Disney World, 2024

Day Four: Hollywood Studios

The Skyliner - When I was booking the Disney trip, I specifically chose Pop Century because of the Skyliner connection. Well, that and it was cheaper than the Art of Animation. But the joke was on me: a few months before leaving I received an email from Disney saying half of the Skyliner would be out for repairs the week of our trip. Only the line that goes from Pop Century to Hollywood Studios would be up and running. It’s very unfortunate that I didn’t get to experience the Skyliner route from Pop Century to Epcot, but them’s the breaks.

Fortunately I can say that I think the Skyliner rules. The fact that the cars run constantly means there was no line to worry about, you just hop into a car and go. I really enjoyed myself, even though I found myself a smidge nervous when we were dangling over the lake. I wonder if it gets annoyingly hot in the summer in those things.

The Skyliner - 8/10

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway - I got into line for Runaway Railway with some hang-ups. First, The Great Movie Ride was my second-favorite ride at MGM Hollywood Studios. I loved that ride dearly. Other than The Carousel of Progress, it’s probably the ride I find myself watching ride through videos of the most. Second, I just can’t vibe with the style of the modern Paul Rudish Mickey cartoons. I really wish I could, because I think there’s so much about them that’s great and Paul’s track record is hit after hit after hit. But it’s hard to watch a cartoon when you can’t stand looking at it, so I don’t find myself seeking those Mickey Mouse shorts out much.

But hey, Runaway Railway is fun. I would still vastly prefer The Great Movie Ride, but at least this isn’t a Journey Into Imagination scenario. I was really impressed by the bit where Daisy Duck makes all the cars sync up and dance, but honestly my favorite bit of the entire ride was in the pre-show, where Goofy’s train crashes right into the cartoon you’re watching and part of the screen peels away but is still playing. There’s a part of me that wants to look up how they achieved that effect (bendable screen? Projection?) but I think I’ll let it live in my head as a cool effect for just a while longer.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway - 7/10. Can I offer a suggestion? What if a 1930s gangster commandeered your train. Also more references to Footlight Parade. Think about it.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance - I messed up. I didn’t want to get yet another Individual Lightning Lane for a single ride. I played their little game with Flight of Passage, and I didn’t want to play it any longer. In hindsight, I regret it. Our flight was later that day, and we decided to wait in line over two hours to go on the Star Wars ride. That’s two hours I could have used to hop onto something else, or at least two more hours I could have used to buy more collectible pins I don’t need.

Rise of the Resistance is very, very impressive. Easily the highlight of my trip to Hollywood Studios. And if I’m ranking the Rise of the Resistance just by the attraction itself, it gets very high marks. But I didn’t experience the ride in a vacuum. I experienced it after two hours of waiting in a queue that snakes around a bunch of bushes and through a fake cave. I became very familiar with the back of the boy’s head in front of me. And the couple behind me, one of which left partway through to go get snacks, and was still able to come back before we had reached the front of the line. I was BORED, and no amount of fake rocks and ambient engine hum piped over the speakers would make that 2 hours seem faster.

I kind of don’t want to even talk about the ride because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone reading who hasn’t gone on it yet, but basically you’re with the Good Guys, and then the Bad Guys capture you, and then the Good Guys rescue you again! You escape, and while you don’t exactly put an end to the Bad Guys’ reign of terror, at least you live to ~~stand in line~~ fight another day, and that’s something. Paraphrasing the ride like this makes me come off as incredibly glib, but I actually think Ride is phenomenal. I’m just having a hard time deciding if it’s a “wait two hours in line” kind of phenomenal. I’m glad I did it. I would VERY much like to ride it again. But I’m not waiting two hours.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance - 8/10.
10/10 if there is no line. 7/10 if there is a two hour line. So let’s call that 8/10 on average.

MuppetVision 3D - Of course I like the Muppets. I am a man in my late thirties. So after a quick stroll through Batuu (I would have loved to stay longer, but time was running short) we left Star Wars Land and popped out just in time for a showing of MuppetVision to start.

MuppetVision 3D is another “Watch a 3D movie while we spray water at you” attraction, much like It’s Tough to Be a Bug. Well, maybe not entirely like ITtBaB. Where Bug and the long-gone Honey I Shrunk the Audience had gimmicks that would mess with your seat (such as the hornet pokers in Bug, and the scurrying rats in Audience), MuppetVision is comparatively tame. They’ll still spray water and bubbles and smoke at you, but your personal space is never invaded. Unlike the other two, MuppetVision has characters that leave the movie and come out into the audience, like Sweetums, Bean, and Waldo.

Hey, let’s talk Waldo. Waldo sucks, right? Waldo is an obnoxious, Izzy-lookin, incredibly dated CG motherfucker that no one is supposed to enjoy, right? I love Jim Henson dearly, and I love Jim’s enthusiasm for digital puppetry, but Waldo the character sucks. The show recognizes that Waldo sucks, and he’s the butt of a couple jokes. That’s fun and all, but I’d argue it’d be even more fun if Waldo wasn’t there to begin with. But whatever. It’s the Muppets, and your enjoyment of this show lives and dies by how much of a Muppet fan you are.

