Florida 03/22 – Hollywood Studios + Islands of Adventure
Tonight’s story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction.
Day 8 – Hollywood Studios
Of course we couldn’t miss out on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, even with our faillings of the previous visit. It was once again running at half capacity and therefore the queue was moving particularly slowly. In a very RollerCoaster Tycoon moment, the park had deployed an entertainer to the line, by the name of Goofy. I hear that as long as he’s within a few tiles of you, you’ll be happy to queue forever.
It was undoubtedly worth the wait, for me these attractions are amongst the best ever. What makes Florida even more special is that the ride system is even more complex and insane. It’s so weird when those doors open and your lift starts shuffling forwards through a dark ride section and out into the actual elevator shaft.
The drop sequence was glorious yet again, which makes 3 out of the 4 in the world an absolute smash hit. That raw stop start lurching with nothing but a seatbelt over the lap is killer.
Couldn’t say no to another crack at Rise of the Resistance after that, even with another multiple hour wait on the cards. What if all the effects are working this time?
Well we got one out of the three back in action. The lightsaber came through the roof of the elevator this time, though it wasn’t quite the enhancement I had hoped for. It looks a little too much like a shop bought plastic one to strike any real fear into the hearts of the resistance.
Sadly that means the main showpiece was again broken, but there’s so much other amazing stuff going on that this thing simply is in a league of it’s own, regardless.
Opted for a courtesy lap on Star Tours, which is incoherently located well outside the rest of the Star Wars stuff, having come first of course. It looked really neat and fresh inside, which was nice to see – I suppose they spruced it up again once they knew all the fans would be flocking.
I do like the rerideability factor on these with so many combinations of video sequences up for grabs. Kylo clearly wasn’t done with us yet as he was the one who rocked up to try and kill us on this occastion. We also got a surprise visit from hologram old man Lando, which was technology I hadn’t seen on the ride before. Sadly we then joined the battle on Exegol with our well equipped Star Tours cruiser; you know that storm cloud place where the head on a stick, who came back and ruined the franchise, lifted a million star destroyers out of the ground with a flick of the wrist, spoiling so much film history.
So then I got mad at Star Wars and we left for our early shuttle bus.
That’s it for Disney for the trip, so I’ll do a little summary of the parks as I found them.
Magic Kingdom – really lacks a standout attraction to me. I loved the fresh experiences of the fun, old Tomorrowland stuff but they’re likely only things you need once in your life. The rest does fall foul of having visited other resorts and I think it’s far from the best overall selection at a castle park, particularly when you’ll most likely have to deal with much heavier crowding than you would elsewhere.
Hollywood Studios – contains the three clear standout attractions of the entire resort for me. Any combination of Rise, Tower and Mickey on their own would make WDW worth my time and having all of them in one park is rather intoxicating. I can only imagine how high emotions would have been running had Fantasmic been back in action. This comes at a price however, as there aren’t enough other attractions to spread the load, even with Toy Story, Aerosmith and lesser Star Wars things trying their hardest to suck up the queues. It results in a very long and draining day with a pitifully low ride count in the grand scheme of things, but I feel like the quality is just about justified. As it stands they’ll have to get something pretty special to shift enough people to another park.
Animal Kingdom – easily the nicest park to exist in. You could hardly tell it was Disney, outside of the visual wow moment of Pandora, with the rest being sprawling pathways, a lush green vibe and a big, posh zoo feel. I really liked it, but the lack of Everest was pretty crippling and let’s not talk about the fairground area. Pandora was a faff, with one ride being far better than I was expecting and the other somehow managing to be worse, so even with the Yeti back in action I’d boil it down to to very few worthwhile attractions. This is noticeably far less than any of the other parks and then only leaves you with a zoo which, to me at least, feels like time wasted on your Disney dollars. We have zoos at home and they didn’t bring enough to the game to make it any better than one of those.
Epcot – was good, I guess. Much like Tomorrowland I loved how many unique ride experiences there were, though I do worry about the ability of most of them to remain exciting in future. If you’re not really swept up in the wonder of it, there’s a lot of one and dones. Even for my favourite, Mission Space, I don’t know if I’d want to do it again knowing as much as I know now. Their most popular rides aren’t quite deserving of that status on a world stage and it will be interesting to see how Guardians upsets the balance. Which then only leaves you with some replicas of stuff around the world which, to me at least, feels like time wasted on your Disney dollars. We have the Eiffel Tower at home.
10/10 would recommend though. Don’t worry about the fear-mongering around planning, it can be as stress free as you want to make it.
Islands of Adventure
The real reason we left was to go and spend another evening with Hagrid and dinosaurs. The preshow was fixed this time, which was cool. I did wonder what could go wrong with just a screen (what is this, Wicker Man?), but there’s a lot of fun physical effects that happen too during the calamity that unfolds on screen. Got a bit wet to say the least.
Had a go in the sidecar to mix things up a bit, though my assumption that the bike seat was better turned out to be entirely correct. It was even more magical of an experience in the almost dark, but then the illusion of storytelling wonder was shattered by the ride ceasing operation immediately after the drop track dropped.
This led to other wonders of geeking out about how stupidly complicated this ride is, but then a fellow rider started having a panic attack and her companion was showing alarming concern that another train might come careering off the exposed track above our heads and kill us all. A fair assessment in an emotional state, though we then did our best to explain in simple terms why we were perfectly safe.
It was a little unfortunate that there was no communication via staff announcement to diffuse the situation or back us up, I assume they thought it was a quick fix even though it went on for several minutes. Eventually we saw the train from the adjacent drop section (yes omg there’s two) drop and hit the launch in front of us. Hey, watch that little switch track now, it’s going to change so that we can start moving again. Sure enough it did and we made it back to the station in one piece, but with many a tear flowing.
In other news, Velocicoaster was being hideously unreliable too. With plans to get much more acquainted with the ride, we still only managed another hat trick of laps in total due to several untimely breakdowns, the same as a day jam packed full of completing the park.
We got to try a few more different seats at least and it was a suitably special experience once again. Didn’t sway any opinions though, just settled in comfortably as one of the best in the world.