Ed – Sorry to break in right at the start, but I would like to announce that this will be Seth’s last Best Week Ever for the time being. While Seth is focusing his considerable talent on other things, we will have some new Best Week Ever authors. Look for the first new Best Week Ever later today…that’s right, double Best Week Ever week! Now, on to Seth’s wonderful week.
It’s been a little while since Best Week Ever took a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so I stopped by the park several times in recent days for an update on this in-transition attraction. Construction walls may be rising on a daily basis, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the crowds from coming! We’ll look at some of the changes around DHS, culminating in an encounter with the newest patricidal Star Wars star, Kylo Ren.
First, let’s take a look around Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the first week of February. This is a typically moderate time of year according to our Crowd Calendar, but I encountered some long lines around DHS, especially on February 8th:
Here’s a healthy standby line stretching outside the Tower of Terror:
Toy Story Midway Mania‘s standby queue approached 2 1/2 hours, with the line for FastPass+ returns stretching outside Pixar Place. The Green Army Men were deployed to keep the throngs entertained.
Now, let’s continue to some of the recent changes I spotted around Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
Zootopia Preview in One Man’s Dream
The rest of One Man’s Dream is still open as usual. If you haven’t visited it in a while, the exhibit of Walt’s original office has been relocated back to California, and a few newer nods to Disney’s international parks have been installed.
Premiere Theater Construction Walls
The arrival of Star Wars Land has already put its stamp on one corner of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where new construction walls have been erected around the Premiere Theater. The walls extend from Mama Melrose to the Streets of America, and have swallowed up the Cars meet & greet and Joffrey’s coffee stand as well.
Pizza Planet Refurbishment
Right around the corner, Pizza Planet is also behind wall for an extended refurbishment. Rumor on the street is that it will reopen with a Muppet theme to match the MuppetVision 3D attraction across the courtyard, a prediction that seems to be supported by the pun-filled gags plastered on the construction wall.
DHS Merchandise Finds
There are some fun retro phone cases now available in iPhone 6+ size.
Love the details hidden in the doodles on this shirt!
Laurel pointed out this shirt to me, which easily wins my weekly prize for “cutest character apparel.”
Adventure Happens Here Dance Party
The holidays may be long over, but the DHS seasonal dance party in front of the iconic Chinese Theater still lingers on. Now retitled “Adventure Happens Here,” this party now appears to be pumping out dance beats in the heart of the park on a daily basis.
Even if you aren’t a fan of theme park dance parties (personally, I’d almost rather have the giant hat back) they do offer an amazing opportunity to see — and even boogie with — some truly obscure characters:
Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground
Knowing that it may be my last chance, I took time in my recent visits to reacquaint myself with some of the areas at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that will be permanently closing in early April. The Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground was packed to the gills when I popped in; hopefully an equivalent playground is in the plans for Star Wars Land to provide preschoolers with a place to blow off steam.
Streets of America
Right outside the HISTK playground, I also paid my respects to the Streets of America, which also soon face extinction.
Behind the Streets of America, the Studio Catering Company is also on its way out, along with the Monsters Inc meet & greet.
Maybe the biggest loss in this area will be the High Octane bar, which was one of the few watering holes on property that didn’t serve the same standard drink menu.
High Octane also had awesome bartenders, like Kellie:
Kellie expertly mixed me High Octane’s namesake cocktail, which was a blue margarita. Made nearly entirely of liquor, the mix was so well balanced (with just enough sour mix to make it tart without puckering your mouth) that I hardly knew I was drinking alcohol until I was nearly finished!
Lights, Motors, Action!
That cocktail was a medical necessity in order to face my probably-final viewing of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.
While it makes a solid first impression, after all these years LMA has little rewatchability for me, thanks to it’s glacial pace. However, it still features some pretty spiffy ‘splosions!
If you like the stunts in Lights Motor Actions but can’t stand the slow parts (and who doesn’t?) I’ve edited together this highlights reel, showing only the exciting high-speed sequences from the show with none of the talky transitions. You can thank me later!
Kylo Ren Meet and Greet at Star Wars Launch Bay
The big Disney’s Hollywood Studios happening last week was the arrival of Kylo Ren at Star Wars Launch Bay. The emo evildoer displaced (SPOILER ALERT!) his grandfather Darth Vader, joining everyone’s favorite Wookie Chewbacca doing daily meet & greets.
Kylo Ren also replaced Vader in the private Chase Disney Visa meet & greet found inside the Launch Bay. Thanks to my credit card, I got to encounter The Artist Formerly Known as Ben Solo inside the Chase M&G with only a 5 minute wait, as opposed to the 40 minute posted wait for the public Kylo confab.
Another bonus is that the Chase Disney Visa meet & greet photos are all automatically added to your PhotoPass for free, even if you didn’t purchase a Memory Maker package.
Here’s a video of my meeting with Kylo Ren. As you can see, bringing up the subject of Matt the Radar Tech may be hazardous to your health!
Symphony in the Stars Dessert Party
Finally, no visit to DHS is complete these days without a viewing of the Star Wars-themed Symphony in the Stars fireworks. To capitalize on this popular spectacle, Disney is now selling a Symphony in the Stars dessert party with snacks, drinks, and an exclusive viewing area right in on Hollywood Boulevard.
Here’s a look at the Symphony in the Stars Dessert Party setup.
The dessert party looks delish, but you can also enjoy “dinner and a show” at DHS without spending quite as much dinero. For example, directly across from the dessert party entrance is Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner, which recently started serving TV dinner-esque hot boxed meals that make for a perfect picnic.
I tried Min & Bill’s fried chicken platter. The three pieces of chicken one breast, one thigh, one leg) weren’t exactly up to Mrs. Knotts’ high standards — or Publix’s, for that matter — but I did prefer them to KFC, and the mashed potatoes and corn side dishes were satisfyingly substantial. I enjoyed the dessert’s chocolate cake base, but the cherry topping had the unpleasant flavor of cough medicine.
After eating (big thanks to the readers who offered to share their table with me!), I easily slid into a viewing spot just to the right of the reserved dessert party section. The key is to stand as close as possible to the crosswalk directly in front of the dessert party, so that no one will be allowed to stand still in front of me. If you can find a patch of pavement, you’ll have the same perspective (or even a bit more centered) as those who paid for the party!
Thanks to everyone for following along on all of my adventures. This will be my last installment of Best Week Ever for the foreseeable future, but I deeply appreciate everyone who has supported my attempt to fill Daisy Lauren’s shoes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Best Week Ever, and be sure to say “Hi” if you bump into me around the parks!