Studios, February 2006

Disney Studios

Hooray for Hollywood, Disney-MGM Studios February, 2006

Who: Kathy and Rich
When: February 18, 2006
Where: Disney Studios at Walt Disney World
Why: Hollywood Nostalgia

With 2 weekends left on our AP and feeling a little nostalgic for southern California, we headed for Disney-MGM Studios. Besides, we hadn’t been there in several months. It was a beautiful day – perfect, weatherwise, and the crowds were quite low. We weren’t sure why, especially since it was the start of Presidents Weekend, but figured everybody was at Animal Kingdom riding Expedition Everest.

We left our house by 7:30 and arrived about 8:30. At first, the traffic seemed heavier than usual on a Saturday morning but the further we got from Tampa, the lighter the traffic and before we knew it, we were there. With 3 lanes open most of the way, the drive is getting easier and easier. We parked so close to the front gate, we just walked to the entrance instead of taking the tram, which caused us a little bit of confusion since we hadn’t done that before and we arrived off to the side instead of straight-on. But we were delighted to see that the park was already open. Not sure why it was but we didn’t ask. We later checked and discovered it was Early Magic Hours but nobody stopped us to check our ID and it was probably only about 8:40 by then.

We half expected to see Bob&Larry – maybe because we’re reading their trip report on Passporter – and they had just posted their day at Studios. We headed for Tower of Terror and it was an immediate walk-on. We were seated in the far left corner (facing out – Kathy’s favorite spot) in the back row. It was such a blast, as always. We feel it’s the best-themed ride of all but have yet to see Expedition Everest.

After riding ToT, we had a small cappuccino at the kiosk right outside the gift shop. Then we strolled through the park, taking note of the tiniest details on the architecture throughout, were feeling the nostalgia for Hollywood of the 30s and 40s (having grown up hearing mother’s stories of her LA childhood.) Seeing the names of some of the shops and restaurants playing off of places in the LA area make us smile. For example: Toluca Legs, Fairfax Fries, Anaheim Produce, Sid Cahuenga’s One of a Kind, and Muscle Beach – although we noticed that most of the shops are gearing up for the release of the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

We headed for The Great Movie Ride and it was a walk-on. We got the Gangster scenario – our favorite. We then decided to do “One Man’s Dream” – another favorite – and it satisfied the nostalgia in both of us. For Rich, because he saw many of the new rides at the New York World’s Fair in 1965 before they made their way to Disneyland, which is where Kathy saw them – attractions such as “The House of Tomorrow,” “It’s a Small World,” and “Carousel of Progress.”

After that it was time for our 11 am PS, uh, ADR at 50s Prime Time. BTW, it is still called PS at Disneyland. Northern traditionalists, we’ve been told, prefer that the word “Reservation” be used – even if it still isn’t a true reservation – it’s the same as a PS. There was a bit of a wait at the check-in because the CM was calling around to all of the other restaurants to help a guest make an evening reservation. Going out of her way, yes, but for the rest of us, it was annoying. One of the other CMs standing around should have jumped in and helped out.

In the meantime, the line waiting to check in was getting longer and longer. With some people hearing “they’re full,” they started to worry that there were no available seatings for lunch at Prime Time today. We had to pass the message down the line that there was plenty of seating here – it was the other restaurants that were full. Anyway, it was a great Disney bonding moment with the other guests. Any time you experience something less than you would like, you’re usually not alone and it’s a great way to interact with others.

We had even a better table than before because this time, instead of being seated at a table for 2, we got a table for 4 which included a TV. It was great watching snippets of “I Married Joan,” “Donna Reed,” and “Topper.” But our server, a lovely Russian woman, seemed out of a place in a ’50s nostalgic diner unless we’re all nostalgic about Sputnik. Last time Rich had the fried chicken and Kathy had the pot roast. So this time Rich wanted to try the pot roast and Kathy ordered the Meat Loaf. All selections were good but that pot roast was especially delicious, being fork tender.

Kathy: Traditional Meatloaf – a blend of beef and pork topped with tomato glaze, served with mashed potatoes and green beans

Rich: Old-Fashioned Pot Roast – slow-roasted until fork tender, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, carrots, celery and onions

Beverages: Coke (Rich) and Diet Coke (Kathy)

Last time Kathy didn’t finish her carrots – they were shaved and looked like a garnish and she got in big trouble for that. So she made sure she finished her green beans. Naturally, this time, the carrots that came with the pot roast were a tastier julienne style. 🙂

Having cleaned our plates (Rich having helped Kathy) but too stuffed for dessert, we excused ourselves from the table after paying the bill and headed for some of the nearby shops, the Writer’s Stop and stumbled onto the Narnia Exhibit – which was great fun. We’re now quite motivated to see the movie – especially Rich since he had read the books when he was a kid. The annoying, or rather painful thing, was when somebody in a wheelchair ran over Rich’s foot and scraped the back of his leg. Good grief, people, can’t we be a little more careful with our motorized vehicles and/or strollers? No stroller incidences this time. Hallelujiah!

After our usual fun at the Writer’s Stop, we were able to exit out the side door (which was closed due to construction on our last visit) and head for Lights! Motor! Action! We each got a fast pass but were unable to use them because we ended up leaving before the designated time. But we did enjoy wandering through the new Flatbread Grill area and gift shop. This covered area will provide much-needed cover from the hot sun and/or downpours – especially during the summer months. We noticed more Pirates gear, including the “Red Head” figure. We may have to return to get that one.

By this time we noticed the crowds were gathering and the temperature was warming up to 80 so we decided to head for home. First, we stopped into a candy shop and picked up our usual cookies to take home and extend the Disney experience just a little bit longer. Before leaving the park, we bought a Toll House cookie ice cream sandwich and a bottle of water, which we shared.

We stopped for gas at our favorite Hess Station and got a couple of Coke Zeros for the trip home. While our drive was uneventful, we noticed I-4 in the opposite direction towards Orlando from Tampa was backed up for miles – not unusual and a big reason why we head out early in the morning instead of going in for the evening, which is really our favorite time to be in the parks.

About Kathy

Novelist, Singer/Songwriter, Music Producer