My family of four took our first official family vacation to Orlando this summer. I previously wrote about our fabulous hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes and How To Conquer The Magic Kingdom in 1 Day with Young Children. And now it’s time to move on to our single day at Hollywood Studios. As I mentioned in those previous posts, our trip to Orlando was just 3 nights long. Our kiddos are just 4 and 1, so we decided to make this a short visit to the happiest place on earth. We’ll return in a few years or so when they’re older and capable of more. But for this trip, 3 nights was perfect, and it meant that we only had two days to spend at the parks. We chose The Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. The Magic Kingdom is obviously the main and most traditional park. As for Hollywood Studios, it actually has lots of Disney Junior action going on. And as any of you parents to babies, toddlers and preschoolers know, Disney Junior is a pretty darn important part of life. So off we went on day 2 of our Disney adventure.
We arrived at Hollywood Studios just before they opened, but unfortunately there was already a super duper long line for entry. And it was hot. And there was no shade where the line was. And although that’s not a great way to start the day, particularly with two young kiddos, we stayed positive and got in the park as quickly as they allowed.
We utilized the FastPass+ program at this park just as we had at The Magic Kingdom, and it was very helpful and convenient. The first thing we did was pose for a picture with Goofy since he had coincidentally walked out for a meet and greet as we were first entering. My 4-year-old loves Goofy, so this was an important moment for us. The line went pretty quickly, and it was in the shade, so no complaints here. Our FastPasses were for a little later, so we decided to go ahead and do The Great Movie Ride first since the line was super short. We also ended up visiting the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids playground, Muppet Vision 3D, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Disney Junior Live, Star Tours (we used rider switch on this one and it worked out just fine) and Toy Story Midway Mania throughout the day. Our 3 FastPasses were used on Disney Junior Live, Star Tours and Toy Story Midway Mania. Star Tours and Toy Story can have really long lines, so that’s why we used FastPasses on them. As for Disney Junior Live, it was simply important to us to go, so that’s why we chose that one. I didn’t realize that Disney Junior Live was going to be a puppet show. I had assumed the “full-sized” characters would be onstage, but that wasn’t the case. Even so, our kids absolutely loved it, and it was nice to sit in the AC for about 30 minutes. Jake and Sophia were near the Disney Junior Live theater for meet and greets, so we did that, of course.
I would have to say that the highlight of our day at Hollywood Studios was our reserved lunch at Hollywood & Vine. This was our one splurge character meal, and I’m so very glad that it was. Hollywood & Vine features Disney Junior characters who sing and dance every few minutes as well as go table-to-table taking photos and signing autographs. We got a great table that was within arm’s reach of a performance area. As I looked around the restaurant I saw lots of happy kids but also parents that, like me, knew the words to the Disney Junior songs that were being blasted throughout the place. It was really fun, and the food was quite good. I mean, the food itself wasn’t worth $30 per person, in my opinion. But the experience was, so it felt satisfying and all good. I’m really thankful that we decided to go.
Overall at Hollywood Studios we accomplished 7 rides and attractions and a super entertaining lunch experience. I’d say that’s not too shabby considering we only stayed until 5:30pm. But before we left the park I decided to buy my birthday boy (it was Rowdy’s actual 4th birthday on this day) a big Disney balloon from the vendor near the entrance. I fully expected this balloon to be expensive. We were at a theme park for God’s sake. Everything is expensive. But when the dude told me they ranged from $10-$12 each, I was a bit shocked. I’m no cheapskate, but a $10 balloon?! Damn! But I had already promised a balloon to my kiddo, so I picked one out and got out the last $10 in my wallet. “That one’s actually $12″, he told me. Go figure. My husband forked over the difference and we were the proud new owners of a $12 balloon. I must admit that both of the kids played with that balloon a lot when we got back to the hotel. And the next morning when we were leaving the hotel to head back home, we found a little girl to give the balloon to since we couldn’t take it on the airplane. I told her mom that it was 12 bucks and we wanted someone else to get some use out of it. She and I laughed about the craziness of it all and parted ways. Goodbye Ritz. Goodbye Disney. Goodbye balloon.
1. If someone in your party is a Star Wars fan, then you definitely need to ride Star Tours and visit the gift shop. My kiddo got a custom-made light saber there, which was quite thrilling for him.
2. Hollywood & Vine restaurant is a must for Disney Junior fans. Doc, Manny, Jake and Sophia were all there performing and mingling among the tables. It’s about 30 bucks per person, but completely worth it if Disney Junior is important to you.
3. Disney Junior Live is also a must for Disney Junior fans. Please note that it’s a puppet show, but still very fun and entertaining. Even my 1-year-old loved it.
4. The Toy Story Midway Mania ride is very fun, and anyone can ride, but if you’re taking a baby or toddler like I did, hold their head steady when you’re moving. That ride jerks very quickly, which can easily cause a tiny one’s head to bang into the back of the seat.
5. See other good notes from my previous Magic Kingdom post.