Disney has countless themed restaurants, each one more unique than the next. One of my favorites is in Hollywood Studios, and it takes the shape of a family home in the 1950’s. The 50’s Prime Time Cafe really pulls out all the stops, and eating there is more of an entertainment experience than anything else.
The lobby of the cafe is decorated like a suburban living room, with big, comfy couches and TV screens playing black and white sitcoms. The hosts and hostesses yell out names across the room and really play up the atmosphere as if they’re calling you to dinner at home.
The restaurant itself is set up like an old-fashioned kitchen, and the entire aesthetic is really authentic, right down to the classic television sets. But the best apart about eating at 50’s Prime Time Cafe is the interactions with the waiters and waitresses. These people are just as dedicated as the park’s character performers, and really nail their role as strict 50’s figures. They’ll scold you for putting your elbows on the table and ask you to set the table to take dishes back to the kitchen. And watch out if you don’t finish your food! The experience here is always hilarious, especially for first timers that don’t know what to expect. The food is classic diner/mom’s kitchen style, and it’s usually a decent meal. More than anything, you should check out 50’s Prime Time for an experience you won’t find anywhere else in Disney.
Christmas carols, silver bells, reindeer… it’s that time of year again! Oh, wait, no it’s not. But as Disney’s summer deals come to a close and discounts are released for the fall and winter, it is time to start thinking about spending your holidays at the happiest place on Earth.
Disney is bursting with magic any day of the week, but around Christmastime, the park really shines. To start with, everything is completely decorated and decked out in holiday cheer. Buildings in the parks are strung with wreaths and lights, and hotels even offer unique yuletide displays.
Several attractions throughout the park also take on a holiday theme during this time of year, including the very appropriate “Jingle Cruise,” where the skipper’s typical puns are adapted for the yuletide crowd. These holiday variations on classic attractions are definitely fun, but it’s the additional Christmas events that make visiting between late November and early January worthwhile.
One of the more little-known holiday events is the nightly lighting of Cinderella’s Castle. Around dusk, the voice of Cinderella’s godmother can be heard throughout Magic Kingdom as she transforms the castle into a vision of shimmering Christmas lights. It’s a fun little show to catch if you’re around, and you’ll get some really great pictures of one of Disney’s most famous landmarks.
You’ll also want to check out some of Epcot’s special offerings, including the Candlelight Processional and Holidays Around the World. The former features a special celebrity guest each night, so that might be something to consider when booking. I just missed the time window for those two events, but I was able to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, and it’s without a doubt one of the coolest things that Disney has to offer.
The Streets of America in Hollywood Studios are decorated with more lights than you can possibly imagine, and they all move and flash to popular Christmas songs. My family actually went one night when it was raining (pictured above) and so crowds were minimal and the puddles on the streets reflected all the lights. We almost skipped it because of the weather, but I’m so glad we didn’t—it was nothing short of magical, and I 100% recommend it.
If you’re interested in the man behind the magic or any of his original projects, you can learn about Walt and the early Disney animations at several cool attractions in Hollywood Studios. These relaxing walk-throughs and exhibits are perfect for some down time you might have on your trip, and will appeal to fans that grew up on Disney Renaissance films or those who aspire to be Imagineers.
For a unique perspective on Walt and his imagination, you’ll want to check out Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. This attraction is like a step back in time, with antique items from Walt’s childhood home and original proposals for Disney World. You can see retro animations and models for future rides in the parks. There’s a lot to browse here, and aside from being an insider look at the very place you’re vacationing in, you’ll also get a nice, air-conditioned break from the hustle and bustle of the parks (especially if you stay for the 15-minute movie at the end!).
You should also stop by the Magic of Disney Animation, which offers behind-the-scenes glimpses at the makings of the classics like Snow White and The Little Mermaid. Original sketches are on display, and the attraction even functions as the office of several artists who will doodle right in front of you. Check some concept art and discarded drawings, as well as storyboards and gorgeous, in-depth paintings. You can also participate! Young ones will enjoy making their own sketches and learning the basics of animation.
