Our Disney World Experience: Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

Here’s my second post about our recent Disney World trip.  Our first post talked about two of the four parks, Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and since there was so much to talk about there, I decided to write another post about the other two parks, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

I’ve got a few more posts coming about many of the other elements of the trip, with thoughts on our hotel, dining, transportation, and a few more.

Hollywood Studios

This was the third park to open at Disney World, I think in the late 1980’s.  It doesn’t seem very big in comparison to the other parks, so it was pretty easy for us to complete most everything in under a day.  We spent a morning and afternoon here, and got back to the hotel for some pool time, and didn’t feel like we missed anything.  My wife and I did go back just by ourselves for one ride.

Tower Of Terror

This is the signature thrill ride for Hollywood Studios, or at least it’s usually the image that adorns any branding with it.  As it’s a very tall ride, this makes sense.  There’s one thing, I refuse to ride it!  I’ve written in the past about how I have been more and more affected by thrill rides giving me nausea as I’ve gotten older, and while I ventured on every other thrill ride, this was one that I steadfastly refused to go on.  I did go on once in 1999, when I was down for a work seminar, and stopped at a couple of the parks, and absolutely hated it.  My wife and kids did go on.

Both of the kids initially said that they didn’t like it, not because of the drops, but they didn’t like how scary it was (it’s Twilight Zone thememed).  My 4-year old daughter later changed her mind and wanted to ride it again, but we never got a chance to go back.  My son doesn’t like ‘creepy’ things, so he had no interest in riding it again.

Hollywood Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster

This has always been a ride I’ve thought fondly of, and I was excited to ride it again.  This was one ride that we wouldn’t consider our kids for (our daughter is too little, anyway), because it goes upside down a few times, and I think might be a little too much.  However, I absolutely loved it.

My wife and I went on a date night and actually stopped at this park specifically so we could ride it, so imagine how bummed we were when we went up and found that it was closed for ‘technical issues’.  (I have a theory that someone got sick on the ride, but nobody would confirm it).  Luckily, it opened up about 45 minutes later and we were able to make it with a minimal wait.  They assigned us the front car, and it was awesome.  I would have gone again had we had time!  This is the smoothest thrill ride I’ve ever experienced.  Not once did I feel thrown around, which is what leads me to my typical nausea.

Toy Story Mania

This is the ride with the longest wait time at the moment, at least when we were there (the Jedi Training hadn’t opened yet, but I expect that will hold the title once fully ramped up).  It’s a shooting game, where your car rides around and stops at various points and you have to shoot at targets to rack up points.  It’s very similar to the Buzz Lightyear game at Epcot.  The game is fun but I would never wait the 90 minute lines if you don’t have Fast Pass.  With our Fast Pass, we waited about 10 minutes, which was about perfect.

Star Tours

This is a pretty fun ride where you board a Star Wars spaceship, and you go on an unexpected mission with CP30 and R2D2 at the helm.  You make a bunch of twists and turns through ‘space’, all of which is on a big screen in front of you (Spoiler alert: You don’t actually go anywhere, but it’s a simulation).  I thought it was a lot of fun, as did my wife and son.  My daughter said she didn’t like it, and come to find out, she thought it was real.  She actually thought we were flying through outer space, and was a little freaked out!

Great Movie Ride

This is a ride where you go through and see a lot of history about movies as they’ve unfolded over time.  It sounds pretty relaxing and fun.  While it is both of those things, they added some thrill parts to it.  We made sure to warn our kids that it was just make-believe.  There is a very ‘bad person’ who come and hijacks your car, taking over the tour guide responsibilities.  It was a fun ride though younger kids should probably sit in the middle.

Frozen Sing Along

My daughter loves Frozen, so this was a huge hit for her, and honestly was fun for all of us. They narrate the show with jokes and such that both adults and kids can get a kick out of, and the singing is of course a huge hit.

Animal Kingdom

This is a great park for anybody that loves animals, and definitely fits the bill for my son.  He loves animals, fish, and dinosaurs, so this park had everything for him.  We all had a great time!

Expedition Everest

This is their major thrill ride, and it’s a lot of fun, as you spend time going backwards.  We actually knew this and warned my son about this (my daughter was too small), and as such he loved it.  Some friends of ours that were down there didn’t know about this element, and her daughter was taken so much by surprise that she cried the rest of the ride.  So, it was good that we warned our son, because he ended up going on it three times!  It’s a lot of fun, with a few scares but nothing too wild if you’re prepared.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

The safari ride to go through and see actual animals like you would see in the safari is pretty cool.  Our kids jaws dropped being so close to zebras, giraffes, elephants and other animals.  This is a definite must-mb-2015-12-animalride, and they try to make it entertaining as well.  The guide makes a big difference, as we had one really good and fun guide and one that was sort of meh.

Dinosaur

This is another thrill ride, where you go on a ‘time travel’ adventure to go bring back a dinosaur.  Of course, you happen to be going moments before ‘the big’ asteroid crashes into Earth.  You know, the one wipes dinosaurs right off the planet!  It’s a lot of fun, though very much in the dark.  This made it a little bit scary for my son.  He doesn’t like ‘creepy’ things.  While we had fun, this made it a little edgy for him.

Primeval Whirl

This is a run little thrill ride that spins you around in circles as you go through the various hills and twists and turns.  I was surprised that it has the same height requirement as the much bigger Everest and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster.  This ride seems tame by comparison to those, but I guess there are reasons.  One thing to note is that the spinning around varies with each ride experience. Our first ride spun us 2-3 times.  But our second experience featured many more spins, probably over ten!

Festival of the Lion King

This is a 30-minute live show where they do circus type performances all centered around the Lion King, and of course all of the popular songs are well in play.  This was a great way to sit down, relax, catch some air conditioning, and enjoy a very fun show.  It’s a great show for all ages, and being that Lion King is my favorite Disney movie, this was one I was not about to miss!

Kali River Rapids

This is a water ride and it comes through as advertised.  Out of the eight people in our boat, six got fully soaked.  My son sat next to me, and he got the worst of it.  I barely got wet.  It feels good on a nice hot day.  Beware, they do not let you take your shoes off.  This is likely to keep things moving quickly in terms of getting off the boats.  This means that if you plan on riding, you might want to bring along some flip flops.  Plan on changing in line.

Both parks were great and between the four parks, we had no problem filling 7-8 days worth of time.

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5 thoughts on “Our Disney World Experience: Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

    • It may sound cliche, but honestly it was seeing the smiles on my kids faces as they experienced or saw something that they’d never saw or imagined before. I’ll never forget those smiles 🙂

  1. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and our room faced the Savanah. We would sit on the balcony and watch the “show” at feeding time when they fed the giraffes and other animals. The giraffes would “lean” on the zebras to keep them from getting their hay. And every evening when DW would go out, one of the long horned cattle would come to our balcony lookup at my wife and lay down until we went in. This became known as “Mom’s Cow”. That was a wonderful stay. Sounds like you guys had a great time. Which hotel did you stay at?….Service still top rate? Thanks for sharing!

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