MuppetVision 3D - 7/10. I forgot how good Sam’s “A Tribute to All Nations (But Mostly America)” joke is.

Star Tours - The Adventure Continues - Our time was rapidly dwindling, and after a walk through Toy Story Land (seems neat) we had time for one more ride with a wait under half an hour. I checked the app and the only ride that really stood out to me was Star Tours. But I was hesitant.

My thoughts on Star Tours easily mimic my thoughts on Journey Into Imagination. I love the original Star Tours, it’s easily my favorite ride at Hollywood Studios. I have a very large Star Tours poster hanging on my wall. I own that same art in T-shirt from. On my shelf is a Captain Rex figurine and a StarSpeeder 3000 toy. Star Tours looms very, very large in my own personal love of not just Disney World, but Star Wars in general.

Since my last visit in 2009, they’ve overhauled the ride. The original had only one path: Endor, by way of comets (”Oh no! COMETS!!”) and assisting a squad of X-wings in blowing up Yet Another Death Star. The newly revamped The Adventure Continues has several randomized paths. You might wind up on Naboo, or Hoth, or Geonosis. At some point the ride will accuse you of harboring a rebel spy (read: some kid or an exhausted dad in the same ride car as you) and they’ll broadcast their candid picture on the ride for everyone to chuckle at. Gone is my beloved Captain Rex, and in his place is C-3PO, doing his normal obnoxious worrywart schtick.

The old Journey Into Imagination was charming, and the new one is completely devoid of anything even resembling joy. The new Star Tours though? I’m incredibly sore about losing Rex to C-3PO, for whatever reason, Rex's flavor of anxious bumbling is way more palettable to me than 3PO's. But I can fully admit the rest of the ride is fine. I don’t really like the randomly chosen paths, but it’s ultimately fine. I was lucky to get the Boonta Eve podracing scene, which is great because I genuinely unironically like anything podracing-related. I don’t even remember the rest of the scenes, because at that point it was all just generic Star Wars while 3PO and R2 loudly shriek and beep respectively.

I don’t regret going on Star Tours - The Adventure Continues. I miss the original dearly, but at least the revamped version isn’t a pathetic shambling corpse like the way modern Journey Into Imagination is. Would I go on the new Star Tours again? Maybe.

Star Tours - The Adventure Continues - 6/10. I'll take Rex over C-3PO any day of the week, but the ride itself is fine.

After Star Tours, it was a slightly quicker-than-usual walk to the Skyliner back to Pop Century to wait for our airport shuttle. I’m sad that waiting in the Rise of the Resistance line robbed us of extra time to look around and go on more rides. Well, I say “more rides” but honestly there wasn’t much else I wanted to do at the park. The Rock N’ Roller Coaster was closed for refurbishment our entire trip, so that was never an option. And I waffle back and forth on whether or not I want to go on Tower of Terror or if I continue to be a big wuss. Other than that, what tickles my fancy at Hollywood Studios? The Millennium Falcon ride, I guess? Slinky Dog Dash? Go back at the hotel and chill out until it’s Fantasmic time? I guess Hollywood Studios is just a half-day park for me nowadays, which is interesting because when I was a kid MGM Studios was easily my favorite park at Disney World.

Other non-ride misc:
  • By the final day of our Disney trip, my poor sister’s feet were toast. She didn’t even join me on Star Tours because that would have meant leaving the bench she had parked herself at over by the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. My feet weren’t exactly thrilled with how many steps I had put in over the week, but I was at least able to walk without wanting to lay down and die.
  • I knew that they had added Galaxy’s Edge, but I didn’t realize until we were there what they had taken from me: The Studio Backlot Tour! Catastophe Canyon! I loved that tour, even though everyone knew their “we make movies here!” vibe was complete bullshit.
  • I should mention that I'm fully aware Captain Rex now has a second life as the DJ in Oga's Cantina, and that makes me so happy. But I didn't have time to peek inside and see my sweet sweet baby boy. Ah well, I made peace with missing out on Rex and before leaving Batuu I took a quick detour to use the restroom. I open the door, and what music was being pumped into the men's room? DJ Rex, live from Oga's! I still couldn't stay long, but I was able to hear him in between songs, and that's good enough for me.
  • I’m actually going to invoke The Great Movie Ride ONE MORE TIME: A few weeks ago I saw Alien for the first time ever at a local theater. Yes, ever. As I was watching Ripley try to escape the Nostromo before the self-destruct timer ran out, I was not tense. I was sad, because the klaxon beeps, the look of the strobing lights flashing in the ship, even the sight of Ripley holding the big gun… I can’t help it, I was reminded of The Great Movie Ride.

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