One of the best things about Disney World is the wide array of spectacular shows, fireworks displays, and parades held held throughout the parks. Each of them is themed differently and offers a unique experience. Here are my top five favorites:
This classic Hollywood Studios water show stars Sorcerer Mickey and takes audiences on a journey through iconic Disney animated films. Following the narrative of a dream sequence, characters like Simba, Pocahontas, Ursula, Jafar, and Maleficent all make appearances as Mickey tries break the nightmare. The show ultimately culminates with a fireworks celebration and a journey on the Steamboat Willie River Boat. It’s not the best that Disney has to offer, but everyone should see it at least once.
4. Main Street Electrical Parade
I’m not the biggest fan of parades, but this one is worth it; held after dusk in Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Electrical Parade features enormous glow-in-the-dark floats that travel around the park. Some of the stories represented are Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Cinderella. The beauty of this parade is breathtaking, and it’s a great way to cap off your night in Magic Kingdom.
3. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
This holiday extravaganza can be found in Hollywood Studios during Christmas time. The Streets of America are draped in millions of sparkling lights that flash to various Christmas songs. The sheer magnitude of this show is unbelievable, and it’s really something that everyone should experience at least once. The details on each building are incredible, and each new song that plays features something different. You can catch the Dancing Lights show on select nights from November to January.
This Epcot must-see is completely different than any other show at Disney—it’s not based on anything mythology from the movies, but rather it features a premise designed by Walt himself. Epcot as a whole is meant to bring nations and cultures together to work towards a brighter future, and IllumiNations inspires just that. The show takes place in the center of World Showcase Lagoon when all the countries around it go dark. A metallic globe rotates on the water and captivating images are projected onto it as it turns. It eventually cracks open and makes way for a gorgeous and inspiring fireworks display. I revisit this show each time I come to Disney, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone for something a little different.
You probably saw this coming, right? Wishes is the ultimate Disney experience; there’s nothing quite like gathering on Main Street when the sun goes down to watch the Castle light up and hear your favorite characters come to life as fireworks adorn the sky. The movie scores and original songs that play during the show are a stirring encapsulation of what Disney is all about, and there’s nothing quite like seeing the Castle transform right before your eyes. In the end, it’s nothing short of magical.
The attractions at Walt Disney World are iconic, innovative, and immersive—but which one’s the best? It depends on your taste, but here’s my list of the park’s top five greatest rides. (Disclaimer: I’m no thrill-seeker! You can keep your Rock n’ Rollercoaster and your Tower of Terror.)
5. Pirates of the Caribbean
This classic Magic Kingdom ride is such a must-see that it inspired an entire movie franchise. It takes you on a boat ride through deep, swash-buckling caverns as 18th century inhabitants pillage, plunder, and party all around you. There’s nothing really thrilling about this ride, save for a small drop at the end—the enjoyment comes from the atmosphere and attention to detail as you traverse the water-way. A fun legend surrounding the ride helps add to its captivating theatrics; many Disney visitors have long-since acknowledged that Pirates is haunted by a (mostly) friendly ghost named George, who will break down the ride if you denounce him in your boat.
4. Haunted Mansion
Speaking of ghosts, another one of my favorites is the Haunted Mansion. Similar in style to Pirates, Haunted Mansion takes you via Doom-Buggy through the ghoulish residence of Madame Leota. The technology on this one is pretty impressive, and there are so many undead beings floating around that you’ll have to ride multiple times to catch all the details. But don’t worry—this ride never gets old.
3. The Great Movie Ride
This Hollywood Studios landmark doesn’t have the universal appeal of some original Magic Kingdom favorites, but as a lover of all things movies, it’s a must-do for me. I’m hooked right from the queue, which features a clip-show of great films throughout the years. When you are seated in your vehicle, everything is flashing dazzling lights and you really feel like a part of Hollywood. The live-action part of the ride is always entertaining, and can change each time you return. This one truly lives up to the name.
2. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Instead of taking you on a journey through the movies, Kilimanjaro Safaris brings you to the African savannas. This ride in particular has the most potential for a completely unique experience each go-around, and new animals are constantly arriving at the location. It’s an adventure unlike anything else at Disney, and has become a landmark attraction over the years. As an animal-lover, I really enjoy this up-close encounter with the parks’ residents.
