’t over, after all, but we’d already checked out of our hotel. What WOULD we do?! We got in the car and I just drove. There were some guesses along the way, especially after passing through the Magic Kingdom main gate, but they didn’t know for sure until we passed through the archway to the Wilderness Lodge. Yes, we’d be staying here. Not only that, we’d be adding another park day to our trip and enjoying at the lodge for two nights!
Back at Hollywood Studios, I’d received the text message with our room number so we were able to bring our bags straight through the glorious lobby to our fourth floor “standard view” room. Our balcony faced west, looking out over construction of the DVC cabins, and a beautiful open view of the Contemporary Resort, monorail line, and even Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain in the distance! I’d vacillated between the standard view and upgrading to a preferred view overlooking the center courtyard for so long and could not have been more happy with my choice to remain with the standard view that ended up being one of the best views at the lodge!
After briefly exploring our new resort (we’d have more time later!), we hopped on a boat to the Contemporary for dinner at the Contempo Cafe, the Contemporary’s quick service restaurant in the Grand Canyon Concourse beside Chef Mickey’s. Wilderness Lodge has always been Jeff’s dream Disney resort and the Contemporary is mine so we were able to enjoy both in one day! After watching the monorails passing throughout our meal, we decided to hop on just to take a ride around the entire loop before returning to the Contemporary to take the boat back to the lodge.
We enjoyed our luxuriously soft beds for the night, looking forward to one more bonus park day in the morning!