Fly over California in this amazing attraction located in Future World, Epcot. Your vehicles are only a few feet off the ground, but their swinging momentum coupled with the dazzling scenery in front of you really makes you feel weightless. Some of the scenes are even accompanied by scent to add to the immersion. This ride always has a really long wait, but it’s definitely worth it, and the journey’s ending is unforgettable.
Honorable Mentions: The Jungle Cruise, Test Track, & Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
Images provided by buzzfeed.com, pinterest.com, grumpymickey.com, and thegreatmovieride.tripod.com.
I am excited to return to the Happiest Place and give you up-to-date information about everything that’s going on at Walt Disney World! The company has announced several new developments over the last year, some of which will change the face of the theme park completely. Here’s are some of the highlights:
1. Hollywood Studios is Going Through Major Changes
WDW’s park dedicated to the golden age of film is most recognized by its iconic Sorcerer’s Hat, but the famous monument is currently being deconstructed and removed from the park. You can now see directly down the street to the replica of the Chinese Theater. Disney also announced that the park will soon be getting a new name. It’s not the first time—Hollywood Studios was formerly known as MGM. No word yet on what the park will be called.
2. Polynesian Resort Gets Disney Vacation Club Bungalows
Opening on April 1st, the Bora Bora Bungalows are newly renovated complexes available to members of the Disney Vacation Club. The expansion was built on stilts and wooden decks and sit just above the Seven Seas Lagoon. Each unit has a private deck where guests can watch the fireworks and listen to the accompanying music on private sound systems. Sounds like a sweet deal!
3. Everything is “Frozen” Over
Hollywood Studios has added several events and attractions based around its hit animation feature, Frozen. After a successful run last summer, the Frozen attractions will return this June. They include a “royal welcome” parade, a sing-along at the Hyperion Theater (former home of the American Idol attraction), a special show hosted by Olaf, and a fireworks display to end the night.
Some other quick updates—Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom is now serving breakfast, and Animal Kingdom is under construction in preparation for Avatarland, coming in 2017.
Images courtesy of wdwinfo.com and wdwmagic.com.
Star Wars Weekends
Occurring in late May and early June, Hollywood Studios uses the power of the Force to bring guests an out-of-this-world experience. Special franchise characters like Darth Vader and Chewbacca make an appearance to sign autograph books, and even to help train young ones in the art of being a Jedi!
Image courtesy of disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Step right into the glamorous world of film and television when you enter Hollywood Studios. Formerly known as MGM, Hollywood Studios brings the entertainment industry to life with thrilling attractions, behind-the-scenes tours, and exciting new shows for all ages. Hollywood Studios has grown tremendously in size since Walt first pitched the idea 40 years ago, and now features some of Disney World’s most popular attractions.
The park is split into the following areas:
This entrance to the main park is meant to immerse you in Hollywood culture with palm trees, chic shops, and the iconic Sorcerer’s Hat just ahead. The feel of this classic era is especially captured in dining experiences like the Hollywood Brown Derby, or the replica of the Chinese Theater. Make sure you check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame right before getting in line for the Great Movie Ride, an adventure through classic cinema.
Echo Lake is home to some of Hollywood Studios’ classic landmarks, like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Star Tours, and the American Idol Experience. Also be sure to check out the notorious eatery, 50’s Prime Time Cafe, where the servers aren’t shy about telling you to keep your elbows off the table!
This section of the park hosts a few of Hollywood Studios’ famous attractions: Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster, both of which are only for the bravest vacationers! Also be sure to check out some entertaining shows, like Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, or the nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic!
Next up is Pixar Place, a popular attraction for all fans of the animation studio. Here you will find the incredibly popular interactive ride, Toy Story Mania, as well as appearances from Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and even the Green Army Men!
Just after Pixar Place lies Animation Courtyard, a tribute to vintage Disney animation. Don’t miss some behind the scenes peeks at the life of Walt Disney, including Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, and The Magic of Disney Animation. You can also check out a live action reenactment of Ariel’s story in Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
This popular section of the park is meant to be reminiscent of lively city streets. Its most popular attractions are Lights, Motors, Action!, an extreme stunt show for all ages, and the Behind the Scenes Backlot Tour, which gives you a sneak peek at how movie magic is made. Also popular are the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Muppet Vision 3D attractions.
Images courtesy of wikipedia.org, disneydreams.net, and orlandoparknews.com.